We came across a really inspiring project that recently took place across Europe, which captured valuable data and developed resources that support the development of localized food systems in urban communities.
From May 2012- April 2015, the URBACT Thematic Network “Sustainable Food in Urban Communities”, ran a project involving 10 European cities that wish to grow, deliver and enjoy more sustainable food. One of the missions is to identify joint, effective, and sustainable solutions to develop low-carbon and resource-efficient urban food systems.
Through their research and hands-on approach, they felt it necessary to target urban communities, which will be greatly affected by a growing food demand and a current food system that won’t properly support it, which lead to environmental impacts and social inequity in terms of access to balanced and affordable nutritious food to city residents.
They found that more than 50% of the world population lives in cities and by 2050, that number will reach more than 80%. Meanwhile, per capita calorie consumption in the EU27 exceeds daily requirements by 36% since the early 1990s.
They also noted that the urban population tends to be out of touch with agricultural production, and the city food culture increasingly moves towards fast food, processed foods, distributed by large centralized supermarket chains that are not rooted in the life of city neighborhoods. Many consumers, especially, those with low incomes, eat too little fruit and vegetables because of the cost, but also because it is not part of their culture and habits.
The URBACT Thematic Network “Sustainable Food in Urban Communities” developed a Handbook in effort to share their experience and provide practical approaches and examples that cities can take to support and implement a more sustainable and localized food system for their residents.
The aim of this handbook is to share the key lessons learnt during the three years of exchanges and experiences of the network; to make it available to other cities and stimulate them to start a similar journey towards a more sustainable and localized food system. It is our hope that we can inspire other cities to put food on their agenda and that cities across the world will make concrete changes that jointly generate positive impacts and drive sustainable food system reform.
INDEX OF THE HANDBOOK
Purpose of this handbook
Who should read this handbook?
– The Project and the Partners - Finding a way to view the urban food system and sustainability - Finding a pragmatic approach to low carbon and resource efficiency - Finding an action-focused framework for sustainable food in cities
2. What can cities do?
– Getting started – Some tools to assess the local food situation
3. Sustainable food-related entrepreneurship
– Growing in the city - Urban food businesses - New shopping scenes - Some entrepreneurship enhancing tools
4. Food literacy and resilience
– Re-engaging the population with food - Ensuring a food education and a positive canteen experience - Reducing food poverty among the low-income population - Some community building tools
5. Food governance and the city agenda
– Emerging food-oriented city leadership
– Food-oriented urban development - City food identity and labels - Some governance- questioning tools
References – Useful links – Acknowledgements
Read more about the project here