Sustainability and food in a policy context

Public meals are influenced by several policy areas. The most important ones in a sustainability context are those related to food, public procurement, climate change, and use of resources. Common goals across these policy areas include promoting greener agriculture, supporting a dietary change towards healthier eating, and encouraging efficient (and circular) use of resources. Public procurement and changes in catering services can be used as a tool to achieve these goals.

The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals

At the global scale, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development set the direction for all policy fields towards sustainability. For each of the 17 SDGs, targets and indicators were defined to monitor progress. The most important ones concerning more sustainable public meals, are goals #2, “end hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture”, and #12, “(achieve) sustainable consumption and production”. One of the targets in the latter goal is to promote sustainable public procurement (#12.7). Find some tools to address these goals in our collections: Public procurement, organic food, strategies for change

The European Green Deal

This strategic EU document sets the framework for a fair transition towards a greener and climate-neutral Europe. The Green Deal addresses policy areas targeting the climate, resource efficiency, ecosystems and biodiversity, regional and rural development, mobility, and trade relations with third countries. The EU Biodiversity Strategy, the Circular Economy Action Plan, Farm to Fork Strategy, and the ban on single-use plastic are all rooted in the European Green Deal. Have a look at our tool collections for Strategies for Change, Resource Efficiency, Communication and capacity building

The Farm to Fork Strategy

This strategy aims to comprehensively meet the challenges of sustainable food systems and recognises the connections between healthy people, healthy societies, and a healthy planet. The Farm to Fork Strategy addresses urban-rural food relations, safe food for all, healthy diets, inclusive supply chains, and a push towards organic farming and climate-friendly food chains. It even suggests minimum mandatory criteria for sustainable food procurement for public institutions. The gateways Organic Food, Healthy and plant-based diets, Working with farmers provide tools to help you make public meals more sustainable and climate-neutral.

The EU Action Plan for organic production in Europe

This plan takes the previous plan for organic farming and food consumption forward to 2030. The aim of the new Action Plan published in 2021 is to have 25% of EU farmland assigned to organic production by 2030. To achieve this goal, the Action Plan encourages actions to promote consumer demand for organic products and for including organic products in public and private catering services. The benefits of expanded production and consumption of organic products include more environmentally friendly agriculture, higher levels of animal welfare, increased biodiversity, and a positive impact on human health. The gateways Organic Food, Public Procurement, Working with farmers offer tools to facilitate the procurement and use of organic products in public meals.

The Circular Economy Action Plan

This strategy document encourages more efficient use of available resources with the aim of achieving climate neutrality and reducing the climate footprint of contemporary production and consumption patterns. The plan aims to foster collaboration and entrepreneurship to generate new business models and partnerships. The Circular Economy Action Plan provides a future-oriented agenda for achieving a cleaner and more competitive Europe. Furthermore, it addresses the need to reduce food waste and the use of over-packaging as well as encouraging biobased materials. The gateways Resource Efficiency and Food Waste provide tools to facilitate your work in relation to public meals and the goals of the Circular Economy Action Plan.

EU Green Public Procurement (GPP) criteria

Public procurement as a whole represents 14% of the EU’s GDP (EU Circular Economy Action Plan, 2020) and can serve as a powerful driver of demand for sustainable products. The GPP criteria and targets were developed to help public procurers tap into this potential. GPP criteria of special relevance for public meals are those related to the procurement of food and catering services. The gateway Public Procurement offers tools for facilitating the use of the GPP criteria. The tools are relevant for procurers, suppliers, and providers of catering services.

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