Innovation in territorial good systems: collaboration is key

Professor Moya Kneafsey at the Centre for Agroecology, Water and Resilience argues the importance of EU and national public policies in the transition toward sustainable territorial food systems.

The crisis in food systems is intensifying. The war in Ukraine, hot on the heels of the COVID-19 pandemic, has exposed vulnerabilities in globalized food supply chains. Europe’s energy price crisis will contribute to rising global food prices, and in addition to this, the damaging effects of climate change are being felt by farmers all around the world.

The idea of territorial food systems has developed as an alternative to the globalized, energy-intensive food systems which have benefited from the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy for many years. These industrialized systems have degraded soil health, biodiversity, and water quality and rarely delivered fair livelihoods for farmers and small food businesses. In contrast, territorial food systems operate at a scale at which it is possible to coordinate multiple actors in order to improve public health, regenerate environmental resources and deliver fair incomes for farmers and food workers as well as quality food for consumers.

While examples of territorial food systems can be found around the world, their potential for achieving more sustainable and equitable outcomes is only now being recognized. In the European Union, there are many experiences and projects to learn from, but there is much work to do to coordinate strategy and develop good practices. This is where the Horizon 2020-funded COACH project steps in.

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