In October 2016, the city of Valencia and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) in Rome signed an agreement. Various forms of cooperation were agreed in this, aimed at improving sustainable urban food systems. It World Sustainable Food Center (WSFC, or CEMAS in Spanish) is one of the most important results of this agreement.
The WSFC wants to promote, manage and coordinate activities related to sustainable food protection. It lists the many initiatives, in cities around the world, that are aimed at setting up sustainable local food systems. In addition, a physical location has been opened from which knowledge is shared and all issues related to food, nutrition, the fight against hunger, climate change and sustainable local food systems are cooperated.
Last week, prof. Cristina M. Rosell in the Netherlands. Rosell is a professor at the Spanish Institute of Agrochemistry and Food Technology (IATA-CSIC) and a member of the advisory board of WSFC Valencia. She met her colleague & #8217; s from the municipality of Ede and from the Swedish region of Östergötland. She also participated in World Food Day at the World Food Center.
We have just started
“WSFC in Valencia was only officially opened in July this year and is therefore still in the initial phase. And that is just one of the many things we have in common with the World Food Center in Ede, "begins Cristina M. Rosell.
“The World Food Center is a great initiative and there are certainly many opportunities to work with WSFC Valencia. We share common goals, in line with key FAO strategies, in the fight against hunger, sustainable urban food systems, climate change, nutrition and food wastage. & #8221;
“That is why we are now looking for the exchange of information and the joining of our forces, because sharing knowledge means that desired and required changes and transformations can proceed faster. We are open to any initiative regarding food, food management and food systems. And want to help make this visible to the world so that others can build on those experiences. & #8221;
These initiatives take time
“The WSFC started with two people who shared a common concern about food systems and food issues in the world. These were the former director of the FAO and the mayor of the city of Valencia. They jointly decided that something had to be done and saw that cities became increasingly important in the implementation of FAO policy and the implementation of initiatives. Cities bring the policy to the citizens. & #8221;
“They already signed the agreement in 2016 and from that moment they work together. It shows that these things take a lot of time, from idea to realization. Legally there are so many things to set up, and although we now have our own location for meetings and presentations, there is still a lot to do. & #8221;
Local initiatives with global impact
“WSFC is an institution led by the Valencia City Council and the FAO, but other local authorities and institutions must be actively involved in order to make CEMAS a success and to promote global activity. It must become the reference for sustainable food in cities. From a global perspective, the WSFC goal is to gain knowledge and to map all initiatives worldwide when it comes to creating sustainable food systems. Get inspired by ideas from different parts of the world and help by exchanging these ideas and projects. ”
& #8220; WSFC is still a government organization, but & #8211; like WFC Experience & #8211; we are investigating the possibilities of creating another legal entity with which we can work more independently & #8221 ;, Cristina Rosell adds. “I believe that in organizations such as ours, which work for citizens and municipalities, the government plays an important role. However, it should not be the only party. The initiative may be local, but the impact and scope are international, so organizations such as WSFC and WFC should be independent of governments and also include initiatives and ideas from the private sector. ”
“Just like the World Food Center, we have an advisory committee consisting of experts from different areas. This committee is still expanding. We wanted this Advisory Committee to be neutral because the WSFC is not about commerce. It's about social engagement. & #8221;
Ede and WSFC cooperation
“My visit here was really useful. I am impressed because I did not know much about the WFC nor about Ede. I did not know what I would find here, but I was pleasantly surprised! The World Food Center is a really good idea and I am sure we can join forces to work on improving both local and international food systems. We are now discussing how the collaboration can be made more tangible. "
How do we start?
“For me, the success of those initiatives will come if we think globally but act locally. Locally, citizens must believe in and be enthusiastic about these initiatives. They must think that these initiatives are worthy of the support of their local and regional authorities and other stakeholders. We therefore have to convince them jointly with specific actions and clear results, "Cristina Rosell continues. “We can start by sharing experiences and exchanging ideas on how we can better involve the citizens of our cities. "
Local food, local initiatives
“Local food can be a starting point. How do we add value to local products through local markets? What is the experience of the two cities in making local food more attractive for the local market? How can we make local markets more lively? These markets must be more than points of sale, they must be meeting points. To make meeting points of it, you need concepts that attract people. The experience of buying food in a market is more than just the purchasing process and the product. We need to make local food markets more attractive, offer more experiences. I think Ede and Valencia can share their knowledge in these areas to see what we can learn from each other. "
“It applies to every consumer: if you see something every day, you no longer attach the right value to it. It has then become too 'normal'. People therefore often seem attracted to new and different products that come from the other side of the world. Probably because they seem more exciting. So how can we make local goods more exciting? We must make changes in taste, colors and the preparation of the food, then people will appreciate the new added value of the product. We must integrate innovation with local food. "
Experience Center has great potential
“CEMAS is not an experience center. It is about knowledge exchange and communication. Unlike the WFC, it is not an attraction or permanent exhibition. In the WFC Experience you focus on children. This makes sense because they have the potential for the long term, for future generations. But you also have to balance this with short-term successes and things with short-term impact. People want to see fast results to support the long-term initiatives. "
“The biggest short-term challenges are different for different parts of the world. Every country has different problems. In Europe it is about waste, plastics and sustainability. For cities, the biggest challenge is to have a food system that is local, with enough food for the cities and close enough to keep logistics simple. You cannot create solutions that are equally valid all over the world. While for us this concerns nutrition, health and well-being, the focus for many other countries is still on basic food and survival. & #8221;
“But all choices and solutions are interrelated, so you have to think globally. People want to be surprised by food, and this creates hypes, like quinoa and teff. But with that practice we take away the basic or basic food in the countries where production takes place. It is ironic that health-conscious people in particular do not always seem to be aware that they sometimes cause such problems in other parts of the world. & #8221;
“The biggest goal now in the short term, for both WSFC and WFC, is to start activities and deliver on the promises. And for us together, this means that we have to share our experiences as well as possible, try to improve and keep our communication open. I'm really looking forward to this collaboration! & #8221;
From left to right: Frnrkje Idema (program manager Food Municipality of Ede), Cristina M Rosell member of the Advisory Board of the World Sustainable Urban Food Center in Valencia), Thomas Högman (EU adviser in the Östergötland region), Leon Meijer (alderman of the municipality of Ede and chairman of the WFC steering committee) and Martin Tollén ( member of the Östergötland region)