Velika Gorica Lab at the three-day program for the transformation of local food systems – Cities2030

Velika Gorica Lab at the three-day program for the transformation of local food systems – Cities2030

Friday, March 3, 2023

Velika Gorica partners in the Cities2030 research project attended a three-day program that gathered around eighty participants from European partners to transfer the knowledge and experiences of 41 partner countries, all with the same goal of transforming the food system in their cities and regions.

The purpose of the three-day program is to encourage personal interaction between consortium members to build much-needed professional working relationships and expand and strengthen networks between CRFS and external partners.

The first day of the program included the General Assembly where all previous activities, reports, challenges steps and instructions for implementing the project in the coming months were summarized.

On the second day of the program, the Lab festival and workshops took place in an old prison converted into an innovation centre, an interesting example of the revitalization of existing buildings through a new purpose. The aim of the activity on this day was to point out the importance of mutual interaction between various entrepreneurs, researchers and the educational factor in the development of a community. The partners went through workshops related to the analysis of the Labs, they got an insight into the available tools to use to develop their activities, they were presented with the development of the city’s Food Council by the founder of the council in Haarlem, they attended the presentation of the role of blockchain for the sustainability of food supply chains and several additional activities were also held for connection and cooperation.

Some of the workshops attended by Velika Gorica LAB:

Public Blockchain for Food Supply Chain Sustainability – Stephan Nilsson from UNISOT and Mark Frederics from Local2Local believe that public blockchain is key to the sustainability of food supply chains and shared insights on the topic. They see this technology as a way to increase transparency and traceability, reduce waste and promote sustainability throughout the entire food supply chain. Public Blockchain provides a secure and decentralized document to track food from field to table.

Blockchain is also a way to promote the local food system and reduce food waste by enabling better tracking of food and shortening the time to the consumer. Furthermore, it connects consumers with farmers and other producers in the area. We went through practical examples of how the system works and the possibilities it provides.

The workshop related to the Milan Urban Food Policy Pact was led by the representative of the General Secretariat of the Milan Pact, Ellen Poolman, who explained all the activities that are carried out and how they affect the development of activities in the signatory cities. Signing the Pact is also one of the goals of the project, but considering that some cities are unable to sign the Pact due to the number of inhabitants, the discussion also took place on the issue of connecting with the signatory cities. In the case of our Lab, cooperation was initiated with Zagreb, i.e. its representatives in charge of the Pact of Milan (Zagreb has been a signatory to the Pact since 2015).

A little more about the Pact of Milan:
In 2014, the mayor of Milan decided to launch an international protocol aimed at solving food-related problems at the urban level, which will be accepted by as many world cities as possible. The Milan Pact on Urban Food Policy was signed on October 15, 2015 in Milan by more than 100 cities, including Zagreb. It represents one of the most important legacies of Milan EXPO 2015.

More than 50% of the world’s population currently lives in urban areas, and this proportion is predicted to rise to almost 70% by 2050.

The Milan Pact on Urban Food Policy is an international agreement of mayors. It is more than a declaration, it is a concrete working tool for cities. It consists of a preamble and a Framework for Action that lists 37 recommended actions, grouped into 6 categories. For each recommended action, there are specific indicators for monitoring progress in the implementation of the Pact. The Milan Pact Awards offer concrete examples of food policies implemented by cities in each of the Pact’s 6 categories.

Workshop – Food Council to Drive CRFS Transformation – a pinnacle of bottom-up CRFS transformation as it places citizens and communities at the center of policy processes. Given that many laboratories are considering establishing a Food Council in their region, we had an expert/founder present to us first-hand experiences related to starting a council and the main factors needed for management. Councils facilitate sustainable food system management activities among different stakeholders in city-regions and are often linked to local strategy formation and democratic processes. It consists of a platform of citizen initiatives aimed at the transformation towards a democratic approach when making decisions about the local food system and the creation of a short food supply chain. It was a good lesson learned and tips for establishing a food council in our city region. The main idea is to benefit from the stakeholders of various sectors who are part of the food system and help in its transformation.

The third day was dedicated to the city-region of Haarlem. The Haarlem Policy Lab is a municipally-led living laboratory that works closely with local food initiatives, food entrepreneurs and citizens. We visited a garden project, including food-focused activities; urban foraging and cooking. Among other things, they are very focused on educating students in better food choices, and they presented to us how they carry out educational activities and interactively present students with how to use healthier foods.

We explored the Haarlem CRFS and had the opportunity to see in more detail the development towards a more sustainable food system in the region.