The future of sustainable food, under debate at an event organised by the UPC and Barcelona Metropolitan Area on 22 September

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20/09/2021

On 22 September, the Boqueria Market of Barcelona will host from 9 a.m. the event Sustainable Food for the Cities of the Future. This event is organised by the Barcelona School of Agri-Food and Biosystems Engineering (EEABB) of the UPC and Barcelona Metropolitan Area (AMB). It can be followed live on YouTube.

Eating sustainably is key to respond to the social and environmental emergencies that we are currently facing. The challenge is to transform the food system to produce, make, transform, conserve and market healthy, sustainable foods and make them available to citizens. But how can we meet large cities’ food needs in a sustainable way? How can we change our diets to promote consumption that does not harm the environment? How can we promote this change in habits and values? 

To answer these questions, the Barcelona School of Agri-Food and Biosystems Engineering (EEABB) of the Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya · BarcelonaTech (UPC) and the Barcelona Metropolitan Area (BMA) have organised the event Sustainable Food for Cities of the Future, on 22 September from 9 a.m. At the event, which will be streamed live from the Boqueria Market in Barcelona via the Info Agrotech YouTube channel, food experts will search for solutions to providing food for citizens in a healthy way, in the context of the current environmental crisis, and they will present experiences of success.

The event will be opened by vice-president of Ecology of Barcelona Metropolitan Area and councillor for the Climate Emergency and Ecological Transition from Barcelona City Council Eloi Badia, and UPC rector Daniel Crespo.

Then, Ana Moragues, a Ramón y Cajal researcher at the Universitat de Barcelona (UB) and coauthor of Alimentació sostenible: un manual per a ciutats[Ed1]  (Sustainable food: a manual for cities), will define the main dimensions relating to sustainable food and will analyse the role of cities in the transformation of the food system. 

Challenges in production, distribution and consumption
The event will include talks by experts who will analyse the challenges associated with food production, food distribution (logistics and marketing) and consumption (how to adopt healthy, sustainable diets based on fresh foods and avoid ultraprocessed products).

Participants include Anna Maria Gras, director of EEABB, who will talk about how to increase local, seasonal, environmentally friendly products. Another participant will be Miquel Àngel Estrada, professor at the Barcelona School of Civil Engineering (ETSECCPB), researcher in the group Barcelona Innovation in Transport (BIT) and member of the academic committee of CARNET, the research and innovation hub on urban transport of the future coordinated by CIT UPC. Estrada will present a project on small autonomous vehicles called autonomous delivery devices (ADD), which have been designed at CARNET for last mile deliveries. This vehicle also improves the entire mobility system, as it increases safety in urban areas, and cuts traffic congestion and polluting emissions.

Anna Bach-Faig will also take part. She is director of the master’s degree in Nutrition and Health at the Open University of Catalonia (UOC). All three experts, along with Gabi Susana Nadal, environmental scientist and activist against food waste, co-founder and director of the Plataforma Aprofitem els Aliments (Make the Most of Food Platform), will be involved in a final round table, in which opportunities and solutions will be identified to feed the cities of the future in a sustainable way. This will be chaired by Joan Simó, coordinator of the area of Agri-Food Technology of the UPC.

Good practices
At the event, successful projects and experiences will be presentedCan Fisas, local organic food; Smart Farming Labs, precision agriculture with mixed crop facilities in the open and in latest generation greenhouses; Terra Pagesa, the new channel of the Unió de Pagesos (Union of Small-Scale Farmers) for direct marketing of Catalan products that brings farmers to retailers and facilitates logistics between producers and shops; FoodCoopBCN, the first cooperative, participative supermarket in Barcelona; Aprofitem els aliments, a platform of entities and people against food waste; and Groots, hyperlocal production of vegetables that reach the final consumer alive.

Institutional cooperation
The organisation of the event Sustainable Food for Cities of the Future is one of the sustainable food projects in which UPC and BMA are collaborating at the moment. The day is part of a cycle of debates #UPCDiàlegs Agroalimentaris and the BMA’s Action Plan for Sustainable Food 2020-2023. It is also part of activities organised in relation to the nomination of  Barcelona as the World Capital of Sustainable Food, in which entities and institutions promote projects and public policies to foster a food model that does not damage the environment.

Between 19 and 21 October, Barcelona will host the Seventh Global Forum for the  Milan Urban Food Policy Pact, in which representatives from over 200 cities in the world will discuss the relation between food and the climate emergency, a few days before the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Glasgow, United Kingdom, from 1 to 12 November.

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