Food security the focus for major innovation project

Roberta Sonnino

Roberta Sonnino

European citizens are to be given the tools to obtain affordable, sustainable and nutritious food thanks to research from Cardiff University.

Professor Roberta Sonnino is overall scientific coordinator for FOODTRAILS, a 12 million Horizon 2020 innovation project which starts in the autumn. Funded by the European Commission, it will focus on implementing new urban food systems and help to address food insecurity across 11 European cities.

‘Living Labs’ will be created in each city, giving local governments and residents the opportunity to develop lasting and tangible policies to manage sustainable supply chains, tackle food poverty and encourage healthy eating.

Professor Sonnino, based at Cardiff University’s School of Geography and Planning said: “A radical transformation of the food system is urgently needed and this has been underlined by the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Current systems mean cities do not have the tools to react to sudden crises. After decades of under-investment, we are still seeing high levels of food poverty and insecurity in urban areas. This project - the European Commission’s largest investment in food sustainability - will put power into the hands of those that can enact real and substantial change.”

Led by the city of Milan, the four-year project brings together a consortium of 19 partners, which includes 10 other EU cities - Bergamo, Bordeaux, Grenoble, Warsaw, Tirana, Copenhagen, Funchal, Birmingham, Thessaloniki and Groningen - as well as three universities and five prominent food system organisations. Another 21 cities around the world are set to follow the actions taken by the consortium.

Professor Sonnino is a noted food security and food systems expert and was Vice-Chair of the FOOD2030 Expert Group. This work led the development of four priority areas of the FOOD 2030 European research framework - nutrition and healthy diets; climate and environment; circularity and resource efficiency; and innovation and empowerment of communities.

Each city involved in FOODTRAILS will be involved in developing projects that address challenges specific to their own priority area.

Head of the School of Geography and Planning, Professor Paul Milbourne, a co-investigator on the project, said: “I am delighted that work from academics at Cardiff University has led to this significant project which aims to improve food security and sustainability for people around the world. We will be working closely with our partners to support the 11 cities over the next four years and I’m looking forward to seeing the results of what we achieve together.”

The School applies critical thinking and practical knowledge in solving economic, environmental and social problems to address the grand challenges faced by human societies and places today.


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