Current studies on sustainability transitions of the food system (FS) are limited. The tools for assessing FS sustainability and enhancing FS performance are still lacking, highlighting the critical role of developing an assessment indicator framework for assisting sustainable FS transitions. This study seeks opportunities for optimizing existing FS frameworks that address the triple burden of malnutrition and FS sustainability. It ex- amines FS frameworks and other food system-related frameworks such as those linked to food security, food sovereignty, and so on, unveiling the general limitations of current approaches and methodologies in FS frameworks and other related frameworks. To our knowledge, it is the first study to discuss the gaps of FS frameworks regarding their coverage on the food lifecycle and their representation of FS’s multidimensionality. The results indicate that most FS frameworks and related frameworks are conceptual. The most frequent limi- tations are no targeting audience, no coverage of the food disposal stage, and no institutional/political dimen- sion/indicators. Some frameworks have no multi-stakeholder inputs, no coverage of food input and/or food storage stages, no economic or nutritional dimension/indicators, while only a few frameworks involve statistical/ empirical methods or quantitative indicators. Other limitations regarding language, data, and time are also identified. Finally, this study suggests developing a comprehensive multi-dimensional urban food system framework considering the full life cycle of food and combining FS-related perspectives with the five dimensions of environmental, economic, institutional, socio-cultural, and nutritional sustainability to mitigate the lifecycle and sustainability dimension issues and gaps.


Tong Zou is a PhD student of the Sustainable Built Environment Research Group at the University of Nottingham Ningbo China. Tong holds a B.Sc. with honours in Integrated Science, minor in Statistics, minor in Technology, Society and Environmental Studies from Carleton University, Canada. In respond to global water crisis, she developed a model prototype of the proposed integrated radiative air well by applying the bio-mimicry features of the Namibia Beetle (Stenocara gracilipes) for her honour’s thesis. Tong is graduated from University of New South Wales with a M.Sc. in Environmental Management. During her postgraduate study, she worked on the project “Urban Metabolism and the Urban Metabolism-Urban Sustainability-Smart Cities Nexus”. During her gap year, Tong Zou worked as a research internship at the Centre of Air pollution energy and the health Research (CAR), Australia; a project assistant of the International Cooperation Centre of Ecology and Environment of Sichuan Province, China; an ecology and environment technological assistant of Sichuan Investment Evaluation and Performance Appraisal Centre of Ecology and Environment, China. Currently, Tong works on the research project on ‘A framework for enhancing urban food system sustainability in smart resilient cities in China’.