Transitioning without confrontation? Shared food growing niches and sustainable food transitions in Singapore

Published by SHARECITY on the 10th March 2019.


Following a series of global food crises and an increasing dependence on food imports, the Singaporean government has begun to support local food production as a means to improve the sustainability of its food regime. This extends to the development of state-led ventures which support shared food growing in the city. In parallel, informal citizens’ groups are experimenting with collaborative forms of food provisioning. Both types of initiatives utilise Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) to facilitate their practices of shared growing and seek to reorient the current food regime onto a more sustainable pathway. Drawing on ethnographic research conducted with two initiatives representative of both organisational positions, this paper critically examines the efficacy of using a transitions thinking approach to assess their actual and potential contribution to the disruption of the food regime in Singapore. The paper first reviews existing approaches to transitions thinking in order to distil insights for examining shared food growing initiatives in Singapore as niche projects. The broader socio-cultural and political context of Singapore’s food system and the food growing niche projects which are emerging within it are then delineated, followed by a strategic niche management (SNM) analysis of the two initiatives. Ultimately, the paper makes two linked contributions: firstly, it diversifies the empirical foundations and the sectoral and geographical reach of sustainability transitions research. Secondly, it provides space for critical reflection on transitions thinking when applied beyond the Western liberal democratic settings from which it emerged.

Please cite this article as:

Rut, M. and Davies, A. (2018): Transitioning without confrontation? Shared food growing niches and sustainable food transitions in Singapore. Geoforum (96), 11/2018, p. 278-288.

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