Country
Geolocation
POINT (17.625689 59.195363)
  • AGRI-URBAN

    The Intercultural cities programme (ICC) supports cities in reviewing their policies through an intercultural lens and developing comprehensive intercultural strategies to help them manage diversity positively and realise the diversity advantage.

    Amadora launches a Guide on the welcoming of migrants

    Blue Economy Forum

    BluAct Toolkit

    BluAct: The Documentary

    2ndChance on Facebook

    2ndChance on Twitter

    Timeline

    Kick-off meeting in June (Mollet des Valles). Transnational meetings in October (LAG Payd de Condruses) and December (Pyli).
    Transnational meetings in April (Sodertalye), June (Fundao), July (Jelgava) and September (Abergavenny).
    Transnational meetings in March (Mouans Sartoux) and April (Petrinja). Final event in April (Baena).

    Municipality of Athienou
    2, Archbishop Makarios III Ave.
    7600 Athienou Cyprus

    CONTACT US

    Municipality of Santiago de Compostela

    CONTACT US

    Municipality of Udine (Italy)

    CONTACT US

    For any enquires into Tech Revolution, email: DMC@Barnsley.gov.uk

    Keep following our social media channels as we develop Tech Revolution 2.0 as part of the second wave of URBACT ||| Programme. 

    Follow our Twitter: @Tech_RevEu
    Follow our Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/company/urbact-techrevolution/

    CONTACT US

    Coordinator

    ADDRESS

    Av. Movimento das Forças Armadas

    2700-595 Amadora

    Portugal 

    TELEPHONE

    +351 21 436 9000

    Ext. 1801

    CONTACT US

    City of Rome

    tamara.lucarelli@comune.roma.it

    Department of European Funds and Innovation

    Via Palazzo di Città, 1 - 10121 Turin (Italy)

     

    CONTACT US

    Câmara Municipal de Lisboa

    Departamento de Desenvolvimento Local

    Edifício Municipal, Campo Grande nº25, 6ºE | 1749 -099 Lisboa

    CONTACT US

    urbact.civicestate@gmail.com

    CONTACT US

    Laura González Méndez. Project coordinator.

    Gijón City Council

    CONTACT US

    Municipality of Piraeus

    CONTACT US

    City of Ljubljana

    Mestni trg 1

    1000 Ljubljana, Slovenia

    CONTACT US

    Project Coordinator Martin Neubert

    +49 371 355 7029

     

    CONTACT US

    Riga NGO House

    CONTACT US

    City of Antwarp
    Grote Markt 1 - 2000 Antwarpen

    Manchester City Council
    Manchester M2 5RT

    City of Rotterdam
    Coolsingel 40, 3011 AD Rotterdam

    City Council Bielefeld
    Bürger Service Center
    Phone +49 521 510

    CONTACT US

    City of Eindhoven
    Stadhuisplein 1, 5611 EM Eindhoven

    City of Loulé
    Praça da República, 8104-001 Loulé
    Phone +351 289 400 600

    CONTACT US

    City of Igualada
    Plaça de l'Ajuntament, 1, 08700 Igualada, Barcelona

    CONTACT US

    City of Ghent
    Stad Gent
    Botermarkt 1
    9000 Gent

    City of Genoa
    Via di Francia, 1 - XI floor. 16149 Genova

    CONTACT US

    City of San Donà di Piave Piazza Indipendenza, 13 – 30027

    CONTACT US

    City of Naples
    Urban Planning Department 
    Phone +39 081 7958932 - 34 - 17 

    CONTACT US

    The Barnsley Digital Media  County Way, Barnsley, S70 2JW
    Phone +44 01226 720700 

    CONTACT US

    Preston City Council
    Town Hall, Preston, PR1 2RL

    City of Piacenza
    piazza Cavalli 2 - 29121 Piacenza - Italia
    tel centralino 
    Phone +39 0523 492 111 

    City of Bilbao
    Plaza Ernesto Erkoreka nº1. 48007 Bilbao. Phone +32 944 204 200 

    City of Poznan
    plac Kolegiacki 17,
    61-841 Poznań

    CONTACT US

    Westmisnter City Council
    Phone +44 020 7641 6500

    City of Gdańsk
    5 prof. Witolda Andruszkiewicza St.
    80-601 Gdańsk

    City of Baena
    Plaza de la Constitución 1
    14850 Baena (Córdoba) 
    SPAIN

    CONTACT US

    Rethinking Agri-food production in small and medium-sized European cities is the aim of this Action Planning network. Agri-food production is a mature industry that continues to play an important role in terms of GDP, employment and environmental sustainability. That is why new growth potentials must be activated by means of innovation, new business models and strategies. Our vision is to place cities at the core of a growing global movement that recognizes the current complexity of food systems and the links between rural cities and nearby cities as a way to ensure regional development.

    The roots of the city
    Ref nid
    7338
  • Making integrated urban development more manageable

    Share on FacebookShare on TwitterShare on LinkedIn
    15/11/2022

    How can cities improve their plans for integrated urban development?

    Articles
    Urban planning

    By recognising its complexity and breaking it down into its component concepts cities can better manage integrated urban development. One of the findings of the recent study of URBACT cities’ Integrated Action Plans (IAP Study) was that cities need to fully understand, but also break down, the complexity of ‘integrated urban development’ in order to better take on the challenge of systematically improving their approaches.

    Integrated Urban Development: a challenging concept

    Previous efforts by URBACT to communicate what 'integrated urban development' means have typically focused on the ideas of ‘horizontal’ and ‘vertical’ integration. These are useful concepts for enabling a general understanding of the topic, but the IAP Study found that practical efforts to both improve and assess the integration of an urban action plan require more detailed definitions.

    ‘Horizontal integration’ potentially incorporates: diverse policy areas/sectors; different locations and spatial relationships; the diversity of local stakeholder groups; and the balancing of economic, social and environmental objectives. Thus, the apparently simple question “is this action plan horizontally integrated?” becomes extremely difficult and complex to answer in practice. The various dimensions mean that a simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’ is not enough.

    Meanwhile, ‘vertical integration’ between levels of governance can refer variously to the engagement of decision-makers and stakeholders, the alignment of strategies and the mobilisation of funds from different levels. Once again, the question of whether an action plan is vertically integrated or not becomes complex and nuanced and does not lend itself to a simple answer.

    In this context, it is perhaps unsurprising that the IAP Study found that cities were often struggling to process and communicate the complexity they were dealing with in trying to deliver integrated approaches to urban development.

    The Integrated Action Plan of Medina del Campo (ES) from the CityCentreDoctor network describes the revitalisation of the city centre “as an integrated process. Integrated because it includes social, economic, environmental, cultural and institutional areas.” This definition does not really do justice to the level of integration demonstrated. In fact, the IAP shows coordination between sectors, across locations and spatial relationships, between levels of governance and with stakeholder groups, as well as between economic, social and environmental aspects.

    The need for a clear and detailed definition

    For some IAPs then, the lack of a clear and detailed definition of ‘integration’ affected their ability to fully communicate the complexity of their plans. However, for many, the lack of such a definition also increased the risks that certain aspects of integration would be missed.

    In conducting its analysis, the IAP Study found that the picture was extremely varied across and within the IAPs. Sometimes aspects of integration were clearly addressed. Sometimes they were addressed, but not clearly or not fully. Sometimes they did not seem to be addressed at all. And when they were missing, it was not clear if this was an oversight or an intentional decision not to focus on an aspect not considered to be of importance.

    For example, we can consider the IAP of Södertälje (SE) from the AGRI-URBAN network. This is generally an excellent example of an integrated action plan, which is presented extremely clearly and demonstrates various aspects of integration as well as good practice in stakeholder engagement and transnational exchange. However, unlike some other IAPs, it does not mention cooperation with neighbouring municipalities in developing actions. It is not totally clear if this potential aspect of a fully integrated approach to food policy was not considered or not deemed relevant.

    Meanwhile, the IAP of Strasbourg (FR) from the BoostINNO network does not set out actions that are integrated across sectors or that address different locations or spatial relationships within the city. This might seem like a major omission. However, given that its whole approach is to foster social innovation across all aspects of work and across the whole of the city, it is perhaps both understandable and legitimate that its actions are focused on governance aspects that lack sectorial and spatial dimensions.

    What these two examples show is that it is not enough to simply observe the presence or omission of one of the aspects of integration in order to assess the quality of the integration. It is important to also have an understanding of whether this aspect of integration is relevant and/or a priority in the specific case being addressed. Integrated action plans should ideally explain their choices clearly.

    Six aspects of integrated urban development

    The IAP Study strongly advocates that cities carry out a more systematic approach to developing their approaches to integrated urban development. This will not only enable cities to build a fuller picture of the complexity of integrated urban development, but also to do so in a way that is manageable in practice – by dealing with each of its component parts in turn.

    The IAP Study identified six aspects of ‘integrated urban development’ that all towns and cities should consider when working to improve the integration of their approaches in practice. These six aspects were mainly identified by separating out the various dimensions of horizontal and vertical integration demonstrated by cities. They also include the overarching elements of: the need for sustainable approaches and the involvement of stakeholders in implementation (in addition to consultation in the planning).

    Six aspects of integrated urban development

    1. Sustainable urban development - actions address all three pillars of sustainable development in terms of economic, social and environmental objectives
    2. Sectorial integration – addressing the full range of policies/sectors of activity, including infrastructure, transport, employment, education, green spaces, housing, culture…
    3. Local spatial integration – coherence of actions in different locations within the city and considering overall spatial coherence within and across locations and neighbourhoods
    4. Territorial integration – coherence and complementarity of actions and policies implemented by neighbouring municipalities
    5. Multi-level governance – actions are planned coherently at different levels of governance, covering local (district, city), regional and national levels
    6. Stakeholder involvement in implementation - the full range of relevant stakeholders are engaged in the implementation of planned actions

    Systematically addressing this list can help ensure that cities do not forget to give environment and social objectives equal billing in their plans and to demonstrate this clearly. It can encourage them to think about spatial dimensions within their city and integration beyond the scope of their municipality – whether with neighbouring municipalities or different levels of governance. The list can also ensure that cities do not forget to include stakeholders in the implementation of their plans – beyond a simply consultative role.

    Practical differences in applying integrated approaches

    Working systematically through the aspects of integrated urban development does not mean that each city has to plan actions on each or become somehow formulaic in its response. The systematic approach means only that cities need to consider improving their integration in each aspect and make a conscious decision on how to address it. This is why a quality planning process is such a crucial pre-requisite to effective integrated urban development and also why no two integrated action plans will ever be the same.

    For example, in the IAP of Szombathely (HU) from the MAPS network, the actions show a good level of integration of sectorial and spatial dimensions focused within the city limits, principally on the site of the former military barracks that is targeted. The plan balances economic, social and environmental aspects and engages stakeholders well. However, the study found no evidence of coordination with neighbouring municipalities and little evidence of multi-level governance. This might be justifiable, but the plan might be stronger if it explicitly addressed such potential.

    A very different example is provided by the IAP of Cluj (RO) from the REFILL network. The focus of the network on vacant spaces leads the city to prioritise governance aspects that will facilitate temporary use. This focus on governance rather than physical interventions leads to very different strategic choices in developing its integrated action plan. For example, there is no particular sectorial dimension to the actions planned – rather, such aspects will need to be considered in the actual implementation of temporary use that the action plan seeks to facilitate.

    A final example here is the IAP of Antwerp (BE) from the sub>urban network. The plan presents actions across multiple relevant sectors, with a strong spatial dimension and specific actions to collaborate with neighbouring municipalities. This fits quite logically with the focus of the network on the urban fringe. However, the IAP is less clear about its specific approach to multi-level governance and what potential this might have to improve the approaches developed.

    What seems clear from the IAP Study is that there are no objectively right or wrong answers when it comes to developing more integrated approaches. The topic addressed has a major impact on the aspects of integration that cities need to prioritise, with the strongest difference being between topics that are focused on a specific physical space (e.g. revitalisation of a city centre or former military site) and topics that address a way of working (e.g. supporting social innovation or promoting temporary use). However, a more systematic approach to addressing each aspect of integration can ensure that no dimensions are missed and that cities are able to show and justify their strategic choices.

    Focusing on the journey towards more integrated approaches

    A concluding message for cities and those that work with them is that this approach to integrated urban development is relevant and can be applied to all cities, no matter their starting point and previous experience with integrated approaches.

    When addressing any topic or challenge, every city can reflect on the six aspects of integrated urban development and ask itself where it can improve the integration of its approach and add value. For cities that are new to integrated approaches or new to a topic, this might mean choosing some limited priority areas of action rather than attempting to do everything at once.

    The IAP of Klaipeda (LT) from the Gen-Y City network shows an approach where such clear strategic choices were made. It states that “ULG Group members decided to narrow the initial version of the Integrated Action Plan and to focus on the main objective and related measures for attracting and retaining talents in Klaipeda”. The strong focus of its actions on supporting freelancers aims to fill a particular gap identified in the existing service provision. The ongoing challenge for the city will be to add additional dimensions to make the approach ever more integrated over time.

    More experienced cities can still look at their existing approaches and identify areas where the integration can be improved. Maybe they have missed one dimension in their plans so far. Maybe some aspects could be dealt with in more depth, integrating yet more stakeholders or additional sectors or improving the multi-level governance. Most action plans could improve the rigour with which they show the balance between economic, social and environmental objectives.

    There is no such thing as a perfectly integrated action plan. The important thing, wherever a city is on its own pathway, is to be constantly seeking improvement and reflecting with stakeholders on where it can still further improve the integration of its approaches, using the six aspects of integrated urban development as a guide.

    ***

    For more information on cities’ differing approaches to integrated urban development in practice, see the 7 illustrative case studies of URBACT cities’ Integrated Action Plans, along with the full IAP Study report, findings and recommendations.

    Network
    From urbact
    On
    Ref nid
    13135
  • Transfer networks, an URBACT Learning Lab to build capacity and promote cohesion across Europe

    Share on FacebookShare on TwitterShare on LinkedIn
    15/11/2022

    You might not expect Twitter to be the place for informed debate on the future of the EU Cohesion Policy. But you’d be wrong. Amidst the white noise on this social media platform, a fascinating catalogue of exchanges is developing.

    Investing in skills and competencies

    News
    Education

    The other week some of the big beasts popped their heads above the parapet. First, John Bachtler, Director of Strathclyde University’s European Policies Research Center, tweeted about the importance of European Social Fund + and skills in closing inter-regional gaps. Then Andrés Rodiguéz Pose (London School of Economics Professor and author of a recent influential paper on places left behind, jumped in, reacting to a recent World Bank publication on the future of Cohesion Policy as a tool to address regional inequalities across Europe.

    This timely World Bank report makes for interesting reading. One of its principal conclusions relates to capacity building, and in particular the need to invest in the capacity of public administrations.

    "A second implication of taking a more “region-centered” approach is that, along with local ownership, should also come capacity building, to enable local actors to plan and deliver on regional policy. The lack of local-level capacity is a major barrier both in planning and implementation. In terms of planning, it has been highlighted in several lagging regions that capacity at regional and lower (e.g., municipality) levels for planning is weak."

    The case for investing in the skills and competencies of public officials, alongside organizational development, has been gathering momentum for some time. Within a busy landscape of research and activity, some of the more eye-catching contributions have come from Demoshelsinki, the OECD and NESTA. It has also been a recurring issue within the Action Planning processes of the Urban Agenda for the EU Partnerships – for example Digital Transitions and Jobs and Skills. Capacity building is also one of the three key features in the proposed European Urban Initiative, contained in the new draft ERDF Regulations.

    It is too early to say whether this represents a sea-change away from the culture of out-sourcing and reliance on external expertise that has held sway in the sector for the past twenty plus years in many parts of Europe. More likely, it is a rebalancing. After years where city authorities struggled to attract and retain talent, there is a sense that the pendulum has at least stopped – and may even be moving slowly in the other direction.

    15 years supporting European civil servants skills to develop integrated urban planning solutions at URBACT

    This shift is encouraging. However, there is a long way to go. And although it is good to see more debate on the importance of capacity building and a recognition of its value, there are not so many examples of it working well in practice. Within the context of this Cohesion Policy debate, the URBACT Programme has a great deal to contribute. For more than fifteen years it has supported cities of all sizes to more effectively deliver integrated sustainable urban development. What are the key messages to share from this experience?

    Much of this experience has been gleaned from URBACT’s established Action Planning Network (APN) model. These networks have extensive experience of building municipal capacity to design and implement integrated sustainable plans.

    Here are five important lessons that have shaped the approach:

     

    1. Listen to cities, and involve them closely in programme design

      As a Programme, URBACT has an unusually close working relationship with participating cities – around 500 in the current programming period. There is a continuous dialogue and exchange that includes the use of focus groups, surveys and other tools. 
       
    2. Underline the importance of peer-to-peer learning

      Our experience supports the efficacy of peer to peer learning and support between urban stakeholders. Having the opportunity to walk in the shoes of someone doing your job in another city is a great learning opportunity. The URBACT networks – and key capacity building events like to URBACT Summer School – provide a supportive structure for this.
       
    3. Create safe spaces to learn, build trust and experiment

      Public services are under pressure to innovate whilst at the same time saving money. A tall order! Civil servants are in the public eye, and mistakes are not always looked upon kindly. URBACT provides a safe space for city stakeholders – primarily public officials – to learn from trusted colleagues in other member states, and to apply those lessons in safe spaces.
       
    4. Provide support and access to tools and resources

      URBACT provides a tried and tested methodology to support learning and to build capacity. This includes the URBACT Toolkit, translated into several EU languages, offering a range of practical tips designed to get better results. It also includes hands-on learning events like the URBACT Summer University, where stakeholders collaborate with peers to generate solutions for the problems of a synthetic city.
       
    5. Promote participation and support municipalities to involve wider stakeholders

      Increasingly, collaboration is the key to successfully tackling urban challenges. Across Europe, public officials are working in partnership with other local stakeholders to design and implement new solutions. However, capacity and experience to work this way is uneven. Building the confidence and capacity of municipal employees to engage differently with citizens, NGOs and other urban stakeholders, is a key dimension of URBACT’s work.

    Cities leading adaptation and transfer of Good Practices to other cities across Europe

    From April 2018 the programme has extended this experience through the launch of a new network type, Good Practice Transfer networks, which will take the learning and capacity building elements further.

    At the centre of these networks is an established example of urban good practice Over the next 2 years and a half, Good Practice cities will lead a network whose primary focus will be the adaptation and transfer of these practices to other cities across Europe. Once their partnership is finalized, these networks will consist of a balanced ticket of partners in terms of regional development levels. Narrowing inequalities and allowing space for peer-to-peer learning amongst cities of all sizes remains an important URBACT principle.

    Peer to Peer

    In this new network model, the peer-to-peer learning paradigm has altered. Where traditionally, city partners enter through the door of a shared problem, here one partner enters with a ready-made solution. Other partners share the problem for which the solution was designed. Yet, despite this distinction, learning and capacity building will take place at multiple levels for all participants.

    The learning will take place at three main levels: personal, organizational and city. In addition to this, it is likely that each network will derive its own unique learning experiences across the partnership.

    Individual learning

    At the individual level, we expect participants in these networks to make significant professional development gains. One of the model’s strengths is that individuals are learning from their direct peers. Municipal workers are sharing their own perspectives, unpacking familiar challenges and discussing ways to solve them. Beyond this, other important urban stakeholders are doing the same.

    Organisational and City Level Learning

    One of the pilot transfer projects focused on the transfer of an integrated public food policy successfully developed in Sodertajle, Sweden. That good practice involved a long list of key contributors, ranging from senior elected officials, to public procurement officers, local food producers and school canteen staff.

    In the resulting exchanges, each participated in relaying their learning experiences to peers from other cities. Feedback suggests that this precise mapping of stakeholders was an important contributory factor to the success of the project – now widely adopted in other EU cities.

    This eclectic group of stakeholders is likely to be a characteristic of this new generation of transfer networks. As its name suggests, the Bee-path network, led by Ljubljana, places beekeeping at the heart of a new concept or urban ecology. Beekeepers, environmental policy officers and mobility experts may be amongst the stakeholder map in each city. Meanwhile, Manchester’s Culture for Climate Change project explores ways in which the creative and cultural sectors can contribute to the reduction of carbon emissions. Arts officers, NGOs and museum staff may be in the frame here. In Badalona, Silver Cities brings together older people, health and care professionals and caring NGOs to transfer a model of supporting older people to live fulfilled independent lives.

    Open and Trusted Space

    These learning exchanges take place in an open trusted space created by the networks. No one is selling anything and transfer partners get to hear the real story, not an air brushed version, as we are as likely to learn from what didn’t work as to what eventually did. And the learning is two way. For those intent on transferring their good practice, this is an opportunity to see it again through fresh eyes – and to gather valuable suggestions on how to make it even better.

    A learning Lab

    These networks are something of a learning lab for all concerned – including URBACT, as the programme runs them for the first time. Understanding the lessons that emerge will be very important, and the programme will do this through a number of tools. For example, within each city there will be designated transfer diarists keeping track of the lessons that emerge. At the city level, each partner will also track its own journey, through an initial Transfer Report and, ultimately, through a final Learning Log.

    To complement these city level products, the National URBACT Points will broker events across much of Europe to showcase the results, disseminate the learning journey experiences and, most important, seek to promote and encourage a learning cascade. In this way, the programme will reach a wider network of second circle cities, extending the capacity building and the lessons.

    Cohesion Policy in action

    URBACT is in the business of supporting urban transformation. Across Europe, cities face many shared challenges, and although there is no shortage of ‘good practices’, transferring them successfully is not always so easy. Keys to this include establishing a deep understanding of the practice, exploring the scope for adaptation and supporting its eventual re-use. Successful stakeholder participation is an integral part of this. Supporting them – with municipal employees often at the centre – is central to this mission.

    Through this work, URBACT is making a strong contribution to building urban stakeholder capacity across Europe. In doing to so it continues to support the change needed to optimize the use of public monies and the closing of inequalities between Europe’s regions. Here, we have a tangible example of the Cohesion Policy in action.

    Network
    From urbact
    Off
    Ref nid
    11022
  • Two cities united by a love of good food

    Share on FacebookShare on TwitterShare on LinkedIn
    15/11/2022

    As URBACT opens its first call for Transfer Networks here’s a story of how a Good Practice from one city was adapted and transferred to a completely different local context.

    Articles
    Food

    Overlooking rolling countryside just 9 miles from Barcelona, the city of Mollet del Vallès always had a tradition of eating well and protecting the land. But there was never a city-wide food policy linking producers and consumers.

    That was until 2013 in the midst of economic crisis when the City Hall set up an International Relations Department to look for innovative ideas on public services and networking opportunities through EU programmes like URBACT. At that time, Södertälje in Sweden, a Good Practice city leading an URBACT pilot transfer network called ‘Diet for a Green Planet’, was seeking Transfer Cities just like Mollet del Vallès with whom they could share their good practice. 

    The city of Södertälje, with 95 000 inhabitants, has a reputation for promoting sustainable local farming as a solution for feeding people while reducing agricultural pollution. Unlike Spain, Sweden has a national law that puts municipalities in charge of public canteens. With a municipal Diet Unit employing 250 people – including cooks – the city buys food directly from producers. Providing 24 000 free school meals a day, they have reduced meat consumption by 30% since 2010, and reduced leftovers by up to 40%. About 60% of Södertälje’s schools are supplied with local, seasonal, organic food.

    (Discover 97 other URBACT Good Practices in light of the new Transfer Networks)

    How Mollet set out to adapt and adopt Södertälje’s approach is a story of how innovative urban policies can travel quickly and have an impact across borders thanks to URBACT.

    (Read more about URBACT’s call for Transfer Networks)

    By joining the ‘Diet for a Green Planet’ beginning of 2014, Mollet agreed to be part of a city network with Södertälje, and other two transfer cities  Łomża (PL) and Molėtai (LT) to explore how to put local food production to the benefit of the population. As required by URBACT, Mollet’s Head of EU and International Department, Albert Garcia, set up an URBACT Local Group, a local multi-stakeholder group composed of 14 people, an elected representative, council officers, school principals, cooks and local producers to meet at local level and to visit the other network partners. 

    (Find more about URBACT Diet for Green Planet)

    After their first trip to Södertälje to discover if and how Mollet could transfer the Diet Policy to its local context, feelings were mixed. “When we came back from Sweden, the suitcases we were carrying were packed full of ideas,” says Garcia. “But we also had doubts. Our cities were so different  in terms of food tradition and management, human resources, budget : where to start transferring and adopting what we’d learnt? How would we make it work?...

    In the Spanish town of Mollet, where the whole task of supplying and running public canteens is outsourced to private companies, this central approach to food was unheard of. “Reading about Södertälje, I was amazed to discover how diet could even exist as a concept for a city council! For us, Södertälje’s Diet Policy and Unit was like a UFO!” recalls Albert Garcia. “The municipality wanted to create markets for local food as foreseen in the city strategy for 2025 but the public canteens had never been seen as a solution for agri-urban growth! Yet, we have this fantastic agro-ecological park of 734 hectares, Gallecs, making up 50% of our territory, a culture of enjoying good food, and a climate for growing tasty produce year round” says Garcia.

    Just after the first visit to Sweden, Mollet carried out a baseline study , an URBACT network requirement, with its first ever quality audit of the food served in its public canteens. The results were double-sided: while children and parents seemed happy with the quality and taste, the audit revealed that much of the food that children were eating had been frozen, pre-prepared and brought in from far off places. Some said: “Why change the system if people are happy and we don’t have any complaints?” But Södertälje’s inspiring results,  and the prospects of local economic growth and a healthier way of living in Mollet pushed the council forward to reform. 

    Adapting rather than copy-pasting a Good Practice

    As it was impossible for Mollet to set up a Diet Unit purchasing directly local food in canteens, the city adapted Södertälje’s Good Practice to its own standards and specificities.  Council officers Nuria Duno and Antonio Martinez transformed the old public procurement system to a new model, this time based on quality rather than price to transform supply, enabling hundreds of children to eat food from nearby farms – without increasing prices for families. This new public procurement system was drawn up in 2014 based on Södertälje’s ‘Diet for a Green Planet’ principles – Tasty and healthy food, Organically grown, Less meat, More vegetables and wholegrain, Seasonal food, Locally produced, Reduced food waste.

    Rather than choosing companies on price alone as in the past, under the new model the council sets a fixed price for running its canteens, and then uses a points system to select and monitor the winning company based on quality. Tendering companies are compared according to their scores on areas such as: Nutritious and tasty food (factors here include “Not use pre-cooked and fried food”, “At least 10 different vegetables per week”); Ecological foodstuffs; and Local fresh produce (which includes “average distance from vegetable suppliers <30 km (19 miles)”).

    It wasn’t easy to find good companies that could meet these criteria. We also needed legal advice to comply with EU public procurement regulations. This was a bit complicated,” says Martinez quietly. “We’ve made a few adjustments. Other towns are now showing interest, as well as private schools outside our direct control.”

    Some of these adjustments were on costs. Organic fresh produce from small producers costs more than industrially produced, re-heatable meals. To keep prices down for the families, the council has limited other costs, by reducing the cooks’ working hours for example, and encouraging providers to lower their profit margins.

    Benefits for the Transfer City and its local community

    Today in Mollet,  children from three public kindergartens and from the two municipal centres for people with disabilties eat healthy lunches, prepared with lentils, chickpeas, tomatoes, lettuce, beans, carrots and other veg from Gallecs – the 700-hectare agro-ecological park on the city’s doorstep. A steady supply of other fresh food, including meat and fish is ensured thanks to an agreement with a regional association. Parents in three of the 10 publically run primary schools have followed suit to transform their canteens, and yet more schools are showing interest – in Mollet and beyond. The food served in Mollet’s public canteens is now, on average, more than 80% organic, and 100% seasonal. All the vegetables travel less than 30 km (19 miles) from field to fork. Even the bread is baked locally with flour from stoneground spelt, an ancient variety reintroduced in the agricultural park of Gallecs thanks to the research programmes that the Consortium of Gallecs and the University of Barcelona run together. Surplus vegetables are processed in the agro-ecological park’s shared kitchen, right next to the farm shop and a quaint stone chapel – now a much-coveted wedding venue.

    All this activity means more jobs and economic development. In Gallecs, there are about 20 local producers today, some of them employing about twice as many people as in 2013, and numbers are growing. Gallecs now counts 7 exploitable hectares, compared with 2 hectares before the project started, and local producers now supply 14 public canteens in other cities of the region. “We’re attracting young people back to the fields. There are a lot of new initiatives, all on a small scale,” says Gemma Safont, who manages the “Consortium for Gallecs”, a body set up in 2005 by Mollet, the surrounding cities and the Catalan Government, to encourage organic farming, protect the environment, and improve lives. Growing up here on her family’s farm, Safont has watched the area become a haven, not just for plants and wildlife – but also for some 750 000 people who visit every year from surrounding cities.

    Changing habits and overcoming difficulties

    Adapting the good practice of local, seasonal organic school meals from Södertälje to Mollet required a change of rules and attitude.

    For Garcia, the secret was to find “allies”, get the right people on board from the start. As every URBACT city, Mollet set up its own URBACT Local Group of enthusiastic teachers, local farmers and cooks, politicians, kindergarten managers, and civil servants- mirroring the one already existing in Södertälje. The council also linked up with the Ecological School Association of Catalonia, who gave advice on reorganising canteens, and carried out audits. “This URBACT Local Group was the perfect platform for bringing local actors together. The sense of belonging, a joint commitment to a shared cause… it’s the only thing making these changes sustainable,” says Garcia.

    Exchanges and visits between Södertälje and Mollet brought a feeling of responsibility and change of mindsets in decision-makers. After a three-day visit of a political delegation from Södertälje, Josep Monras, the Mayor of Mollet, realised the potential of using food as a way of reaching environmental, health and economic goals. Food suddenly became the mayor’s favourite subject.

    There have been a few hiccups along the way, including cultural differences about the virtues of meat. Some parents are unhappy that meat is sometimes replaced by vegetable protein. One mistake, dubbed “the great burger crisis” by Garcia and his colleagues, was to serve each child with half a large burger: people thought they were being swindled by authorities putting cost-cutting above their children’s health.

    Similarly, in the Gallecs-based Can Vila, a school for 157 children of all ages with special needs, cooks have to be particularly careful about allergies and other dietary requirements – some children are fed via gastric tube. Autistic children in particular found it unsettling to adjust to wholegrain pasta and bread, and meals without meat. Troubles eased slightly when lentils were made to look like meat. The principal, Montse Tarres, says the shift to new ‘green diet’ menus could not have gone ahead without close support from the parents.

    Overall, teachers and principals here, and at a local nursery, say the system is working. With food – sustainable production and healthy eating – as an integral part of the educational programme, the experience has been “very positive” for the families, and professionals.

    Mireia Oliva, principal of the pioneering Can Besora school, has been part of the local group all along, visiting Södertälje and helping Mollet Council. It’s given her energy to renew her school’s commitment to healthy, local food. Has this exchange been a useful experience, with positive effects on the children? “Molt, Molt, Molt” – A lot, a lot, a lot.

    Benefits for the Good Practice city

    For Södertälje, exchanges with Mollet was not just a one-way transfer process. Thanks to meetings and study vists to Mollet and the other two transfer cities, Södertälje itself benefitted from the ideas, suggestions and experience coming from their peers and reflected on how to improve and upgrade their own policy.

    The main partner in Södertälje was Head of Public Meals, Sara Jervfors. She was particularly impressed by the relaxed, positive approach in Mollet, the nutritional potentials of delicious year-round Mediterranean food, and the strong culture of sharing and enjoying meals.

    Mollet were really advanced in the way they cooperated with the vegetable farmers. They had good ideas for linking schools with local producers. We learnt a lot about the concept of a consortium for sharing management of agricultural parks – and now we’re developing one too”, said Jervfors.

    Thanks to these mutually beneficial exchanges, Mollet and Södertälje are now part of another URBACT network, Agri-Urban, to foster even more the economic potential of sustainable local food chains.

    (To apply for an URBACT Transfer Network as a Good Practice or Transfer city, consult the Terms of Reference for the Creation of Transfer Networks and the Guide to Transfer Networks)

    The future after the end of the URBACT network

    Mollet has made progress since the Diet for a Green Planet exchanges in 2013-15. The local group has evolved and now meets regularly to discuss municipal actions related to food. This ‘food policy group’ helped set up the city’s 2015 diet policy- voted in Swedish-style, with cross-party consensus- was a real milestone for the council and a clear asset for the city’s future. Today, they are continuing the city’s strategy to turn Gallecs into a major local supplier of seasonal, organic produce.

    Part of this is a project to convert an old farm into an e-commerce storage and delivery centre next to the school for children with disabilities. Having secured investment at local and regional level, the idea is to scale up local food businesses, giving some adapted jobs to people with handicaps.

    There are also plans to link the food and health sectors, with Mollet Hospital, to fight diseases associated with poor diets and obesity, and encourage diets with less sugar, salt and meat, and more vegetables and non-processed foods.

    In the council offices, Antonio Martinez reflects on what would be different if Mollet hadn’t met Södertälje. “Everything!” he exclaims. “There’s a chance we’d be right where we were five years ago, facing budget cuts, but no way to improve our services. We’ve managed to introduce something new – without increasing costs.

    Discover:

    Network
    From urbact
    On
    Ref nid
    9821
  • The growing role of food in fixing our cities

    Share on FacebookShare on TwitterShare on LinkedIn
    15/11/2022
    El pasado 7 de enero de 2019 se lanzó oficialmente la nueva convocatoria las URBACT Action Planning Networks, que estará abierta hasta el 17 de abril. Puedes conocer todos los detalles aquí
    Articles
    Circular economy

    Representatives from small and medium sized cities in the URBACT network Agri-Urban met recently in Fundao to exchange ideas about improving the food infrastructure in their cities. They got together to ask: How can we work more effectively with producers? How can we stimulate innovation in the supply chain? How can we optimise public sector procurement in schools and care homes to reshape our local food supply lines - and consumption habits?

    Around the table, Agri-Urban brings some heavyweight experience. Among the partners is Sodertajle from Sweden, with its trailblazing work in public procurement. There is also Mouans-Sartoux, a small French city punching above its weight and challenging city decision-makers on key questions of land use.

    Fundao itself has overcome its apparent vulnerability to dependence on one product by diversifying its local cherry economy in highly innovative ways. Its “Fablab” enables local producers and creatives to collaborate using state-of-the art facilities. One local business is cultivating mushrooms in used coffee grounds, exploiting commercial waste to generate value – a great example of the circular economy in action.

    In the fading sunlight of a long productive day the international group visited the Natura glamping site, glamorous camping to the uninitiated, where Agri-Urban’s city partners planted a row of trees – cherry trees of course – on a ridge overlooking the valley.

    In this network we can see the URBACT integrated principles at work, truly encompassing environmental, economic and social activity. And Agri-Urban is not working alone in this sphere. Food has become a hot topic for cities.

    Main course: URBACT’s food adventure continues

    At the recent Unusual Suspects Festival in London, Agri-Urban had the chance to connect with a global audience interested in their work. With inputs from across the city, participants from as far afield as Canada and South Korea assembled at the wonderful Calthorpe Project to exchange ideas and inspiration.
     

    Albert Garcia, representing Mollet de Valles (Spain), another URBACT food pioneer, had some interesting take-aways from the event. He noted the important role of food in helping reach some of the goals cities have today – including meeting health, social and economic priorities. He said: “What I really thought in the plane is that I will commit as a civil servant to make the unusual more usual. To work hard to convince the main actors that making innovative contributions to their city with unusually good initiatives or approaches is possible. From the city hall we have to struggle to create the right framework to let the unusual grow and become usual as a major achievement for the city. A long way to go but lot of unusual suspects full with energy and commitment.

    In Mollet, as in many URBACT cities, the food theme remains strong. As well as Diet for a Green Planet, which was Mollet’s first programme experience, we have had Sustainable Food, led by Brussels, as well as URBACT Markets exploring the important role of city markets, led by Barcelona. The recent announcement of the URBACT Good Practices continued this food-related momentum, with labeled cities including Mouans Sartoux (France) and Turin (Italy). Mouans Sartoux confronts city planners with key questions about how urban land should be used in the 21st Century. Many cities are under pressure to accommodate growing populations and provide additional housing. But where will the land come from – and how can we ensure a balanced approach where cities retain green spaces, not only for recreation but also for cultivation?

    One of Turin’s two URBACT Good Practices taps into Italy’s integral relationship between food and local communities. In recent years the city has supported the redevelopment of its network of neighbourhood markets, giving each community access to local produce within walking distance of home. This helps sustain hyper-local micro-economies. It also provides a valuable social forum at a time when there is much talk of the increase in loneliness and isolation in our cities. Additionally, the fact that these markets are a short walk from home discourages driving and promotes cycling and walking which are not only low-carbon activities but also ones more open to chance encounters with neighbours and other shoppers.

    Food in the wider urban family

    A short hop from Turin, Milan has almost 30 square kilometres of agricultural land within its municipal boundary. On the back of its 2016 Food Expo, there is a variety of food-related activity in the city. Their URBACT Good Practice focuses on peri-urban agricultural activity, exploring the role of the food sector in driving entrepreneurship, innovation and employment. The city is also among the first wave of Urban Innovative Actions (UIA) cities, with this project building on their growing wealth of food-related experience. The potential crossover between this and some of the URBACT projects is clear, helped by the fact that this UIA and URBACT’s Agri-Urban project both have support from the same expert, Miguel Sousa.


    In the initial cluster of 18 UIA cities, two others also have a food dimension. Pozzuoli, in the greater Naples metropolitan area, focuses on encouraging zero-kilometre food production in a part of Italy that is the victim of its own gastronomic success. Local producers are more likely to export their mozzarella to New York than produce it for the local market. The domino (pizza?) effect is that the food for sale locally is often imported from North Africa. This may reflect an effective market at work – but it’s an environmental own-goal. Addressing this imbalance, with the aim of stimulating local production and consumption, is one of Pozzuoli’s UIA goals.

    And the UIA focus on food doesn’t stop at the Alps. In the north of France, the city of Lille is also embarking on an approach that puts food at the centre of its anti-poverty activity. Their intention is to transform a well-known local brownfield site, Fives Cail, into a variety of food-related initiatives. Their proposed Halle Gourmande will be a hub of food-related activities, providing opportunities to learn, share and enjoy. In doing so the project’s transformation of this old heavy industrial site will be emblematic of Lille’s post-industrial shift.

    So, when did food and cities hit it off so well?

    Why the big buzz around food? One clear reason is food’s role as a social connector. In an increasingly polarised world, where tribal behaviour and bubble living keep us apart from those who may think differently from us, food can act as a bridge. The inspiring Zipbob social dining project in Seoul, for example, brings neighbours together through food. This is important in a booming megacity where traditional neighbourhoods are fast disappearing with socially unsettling effects. Back in Europe, early findings from an ongoing OECD study on migrant integration in EU cities have underlined the importance of creating shared spaces where locals and new arrivals can meet. Sharing food is an obvious way to do this. For example, it is exactly what Options Food Lab does, linking migrants with cookery skills with Athenians willing to host food sharing events in their homes. As well as the evident social benefits, this has also created a pathway into employment for a number of new arrivals in the city.
     

    In this same space, we can also see initiatives like Conflict Kitchen using food as a platform for the building of mutual understanding and respect. This project, which initiated in Pittsburgh Pennsylvania, runs a restaurant offering the cuisine of a country with which the US is at war. Over the years, the culinary offer has included Iran, Cuba and North Korea. Currently, it is focused on Palestinian food and the restaurant also provides a platform for cultural events including poetry and theatrical performances. The overall idea is to give Americans an insight into cultures that are often widely misrepresented in the mainstream US media.

    Afters: How do we maintain this momentum?

    One of the best things about this new urban food movement is its organic spontaneity. Innovative projects, often run on shoestring budgets, are popping up all over the place. Energetic young people with an interest in food and a commitment to social change are developing many of them, like Options Food Lab. Spark York is another example - a new social enterprise on a temporary site, modeled on London’s Pop Brixton. This will create an attractive pop-up facility where a diverse range of food outlets will each have a strong social purpose.

    We have also seen some of the biggest names in the food industry getting involved, investing their own funds and attracting support from others. The UK’s Jamie Oliver is one well-known example. Another is the French chef Thierry Marx, through his Cuisine Mode d’Emploi. Perhaps most impressive of all is the inspiring work of Modena super-chef Massimo Bottura, with his ambitious attempts to feed the homeless in his Reffetorio Ambrosiano in Milan. Superstar chefs can’t drive the structural changes our cities need, but they can draw attention to the issues and mobilise support across the political spectrum. This includes underlining the food sector’s long-standing role as a route into the labour market for people facing multiple barriers.

    The Botturas of this world don’t need much municipal support. But most social entrepreneurs do, and city administrations can help in lots of ways. They can ensure their cities have space for agriculture, as Bristol has done, through their innovative Food Plan. They can also help by supporting access to premises, even on a temporary basis – particularly when so many spaces lie empty in our cities. And, of course they can provide the financial and business support that all enterprises need.

    In the URBACT Good Practices, municipalities have played a key role which can inspire others. The URBACT Festival, in Tallinn on 3-5 October, will showcase these – and all the other good practices. URBACT will also be supporting a new generation of good practice transfer projects and, who knows, there may be some food projects amongst them.

    Network
    From urbact
    Off
    Ref nid
    9682
  • How the food sector can help reduce youth unemployment in European medium-sized cities

    Share on FacebookShare on TwitterShare on LinkedIn
    15/11/2022
    V Lizboni se bodo 13. in 14. septembra na URBACT Festivalu mest srečali izvoljeni predstavniki, urbani praktiki in strokovnjaki iz vse Evrope, kjer bodo sodelovali, razpravljali o ugotovitvah 20 akcijskih omrežij ter proslavili 15. obletnico programa in vse večji vpliv mest kot nosilcev sprememb v Evropi.
    Articles
    Circular economy

    It’s the feeling in the Agri-Urban network that no one - national governments, donor agencies, sectoral associations, or the knowledge community - is doing enough to defuse the ticking time bomb of youth unemployment in European medium-sized cities.

    Europe’s agri-food industry provides 46 million jobs in 15 million businesses, accounting for 6% of the EU’s GDP. In 2015, around 10 million people were directly employed in the EU agricultural sector, representing 5 % of Europe’s workforce. In most member states, agriculture is still dominated by family farms, where the bulk of the work is carried out by members of their family. At the same time, the farming population in the EU is rapidly getting older. Recent figures show that only 6% of the total farm managers in Europe were under 35 years of age. Agriculture as a source of employment is declining in Europe. Between 2000 and 2015, around 5 million full time jobs in the sector disappeared (source: Eurostat).

    This article intends to give a flavour of what Agri-urban cities are doing to reduce youth unemployment.
     

    Farming and food industry in small and medium-size cities: context

    Farming and the food industry sustain a significant proportion of employment and income in many small and medium-sized towns throughout Europe. However, this complex of activities from both the primary and secondary sectors is categorized as a mature industry which has reached peak employment and business levels. Indeed, in recent decades, a number of trends in Agribusiness have reduced the capacity of those activities to sustain employment in towns.

    Unemployment rates are generally significantly higher in rural than in urban regions. In rural areas, it is estimated that “hidden unemployment” (involving underemployed farmers and farm workers) is higher than in urban areas.

    The economic structure of rural regions is in transformation: the share of the primary sector in GVA declines continuously, while the share of the tertiary sector grows. This is a general trend in all regions, but it is more pronounced in rural regions. The growth in tourism illustrates the growth of the tertiary sector. It is increasing in all regions (especially in Southern European countries) and is found as a main driver for growth and employment. Thus, those urban economies in transition to more sustainable models are finding opportunities in re-thinking the agri-food production, which is especially relevant in the so-called agro-cities of the European area. More widely, a number of tested initiatives which are dealing with job creation in agribusiness in urban and suburban contexts are already showing their potential, e.g. community vegetable gardens, local markets, municipal land banks, farming spaces for young entrepreneurs, e-commerce, technology parks in the food sector, rising of short distribution channels, green markets, agro-ecological suburban belts.

    Agri-Urban cities have in common the fact of being small and medium-sized cities with strong links between the urban and the rural environment. For this reason, they are exploiting the opportunities offered by rural areas to create jobs in the agri-food sector and improve the overall sustainability of their ecosystem, while injecting in their urban fabrics elements of rurality such as food production. These cities and towns are creating the conditions to offer real opportunities to foster job creation in farming and agri-food production as a beneficial impulse for the urban unemployed population.

    Why the local economies of rural towns have become narrow

    There was a time when each rural community had its own diverse local economy. Food would be produced and processed; non-food products from agriculture, fisheries and forestry covered a great range of needs; goods would be made and repaired locally by a range of craftsmen; services would be provided locally. Changes since then have tended to discourage local processing of food, timber or other raw materials, replacing rural craftsmen with distant urban industries, and causing services to relocate to larger towns.

    These developments have also resulted in a brain-drain from small medium sized rural cities. Thus, the local economies of many rural cities have become narrow and relatively weak, with an overdependence on economic decisions made in distant cities. Without incentives to create alternative employment, the brain-drain of young jobless will continue.

    The Agri-Food Production: an opportunity

    Agri-food production still plays an important role in terms of GDP, employment and environmental sustainability. When implemented successfully, a local food system can have a positive impact on three critical levels: environmental sustainability, economic viability and social equity. Acting on these three critical levels generates opportunities for young workers to start up new business, create qualified jobs, improve their quality of life and wellbeing, strengthen their sense of belonging and integrate them into the community.

    The recent alarms regarding the health risks for consumers or the negative effects on the environment stemming from certain intensive production practices have resulted in new demands for quality food products and regional specialities. A decentralisation of food processing, packaging and marketing functions could bring new employment to rural cities creating local value-added.

    The main economic challenges for young entrepreneurs and small farms are access to farming resources (such as land and capital) and access to markets, particularly in terms of bargaining power in the food chain. A food system is a complex web of interconnected entities that takes food from its source to our plates. Heavy and complex supply chains give a competitive advantage to large wholesalers instead of smaller, local farms with small quantities of products. Many small farms also lack the entrepreneurial skills to improve their business models, or to identify new business opportunities.

    The new communication technologies and infrastructures, like the Internet, have made numerous jobs independent of the place they are performed. These technologies also give access to knowledge, consultancy services and to the world market. Rural cities, or individuals living in rural areas, can thus offer their products, skills and services to a broader market.

    An increasingly important sector of services concerns tourism and local gastronomy. In many countries, successful initiatives of wine and gastronomic fairs and festivals have brought new life to entire regions, promoting local cultural (e.g. music, costumes, dances) and gastronomic traditions. Such developments are reviving market towns traditionally providing important services and employment for their rural hinterland.

    Leisure activities, such as fishing, hunting, walking, skiing, cycling, horse riding, golfing, etc, attract an increasing number of people to spend their holidays in rural surroundings. The creation of nature reserves, or sites of special scientific or historic interest, and areas of outstanding natural beauty, have added interesting products to the countryside as an area for recreation and learning. The necessary maintenance work creates new employment for countryside stewardship and a range of other activities surround these new "products".

    Some small iniatives have a huge potential for boosting employment

    More recently, small initiatives with an important potential for boosting employment in the sector have begun to emerge. We, at Agri-Urban, are collecting evidence of this transformation at different levels:

    • Cooperation between farmers: Often the challenges of the local food model outweigh the benefits when farms work independently. By developing strong partnerships, local producers can engage in 'cooperation', or the sharing of resources from equipment to ideas while operating as competing individuals. The city of Fundão, created the Fundão Producers’ Club in the scope of the work developed by the municipality of Fundão, in broad partnership with a group of farmers and entrepreneurs in the agri-food sector. The brand aggregates a set of endogenous products of excellence in the region. The strategy includes participation in national and international fairs, creation and development of new integrated products, opening shops, training plans for entrepreneurs, business missions, inverse missions and the development of partnerships, among many other initiatives.
       
    • Alliances between farms and food businesses: The highly consolidated industrial food markets make it difficult for small-scale producers to enter. Alternative marketing strategies will entail developing partnerships between traditional retailers and local producers through alternative channels, policy incentives and word-of-mouth. In Cesena, the main industry sectors are companies focused on the production, manufacturing, processing and distribution of fruit, vegetables and meat products (mainly poultry). Besides this important sector, which is positively impacting on the employment in the city and province, there are a consistent number of small family owned enterprises. They are the evidence of the agricultural background of the territory linked to the agribusiness production and today they represent a sector which is suffering from an economic point of view, due to the abandonment of lands, sprawling urbanization and the straggling effect of the large retail/distribution sector.
       
    • Raising skills and competences:  offering a combination of academic and on the job training which provides the skills necessary for advancing the industry and meeting the expectations of young people who are looking for career opportunities. Starting with the skills necessary for agriculture and food manufacturing, but going further to address the wider challenges facing the sector, including a growing global demand for food in a limited space and the threat of climate change. At LAG, a non-profit organization that promotes employability, called Devenirs, offers training about organic gardening for unemployed people. This training lasts one year. During this period, the trainee is invited to find a work experience placement in a vegetable farm or in a greenhouse. Another programme is the CAP Job in the Liège Province, financed by the European Social Fund. The project provides training for market gardeners and high graduates (Masters in Agronomy) on different topics like greenhouse management, growing planning, agri-ecological method, etc.
       
    • Capitalization on local competitive advantage: There are many attributes available in local urban products that industrial food products lack, including freshness, seasonality, variety, and healthiness. Farmers must promote theirs as "value-added" products with a story to tell, highlighting the contrasts between their products and those of their industrial competitors. Pyli is characterized by a mountainous or highland (percentage 87.38%) landscape. Furthermore, a minority of the area is managed for food production  (9.9 % cultivated and 12.6 % grassland, while woodlands cover 75.95% of the total area. The area has special cultural features that attract thousands of tourists annually. Local economy and employment are mainly based on agriculture and forest products and its interdependence with the livestock production in the mountainous areas of the region, by creating a strong relationship for the productive sector of the local economy. The local competitive advantages of Pyli are the mountainous areas that can provide important solutions for creating job opportunities and promoting social cohesion by contributing to the preservation of the natural environment and the cultural heritage of these areas.
       
    • Nurturing talent: Farmers incubators:  In June 2013, the LAG launched the first incubator for young farmers in organic gardening in Wallonia. It offers a field (from 10 ares to 1 hectare), greenhouses, and access to water for irrigation. The young farmers are coaching by Creajob (for business planning, marketing, accounting, and so on) and a truck gardener (a mentor) for technical advices. The goal is to promote self-employment in agriculture and support the entrepreneurs in growing their business.
       
    • Engaging with policymakers: Policymakers are important players in designing food policies, which are closely related to many other urban challenges and policies, such as poverty, health and social protection, hygiene and sanitation, land use planning, transport and commerce, energy, education, and disaster preparedness, it is essential to adopt an approach that is comprehensive, interdisciplinary and inter-institutional. Some good examples can be found in the city of Mollet del Vallés, the city of Södertälje that are implementing innovative public policies aimed at introducing organic and local food in nursery schools of the city as well as in a special education center. It is a complex process that the municipalities had the opportunity to learn during their participation in the project DIET FOR A GREEN PLANET, led by the city of Södertälje in the framework of the URBACT II Programme.

    Towards inclusive, coherent and reflexive urban-rural food governance systems 

    Agri-Urban is collecting evidence to confirm the potential of thousands of jobs that can be created in the agri-food sector when cities implement smart policies to exploit in a sustainable manner the rich resources of small and medium sized rural cities in order to produce a favourable effect on employment. We intend to generate a better understanding and deployment of all tested tools and initiatives, inside and outside the partnership, which open new perspectives and opportunities for food production in and nearby our cities.

    The search for evidences with impact on job creation cover different themes as; Short Circuits (Urban Markets, Online Shops, On-farm Shops, Food Hubs), Smart Land Use (Urban Land Use, Rural Land Use), Business Development of SMEs (Entrepreneurship & Incubation, Business Skills, Digital Transformation, Awareness Campaigns, Food Tourism) and Public Procurement (public plate).

    So far, the evidence collected makes it clear that reinforcing the links between the urban and the rural environment opens opportunities offered by rural areas to create jobs in the agri-food sector and improve the overall sustainability of their ecosystem, while injecting in their urban fabrics elements of rurality such as food production or the creation of farming spaces.

    In the public agenda, food is no more considered just as a commodity or as a nutritional necessity; it is an emerging multidimensional policy challenge, which crosses ecological, social, economic and spatial dimensions. A sustainable and integrated urban approach is being implemented in Agri-Urban to deal with the main issues that must be addressed: an inclusive, coherent and reflexive urban/rural food governance system; a more solid social and physical infrastructure to reduce the distance between producers and consumers, and to promote circular economy; reliable markets for quality food producers, resulting in new opportunities for SMEs development; the need for experimenting new forms of entrepreneurship in the agricultural sector, and for creating new jobs and skills.

    Employment and job creation, along with competitiveness, is our main focus, in terms of international cross-learning and action planning at local level. Most of the evidence herein mentioned are proving to be useful in terms of job creation, under various forms, especially by encouraging self-employment and creation of small and medium-sized family and social enterprises. Furthermore, these small initiatives, albeit embedded into proximity networks, host a potential for scaling up.

     

    This article was co-writted by Miguel Sousa, Raquel Moreno and Antonio Zafra.

    Network
    From urbact
    Off
    Ref nid
    8855
  • Diet for a Green Planet

    Timeline

    Project launch
    Project completed

    Food and agriculture accounts for a key part of global environmental challenges including climate change, biodiversity, nitrogen and phosphorus. Diet for a Green Planet is a way for every person who eats food to engage and become part of the solution.

    Ref nid
    970
  • RE-Block

    Timeline

    Project launch
    Project completed

    REviving high-rise Blocks for cohesive and green neighborhoods. The main objective addressed by RE-Block is to foster efficient regeneration of these neighborhoods, making them more attractive and improving their environmental quality, whilst creating an integrated tailor-made approach to combat poverty.

    Ref nid
    956