Food Trails Project: Enhancing Cities’ Role for Sustainable Food Systems

04 Nov 2021

The Food Trails Project is one year old! On this occasion, all partners met up in Barcelona to discuss their action plan for urban food policy and citizen engagement.


One year from the start of the Food Trails project, Slow Food finally met up with all 18 partners in Barcelona, during the Milan Urban Food Policy Pact 7th Global Forum, to discuss how cities are centre stage in the sustainable food transition.

More than half of the global population lives in cities, where 70% of the food produced worldwide is consumed. And while we are facing multiple crises related to food production (climate change, biodiversity loss, pollution) and consumption (obesity, non-communicable diseases, malnutrition), cities are crucial actors to help tackle them. Why? Because they are major drivers for cultural, social, and economic changes and they can quickly design and implement policies affecting millions of people at a time! Cities are key actors in shaping the food environments that we need to accelerate the transition towards more healthy, resilient, just, sustainable food systems.

What is the Food Trails Project?

Food Trails is a four-year project, launched in October 2020, which aims at building long term progress towards sustainable food systems through co-creation and citizens participation in the process of urban food policy making. The project revolves around 4 core priorities:

1) nutrition and healthy diets
2) climate and environment
3) circularity and resource efficiency
4) innovation and empowerment of communities.



The project involves 11 European Cities and 8 more partners amongst universities and foundations. The goal of the project is to make the farm-to-fork journey sustainable and to empower communities, promote a zero-waste use of resources, promote environmentally friendly behaviour change and ensure people have healthy and secure diets. Municipalities’ officers, researchers, foundations, and NGOs, including Slow Food, are working closely together to build inclusive and future proof strategies.

Food Trails’ 11 partner cities are: 

  • Bergamo (IT)
  • Birmingham (UK)
  • Bordeaux (FR)
  • Copenhagen (DK)
  • Funchal (PR)
  • Grenoble (FR)
  • Groningen (NL)
  • Milan (IT)
  • Thessaloniki (GR)
  • Tirana (AL)
  • Warsaw (PL)

What is Slow Food’s Role?

Slow Food’s main role in the project is to bring its holistic knowledge and perspective on nowadays food system and to ensure that communities have a central role in the development of food policies in their city. To do so, Slow Food and Roskilde University investigated for months to find out what are the best tools that cities and citizens use to co-create food policies that are inclusive, effective, and systemic, and most importantly, that leave no one behind. In their report, they highlight the value of certain structures such as Food Policy Councils in getting people involved, while insisting on the fact that political will and support from municipalities are the only thing that can bring about consistent engagement from their citizens.

“Municipalities have the power to support and foster citizens’ participation in the design of food policies. Any kind of support for participation, through financial means or facilitation, implies a political will and strategic choice to knowingly ensure all relevant stakeholders are involved in the process.”, commented Yael Pantzer, policy officer at Slow Food Europe.


Have a look at the full report !


Now that this investigation is complete, it is important to put it in practice. Concretely, Slow Food will be on the field, monitoring and mentoring cities to develop tools to engage their citizens, with a special focus on vulnerable categories of populations, in the development of their urban food policies. width=

What happened during the first year and what will happen next?

The first year of the project was dedicated to setting the basis for future action: mapping best practices, investigating and understanding each city’s context, identifying key stakeholders and crucial areas for action. The meeting in Barcelona, which also saw the organisation of a Food Trails side event to exchange with other Horizon 2020 projects on Urban Food Policy, was a great opportunity to transform a one-year analysis into concrete plans for actions for food policies at city level.  From now on, we can expect a strong ferment in all 11 participating cities to co-design and implement food policy actions and strategies that will actively involve citizens to reach results in the four priority areas.



If you wish to follow this project’s further developments, check the official website and twitter account.

To know more or get involved, please get in touch with [email protected]

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