The Italian Local Food Policy Network or the Rete Italiana Politiche Locali del Cibo is “a network of networks”, founded in 2018 and is today made up of 600 Italian academics, researchers, administrators, and activists involved in the planning of sustainable territorial food systems. The Network is driven by the growing need from citizens and by the interest of local administrations, that a sustainable food system is a priority to ensure the well-being of the urban, peri-urban, and rural populations.
6th National Meeting of the Rete Italiana Politiche Locali del Cibo
The NETWORK is organized into thematic working tables (constantly sharing research, information and news) and has a yearly meeting to update the “state of the art”. The 6th The meeting was held physically in Rome, in collaboration with CREA and the NATIONAL RURAL NETWORK, on January 26-27 2023, and hosted by the Science Department of the Roma Tre University . Many of the NETWORK’s members are in the FUSILLI’s Rome Living Lab – Food Council of Rome (which now counts 300 participants), so this year FUSILLI Rome’s team was involved as co-organizer.
The agenda of the two-day meeting combined the seminar and debate sessions with two convivial moments for knowledge and sharing: a social dinner at the Collettivo Gastronomico Testaccio (member of the FUSILLI’s Rome Living Lab), preceded by the storytelling of the first two years of FUSILLI, and lunch at the Cooperativa Sociale Agricoltura Nuova, followed by a guided tour of the farm, which has been producing, transforming, selling its agricultural and livestock products since 1977 and, recently, also disposing and reusing food waste. The participants enjoyed the zero-km organic products and the cooking from the local traditions of Rome and Lazio.
Within the packed programme, FUSILLI‘s Rome and Turin teams co-organized a 2-hour session dedicated to EU projects on the transformation of urban food systems, presenting the Italian partner cities in 6 projects. The working session was organized as a round table and moderated by Andrea Calori of EStà in agreement with the co-organizers: FUSILLI Rome (Franco La Torre and Elisabetta Luzzi) and FUSILLI Turin (Professor Egidio Dansero, coordinator of the Italian Network of Local Food Policies, professor of the University of Turin and researcher in FUSILLI).
In addition to FUSILLI (Simona Tarra and Nicole Defli from the Rome team), the sister projects FOOD-E (Antonella Samoggia from Bologna), CITIES2030 (Daniele Sferra, from Venice, remotely), FOODTRAILS (with Andrea Patrucco, from Milan), FOODSHIFT (with Francesca Volpe, from Bari), and the new FoodCLIC (with Sabrina Arcuri, from Pisa, remotely), represent the interface between the citizen-consumer and the food system. In particular, the small Tuscan town of Capannori (in the province of Pisa), the Italian partner of FoodCLIC, with its “Piana del cibo” (food plain) represents an innovative entity, known world-wide as the first Italian case of inter-municipal food policy, through participatory governance structure and appropriate management of the functions within.
The participants in the round table, together with an in-presence audience of more than 20 insiders, debated on how “their” project can answer to two questions related to engagement in projects and involvement through the projects themselves of both the civil society (active citizenship, associations and movements); and of the business world (individual companies, trade organizations, …). The discussion has highlighted not only inclusive but also the strategic function of the participation process. The Living Labs have in fact different inclinations depending on the contexts, objectives and actors involved, but in all cases both top-down developed or bottom-up promoted participation prove to be the key to transforming local food systems. Indeed, all the participants reiterated that the awareness and action of citizens, and the involvement and determination of local governments, together with the active role of universities and research, are key factors for the full involvement of stakeholders’ interest. All the experiences and best practices from the 6 projects’ partner cities have shown that the constant presence and the active role of political decision-makers is crucial for facing and defining changes and the sustainable transformations in the social, economic, cultural and environmental dimensions.
The meeting ended with the decision to start a stable working group on European projects as a new knowledge and best- (and worst!) practice sharing space within the Rete Italiana Politiche Locali del Cibo, for “transversal” discussion between scholars, experts, project managers, activists.
A good beginning for a brand new year!
The Italian Local Food Policy Network is driven by the fact that food policies must integrate and be addressed systemically different aspects within the food system:
- the challenges linked to the sustainability of agriculture,
- the relationships within the food supply chains,
- the organization of urban and peri-urban agricultural areas,
- the connections between city and countryside,
- the interpretation of new food consumption models,
- management of natural resources, nutritional problems,
- waste management and waste prevention,
- food culture,
- distribution models,
- the relationship between short supply chains and large-scale retail trade
The transversal values that come into play have social, cultural, and economic implications, which involve processes, infrastructures, institutions, and activities of the entire food system: from food production to waste management. These fundamental principles are contained in the Network Manifesto, approved on 15 January 2019 in Florence.
The NETWORK aims to provide policy-making indications towards sustainable food systems consistent with the 17 Sustainable Development Goals, with which food policies are synergistic. The goal is to collectively build policies to respond to the growing challenges related to sustainability and to monitor their coherence. The tools are an evaluation framework of objectives, targets, and indicators, and the collaboration between the different study approaches and the diverse educational and professional backgrounds of the 600 researchers and experts, planners, geographers, agronomists, economists, nutritionists, jurists, and sociologists. The model is that of the national technological clusters of industrial research: networks of public and private entities operating in industrial research, training, and technology transfer. This also aims to catalysing resources to respond to the needs of the local area and market, and to coordinate and strengthen the links between research and business.
Author: Elisabetta, Franco, Nicole, Simona from the FUSILLI Rome Team
Photos: FUSILLI Rome
Speakers at the meeting