The panel debate moderated by Arnau Queralt, Director of the Advisory Council for Sustainable Development of Catalonia, kicked off with the introductory remarks by AER Vice President for Sustainability, Albert Castellanos, and the video message from the Minister of Agriculture, Livestock, Fisheries and Food from the Government of Catalonia, Teresa Jordà i Roura. Both Catalan representatives highlighted that the Farm to Fork Strategy lays at the core of the European Green Deal and provides a new comprehensive approach to food sustainability in the European Union.
Ricard Ramon i Sumoy, Deputy Head of Unit from DG AGRI at the European Commission, introduced the European Green Deal as the new EU growth strategy launched by the European Commission with the objective of transforming the European Union into a fair and sustainable society with a competitive and green economy where there are net emissions of greenhouse gases by 2050. This initiative is an integral part of the European Commission’s strategy to implement the Sustainable Development Goals.
The Director of the International Panel of Experts on Sustainable Food Systems (IPES-Food), Nicholas Jacobs, claimed that the EU’s new comprehensive approach to food sustainability arrives in a critical moment that has reinforced the urgency for resilience. The outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic has threatened the current food framework, raising awareness of its lack of proficiency and sustainability. Not only the COVID-19 crisis, but also climate change, have made us aware of the need to develop new food policies and put into action the Farm to Fork strategy to have a resilient and sustainable food system which will not be threatened by future crises, and that is capable of ensuring access to a sufficient supply of affordable food for citizens.
In this regard, the European Commission recognizes that the transition to food sustainability will change the economic fabric of many EU regions and their patterns of interactions, therefore, it has already allocated technical and financial assistance from existing EU instruments, such as cohesion funds and the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development.
Irén Lejegren, Chair of the AER Taskforce on Food Security and regional representative from Örebro (Sweden), introduced the AER position paper on Food Security and highlighted that regional authorities have the power to act at different levels in the food system, be it at the level of production, transformation, logistics and transport or distribution and waste management. The regional representative from Västra Götaland in Sweden, Aida Karimli, reminded that a holistic and a vertical approach from local, regional, national and international levels is needed in order to promote a more efficient bio-economy in Europe through multi-level governance.
The regional good practices concluded with Anna Castellví presenting the recently approved Catalan Strategic Plan for Food Sustainability and explained how it remains connected to the Sustainable Development Goals.