Written by Carla Pires and Sofia Morais, Gaiaurb from the Câmara Municipal de Gaia.
Partners from Italy, Bulgaria and the Netherlands visited the city of Vila Nova in the framework of the URBACT Network NextAgri with the aim of exchanging knowledge and best practices in the field of peri urban agriculture. The first transnational meeting in-person took place in Portugal after 2 years of pandemic. It has a great moment to share the objectives and updates from the NextAgri network.
The NextAgri project started in 2021 as an Urbact Transfer Mechanism, and take the opportunity to share the knowledge of the Milan UIA Open Agri project.
The main goal is to work with four European cities: MIlan, Vila Nova de Gaia, Almere and Stara Zagora, toward the definition of local project related to innovative practices that link urban and periurban areas and increase the sustainaibility of the Food System.
Taking the experiences of the city of Milan that developped a Food Policy strategy in 2015 that aim at improving healthy and sustainable diests, the fight against food waste, the education awarenss raising on food issues and the sustainability of the the food system as a whole, the project has provided some tools for cities to create their own ideas to promote a local action plan on a specific activity, involving local partners and stakeholders.
The municipality of Vila Nova de Gaia, based on the existing challenges, will with this project develop a plan to create an Open Innovation Hub for Peri-Urban Agriculture as an integrated strategy to provide innovation, sustainable urban development and promote a greener economy.
The project aims to develop an Investment Plan, as well as the concrete activities and actions to be defined, and will be focused on the sphere of action of municipal intervention, which should promote a trajectory towards the main goal of the Plan - implementing and developing the Gaia Agro-Hub - with identification and systematization of financial opportunities in accordance with the European Structural and Investment Funds (ESIF) foreseen in the next multi-annual financial framework for 2021-2027, Environmental Fund and municipal budget.
The objective is to facilitate the creation of an innovative space dedicated to food and sustainability for citizens to promote resilient and integrated urban development and, at the same time, contribute to improve urban environmental management, green economy, reduce urban poverty, increase urban food security and stimulate participatory city governance.
The project will last until November 2022, and other international meetings will follow in order to share and learn practices from many cities in Europe that are developing food policy at urban level. The next one in Almere will give the opportunity to see the Floriade Expo, one of the biggest exposition of flowers at international level.
The visit to Vila Nova de Gaia was the first TNM meeting and all partners have taken part to this visit.
It gave the opportunity to meet local partners who are involved in the project's Local Stakeholders Group, as well as the good practices implemented in the locally developed projects "Cantinho das Aromáticas" and "Sim somos capazes".
Both of them, provided a very important piece of the vision that the city would like to improve with the work on the sustainbility of the food system.