Citizens of Antwerp collectively build their food strategy with Rikolto and Let Us

Citizens of Antwerp collectively build their food strategy with Rikolto and Let Us

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In its climate plan, the city of Antwerp states the ambition to make the local food system more sustainable. To achieve this, the city has started to develop a food strategy, encompassing the whole food chain: food production, logistics, processing, consumption, food waste, innovation, etc. The process will identify strategic priorities to build a more inclusive, innovative and circular urban food system. And the city calls upon its citizens and entrepreneurs to participate in the development of the strategy.

The city of Antwerp want to reduce its CO2 emissions with 50 to 55 percent by 2030. It is evident that the consumption and dietary habits of the citizens of Antwerp have a big impact on our climate in general, in the city and outside its limits. But the food system generates GHG emissions in production, processing, distribution and consumption, so it is important to handle a systems perspective in the search for solutions.

That is why a food strategy tailored to the city of Antwerp has a lot of benefits: it can contribute to more sustainable and healthier dietary habits, less food waste, a strong and more diverse local economy and strong urban and rural linkages. At the same time, it offers opportunities to work on related societal problems, such as poverty, and stimulate innovation for a more inclusive, resilient and circular local food system. The city of Antwerp is also the culinary capital of Belgium.

Economic and ecological opportunities

Deputy Mayor of Environment Tom Meeuws explains: “We can’t work towards a better climate without a smart food strategy. It offers economic and ecologic opportunities. We are a city of 530,000 citizens, almost 200 supermarkets and more than 4000 food service options. The food strategy is an instrument to achieve a more conscious relationship with all the food that is used and consumed on a daily basis in our city. We call upon everyone in Antwerp to co-create this new chapter together.”

To make these ambitions happen, the city of Antwerp called upon Rikolto and Let Us. Rikolto has years of experience in sustainable food and supported multiple cities internationally in the multi-actor development of a food strategy and policy. Together with Let Us, expert in innovative urban food policy, Commons Lab and Levuur, experts in participatory processes, we give shape and guide the process.

From enterprises to individual citizens

It’s not the first time the people of Antwerp have heard of a sustainable food strategy. In 2019, the ‘Antwerp Food Council’ was initiated by Commons Lab, University of Antwerp, Boeren & Buren, Boerenbond, Rikolto and others. This council reflected on a local, ecological and fair food transition and bundled their findings and suggestions in a bottom-up strategy. Now the city council is taking the next step, by taking this input and starting a broader process with involvement of the Antwerp Food Council, farmers, food service and industry, civil society organisations, knowledge institutions and individual citizens. In short: all food actors.

The process revolves around specific questions to develop the strategic framework: How do we make school meals healthier and more sustainable? What are the opportunities for food service entrepreneurs? How can we improve the logistics behind food flows? Where do we find space for sustainable food production in and outside the city? Which waste streams can we transform into new resources for products and services? how can citizen initiatives contribute? And how can the local government lead by example?

The process started earlier this year and will be finished by the summer. After that, the city will finalise the strategy and start rolling-out the new food strategy, through actions and initiatives, and together with all food actors.

Rikolto supports cities and food actors to make food systems more resilient and sustainable through evidence-based strategies and concrete actions.

Explore how we help urban food systems to become more resilient and sustainable

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Thibault Geerardyn
Thibault Geerardyn
Directeur van Rikolto in België
+32 16 31 65 83