Food sovereignty and urban-rural integration
LDnet workshop at Open Days 2015 (13 October 2015)
This workshop focused on learning from a new wave of food initiatives which are contributing to strong and lasting urban-rural links and are creating the foundations for a new generation of local development strategies and initiatives.
Urban areas have become the dominant settlement pattern and increasingly the sustainability discourse is centred on the question of how to transform cities into resilient, sustainable habitats. This also presents a challenge for rural areas as there is a glut of cheap, ready-made industrial food in our cities, and more and more people become obese and unhealthy, while organic food from nearby is scarce and sometimes really expensive. The economic crisis has highlighted that impoverished people in crisis-struck cities need to reconnect to the rural neighbourhoods in the proximity in order to restore functional economic flows; the most elementary and exemplary one being the food system.
European citizens (community supported farming initiatives and direct sales networks) and local governments (Resilient Cities network, Transition Towns, etc.) have started to point the way towards local and regional food sovereignty. The workshop discussed what can be learned from these initiatives and especially:
• Which forms and patterns of urban-rural partnerships stand out in respect to local food sovereignty and are most appropriate to mend the broken food cycle and to revive regional food systems on a larger scale?
• How far can these partnerships and their activities contribute to strengthening social cohesion, developing new sources of income and enterprise, and reviving and consolidating rural-urban relationships?
• How can they be supported by EU territorial policies and urban and rural development programmes?
The workshop was led by Robert Lukesch (ÖAR/LDnet) and included case study presentations by Marianne Karstens (Amersfoort/URBACT network) and Bob Cannell (Suma Wholefoods cooperative, UK), active involvement of workshop participants through ‘buzz’ groups moderated by Urszula Budzich-Tabor (ENRD/LDnet), and a panel debate with Sandra Karner (Alpen-Adria University), Toby Johnson (AEIDL/LDnet), Eleni Myrivili (City of Athens), André Vizinho (ECOLISE) and Boban Ilic (SWG RRD).
The main presentations are attached, below.