CLEVERFOOD project: transformation of EU food system

FOOD SYSTEM   The University of Copenhagen is leading a comprehensive new EU project, CLEVERFOOD, that will facilitate a society-wide mobilisation of European citizens to transform the European food system that benefits climate, sustainability, biodiversity and public health. JPI HDHL is involved as a partner in the CLEVERFOOD consortium.

tractor agricultural machine cultivating field

Europe's food system is responsible for one third of the continent's greenhouse gas emissions and is critical for biodiversity and public health. With €8.1M in funding, the comprehensive EU project, CLEVERFOOD, will transform the European food system into one that is more climate-friendly, protects nature and biodiversity, and promotes public health across the European continent.

"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," says 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. 

JPI HDHL will be responsible for organizing policy dialogues among local, regional, and national governments, involving key food system stakeholders. Such policy dialogues will provide the basis for developing strategies for advancing food policies and legislation at the national and local levels. JPI HDHL will work with experts at the national level to support understanding of national context and circumstances.

Uniting the efforts of EU food system projects
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 transformationand linking with the EU Food 2030 Policy Framework.

Currently, there is 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 maximize 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," states Marin Lysák PhD, of the University of Copenhagen’s Department of Plant and Environmental Sciences.


Politics and public engagement
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– something that politicians must find solutions to.

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 mobilizing 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,”says Marin Lysák PhD.

The CLEVERFOOD project officially began January 1st and organizes a kick-off meeting in Portugal 20-22 February 2023, from there the FOOD 2030 Interactive Exhibition will visit 5 upcoming EU presidency countries, Hungary, Poland, Denmark, Cyprus and Ireland and will host national dialogues, place-based initiatives and key events that provide many opportunities to get involved with the transformation of our Food System.

Text: Copenhagen University
Publication date: February, 2023
Image by aleksandarlittlewolf on Freepik

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This project has received funding from the European Union’s
H2020 Research and Innovation Programme under grant agreement n.696300

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