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Lijun Summerhayes: exploring urban food planning pathways 

Incorporating healthy fresh food production within or close to major population centres is an integral part of smart, sustainable urban planning, and is arguably more critical now than ever, given current (and likely future) disruption to global food and ag commodities supply chains.

Queensland University of Technology doctoral candidate Lijun Summerhayes’ timely PhD thesis, supported by a top-up scholarship from the CRC, aims to answer the question: How does urban food planning occur in Australia? 

‘The confluence of urbanisation and globalisation has prompted urban food problems to increasingly manifest in urban areas around the globe, including Australia,’ Summerhayes’ project description states. ‘Research shows that Australia is not immune to these identified urban food problems, ranging from urban food insecurity, urban epidemics, food-centred social injustice, food economy’s negative externalities to ecological imbalance.’

Globally, numerous plans and strategies have been developed and urban food councils established to address such urban food problems. Development of urban food policy in Australia, however, is still nascent. 

Summerhayes’ research will investigate any existing food-related policies in Australian urban centres, and ascertain to what extent these address urban food problems. It will explore opportunities and barriers that may facilitate or hinder the development of practical urban food policies. Recommendations for improving policy in these areas and directions for further research will be offered in the final report, which will also address the need for urban food planning and suggest how it might best be developed in Australia.

Primary supervisor Doug Baker, a Professor within QUT’s School of Architecture & Built Environment, part of the Faculty of Engineering, is a seasoned land-use and airport planner.

The Faculty’s Dr Karen Vella, an urban and environmental planner with a particular interest in helping planners meet the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), will co-supervise the research.

The additional funding provided by the CRC will support Summerhayes’ studies over the next 18 months. She is due to complete her PhD project on 30 June 2024.

Lead image: Lijun Summerhayes. Ctedit: Courtesy of Lijun Summerhayes/ Queensland University of Technology