A Guide to Mapping For Food System Change

Jessica Milgroom, Colin Anderson, M. Jahi Chappell

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Abstract

Many organizations working to promote agroecology and food sovereignty around the world are engaging in different kinds of mapping initiatives. People are mapping farms, markets, crop varieties and livestock breeds, soil fertility and water management practices, policies and more. In this guide, we focus on online interactive platforms that aim to list, communicate and/or share ‘what is going on where’ with respect to agroecology or food sovereignty.

The urge to map responds to a need to document, better understand and make visible the rapid emergence and evolution of agroecology and food sovereignty initiatives and movements. When we refer to these terms, we consider them to be interlinked visions for a food system that puts people and planet first, that is rooted in the agency and knowledge of food producers and citizens and that presents as an alternative to corporate-industrial food systems and other forms of oppressions.
Proponents of these movements are looking both to strengthen what already exists, and to facilitate the further scaling up and out of food system change, through understanding and communicating what is going on, and where it is happening. For more background information on agroecology and food sovereignty see the Nyeleni Declarations on Food Sovereignty (tinyurl.com/yyruc8ya) and on Agroecology (tinyurl.com/y52jjlgj).

In 2018-2019, we carried out a small study to explore how mapping is being used in relation to agroecology and food sovereignty. Through an examination of a selection of 30 on-line mapping initiatives, interviews with their organizers and three focus group discussions with mappers from all over the world, we set out to ask: Who is mapping? What are they mapping? And, how are they doing it? This guide was built from the insights that emerged from this process. This document aims to highlight the issues, challenges and emerging opportunities that might arise when designing mapping processes to support mapping efforts to be more powerful tools for food system change.

This is just a start. We know that there is much more to learn about mapping practices that is not included here, including, for example, communication styles for social change, technical information about on-line mapping platforms, etc. We hope that you will take this forward and that future work will help to augment and improve this guide.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages18
Publication statusPublished - 25 Sep 2019

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