Partnerships as Driver for Low-Carbon Transitions in Urban Food Systems

The project focuses on the cultural aspects and drivers of a decarbonization of Copenhagen’s food system. The project critically explores how sustainability oriented food entrepreneurs together with incumbent actors operate in what we coin as ‘transition-driven partnerships’ (TDP) aiming at innovating and accelerating the advancement of sustainable urban food systems.

The research aim is to further sustainability transitions research by drawing upon cross-cultural approaches and urban studies in order to develop theoretical concepts, analytical strategies and empirical insights that advances the understanding of TDPs and the transformative potentials of food entrepreneurs in urban transitions to low-carbon cities. Hence, the project employs an exploratory mixed method approach to investigate how new green norms and food practices emerge in TDPs, and how TDPs manage to translate these green norms and practices into larger cultural systems such as an urban food system.


This project focuses on the decarbonization of Copenhagen’s food system. It is estimated that cities account for around 70 percent of the world’s energy-related GHG emissions, with food systems contributing an estimated 20-30 percent of global anthropogenic GHG emissions. At the municipal policy level, many cities worldwide are thus trying to create more sustainable urban food systems, promoting lowcarbon, health, shortened food chains, food waste reduction and urban-rural linkages. In doing so, partnerships have been singled out as a central tool to advance these urban transitions. However, research is still sparse on how partnership practices are carried out, and what cultural change partnerships bring about. Therefore, this project sets out to investigate the transition potentials of food partnerships and their practices with a particular emphasis on their possible cultural contribution. That is, how partnerships play into a cultural reimagining of urban food systems, and how they may enable or constrain collective actions for transition processes.



The project is divided into two parts.

Sub-project: Cultural dynamics in partnerships for sustainable food systems
The aim of this sub-project is to explore how new green norms and sustainable food practices are developed, negotiated and translated in TDPs between niche actors and regime actors in Copenhagen’s food system. The sub-project is primarily based on fieldwork and semi-structured interviews.

Sub-project: Accelerating transitions through transition-driven partnerships
The aim of this project is to investigate the role and position TDPs take up in society, and how TDPs productively interact with and interconnect to larger cultural systems for accelerating sustainability transitions of urban food systems. The sub-project is primarily based on interviews and document analysis.







Name Title Phone E-mail
Sejersen, Frank Associate Professor +4540186167 E-mail


Independent Research Fund Denmark

Project period: February 2021 to February 2024
PI: Associate professor Frank Sejersen