• Copying Neighbours - augmented edition

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    Copying Neighbours

    More lessons learned about how to transfer inspiring practices between cities on sustainable food?

    Take a look at last BioCanteens URBACT Transfer Network publication


    From urbact

    How to facilitate the collaboration between territories, the exchange of inspiring cases, the translation between governance cultures, the emulation and transfer between cities and resilience through cooperation in the face of such as the pandemic, the Ukraine crisis, or other unprecedented future problems?
    BioCanteens is one of the 23 URBACT Transfer Networks engaged in a form of “action-research” to transfer "Good Practice" from one city to a set of partner cities across Europe. In this augmented edition completing the first publication based on the experience of BioCanteens1 with the experience of BioCanteens2 “second wave”, you will find out...

    BioCanteens Transfer Network is about ensuring the distribution of sustainable school meals in participating cities as a key lever towards the development of an integrated local agri-food approach, protecting both citizens’ health and the environment. The project aims to transfer Mouans-Sartoux’s Good Practice based on the daily distribution of meals that are 100% organic and mostly composed of local products, the drastic reduction of food waste thereby fully compensating the higher cost of switching to organic products, and the organisation of dedicated educational activities to raise children’s awareness about sustainable food. It tells the various “Transfer stories” of the 9 BioCanteens city partners: Gavà in Spain, Liège and Pays des Condruses in Belgium, Rosignano-Marittimo in Italy, Torres Vedras in Portugal, Trikala in Greece, Troyan in Bulgaria, Vaslui in Romania and Wroclaw in Poland. You may also learn about “Transfer outcomes” after BioCanteens 1 & 2 and in particular the European online event organized in March 2021 in partnership with URBACT and the Glasgow Declaration and the Mouans-Sartoux Food Festival « À TABLE ! » organized in September 2022 to share the networks experiences, to raise European cities’ awareness on food sovereignty and to call on Europe to consider the need for a food exception in public procurement.


    Read the full document HERE and start your revolution!

  • Food Sovereignty: back to basics

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    Food Sovereignty

    Each food-related action carried out by a local authority must be backed by a food sovreignty vision. This has been a key message during the BioCanteens#2 network, but not always easy to convey. In fact, the inappropriate use of the term food sovreignty is nowadays creating more and more misunderstandings, making it easily confused with national protectionism. But lets' go back to basics, and define food sovereignty. What is it, and why is it so important? 

    From urbact

    In one year and a half, the cities of BioCanteens#2 network have worked hard to transform the functioning of their school canteens. They have put into question their local agriculture and economy, drafting strategies on how to stimulate organic offer and demand. They have made a consistent job of sensibilization to food-related issues targeting not only kids but politicians, civil society and neighboring cities. All these actions have limited meaning and impact if taken singularly, but gain powerful sense if analysed altogether in a vision of food sovereignty. But what is the real meaning of this concept? 

    Food Sovereignty is not to be confused with sovereinism, as it often occurs. In the mouth of many politicians, food sovereinism cares for the growth of the country’s GDP through the structuration of national agri-food industries and value chains. Closing agricultural economy to export and trade becomes the solution to protect national excelleces and economies.

    This capitalistic vision of food and agriculture is often miscalled food sovereignty and disguised with messages of environmental and biodiversity preservation, creating confusion.

    Food sovereignty deeply cares for the territory at a smaller scale and aspires at decoupling food – essencial need for human beings – from market dynamics. Food sovereignty is about human beings having direct, democratic control over the most important elements of their society – how we feed and nourish ourselves, how we use and maintain the land, water and other resources around us for the benefit of current and future generations, and how we interact with other groups, peoples and cultures. (La via Campesina, 2018). The organisation La Via Campesina introduced this concept in 1996, based on 6 pillars: 

    1. A food system that focuses on food for people : rejects the proposition that food is just another commodity or component for international agri-business.

    2. A food system values food providers and aims at creating fair market conditions

    3. Localises food systems: brings food providers and consumers closer together. Importance of the territories. 

    4. Decisionmaking and control at the local level: recognizes that local territories often cross geopolitical borders and ensures the right of local communities to inhabit and use their territories; it promotes positive interaction between food providers in different regions and territories and from different sectors. No national protectionism

    5. A food system that builds knowledge and skills that are respectful for the future generations' needs

    6. A food system that works with nature, values agroecological practices and takes into account the perspective of Climate Change

    Inspired by the theories of François Collart Dutilleul (Nourrir, 2021), we like to add another pillar : Democracy –promoting equal rights for the individuals, for future generations and people, as well as transparency of information

    We put all these information on the table during the Biocanteens#2 project because only a strong Food Sovereignty vision will be the engine for future actions.

  • A Table! for an EU food sovreignty

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    Lunch at the canteens
    From urbact

    European local authorities are today the drivers of the transition towards sustainable local food systems. In a context of strong concerns about Europe's food security, the key role of cities in the food transition deserves to be further supported by the EU, notably in the next framework law for a sustainable food system to be proposed by the European Commission in 2023. 

    Mouans-Sartoux and the BioCanteens#2 partner cities are just some of many local authorities in Europe committed to food sovereignty and democracy. Ensuring fairer access to quality food for all, building resilient agroecological food systems, recreating urban food belts and developing more participatory food governance are not mere objectives but realities that are taking shape on the ground. 

    On September 26, 2022, the city of Mouans-Sartoux invited British activist Rob Hopkins to open the Mouans-Sartoux Food Festival, A Table! With his conference entitled "The urgency of transition" he was able to launch the debate of the next two days on the construction of a European food democracy and sovereignty.

    Rob hopkins

    Building on the work that Mouans-Sartoux has been carrying out on multiple axes since 2015, A Table! brought together more than 150 actors from 10 countries, including 50 local authorities, and more than 20 NGOs and official structures involved in the food transition, for the closing of the URBACT BioCanteens Network #2. The participation of a Member of the European Parliament and the European Commission allowed for a multi-level dialogue aimed at bridging the needs of local communities with the food policy strategies defined by Europe in order to co-create food sovereignty.


    Because cities are living labs of virtuous experiences to share and must make their needs known at the European level, the city of Mouans-Sartoux wanted to organise this event, where, in addition to the presentation of the Biocanteen#2 project and the visits to present the Mouans food project, numerous debates, exchanges and workshops were organised around the following three key themes 

    • How to build a European food sovereignty that protects people's health and the planet?

    • 100% organic school canteens throughout the EU: it is possible!

    • For a food exception in the European public procurement code


    Finally, the enthusiastic return after the 100% organic lunch at L'Orée du Bois school and the visit to the Municipal Farm, demonstrated once again the innovation of the Mouans-Sartoux project. The actions carried out by the town for more than 20 years are perfectly in line with the political priorities that are now emerging on the European agenda, and demonstrate that it can be a model not only for other towns of all sizes and countries but also for political organisations. 

    Check out the tribune of Gilles Perole published on the Parliament Magazine on this matter here

  • What’s cooking in Bergamo? Untapping food system transformation through sustainable food public procurement

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    Food matters. What we put on our plate impacts our health and the health of our Planet. Childhood is a critical time to promote healthy eating as this is the time when food preferences and eating patterns are developed. The early years of life – mostly spent at school – are essential for the setting of healthy and sustainable eating habits, and increasing availability and accessibility of better food in schools, along with food and nutrition education, has the potential to build the foundation for healthy eating habits later in life. Additionally, today’s food systems account for 21-37% of total greenhouse gases and are a primary cause of environmental degradation, socio-economic and health inequalities. Since thousands of school-age children consume at least one of the daily main meals at school, schools are key places to leverage the multiple health, environmental and social benefits of serving better food. For this reason, school public procurement offers an extraordinary opportunity for supporting healthy and sustainable behaviours, while supporting a system-wide food systems transition. Whether it is public health, organic agriculture, animal welfare, social considerations or proximity food economy, school public procurement of sustainable and healthy food represents a strategic means to achieve these goals. 

    School Meals

    Based on these considerations, “La Buona Mensa” is an initiative developed by the Bergamo City Council to promote food literacy and increased access to local, seasonal, organic plant-rich food among primary school children in Bergamo. The initiative receives funding from the “Food Trails” project, under the Horizon 2020 Framework Programme, whose goal is to speed up food system innovation and support the development of urban food policies to help ensure that all EU citizens have access to affordable, balanced and healthy food. Food Trails will enable the shared design of 11 pilot activities in as many European cities in order to better co-create urban food policy. 

    The “La Buona Mensa” initiative will kick off on September, and aims at engaging elementary school students, parents and teachers in food and nutrition education activities designed to train, raise awareness and educate them to responsibly consume healthy, safe, culturally appropriate, sustainable food that is produced and distributed with respect for human rights and the environment. Moreover, the initiative seeks to foster the creation of an enabling school food environment that facilitates the transition to healthy and sustainable diets. Specifically, it will innovate school food menus in line with the EU’s Farm to Fork Strategy and the UN Sustainable Development Goals, with less meat and dairy products, and more plant protein, beans, nuts and fresh local produce. Plant-based culinary training will also be launched, equipping cooks with the knowledge, skills and inspiration they need to develop delicious and nutritious plant-based dishes and securing a healthy food culture is realised in and around schools. Finally, the initiative aims to  identify and implement food waste minimization practices, by educating students and changing their everyday habits, measuring and reducing waste in canteens and kitchens, and by bringing together all players in the school catering value chain to drive down food waste and reassert the value of food.

    Vegetable Gardens BG

    All this comes at a time when the City of Bergamo supplies more than 95 percent of organic food in school canteens. Such a staggering figure has been possible thanks to the dual effort of both the Education Department responsible for the tender writing process, and the catering company which committed to further increase supply of quality organic ingredients, mostly local and seasonal. Under this administration, “La Buona Mensa” will seek to further increase the amount of organic food sourced locally, as part of its territorial strategy to stimulate conversion and reinforce the entire local value chain. 

    To conclude, there's still a long way to go for the transition to more sustainable food systems. However, Bergamo is right on track and ready for action. 


    Cities play an increasingly important role in promoting production and consumption of healthy sustainable food. The City of Bergamo has committed to demonstrate how it is possible to leverage public procurement in order to improve food consumption among the population, particularly school-age children of local seasonal and organic food. The development of food procurement policy in school canteens can also provide significant opportunities for increased organic consumption and production. Through the “La Buona Mensa” initiative, funded by the H2020 Food Trails project, the City of Bergamo is seeking to promote food literacy and increased access to local, seasonal, organic plant-rich food among primary school children in Bergamo.
    From urbact
  • On Board with Education Innovation Network (EIN)


    Partnering for innovating in education

    Sonia Mendez
    Project Coordinator
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    65 779


    On Board is about creating a culture in public education that prioritises innovation, empowers teachers, families and students working together with research institutions, business sectors and other local entities. EIN explores innovative practices modernising education curricula also through digital technologies at different ages and stages of learning, to provide pupils with the necessary skills to enter the job market.

    The solutions offered by the good practice

    Educational Innovation Network (EIN) I was born in 2013 in Volladecans to rethink and update the existing education system involving public administration officials, education centres & professionals, families and enterprises to foster educational innovation. EIN carries out various projects in which the establishments of collaboration agreements among local school-enterprises-families is key to innovate. Examples are: • Collaboration agreement between enterprises, schools and the city council dedicated to senior students of the Upper Secondary School or Vocational Training to solve problems and issues suggested by local enterprises, with the scope of improving the accessibility in the job markets of the young generation. • Collaboration with research institutions such as the university of Barcelona to tackle “Emotional Education”, in which specific training is given to teachers to develop emotional competences (of teachers and pupils) in school contexts. • Collaboration with families encouraged to join EIN by participating in the school council, collaborating on reading happenings or festivities, taking part in the AFS Association of Families of Students of the local schools supported by Expert of the education department. From a technological point of view, the EIN carries out several projects, in order to ensure that Viladecans’ schools, teachers and students are provided with digital devices and skills.

    Building on the sustainable and integrated approach

    One of the main achievement for the sustainability of the project is the political commitment signed by all the ON board partner cities to sustain the EIN approach. The ULG gave an impetus in this sense through the creation of the “Drivers Group” of the EIN, which intends to support beyond the ON BOARD project to help ensuring the network’s long-lasting involvement and contributions to education innovation in Viladecans. Moreover, Viladecans is going one step further with the new strategy it announced recently called 360º Education, under the 360º Education Alliance, which Viladecans joined in 2019. This initiative, promoted by the Barcelona Regional Council, Federation of Pedagogical Renovation Movements of Catalonia (FMRPC) and the Jaume Bofill Foundation, brings together town councils and local bodies, educational centres, associations and free-time organisations, and the voluntary sector. To shape the strategy, a multidisciplinary Steering Group has been set up, with primary and secondary school teachers, youth and sports groups, family associations, the Psycho-Pedagogical Advisory Team, the Barcelona Regional Council and the Viladecans City Council Department of Sport and Education. 360º Education will kick off with a pilot project with organisations that work with children to help them manage their emotions in line with what educational centres do and to ensure continuity of learning at school and outside of school.The 360º Education project will complement the Educational Innovation Network and help foster the educational success of children in the city.

    Based on a participatory approach

    The EIN good practice is entirely designed around the concept of participation, more specifically on the creation of multistakeholders’ partnership from different sectors. In Villadecans the implementation of most of the EIN project is composed of circa 850 members (primary and secondary schools, education professionals, families and enterprises).. All primary and secondary schools in the city are voluntarily involved in more than one project out of the 10 active network projects.

    What difference has it made?

    ON BOARD project has given in Viladecans the time and space to reflect at themunicipal level what has worked and what hasn’t, involving teachers, families, businesses, youths and civil society entities. Thus, the creation of ON BOARD network meant the opportunity to consolidate the EIN approach labelled URBACT good Practice. The main difference for Vlladecans concerns the improvement of the EIN modus operandi, which throught the Transfer has been improved along three axes concerning : 1) the inclusion of Civil Society, SME entities and young people as active members of the network; 2) the definition of a clear set of indicators to measure and evaluate the results and impact and help us to take decisions for the future; and, 3) the ensuring the sustainability of the EIN in the future. As network the cities signed jointly a political declaration

    Transferring the practice

    The EIN good practice lays on the creation of a strong multistakehodelr network, which in Villadecas constitute now a stable ecosystem of different people created over a relatively long period of time. The complexity of the transfer was indeed in providing the tools for the creation of an healthy and context-dependent stakeholders’ ecosystem able to sustain the creation of the innovative educational approach. The methodology adopted for the On Board six participating European cities (Viladecans, Halmstad, Nantes, Albergaria, Tallinn, and Poznan) was to organise 8 transnational meetings, focusing on key partners as the teachers and their role in the promotion of educational innovation and their capacity to open the school and interact with local agents; The business and university sector and their capacity to dialogue with schools, The non-formal education organisations and other local cultural, sports and leisure entities and associations, Students families. In terms of statistics the Transfer network involved more than 600 teachers, 5 400 students, 120 families, 19 companies and 24 entities, 15 pilot projects. The disruption of COVID has been heartily felt in this Transfer Network.

    Is a transfer practice
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  • Cooperation between generations for urban social renewal


    A local initiative connecting pensioners and the young, now extended throughout the town

    Judit Juhasz-Nagy
    Advisory office of the municipality of Kazincbarcika
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    29 256


    The problems of ageing, young people moving away and urban poverty are huge challenges in Kazincbarcika, one of Hungary's most underdeveloped regions. As a solution, a club of elderly people volunteered to help the young. The pensioners set up a series of workshops for kids from disadvantaged groups in a segregated district of the town. Based on their success, the events were extended to the whole town, coordinated by the family assistance service. Today, two to four people provide regular afterschool education one to three times a week for children aged 7 to 16. As a result, pupils are seeing improvements in their school performance and personal development. 15-25-year-olds can now also take part in “value transfer events”. What started as a small initiative has now led to cooperation between generations and local communities, which are included in the five basic principles of the town’s creative urban action plan “Kolorcity”.

    The solutions offered by the good practice

    In 2011, a new community house was realised under the integrated social, environmental rehabilitation programme in Herbolya, a segregated district of Kazincbarcika. The programmes and services had to be created, and people living there and NGOs of the town were involved in this work by the family assistance service of the municipality. Consequently, members of “Idővár” Pensioner Culture Club voluntarily started holding creative workshops connected to major celebrations and school holidays for disadvantaged children living in the district. Due to the success of the programme, the events have become regular since 2013 and spread to the whole town. The members of the club, mostly ex-teachers (coordinated by family assistance service workers), voluntarily dealt with 7- to 15-year-old disadvantaged children, mostly Roma, who had learning difficulties and were at risk of dropping out of school. Since then, the popularity of the events has been growing, and they are not limited to doing homework or rectifying insufficient knowledge, but they also provide mutual, confidential discussions and games. In this way, these events not only help the school career of children with learning deficiencies but also contribute to the well-being essential for their further studies and employment. It occurs in such a way that the retired generation voluntarily utilise their practical experience, knowledge through keeping children occupied, while spending their lives actively.

    Building on the sustainable and integrated approach

    The cooperation of the older and younger generations, which developed from the revitalisation plan of the socially and environmentally deteriorated town district, was included in the integrated town development strategy. The programme, realised in 2011-12, included revitalising the town environment and public utilities, creating indoor and outdoor community spaces and providing educational, social and employment programmes. The initial, occasional programmes started by pensioners in the segregated districts became permanent and were extended to all residents of the town, especially disadvantaged children. In the programme, the local family assistance service coordinated between civilians, who give helping hands, and the involved target groups, namely disadvantaged families and children. Due to its success, the “Idővár” Pensioner Culture Club has extended its activities: it organises casual events for disabled people; a multiple-round settlement knowledge and historical competition was organised for primary and secondary schoolchildren. In 2014, a so-called value-transfer programme was launched on topics that youngsters are interested in (e.g. partner selection, celebrations, volunteering) together with La Cosa Nostra Ensemble, a youth organisation for the 15- to 25-year-old residents of the town. It is important to note that the pensioner club is not a legally registered organisation, and its members work on a totally voluntary basis.

    Based on a participatory approach

    In the beginning, the family assistance service of the municipality worked with local NGOs while the community program in Herbolya district was being planned. They jointly shaped the services and programs of the community house. Later, the family assistance service and “Idővár” Club planned the daily, afterschool educational events together. The family assistance service recruits children with special needs to the events via its connections to families living in difficult conditions. Kids like attending the event, where in response to their needs, confidence-building discussions take place, games are played, and, later, children are helped to rectify their learning defects. The cooperation with youngsters, schools and local youth organisations is independent of the municipal organisation.

    What difference has it made?

    After the initial uncertainties, the events held in Herbolya district were visited by more and more residents (80 to 150 people per event). After completing the pilot project, four to five events were organised a year. The events did not need to be promoted as children became familiar with the programme. The regular afternoon events organised in the city centre were launched in 2013. In the beginning, there were only a few attendees, but the occasions became more and more popular: in 2016, 600 afterschool events were held, and about 25 children attended regularly. As a result of the events, the youngster’s personalities have developed, their self-confidence has improved, their mental problems have been dealt with, and their school performance has improved substantially. (The number of class repetition cases has decreased.) Many of the youths see the educators as their substitute grannies, who, by being role models and by being together have a substantial impact. Two to four teachers lead the afternoon programmes one to three days a week. The success of the program has inspired pensioners to cooperate with other youth organisations, such as La Cosa Nostra Youth Organisation, and to organise further value-sharing events.

    Why should other European cities use it?

    This initiative addresses a real social problem and provides solutions for the elderly to spend their time actively and usefully while supporting disadvantaged youngsters and families. It all started with the coordination of the municipality, later followed by programmes jointly organised with other youth organisations through a self-organising process. The good practice gives an example for the municipality’s coordinating/intermediary role, for the ways how the older generations and youngsters can cooperate (playhouses, supplementary learning, value-transferring programmes for the young), and turning the positive process started in the civil society into a system. Beyond organising cooperation between generations, they also provide profitable information about how youngsters from the disadvantaged groups should be dealt with individually.

    Is a transfer practice
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