A growing number of voices – among others the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC, 2017) - have highlighted the need to change the overarching infrastructure of food-related policies. They claim that the European Union does not have a food policy . For example, the General Food Law addresses food safety issues, but not nutrition. Regulations aimed at reducing the environmental impacts of food production are not built in connection with how food is consumed. There are regulations that encourage production systems to improve product quality, but the link to sustainability is not clear. There are rules that regulate information and communication to consumers, but a reference to sustainability is missing. Common Agricultural Policy grants subsidies to 'green' production processes, but most of them concern primarily production actors. Distribution of financial resources over these instruments is largely disproportionate. Often these payments are not linked to clear outcomes and impacts. How could a food policy contribute to shaping sustainable food systems in Europe? It is time for policy makers, academics, and civil society to take a step back and reflect upon appropriate policies infrastructures for transition toward food sustainability. This challenge implies a pervasive process that addresses in a consistent and coherent way the multidimensionality of food – environmental, social, economic, health, ethical and resilience implications - and takes into consideration the reciprocal influences between production, distribution and consumption and their links with broader socio-ecological and socio-technical systems. This process should reorganize food-related policy instruments around societal goals and put in place the necessary instruments to enable the social and institutional change, overcoming barriers. This report proposes a conceptual framework and carries out an assessment of the existing policy infrastructure with the purpose of suggesting points of entry for policy-led transition towards food sustainability in Europe. The system perspective adopted allows us to apply one of the key principles of sustainable development as well as sustainable consumption and implies that policies aiming at sustainability should address consumption issues as well as production patterns. The challenge for a new policy approach is to put in place coordinated policy tools that can affect directly or indirectly this process of alignment, linking together self-responsibility with freedom to act. Rather than pursuing an ambitious program of redesign of the agricultural policy into a broader food policy, we suggest a ‘bottom up’ process of construction of a food policy mix around strategic goals aimed at the integration and coherence between policies, together with the reorganization of existing tools and the introduction of new tools to fill existing gaps. The introduction of strategic tools - such as the EU Sustainable Food Assessment and Action Plan, proposed by the EESC (2017) at the EU level, or urban food strategies at the local level - can contribute to develop new representations of the food system, update policy objectives, verify the adequacy of existing policy instruments with respect to new objectives, identify missing policy instruments and mobilize all stakeholders to build a coherent set of policies. This report lays down some criteria on which this process should be activated.

A transition towards sustainable food systems in Europe

Galli, Francesca
Primo
Writing – Original Draft Preparation
;
Favilli, Elena
Secondo
Writing – Original Draft Preparation
;
D'Amico, Simona
Penultimo
Investigation
;
Brunori, Gianluca
Ultimo
Conceptualization
2018

Abstract

A growing number of voices – among others the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC, 2017) - have highlighted the need to change the overarching infrastructure of food-related policies. They claim that the European Union does not have a food policy . For example, the General Food Law addresses food safety issues, but not nutrition. Regulations aimed at reducing the environmental impacts of food production are not built in connection with how food is consumed. There are regulations that encourage production systems to improve product quality, but the link to sustainability is not clear. There are rules that regulate information and communication to consumers, but a reference to sustainability is missing. Common Agricultural Policy grants subsidies to 'green' production processes, but most of them concern primarily production actors. Distribution of financial resources over these instruments is largely disproportionate. Often these payments are not linked to clear outcomes and impacts. How could a food policy contribute to shaping sustainable food systems in Europe? It is time for policy makers, academics, and civil society to take a step back and reflect upon appropriate policies infrastructures for transition toward food sustainability. This challenge implies a pervasive process that addresses in a consistent and coherent way the multidimensionality of food – environmental, social, economic, health, ethical and resilience implications - and takes into consideration the reciprocal influences between production, distribution and consumption and their links with broader socio-ecological and socio-technical systems. This process should reorganize food-related policy instruments around societal goals and put in place the necessary instruments to enable the social and institutional change, overcoming barriers. This report proposes a conceptual framework and carries out an assessment of the existing policy infrastructure with the purpose of suggesting points of entry for policy-led transition towards food sustainability in Europe. The system perspective adopted allows us to apply one of the key principles of sustainable development as well as sustainable consumption and implies that policies aiming at sustainability should address consumption issues as well as production patterns. The challenge for a new policy approach is to put in place coordinated policy tools that can affect directly or indirectly this process of alignment, linking together self-responsibility with freedom to act. Rather than pursuing an ambitious program of redesign of the agricultural policy into a broader food policy, we suggest a ‘bottom up’ process of construction of a food policy mix around strategic goals aimed at the integration and coherence between policies, together with the reorganization of existing tools and the introduction of new tools to fill existing gaps. The introduction of strategic tools - such as the EU Sustainable Food Assessment and Action Plan, proposed by the EESC (2017) at the EU level, or urban food strategies at the local level - can contribute to develop new representations of the food system, update policy objectives, verify the adequacy of existing policy instruments with respect to new objectives, identify missing policy instruments and mobilize all stakeholders to build a coherent set of policies. This report lays down some criteria on which this process should be activated.
Galli, Francesca; Favilli, Elena; D'Amico, Simona; Brunori, Gianluca
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11568/963218
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