Following the first European Green Deal webinar, which covered challenges and opportunities for regions in the time of Covid-19, the AER brought the second in our series: Farm to Fork – The Commitment of Regions to Sustainable Food Policy in the EU, in collaboration with the Advisory Council for Sustainable Development of the Catalan Government (CADS).
The panel debate moderated by Arnau Queralt, Director of the Advisory Council for Sustainable Development of Catalonia, brought together regional authorities as well as EU and global representatives. During this online session, it was discussed the key role that the new comprehensive approach to food sustainability has to play in the European Union and the commitment from European regions towards developing and implementing food policies that contribute to a more resilient and sustainable food system.
The webinar kicked off with the introductory remarks by AER Vice President for Sustainability, Albert Castellanos, and the video message from the Minister of Agriculture, Livestock, Fisheries and Food from the Government of Catalonia, Teresa Jordà i Roura. Both Catalan representatives highlighted that the Farm to Fork Strategy lays at the core of the European Green Deal, and provides a new comprehensive approach to food sustainability in the European Union, thus aiming at achieving sustainable and resilient food systems around Europe.
Ricard Ramon i Sumoy, Deputy Head of Unit from DG AGRI at the European Commission, introduced the European Green Deal as the new EU growth strategy launched by the European Commission with the objective of transforming the European Union into a fair and sustainable society with a competitive and green economy where there are net emissions of greenhouse gases by 2050. This initiative is an integral part of the European Commission’s strategy to implement the Sustainable Development Goals, which aims at putting sustainability and the well-being of citizens at the centre of the economic policy while at the same time places the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development at the heart of the EU’s policy-making.
The Director of the International Panel of Experts on Sustainable Food Systems (IPES-Food), Nicholas Jacobs, claimed that the EU’s new comprehensive approach to food sustainability arrives in a critical moment that has reinforced the urgency for resilience. The outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic has threatened the current food framework, raising awareness of its lack of proficiency and sustainability. Not only the COVID-19 crisis, but also climate change, have made us aware of the need to develop new food policies and put into action the Farm to Fork strategy in order to have a resilient and sustainable food system which will not be threatened by future crises, and that is capable of ensuring access to a sufficient supply of affordable food for citizens.
In this regard, the European Commission recognizes that the transition to food sustainability will change the economic fabric of many EU regions and their patterns of interactions, therefore, it has already allocated technical and financial assistance from existing EU instruments, such as cohesion funds and the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development.
Irén Lejegren, Chair of the AER Taskforce on Food Security and regional representative from Örebro (Sweden), introduced the AER position paper on Food Security and highlighted that regional authorities have the power to act at different levels in the food system, be it at the level of production, transformation, logistics and transport or distribution and waste management.
The regional representative from Västra Götaland in Sweden, Aida Karimli, reminded that a holistic and a vertical approach from local, regional, national and international levels is needed in order to promote a more efficient bio-economy in Europe through multi-level governance.
The regional good practices concluded with Anna Castellví presenting the recently approved Catalan Strategic Plan for Food Sustainability and explained how it remains connected to the Sustainable Development Goals.
Further food for thought!
The Assembly of European Regions presented the online consultation launched in partnership with the Institute for European Environmental Policy (IEEP) and other partners, and encourage regional authorities to participate in order to contribute to identifying the challenges and opportunities in the successful implementation of the EU Green Deal and to provide policymakers with concrete advice to help achieve climate neutrality at the European continent.
To begin the survey, please, click below.