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Inter-municipal Food Policy of Piana del Cibo- Italy #

The “Piana del Cibo” is Italy’s first Intermunicipal Food Policy (IFP). Five municipalities in the province of Lucca collaborate, transcending administrative and functional boundaries, to share responsibilities related to food. This integrated food policy aims to design and implement effective measures that address food issues by breaking down siloed approaches and increasing integration between local departments and sectors.

Objectives & implementation #

The IFP “Piana del Cibo” was formed in Jan 2019 after a six-month participatory process led by the CIRCULARIFOOD project (June-Dec 2018). Over 300 citizens, NGOs, farmers, public officials, businesses, and others from five municipalities participated. The project aimed to gather input from all food system stakeholders to improve local food systems and make them more sustainable and equitable. The main outcome of CIRCULARIFOOD is the Food Strategy and Plan, which identifies five main action areas based on key priorities from the participatory phase:

  1. Enhancing local food system knowledge;
  2. Reducing food waste and fostering best food provision practices;
  3. Improving well-being through sustainable, healthy lifestyles;
  4. Improving access to local food for all;
  5. Supporting sustainable agricultural practices.

IFP governance has two components: (i) a participatory governance structure (Agorà, Food Policy Council, Assembly of Mayors, Food Policy Office) and (ii) Joint Management, a convention commonly used by small municipalities for sharing basic services (social, health, education, civil protection, local police), but in this case, it’s for sharing strategic functions related to food. This represents a unique institutional arrangement in Italy.

Timescale #

The project started in 2018 and is currently ongoing.

Fields of application #

The main field of application for the “Piana del Cibo” Intermunicipal Food Policy is the area of food-related policies. This policy aims to address the various challenges and opportunities related to food at the local level, by bringing together the resources and expertise of five municipalities in the province of Lucca. The goal is to create a more integrated and effective approach to food policy, with a focus on issues such as access to healthy and sustainable food, reducing food waste, and supporting local food producers. The “Piana del Cibo” IFP seeks to be a model for other local governments looking to improve their food systems and create more sustainable and equitable communities.

Transferability #

The “Piana del Cibo” Intermunicipal Food Policy has a good potential for transferability, particularly with regards to its process and governance model. However, it is important to acknowledge that the IFP’s success is rooted in its place-based nature and the specific local context in which it operates. While the IFP’s governance structure and approach to integrated food policy can serve as a useful model for other local governments, any transfer of the model should be carefully considered and adapted to suit the unique circumstances and needs of each community.

Impact & Results #

The IFP has been in operation since early 2019 (considering the entire co-design process), and has been in practice since January 2020. The difficulties posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, which started just one month after the IFP Bylaw was ratified, and related mobility restrictions, have inevitably impacted the participatory component and all involved actors and institutions. As a result, the entire experiment and its activities experienced a slowdown. Nevertheless, numerous initiatives have been undertaken, primarily focusing on raising awareness and promoting healthy lifestyles, food literacy, local farmers’ markets, and reducing food waste, as well as promoting local food varieties.

Results of the World Cafè analysis #

Weaknesses #

The best practice has some weaknesses that could affect its replication potential in different project countries. One of the key weaknesses is a lack of communication, which could affect participation. The operationalization of visions and principles is also challenging, as it was relatively easy to discuss and generate ideas, but actually translating them into action is a continuous process of definition and negotiation. Additionally, participation must be rewarded for people to see the results of their involvement, otherwise they may become disincentivized. The trial and error process must also be recognized, as the difficulties and complexity of these processes must be understood in order to prevent individuals and organizations from giving up at the first obstacle. Finally, the complexity in replicating the process is linked to the legislative framework of each country.

Strenghts #

The best practice of the Intermunicipal Food Policy (IFP) has several strengths that support its replication potential in different project countries. Firstly, it is a bottom-up initiative that is based on voluntary action, which is a crucial factor in ensuring its success. Secondly, the IFP is institutionalized at the intermunicipal level, but political and administrative support is necessary throughout the process. The presence of a professional facilitator is also a strength as it contributes to keeping the activities and attention alive. Although volunteering is important, coordinators and managers need to be professionally involved to ensure things get done. Lastly, the IFP represents a great example of the slogan “Think globally act locally” as it has a systemic vision and a holistic approach that takes into account broader trends and drivers that affect the local context and local food system.

Possible implementations through the New European Bauhaus and digital transition #

The New European Bauhaus and digital transition can play a key role in overcoming some of the weaknesses of the best practice and promoting its replication in other countries. One of the weaknesses is the lack of integration between policies and regulations. To tackle this, the integration between policies must be strengthened and the relevance of food, which has many connections with different sectors such as health, the environment, culture, tourism, and beyond, should be emphasized. The IFP tool can be seen as a potential arena for managing conflicts in a democratic manner, providing a space for democracy and deliberation. For example, in relation to legislation, the Spanish partner from Galicia showed how the Reserver tender (Spain) could be used to bypass competition law and promote small changes that lead to bigger ones.

Role of the social economy sector in promoting & improving the best practice #

The social economy sector in the project countries can play an important role in promoting and improving the best practice by connecting the principles behind the New European Bauhaus (NEB) with the food policy. Both NEB and food policy have a significant impact on the urban space and the regulation of that space. The social economy sector can help to align these principles and bring them to life in a meaningful and effective way.

Bibliography #

Book chapter (ITA): Arcuri, S., Belletti, G., Bottiglioni, S., Brunori, G., Galli, F., Innocenti, S., Marescotti, A., Pensa, A., Rovai, M., and Soldani, L. (2020). “Innovazioni istituzionali e approcci multi-attore nelle politiche alimentari Locali: il piano intercomunale per il cibo della Piana di Lucca.” In: Dansero, E., Marino, D., Mazzocchi, G., and Nicolarea, Y. (Eds.), Lo spazio delle politiche locali del cibo: temi, esperienze e prospettive. Torino: Celid, ISBN 978-88-6789-187-0, 2019.

Academic article (ENG): Arcuri, S., Minotti, B., and Galli, F. (2022). “Food policy integration in small cities: The case of intermunicipal governance in Lucca, Italy.” Journal of Rural Studies, 89, 287-297.

External links #

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