• Spotlight on GreenPlace: revitalising green cities for and with the people

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    Bucharest, Romania. EC - Audiovisual Service.

    When it comes to reusing urban spaces, the GreenPlace Action Planning Network wants to hear from local residents.

    A picture of a park in Bucharest, Romania. Source: EC - Audiovisual Service.
    From urbact

    Belgian architect Luc Schuiten envisages that in 2100 “Sustainable development will have become a pleonasm”, and as such, all urban development will inevitably be sustainable. Future cities will see new living and working habits, mobility and interfaces intersecting and co-existing with the natural environment. Local authorities will play a role in this transformative change, notably by working on infrastructure: creating green spaces out of abandoned buildings and spaces, joining the urban net, enabling a pedestrian connexion and infrastructure from one neighbourhood to another. Notwithstanding the environmental benefit of such measures, public spaces will also become spaces for creativity, learning and exchange.

    Laeken 1800- 2200, La Cité végétale, Luc Schuiten. Source: https://www.vegetalcity.net/en/oeuvres-originales/

    Laeken 1800- 2200, La Cité végétale, Luc Schuiten. Source: Vegetalcity


    This article looks closer at the need for green revitalisation and regeneration in the context of the URBACT GreenPlace Action Planning Network, one of  30 URBACT Action Planning Networks running from June 2023 to December 2025. Led by Wroclaw (PL), GreenPlace addresses unused, abandoned and forgotten places with green revitalisation and regeneration efforts – all involving the local community. 


    The issue of forgotten and unused urban spaces


    The urban landscape in Europe has evolved over the last decades. Former industrial or rail infrastructures, factories, construction sites, slaughterhouses, large health and social care facilities, shopping centres, offices or incomplete buildings and city centres, former military barracks, parks and greenfields – a variety of buildings and spaces have lost their original functions, left unused, abandoned and/or forgotten. 

    Bucharest Delta (Marcelline Bonneau)

    Bucharest Delta. Source: Marcelline Bonneau.


    These buildings and sites can be abandoned or unused for a variety of reasons:

    - radical changes, conditioned by historical or economic events;

    - negative connotations linked to places;

    - the natural toll of time pr dereliction;

    - social, historical and economic changes in a city;

    - population shifts from rural to urban areas and changes in residential patterns (e.g. larger houses, fewer people per family unit);

    - the low price of undeveloped greenfield land compared with the high cost of redeveloping land (e.g. regeneration of brownfields); or

    - becoming too expensive to maintain.

    Addressing the management of these under-used land, spaces and buildings is a key focal point of European regional development policy and funding frameworks. On the one hand, if nothing is done, these spaces will have a negative impact on the environment and biodiversity. For example, former storage and manoeuvring yards can form ‘heat islands’ and stored pollution can lead to further problems related to, among other things, rainwater management. Unused public spaces can also negatively impact land use, not accounting for land pressure and uncontrolled urban development (sprawl), and socio-economic inequity and insecurity. 

    On the other hand, if we do something, we’ll see a positive impact on the environment. Nature-based solutions, brownfield regeneration, green infrastructure and other technical green solutions – including retrofitting or energy networks – can increase biodiversity, protect habitats, attract new fauna and flora  and integrate climate adaptation solutions, for example, related to rainwater management, water retention, cool islands, etc.  

    Cities involved in URBACT networks, such as Lille (FR) and Heerlen (NL), serve as case studies on the positive impact of greener rehabilitated public spaces in their communities. Policy recommendations for the reuse of spaces and buildings include, among others: involving architects and planners in the development of land-use plans; fixing realistic land and financial budgets; considering public-private partnership models.



    The need to develop green revitalisation and regeneration


    Green revitalisation and regeneration are a prominent way of addressing unused, forgotten and abandoned places, both as a means to sustainable urban development and ends in themselves. The most common principles underpinning these concepts are addressed in the following approaches:

    Circular Cities
    • opportunities to improve efficiency and environmental impact by embedding circular economy principles in urban context
    • rethinking every element of urban living and one of the circular city declinations concerns the re-use of buildings and spaces
    Nature-Based Solutions and Green Infrastructure
    • solutions that are inspired and supported by nature, which are cost-effective, simultaneously provide environmental, social and economic benefits and help build resilience
    • solutions that are inspired and supported by nature, which are cost-effective, simultaneously provide environmental, social and economic benefits and help build resilience
      a strategically planned network of natural and semi-natural areas with other environmental features, designed and managed to deliver a wide range of ecosystem services, while also enhancing biodiversity
    Cultural Heritage as a Resource          
    • a conscious, effective, integrated management of urban Cultural Heritage and urban cultural identities can help to improve urban sustainable growth policies



    GreenPlace: 10 cities revitalising forgotten urban spaces with local communities


    The above approaches to green revitalisation and regeneration form the core of the GreenPlace Action Planning Network. Led by the City of Wroclaw (PL), partner cities include Boulogne-sur-mer Développement Côte d’Opale (FR), Bucharest-Ilfov Metropolitan Area Intercommunity Development Association (RO), Cehegin (ES), Limerick (IE), Löbau (DE), Nitra (SK), Onda (ES), Quarto d’Altino (IT) and Vila Nova De Poiares (PT).

    The variety of partner profiles stresses the richness and added value of such a diverse partnership. Some of these cities are small (e.g. Vila Nova de Poiares has 7.281 inhabitants) others are very large (e.g. Bucharest-Ilfov, with 2.298.000 inhabitants). Some are rural areas (e.g. Quarto d’Altino), some are very urban (e.g. Wroclaw), while others are considered developed (e.g. Limerick) or less developed (e.g. Nitra).

    The partner cities may be in different stages of green revitalisation and community engagement. They may face different contexts and challenges, as indicated in the GreenPlace baseline study, which details the context, methodology and roadmap of the Action Planning Networks. Regardless of these differences, they are already learning so much from each other!

    In particular, city partners are focusing on the following main categories of forgotten and unused urban spaces:

    - Abandoned buildings: a Noodle Factory in Löbau, a Civic Centre in Quarto d’Altino;

    - Forgotten buildings (yet, partially in use): the Popowice Tram Depot in Wroclaw, the Victorei Tram Depot in Bucharest-Ilfov; 

    - Unused green areas: a medieval wall in Limerick, a Green Zone in Vila Nova de Poiares, Ejidos in Cehegin; and

    - Unused built areas: a future Green Lung in Onda, the Station-Bréquerecque area in Boulogne-Sur-Mer, Martin’s Hill – a former military barracks site in Nitra.

    In Löbau, partners have reported back on involving the local community in plans to revitalise an abandoned factory site.



    URBACT Action Planning Networks: greener horizons


    More updates are still to come from the GreenPlace Action Planning Network as the work progresses. 

    In the broader scheme of the URBACT IV programme, GreenPlace is not the only URBACT Action Planning Networks making cities greener. COPE, Let’s Go Circular, BiodiverCity, Eco-Core and In4Green are a few others worth exploring!






    This article was updated in April 2024. The original version was submitted by Marcelline Bonneau on 19/12/2023.




  • URBACT-Netzwerk „One Health 4 Cities“ - Städte in Aktion für die Gesundheit von Mensch, Tier und Umwelt

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    Gruppenfotos des URBACT-Netzwerks ONCE vor einem Schild "Lahti"

    Mitte Februar 2024 traf sich das One-Health-4-Cities-Netzwerk in Lahti, Finnland. Die neun beteiligten Kommunen haben lokale Roadmaps für die kommenden zwei Jahre erarbeitet und städtische Planungstools unter die Lupe genommen. Ebenso stand auf dem Programm ein wissenschaftlicher Input zu Studien und Forschungsprojekten zu den Themen „Planetary Health“ und „One Health“. Um neben Theorie und Planung auch die praktische Anwendung nicht zu kurz kommen zu lassen, tauchten die Teilnehmer:innen mit allen Sinnen in den „Gesundheitswald“ von Lahti ein.


    Gruppenfoto des URBACT-Netzwerks One-Health-4-Cities-Netzwerk 

    From urbact

    Das Gesundheitsreferat der Landeshauptstadt München beteiligt sich von Juni 2023 bis Dezember 2025 am URBACT-Städtenetzwerk „One Health 4 Cities“. Ziel der Partnerstädte aus Deutschland, Finnland, Frankreich, Griechenland, Portugal, Rumänien und Spanien ist es, den One-Health-Ansatz, der die Gesundheit von Menschen, Tieren und der Umwelt gemeinsam betrachtet, in städtische Strategien und Projekte umzusetzen. Der One-Health-Ansatz verbindet und integriert verschiedene Sektoren, Disziplinen und Akteure auf unterschiedlichen Ebenen der Gesellschaft, um gemeinsam Bedrohungen für Gesundheit und Ökosysteme zu bekämpfen und einen Beitrag zur nachhaltigen Entwicklung zu leisten. Der „Planetary Health“-Ansatz konzentriert sich mehr auf die Umwelt, insbesondere den Klimawandel und die menschliche Gesundheit, sowie auf die sozialen Faktoren der menschlichen Gesundheit.

    Aktualisierung der Leitlinie Gesundheit in München

    ONCE Netzwerktreffen
    Kleingruppe beim Workshop in Lahti © Marlène Dussauge

    Im Rahmen des Projekts wird in München die örtliche Fachleitlinie Gesundheit unter dem Gesichtspunkt des One-Health-Ansatzes aktualisiert. Die Leitlinie Gesundheit ist Teil des Stadtentwicklungskonzepts „Perspektive München“, das seit 1998 kontinuierlich fortgeschrieben wird und sich zu den UN-Nachhaltigkeitszielen bekennt. Durch die Aktualisierung der Leitlinie Gesundheit reagiert die Stadt auf die aktuellen Herausforderungen der letzten Jahre, insbesondere im Kontext der Auswirkungen des Klimawandels auf die Bevölkerung in einer wachsenden Metropole. Der integrierte Ansatz fokussiert Handlungsbedarfe und versucht, strukturelle Lösungen an der Schnittstelle von Gesundheit und Umwelt zu geben. Konkret sichtbar werden die Ziele an Leitprojekten, die mit einem Multi-Stakeholder-Ansatz entwickelt und umgesetzt werden. Mit München arbeiten zwei weitere Städte, Lyon und Lahti, an integrierten Ansätzen mit strategischem Fokus. Die Städte bilden eine von drei Cluster-Gruppen des Projekts.

    Mitte Februar 2024 trafen sich die Netzwerkpartner:innen zum zweiten „Core Meeting“ in Lahti.

    Ziele des Meetings waren:

    mehr über die Entwicklung einer integrierten One-Health-Strategie zu lernen, 

    mehr über die Strategie "Nature step to Health" von Lahti und ihrer Vorbildprojekte zu erfahren,

    relevante Instrumente und Methoden der Gesundheitsstadtplanung kennenzulernen.


    Lernen von Lahti: Gesundheits- und Umweltziele kombinieren

    Am ersten Tag präsentierte das Team aus Lahti den Teilnehmer:innen die Strategie "Nature Step to Health". Im Jahr 2022 starteten die Region Päijät-Häme, die Stadt Lahti und der Campus der Universität Lahti gemeinsam dieses zehnjährige Programm, das darauf abzielt, die Gesundheits- und Umweltziele der Region zu kombinieren. Gesundheit und Wohlbefinden werden umfassend gefördert, indem die Zusammenhänge zwischen Menschen und Natur thematisiert werden. Die Teilnehmer:innen besuchten Projekte wie den Outdoor-Kindergarten und den lokalen „Gesundheitswald“. Der „Gesundheitswald“ wurde im Rahmen des vom Horizon-Europe-Programm finanzierten GoGreenRoutes-Projekts entwickelt. Er soll dazu beitragen, ein positives Verhältnis zwischen Mensch und Natur zu fördern, und die Verbundenheit der Bürger:innen mit der Natur zu stärken. Es geht darum, dass Menschen die umgebende Natur bewusst wahrnehmen, was beispielsweise durch Sinnesübungen entlang der Strecke erleichtert wird.

    Austausch und Konferenzteilnahme

    Gruppenarbeit beim Netzwerktreffen in Lahti © Sofia Aivalioto

    Am zweiten Tag konzentrierte das Netzwerk sich auf die Entwicklung lokaler Roadmaps, um die Zusammenarbeit mit den lokalen URBACT-Gruppen und die Erarbeitung der integrierten Handlungskonzepte für die drei Clustergruppen zu erleichtern. Dabei unterstützen die Partner sich gegenseitig, inklusive gegenseitigem Feedback, Unterstützung und Anregungen. Am Ende des Tages standen die kommenden Treffen mit Datum, Themen und Zielen fest. Am dritten Tag standen Stadtplanungstools auf dem Programm. Die Lead-Expertin des Projektes, Sofia Aivalioti, stellte Planungstools für gesunde Städte vor und zeigte Anwendungen und Operationalisierungen auf. Das Kerntreffen fand zeitgleich mit der von der University von Helsinki organisierten Konferenz „People & Planet: From Theory to Solutions“ statt. Die Projektpartner:innen hatten die Möglichkeit, an Sessions der Konferenz teilzunehmen und sich ein Bild der Forschungs- und Studienlage unter anderem in Finnland zu machen.

    “Planetary Health” und “One Health” politisch stärker vorantreiben

    Menschen mit Wollsocken im Schnee.
    Gehen im Schnee mit Wollsocken im "Gesundheitswald" © Sofia Aivalioto

    Die wichtigsten Erkenntnisse des Netzwerktreffens waren, dass Planetary Health und One Health mit starkem politischem Engagement angegangen werden müssen. 80 Prozent der nichtübertragbaren Krankheiten könnten durch verbesserte Umweltbedingungen verhindert werden, wie Matilda van den Bosch und das Projekt GOGREENROUTES ausführten. Es gebe zahlreiche Beweise dafür, dass die Natur positive Auswirkungen auf die menschliche Gesundheit hat. Jetzt sei es an der Zeit, Maßnahmen zu ergreifen. Der Verlust der Natur findet außerhalb und innerhalb des menschlichen Körpers statt: Das lässt sich an Forschungen zum Mikrobiom feststellen. Der menschliche Körper und die natürliche Artenvielfalt und ihre Verflechtungen seien, so Professor Tari Haahtela, sehr wichtige Determinanten unserer Gesundheit und brächten ein nachhaltiges Gleichgewicht für die Gesundheit von Menschen, Tieren und ihrer Umwelt. Sicherheitsbedenken können den Menschen in Innenräume treiben. Eine übermäßige Sterilisation von Innenräumen kann die Gesundheit allerdings beeinträchtigen, weil sie die Exposition gegenüber natürlichen Elementen einschränkt und möglicherweise zu Problemen mit dem Immunsystem beiträgt. Sichere Innenräume seien auf Dauer nicht gesund, so Haahtelas Apell. 

    Das One Health-4-Cities-Netzwerk tauchte nicht nur ins Wissen um gesund machende Umwelt ein, sondern lebte Naturexposition auch in der Praxis: Das Team stellte beim Besuch des „Gesundheitswalds“ fest, dass das Gehen im Schnee mit Wollsocken wärmer und bequemer ist als mit Schuhen! 

    Artikel von Antje Kohlrusch, Gesundheitsplanung, Strategie und Grundsatz, Landeshauptstadt München

  • Liège makes purchasing a key ingredient of a local and sustainable food ecosystem

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    Liège brings public procurement into the mix for a more local, seasonal and sustainable food system.

    More sustainable and healthy meal at the canteen (photo credit: MAdil).

    From urbact

    Going from 0% to 70% ‘sustainable food’¹ in three years, and more than 50% local: “We're not out of work!” says Davide Archadipane, from Intercommunale de Soins Spécialisés de Liège (ISoSL). ISoSL is the inter-municipal association providing 4,000 meals per day to more than half of the elementary school canteens in Liège, Belgium. 

    Since the launch of the URBACT BioCanteens #2 Transfer Network (2021-2022), ISoSL has undertaken a 360° transformation of its practices: adapting menus and integrating organic, local, healthy, fresh and seasonal products, setting up a working dynamic between the cooks and the city’s schools, measuring food waste, developing a mobile meal-ordering application to alleviate administrative work for schools and provide cooks with accurate order numbers, organising visits to producers with the cooks, the purchasing department and the dieticians, modifying six out of nine public food contracts for schools and nurseries, with the objective of 100% local, organic food by 2024

    All of these transformations put together have culminated in a profound change in the ISoSL system. In anticipation of the next EU City Lab, which will take place in Liège, this article explores the city’s integrated food system and, in particular, the role of public procurement in combatting food waste.


    A strategy for an integrated food system


    At the beginning of 2021, ISoSL decided to take a systemic approach to its collective catering, encompassing four main areas of work: purchasing policy, production management, waste reduction and awareness of sustainable food. 

    A lot more could be written on each aspect of this approach, and the Liège food ecosystem as a whole. For the purpose of this article, it is worth examining a few prompts for the strategy: How can the city change the way it buys so that sustainable products enter the kitchens? What constitutes a purchasing strategy that is consistent with the values of sustainable food? How can ISoSL’s purchasing power be leveraged to invest in local, sustainable and resilient food systems?

    ISoSL inter-municipal association central kitchen preparing 12,000 meals per day (Photo credit, Strategic Design Scenarios)

    ISoSL inter-municipal association central kitchen preparing 12,000 meals per day (Photo credit, Strategic Design Scenarios).


    Revolutioning food procurement processes


    Agricultural issues are not always well understood by those who are not involved in the sector. That's why ISoSL systematically visits producers and farms when analysing offers. “We adapt our needs to what the region has to offer, rather than the other way round”. For Davide Arcadipane, it's a real paradigm shift when it comes to sourcing, moving towards fresh, seasonal produce, from short distribution channels and as raw as possible. Meeting producers is essential. It allows cooks and dieticians to understand the history of products and the diversity of local production.   

    The timing for change is also linked to ISoSL's purchasing policy: markets end and start at very specific times. The city's purchasing department has drawn up a schedule of contracts to be renewed, which are dealt with one after the other.

    The work always starts with an inventory of requirements: what products for which usage? What quantities? How often? Etc. In short, all the information relevant to the preparation of meals, and therefore to the award of a new public tender.

    The next step is to carry out research in the field to find out which local producers and businesses could meet these needs. It's important to know what's on offer so that you can draw up appropriate specifications. The offer, here, must be understood as the overall offer at a given moment, in a given territory and not as the submission of a bid by a tenderer. 

    Once ISoSL is certain that all the suppliers have a range of products that can be used to produce healthy, diversified menus, new selection criteria are incorporated into the public procurement tender. Public procurement legislation is not easy to use, and it is not always easy to find the right criteria. A multi-disciplinary team made up of the purchasing department and legal experts (both internal and external to ISoSL) is working on introducing criteria to ensure that products are environmentally friendly, respect animal welfare, are healthy and fair, and do not contribute to food waste. This is followed by a classic procedure involving the submission of tenders, culinary tests, appointment of the supplier, etc.

    On paper, it looks fairly simple to introduce sustainable products into community kitchens, but in reality it's rather complex and requires a lot of energy”, continues Davide. “There are logistical, human and financial obstacles, in particular the duality between the demand for low prices from canteen users and the need to offer remunerative prices to producers”. 


    Going beyond the canteen to tackle food waste


    In Belgium, the ‘hot meal’ in the canteen often has a bad reputation. In fact, only a dozen percent of schoolchildren eat there. The others make do with their ‘sandwich box’ brought from home, which rarely contains a balanced, healthy and varied meal. Canteens are often noisy places where children eat in a hurry, without being accompanied or encouraged to taste. In Belgium, lunchtime is also considered ‘non-school time’. It is therefore a time not financed by the Wallonia-Brussels Federation in charge. As a result, the tendency is often to neglect these moments, to have the children looked after by ‘auxiliaries’, i.e, generally unqualified, untrained staff. The change in school canteens, while crucial, will affect and raise awareness in far fewer people than in other European countries where school canteens are mainstream. This is another reason not to stop there, to extend these policies to all collective catering and to develop general awareness.

    The URBACT BioCanteens #2 Transfer Network played a key role in the development of an integrated local food approach in Liège, protecting both the health of citizens and the environment. Within the framework of BioCanteens, the ISoSL kitchens selected nine pilot schools from which an in-depth diagnosis of the lunchtime process was carried out. Within the framework of this diagnosis, particular attention was paid to the reduction of waste. “The observation phase made it possible to point out three critical moments where this waste was visually present”, explains Julien Chapaux, in charge of conducting the first diagnosis for Liège, “during production and cooking of meals, during the packaging and distribution from the central kitchen and during consumption in the schools.”

    First, during production, daily variations in meal orders range from 100–350 meals. To avoid running out of meals during packing and serving in the schools, the cooks had taken to systematically producing more. Every day, the kitchen therefore provided for a safety margin, which inevitably led to waste during production.    

    Second, when the meals are put into the insulated containers to be sent to the schools (hot link distribution), the staff have a very short time to pack the 2,500 meals for the 150 schools. Observations have shown that the staff do not always have the same rigour at the beginning of the packaging line as at the end. This led to differences in the weight of the food in the insulated containers for the first schools served and those on the last round.

    Finally, during the consumption of the meal, it was observed that there was generally too much (or sometimes not enough) food in the insulated containers, but above all that many children did not finish their plates.

    In February 2022, Liège implemented a series of production, packaging and consumption weightings. A student carried out eight weeks of analysis (one week per school). It was measured that the overall waste of meals was 51%. For soup, the figure was 57%. These dramatic outcomes confirmed the first batch of observations with quantitative figures convincing ISoSL and all city canteens’ schemes to take action. A series of measures were taken: application of meal ordering with strict ordering deadlines, weighing at the packaging line, awareness-raising in schools, etc.

    More sustainable and healthy meal at the canteen (photo credit: MAdil)

    More sustainable and healthy meal at the canteen (photo credit: MAdil).


    When a bottom-up movement meets city governance


    Thinking about the market in a sustainable way is a complex process. It's not enough to change one criterion or another, or to demand more local, high-quality food. The key to making these changes is co-construction and a shared determination to achieve them, the involvement of all the players. “ISoSL and the city of Liège would not have been able to put all this in place without the Ceinture Alimentaire Terre Liégeoise”, states Vérionique Biquet, Project Manager for Healthy and sustainable food for all within the Social Cohesion Plan of Liège. “As public players, we don't have the capacity to mobilise the local ecosystem of producers without the support of local experts and facilitators”. 

    The Liège Food Belt (Ceinture Alimentaire Terre Liégeoise) emerged from more than 400 stakeholders in the region, who joined forces about 14 years ago. There was a need for a platform to support and structure this mobilisation among producers, market gardeners, organic groceries, sustainable canteens and restaurants. The rapid change achieved by ISoSL and Liège has been highly facilitated by the existence of a strong and large network of engaged stakeholders. 

    The tighter collaboration between the Liège Food Belt and the public authorities of Liège generates a booming dynamic within the local healthy and sustainable food ecosystem. In parallel to the transformation of school canteens, a large range of initiatives have popped up in recent years, involving various organisations and institutions.

    Visit to a local sustainable food producer (Photo credit: MAdil).

    Visit to a local sustainable food producer (Photo credit: MAdil).


    The MAdil, Maison de l'Alimentation durable et inclusive de Liège (Sustainable and Inclusive Food House) provides the opportunity to discover, test and learn about good food practices, including environmental protection and the fight against food waste. Activities cover culinary workshops, guest tables, walks around edible wild plants, meetings with local producers, introductions to market gardening techniques, and more.

    HORIZON, a logistics centre dedicated to short circuits, has been operational for a year at the Marché Matinal de Liège in Droixhe, with storage space for local coopératives in particular to supply community kitchens. The "Short-Circuit" weekly market welcomes around 20 local producers and over 1,000 visitors every Thursday, from May to October, in the Place Cathédrale.

    The CREaFARM programme, which makes public land available free of charge for local and urban agricultural projects. The agricultural plots are farmed by market gardeners on the principle of Community Supported Agriculture.

    The creation of the CPA, Conseil de Politique Alimentaire (Food Policy Council) as a consultation and coordination body is also notable. It is dedicated to the actors of the food system, on the scale of the 24 municipalities of Liège Métropole and is composed of six Working Groups.

    And last but not least, a month ago, construction began on a vegetable and canning factory, financed by European funds and planned as part of the national plan for recovery and resilience. This new installation will be active in 2025 and enable the supply of local and fresh vegetables to the ISoSL kitchen and beyond.  


    Logistics hub for local producers at the historic Droixhe morning bulk market (photo credit: ville de Liège)

    Logistics hub for local producers at the historic Droixhe morning bulk market (photo credit: Ville de Liège).



    Good practices: from city to city


    To reiterate, the BioCanteens Transfer Network played an important role in catalysing this process in Liège. In fact, Liège was engaged in a process of adapting the city of Mouans-Sartoux‘s Good Practice with its means and context: a daily distribution of 100% organic meals made of local products; a drastic reduction of food waste; the organisation of educational activities dedicated to raising children’s awareness of sustainable food, etc.

    In Mouans-Sartoux, the city started to take action towards more healthy and sustainable food and the citizens and the civil society joined the movement. In Liège it is the other way around, the Liège Food Belt kicked off the food transition process and the city administration built on it to set its healthy and sustainable food governance!” summarises Gilles Pérole, Vice-Mayor of Mouans-Sartoux in charge of Children, Education and Food and Coordinator of the BioCanteens URBACT Transfer Network.  

    Does this success mean that Liège is starting its own URBACT Transfer Network at regional level? “In a way yes”, answers Davide Arcadipane. “What we achieved here is possible on every Belgian territory. More initiatives from other cities such as Liège will produce more transition to sustainable practice of food producers, more potential to foster change through strategic public procurement even with the declining purchasing power due to inflation, more involvement and coherence in terms of food-related policies between local, regional, federal and European governance levels”.


    Visit to a local sustainable food producer (Photo credit: MAdil)

    New short circuit logistic hub programmed for 2025 (Photo credit is Gaetan Wijnants).


    Next steps for Liège


    A lot has been achieved in a relatively short time to transform the ISoSL central kitchen. What are the next challenges for the city? The central kitchen started to cook two fresh local vegetables per day. The new  vegetable and canning factory will be able to process 1,400 tonnes of locally produced vegetables per year and cover more than the needs of ISoSL. This vegetable factory will achieve the initial objective of 100% organic, announced in 2021 upon entering the URBACT BioCanteens Transfer Network.

    The strategic use of the city purchase power. In 2023, Liège school canteens represented around €1,000,0000 of which €600,000 are already classified as ‘sustainable food’. This shows, if still needed, that strategic public procurement has an important stimulation effect on the emergence of new sustainable food producers and on the transition of the local farming ecosystem.  

    The 4,000 meals per day provided to the schools and nurseries should now be extended to 12,000 meals per day, including hospitals and elderly homes of the area. There is a strong political interest, including from other Wallonian cities. Moreover, a study is in progress to assess real costs which is to say, costs of delivering sustainable and local meals, but also taking into account hidden costs for public authorities due to unhealthy diets, diffusion of related diseases such as obesity, etc.  


    EU City Labs: what’s next on the menu?


    The creation of a rich and articulated ecosystem is key to support changes in practices: it is true to ensure the evolution of citizens towards more healthy and sustainable diet. This was analysed in the recent article ‘Feeding change: Cities empowering healthier and more sustainable food choices’ as well as during EU Food City Lab on Changing Habits for a Healthy and Sustainable Food System (Mouans-Sartoux (FR), 21-22 March 2024). Liège example shows, if still needed, that it is also true for stakeholder practices change (farmers, transformers, cooks, canteens staff, etc.).

    From 29-30 May 2024, Liège will host the EU City Lab on Public Procurement for More Local, Seasonal and Sustainable Food. EU City Labs are knowledge-sharing events co-hosted by URBACT and the European Urban Initiative. The Liège edition is the second of three events taking place in different cities, focused on change of eating habits, food procurement and preservation of agricultural land, and other elements for cultivating thriving local food systems in urban areas.

    Interested in meeting with other cities, representatives and organisations working on this issue? Registration for the next EU City Lab is still open. Consult the full programme and register here.

    Want to read more from URBACT experts on food and related topics? Visit the URBACT Food Knowledge Hub.



    ¹ The ISoSL uses the definition of ‘sustainable food’ found in the Wallonia Region Food Strategy Manger Demain (Eating Tomorrow) and that of the FAO.


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    Solingen hosts the second meeting of the EU funded network for the exchange of experiences and collaborative learning on local solutions 




    Visit Study in II Transnational Meeting. Solingen © Medienproduktion der Stadt Solingen.

    From urbact



    On February 28th and 29th, 2024, the second transnational meeting of the URBACT In4Green network was held in Solingen with the aim of further advancing knowledge exchange activities and collaborative learning that can inspire the identification and design of local actions for the green industrial transition.

    Thirty individuals affiliated with the In4Green network partners with various profiles and roles attended this second transnational meeting. From local project coordinators to elected representatives, internal stakeholders, local government officials, and external stakeholders such as companies and external public agencies, they gathered in Solingen to work together on finding solutions for the green transition in small and medium-sized industrial cities.

    All attendees had the opportunity to participate in various activities primarily designed and facilitated by the Lead Expert of the network, Jose Costero. These activities included thematic working groups, peer review sessions, study visits to projects in Solingen, training activities, and skill development or training on URBACT Methodology tools.