22.02.2024 15:31

New EU-funded Project "SecureFood" Aims to Transform European Food Systems for Resilience and Sustainability

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22.02.2024 15:31

The concept of food systems is one that encompasses all elements and activities related to food production, distribution, and consumption, influenced by a diverse range of drivers and vulnerable to stresses and shocks. These intricate systems, intertwined with critical infrastructure sectors, face increased exposure and potential cascading impacts from shock events, whether local, national, or international.

Recent global events such as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the COVID-19 pandemic, and the Suez Canal obstruction, have highlighted such vulnerabilities, leading to increased acute food insecurity and a complete upending of the global systems and structures that we have come to rely on for the food that appears on our kitchen tables.

Ranging from geopolitical shifts to climate change, such shocks can impact what are considered to be the four key pillars of food security: availability, access, utilisation, and stability. In recognition of these challenges and looming threats to stability, the European Union has strongly emphasised the need for resilience in the food sector, incorporating food production, processing, and distribution into the scope of Directive (EU) 2022/2557. Furthermore, the Farm to Fork strategy and the European Green Deal outline a vision for transforming food systems to be sustainable and resilient in the face of increasing disasters and uncertainties, aligning with the urgent need for a long-term shift toward robust and adaptable food systems.

Officially launched on January 1st 2024, the EU-funded SecureFood project is one solution that adopts a comprehensive, systems-thinking approach, recognising the intricate nature of food systems that treats them as an interconnected network involving various actors, elements, processes, and essential services related to food production and delivery. The €8M project, comprising 35 consortium partners from different segments of the food supply chain across Europe, aims to create an ecosystem addressing food security challenges through the amalgamation of scientific knowledge, collaboration, and digital tools. By integrating stakeholders such as producers, industries, retailers, consumers, bulk carriers, and road transport carriers, SecureFood strives to build resilience in the face of crises through a Food Systems Resilience Management Framework and a Resilience Governance Framework that fosters inclusivity and collaboration. The Ukrainian Agrarian Confederation also joined the project as a partner. As a party participating in this project, ensuring food security is a crucial task for Ukraine, its companies and organisations.

These frameworks will constitute the cornerstones of the ground-breaking project that runs for 3.5 years until June 2027. SecureFood will provide evidence-based indications on the risks and vulnerabilities of different food value chains and will showcase the most appropriate interventions and adaptations for reinforcing the resilience of food systems in the short and long run. Case studies, including one focusing on Ukraine’s grain value chain impacted by the current war, will provide practical insights into addressing ongoing food security crises.

Speaking about the launch of the project and its impact at the project’s kick-off meeting in Athens in late January, Mr. Vassilis Sakas, Coordinator of SecureFood with European Dynamics, said:

“I know I speak for the rest of the consortium when I say that we are thrilled to be part of the SecureFood project, a ground-breaking initiative that aims to transform the way we safeguard our global food security, both in the EU and internationally. Personally, I am excited at the prospect of contributing to an ecosystem of innovation, scientific knowledge, and digital tools that will shape the future of our food systems. Together, we’re not just addressing challenges; we’re building a robust framework that ensures that food security, even in the face of the most unexpected crises, can hold strong.”

With dynamic frameworks such as the Food Systems Resilience Management and Resilience Governance that are backed by scientific knowledge and collaboration, SecureFood will contribute to the strengthening of the food system resilience, not only for Europe, but globally. Offering a promising path towards a secure and resilient food future for Europe, SecureFood will transcend borders and boundaries in its mission to cultivate the security of global food systems for generations to come.

IC UAC according to the SecureFood Press Release

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