We were happy to discover that the attention to what is happening in Rome continues to increase! Last March 13th, a delegation from Kyoto University and City, led by professor Shuji Hisano [1], an expert in the political economy of agriculture, came here to study the participatory process of our Food Policy, the FUSILLI Living Lab  – Food Council of Rome, and the tool of the Food Atlas and the Food Insecurity and Poverty Observatory of the Metropolitan City of Rome.

Academics[2], Stakeholders[3], the FUSILLI team, policymakers and The Cities: it was a busy day for us all, an intense session of sharing of research, best practices, governance and foodpolicies’ processes. Professor Hisano, who dedicated himself for a long time to the study of rural sociology, and therefore to agriculture and rural development from a social point of view, was visiting Rome, and then other Italian cities, with the aim of gathering information on the development of food policies and the different processes that lead to their success.

The Japanese friends were welcomed guests at the Department of the Environment of the City of Rome and at Alderwoman Sabrina Alfonsi‘s office, invited by Professor Davide Marino[4]. He led the discussion – with the support of Rome FUSILLI team, together with his research team, practitioners, experts and some representative stakeholders from Rome’s Food Council, to join an intense seminar on food policies. During the visit, the Japanese delegation visited a farmer’s direct sales market and a social agricultural cooperative. They particularly appreciated the experience of our Living Lab and its transformation into the Food Council of Rome, and took interest in the stakeholders’ storytelling who underlined the importance of a bottom-up participatory process to obtain an effective local food policy.

Among these, a researcher[5] summarized the genesis and the next steps of the food policy situation in Italy, comparing it with examples from English-speaking countries and previous studies[6]. The differences in actions and reactions between small and larger cities were pointed out, to identify the most effective steps. An innovative degree dissertation was then presented[7] which identified urban agriculture as a strategic basis for promoting the vision of sustainable development.


Professor Davide Marino is the leader of the research team who created the Food Atlas for the Metropolitan City of Rome, and, recently, the Observatory on Food Poverty, both driven with the University Consortium for Socioeconomic and Environmental Research CURSA, on behalf of the Metropolitan City of Rome.



The starting point of the Food Atlas was to consider food as a complexity, centrality and resilience. Then, to analyze the gap between the present situation and the Food Plan, a document part of the Strategic Plan. The hope is that this could be an interactive system in which cities, producers and all stakeholders can enter information and monitor evolution. At present, we do not know if it will be possible to do so and in what time frame, we are confident in new investments.

The project of an Observatory on Food Insecurity and Poverty was born from the need to measure the phenomenon and the food aid system, proposing, at the same time, effective policies to govern it[8]. The Observatory works on three objectives: to Analyze the phenomenon of territorial poverty; Understand the potential function of the food system; Propose a real policy, and support a new advocacy action for the right to food, from the response to need to prevention and contrast policies[9]. Poverty is seen as a multidimensional phenomenon – “foodability concept” – which affects health, education and living standards[10]. The Observatory project has an experimental and innovative character, as it investigates food insecurity in its multidimensionality, making use of different tools of research that frame the problem of access to food within the wider space of social justice[11]. Once the experimental phase is over, the aim is to structure the Observatory through adequate public support.


Author: Elisabetta Luzzi, Rome Living Lab FUSILLI

Photos: Rome Living Lab





[1] Professor Shuji Hisano is teaching at the Graduate School of Economics of Kyoto University International Political Economy of Agriculture and Food. His research activities started in the early 1990s with exploring the historical process of the industrial development of agricultural biotechnology with a special focus on corporate strategy of transnational agribusinesses and their interaction with national and international government regulations from a point of view of political economy. His Fields of Research are, today, International Political Economy of Agriculture and Food, Global Food Governance, Agri-food Politics and Sociology, Rural Development. Please find here a list of his recent works.


[2] Among the professors and researchers:

Laura Prota, Assistant Professor of Economics at The American University of Rome, member of the Obervatory for Food Insecurity and Food Poverty of Rome Metropolitan City. Nicole Defli, Graduated in agricultural and environmental sciences, specializing in applied geology, FUSILLI junior manager. Francesca Benedetta Felici, Researcher for Anthropology, Development, and Food Systems, Food Security, Social Inclusion, Gender, Indigenous Peoples.


[3] Among the stakeholders and practitioners:

Gabriella D’Amico, Project Manager for La Nuova Arca, Coordinator at Tuttaunaltracosa, Board of Director – Member of Associazione botteghe del mondo Italia, Economist and researcher, ESG, Coordinator of Table 4 in the FUSILLI Living Lab “Solidarity economy and alternative supply chains”. Giacomo Lepri, anthropologist, head of Cooperativa Agricola Coraggio, Coordinator of Table 2 in the FUSILLI Living Lab “Access to resources, Local production, Agroecology”. Marco Morello, Chef and entrepreneur as business partner in Collettivo Gastronomico Testaccio, Coordinator of Table 7 in the FUSILLI Living Lab “Restaurants and catering, gastronomic culture and agri-food themed events”. Gaia Reale, manager of L’Alveare che dice sì, part of the short supply chain project born in Paris in 2011 and developed throughout Europe and Italy since 2015, promotes the principles of the sharing economy and sustainable development, member of FUSILLI Living Lab Table 4.

[4] Davide Marino is Professor of Agricultural and Food Economics at the Department of Biosciences and Territory of the University of Molise, he teaches Food Policy and Environmental Accounting and Ecosystem Services and also holds master classes at Sapienza Università di Roma, where he is Member of the Doctoral Board in “Model for Economics and Finance”. He is Professor of Enogastronomic Sciences at RomaTre University, where he teaches “Made in Italy Agro-Food”, and a member of the Board of Directors of the Interuniversity Center for Agricultural, Forestry and Environmental Accounting (Contagraf). He represents the UniMol in the Group “Food” in the Network of Universities for Sustainable Development RUS and he is a member of the Work Group 2 of ASVIS. He is coordinator of several national and international research projects in urban agriculture, agricultural landscape, biodiversity, ecosystem services and environmental accounting. He is one of the first and most active active member of our Roma FUSILLI Living Lab – Food Council and, since 2018, one of the “architects” and advocats of the “foundations” of the Rome food policy. When the Resolution 38 on Rome Food Policy was approved by the City Assembly on April 27th 2021, he declared: An important decision has been made: giving life to a food policy will make it possible to provide answers to many social, economic and environmental problems present in the Rome area”. Here a (partial) summary of his publications.


[5] Giampiero Mazzocchi, Food and Agriculture Economist and Analyst, researcher at CREA, member of FUSILLI Living Lab.


[6] E.g. Caroline Steel, UFP Moragues-Faus, 2013.


[7] By Simona Tarra, Economist, researcher, PhD student in Landscape and Environment, consultant in Risorse per Roma FUSILLI team. By analyzing the variables of urban and peri-urban agriculture, a list of 24 indicators divided into agricultural, social and landscape was created, with the aim of identifying which type of agriculture and which type of production and landscape “work” for the creation of landscapes – and productions and services – multifunctional.

[8] The Observatory is part of the collaboration between CURSA and Metropolitan City of Rome Capital, and represents an appendix of the wider project of the CmRC Food Atlas and Food Plan. The research started from the analysis of the points of sale in Italy, on a small and large scale, to intercept the food deserts through the map of the points of sale. This work is in close contact with the project started in 2022 by the Italian Local Food Policies Network.


[9] https://www.secondowelfare.it/event/poverta-alimentare-e-diritto-al-cibo-2/


[10] The methodology starts from two data: the cost of a healthy diet and the average income of the family. Once the concepts of nutrition and healthy diet have been analyzed by experts, the narrativity and representation were outlined thanks to an anthropologist, while an economist was needed to untie the knots between the subjects and the associations.


[11] Lines of research and action:

  • The measurement of food safety through the Accessibility Index Economic (IAE) to a healthy and quality diet, already calculated and mapped in the scope of the Food Atlas, but also through the survey of the FIES (Food Insecurity Experience Scale). The first has the objective of defining an indicator capable of monitoring access to food, while the latter is a method adopted internationally by the FAO to monitor the perception of food security by the population. (1 FAO. (2006). Food Security. June 2006, Issue 2.). Both of these indicators are calculated on a territorial basis, considering in this case both the Municipalities and the Boroughs of the Metropolitan City of Rome.

  • Analysis of the food expenditure of a sample stratified on the basis of variables demographic and territorial data of 160 families residing in the metropolitan area: a tool capable of studying eating behaviors and the adherence of spending to health, quality and sustainability criteria.

  • The analysis of public funds directed to the food assistance system. Through the administration of a data collection questionnaire, the analysis of the good practices and collaboration with the departments of Social Policies of Municipalities, we want to study the way institutions intervene in the fight against food poverty.

  • Last but not least, the creation of a Participatory Table, made up of the different organizations and associations that deal with food assistance in the area of Rome and the Metropolitan City. The table aims to carry out an analysis of the food aid system, useful for identifying strengths and weaknesses, and for carrying out targeted political interventions. The Table is also a space of reflection and exchange of views, to discuss models of innovative interventions and fight against poverty, addressing issues related to dignity of the person, the right to food, sustainability and the food system.