CLEVERFOOD: New project to transform the EU food system
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Posted: 6 February 2023 | Ria Kakkad (New Food) | No comments yet
The new EU project, CLEVERFOOD, is aiming to change the European food system to benefits climate, sustainability, biodiversity and public health.
The University of Copenhagen, Denmark, is leading a comprehensive new EU project, CLEVERFOOD, that will facilitate a society-wide mobilisation of European citizens to transform the European food system to benefit climate, sustainability, biodiversity and public health. The project officially began 1 January 2023 and has €8.1 million in funding.
“Current and future crises, including climate crisis, food crisis, biodiversity crisis and health crisis are inextricably linked to the way we produce food. Thus, the time has come to make a radical change, where all EU countries make a concerted effort to transform our food system by making it more fair, sustainable, circular and plant-based,” said Associate Professor Christian Bugge Henriksen of the University of Copenhagen’s Department of Plant and Environmental Sciences.
For the next four years, Henriksen will lead CLEVERFOOD together with his team from the Climate and Food Security Group at the Department of Plant and Environmental Sciences.
The comprehensive project, together with leading actors, ranging from government agencies, universities, industries, and interest groups across Europe, will foster cooperation, coordination and synergy among existing, emerging and future EU projects focusing on food system transformation and linking with the EU Food 2030 Policy Framework.
The project organisers say there is currently insufficient coordination, collaboration and mutual learning between ongoing EU projects, initiatives, food policies and dialogues across all governance levels in Europe relating to the necessary transformation of our food system, and there is a huge potential for establishing synergies between them to maximise their impact.
“The purpose of CLEVERFOOD is to bring all of these existing projects together. Many good initiatives are already underway in the EU, such as ones that work to reduce agricultural emissions and promote biodiversity and health. However, they are fragmented and don’t cooperate across the board. Collaboration is at the heart of it all if we truly seek to effectuate change,” stated Dr Marin Lysák from the University of Copenhagen’s Department of Plant and Environmental Sciences.
In addition to cooperation, one of the project’s major focus areas is legislation and advocacy, paving the way for common EU policies that support healthy and sustainable food systems. For example, high debt-to-income ratios across all European food system actors hinder farmers and food innovators adopting new technology and practices needed to transition to a circular, low carbon and a more plant-based future.
At the same time, information and educational outreach for EU citizens needs to expand public awareness about healthy and sustainable foods and thereby increase consumer demand for plant-based foods.
“To succeed in transforming the food system, we also need to get citizens on board. Empowering, educating and mobilising citizens to change their diets and contribute to changing our food system is imperative. In order to do this, CLEVERFOOD will support the cross-cutting efforts to include more regenerative, resilient and plant-based food production and consumption,” said Lysák.
Environment, Food Safety, Regulation & Legislation, Research & development
Associate Professor Christian Bugge Henriksen, Dr Marin Lysák