Deep dive

23 May 2022

ICLEI helps develop recommendations for food procurement

ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability and the One Planet Network have developed a set of recommendations for procurers and policy makers, aiming to positively influence the entire food value chain. In addition, ICLEI has also been the main author of the eight recommendations on sustainable and healthy school food procurement, developed by the European-funded StratKIT project, as part of the Procura+ City Interest Group on School Food Procurement. These recommendations support the EU Farm to Fork Strategy and United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

These recommendations, developed by ICLEI and One Planet Network build on a global analysis as well as the podcast series ‘Power of the Public Plate’, which features public procurers from 8 different countries to explore how public procurement can positively influence the food value chain.

The two organisations have made a distinction between cross-cutting recommendations focusing more on the organisation of the procurement process, and specific recommendations, focusing more on the aims of the procurement. The cross-cutting recommendations encourage procurers to adopt system thinking and strategic linking and to establish multi-level governance arrangements. They can do this for example by using food procurement as a lever to localise Sustainable Development Goals, or exploring the links and synergies between different government levels.

The specific recommendations include:

  • Source locally through fresh and seasonal food items
  • Support a healthy and nutritious diet
  • Enable fair employment conditions
  • Increase the share of plant-rich food and support animal welfare
  • Support smallholder farmers
  • Source organic produce
  • Reduce waste from food and packaging

For each of these recommendations ICLEI and the One Planet Network describe potential actions procurers can take and provide examples of their impact on the value chain. The two organisations believe that there is great potential for procurers to improve food systems, noting that their decisions can affect both consumption and production practices.

StratKIT’s recommendations, are based on the views and experiences of a number of local and national experts, the policy advocacy work of the EU Food Policy Council and further research.

StratKIT notes that Food is a central element in our lives and plays an especially crucial role in the quality of our children’s lives and their growth. As kids spend most of their time at school, school food procurement should be at the top of the priority lists for policy making. Healthy and sustainable diets and lifestyles should be rights granted to every child to reach their full potential. However, most European schools base their purchasing decisions on the cheapest price only, leaving limited margin for environmental and social sustainability.

Considering that today’s food systems account for 21-37% of total greenhouse gases (IPCCC, 2019) and are a primary cause of environmental degradation, socio-economic and health inequalities, it is the policy makers’ duty to address this issue. The EU’s position of the EU Farm to Fork Strategy recognizes the relevant role of public food procurement can play in supporting a food systems transition. The Stratkit project has developed its recommendations within this context. Their core elements are:

  • Establishing a favourable policy framework
  • Integrating national health/nutrition dietary guidelines
  • Creating minimum mandatory public procurement criteria for school food embracing sustainability and health
  • Restructuring public procurement to create and maximising synergies
  • Fostering cooperation from farm to fork with and among small-scale farmers and social economy enterprises
  • Boosting local and regional development through sustainable and healthy food procurement
  • Encouraging and enabling education about food systems and healthy diets to be included in school curricula
  • Channeling resources to help bridge gaps

The recommendations developed by ICLEI and One Planet Network can be found here.

StratKit’s recommendations on Sustainable and Healthy School Food Procurement can be downloaded here