CLEVERFOOD deliverable presented at Open Food Conference in Louvain

During the Open Food Conference in Louvain, Belgium from March 11th to 13th, the City of Milan and Eurocities, both partners in CLEVERFOOD, presented the deliverable ‘Comparative analysis of existing urban food policies’, offering insight on the need for a fairer and more sustainable urban food system.

In an era defined by the urgency of climate change and the imperative for sustainable living, projects like CLEVERFOOD stand out as examples of innovation and collaboration.

Deliverable: Comparative analysis of existing urban food policies

CLEVERFOOD aims to revolutionize the European food landscape by mobilizing stakeholders and implementing transformative governance models, particularly through Policy Labs, to advance sustainable food policies and legislation.

To contribute to the policy labs, an assessment of urban food policy development across Europe was developed by CLEVERFOOD consortium partner City of Milan. This deliverable was recently presented at the Open Food Conference in Louvain. The document introduces a comprehensive framework for integrated urban food policies, assessing interconnections across policy domains, governance levels, and sectors to tackle existing barriers. It emphasises the importance of multilevel governance structures and national dialogues in fostering more effective solutions.

  • Deliverable 2.1 presents a detailed examination of food policy governance across 59 European cities in 19 countries. It reveals that a significant majority of cities have formal political commitments to food policy, with many adopting Urban Food Policies and allocating substantial budgets. Notably, around 76% of the surveyed cities have made concrete commitments, appointing a local politician responsible for food policy.
  • The European Union's Farm to Fork Strategy signifies a notable shift towards holistic food system approaches. While some countries have implemented sector-specific policies, integrated national food policies remain rare in Europe, impeding holistic solutions to food challenges. Instead, cities are emerging as centers of innovation, fostering urban food partnerships and multistakeholder platforms to drive change.
  • The report highlights the importance of conceptual frameworks for integrated urban food policies, emphasizing the need for institutionalization and multistakeholder participation. It identifies key policy implementation areas, such as Sustainable Diets, Social and Economic Equity, Food Production, Supply and Distribution, and Food Waste reduction.

Read the full deliverable here.

Open Food Conference

This deliverable was presented in the context of the Open Food Conference which three-day event hosted by the government of Flanders under the Belgian Presidency of the Council of the European Union. The conference aimed to “creates synergies between policy, science, industry and practice in order to offer systemic responses as an inspiration for the next European and national policies.

Some conference highlights include:
  • An engaging panel discussions involving representatives from research, the EC, FAO, FoodDrink Europe, and input from the European Council for Young Farmers (CEJA). Discussions focused on topics such as the hidden costs of food and market incentives hindering change.
  • Keynote speaker Timothy Searchinger from Princeton University underscored the importance of efficient land and resource utilization. He highlighted the need for policies including reducing the outsourcing of food production, reclaiming land for biodiversity and carbon capture, and transitioning to plant-based diets.
  • Parallel sessions addressed various themes. These included the importance of a whole-school approach to school meals in addressing malnutrition and overweight. Additionally, Derk Loorbach's session on transition research emphasized the dynamic nature of sustainable food systems and stressed that while there is a need to innovate, we should not forget to phase out unnecessary and detrimental practices.

In conclusion, both the report and the conference underscored the necessity of integrated approaches to food governance at all levels, with cities playing a pivotal role in driving collaboration and innovation. Cohesive, sustainable food policies are vital for tackling the complex challenges posed by modern food systems.


Launched in February 2023 as a Horizon Coordination and Support Action (CSA), CLEVERFOOD embarks on a three-year journey to revolutionise the European food landscape. At its core, the project aims to mobilise stakeholders across all levels of governance, from local to supra-national, fostering transformative governance models that prioritize sustainability, resilience, and regeneration. With the overarching goal of keeping global warming below 1.5°C and respecting planetary boundaries, the project strives to ensure proper nutrition, enhance circularity and resource efficiency, spur innovation, and empower communities.

The methodology encompasses three key components: Policy Labs, Living Labs, and Pan-European multi-actor and public engagement. The Policy Labs aim to develop transformative governance models and strategies for advancing food policies and legislation through mechanisms like a peer-learning programme of policy labs and policy dialogues.

As a partner within the consortium, HDHL, operating through its secretariat at ZonMw, is responsible for organising policy dialogues in selected countries.

Read more about CLEVERFOOD here.