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The EU-funded FoodCLIC project aims to contribute to urban food environments that make healthy and sustainable food available, affordable and attractive to all citizens, including deprived and vulnerable groups.

Europe’s urban areas face significant challenges to ensure the availability and consumption of healthy, affordable, safe and sustainably produced food. Such challenges converge within local food environments, but are often neglected by public planners. Promising initiatives taken by municipalities to change the architecture of food choice often fail to become embedded in the wider policy context and to reach deprived and vulnerable groups. Key factors responsible for this are: siloed ways of working and fragmentation of knowledge on facilitators and barriers related to food system transformation. These factors hinder the development and implementation of integrated urban food policies.

Objectives and approach
Five-year project FoodCLIC (2022-2027), aims to contribute to urban food environments that make healthy and sustainable food available, affordable and attractive to all citizens, including deprived and vulnerable groups. The project will do so through creating strong science-policy-practice interfaces across eight European city-regions (45 towns and cities). The backbone of such interfaces will be provided by Food Policy Networks, which will manage real-world experimental Living Labs to build a policy-relevant evidence-base through learning-in-action. Activities will be informed by an innovative conceptual framework (the CLIC), which emphasises four desired outcomes of food system integration: sustainability co-benefits, spatial linkages, social inclusion and sectoral connectivities. Capacity-building and direct support for intensive multi-stakeholder engagement (including deprived and vulnerable groups) will enable policy actors and urban planners across partner city-regions to develop continuously evolving integrated urban food policies and render planning frameworks food-sensitive. 

To further strengthen the science-policy-practice interface in the eight partner city-regions, FoodCLIC will support food policy networks to establish living labs as virtual and physical spaces for members of the food policy networks to understand the food system and co-design, implement, analyse and evaluate real-life interventions that aim to improve urban food environments through action learning. In addition to realising actual changes in food environments, real-life interventions will help to uncover barriers to, and facilitators of, scaling processes and to identify innovative business models, investment schemes and conducive market conditions and land use plans.

Results will be communicated and disseminated amongst others by extending the novel policy practices to another eight city-regions in Europe and Africa, an online Knowledge-Hub, a high-level Think Tank and partners’ networks. 

Athena’s role
The VU Athena Institute is the coordinating institute of the FoodCLIC project, Jacqueline Broerse is the project coordinator. The VU team in FoodCLIC participates in all six work packages of the project. Furthermore, Evelien de Hoop is leading the work package 'Developing methodology, training and monitoring frameworks'.

Policy Coherence through Living Labs

In this video, prof. dr. Jacqueline Broerse discusses the difficulty of aligning policy with research in the transition to a sustainable and healthy food system in Europe, from science to implementation. She aims to bridge this gap by establishing a common language, addressing trade-offs, and exploring ways to measure coherence between science and policies, paving the way for progress.

Consortium meeting in Lisbon, Portugal in September 2023.

Project details