Environmental Studies Centre - Vitoria-Gasteiz Agriculture/Food Strategy
An initiative launched through social push
For several years, a group of organisations from Vitoria-Gasteiz, as well as private citizens, have been working on developing an agriculture/food strategy for Vitoria-Gasteiz.
The goal is to ensure the connection between local, quality food production in a sustainable manner and its consumption within the city. These actions aim to incentivise farming production in the municipality and promote the primary sector, improving food quality for the population and reducing the city’s ecological footprint by reducing energy consumption from transport and conservation.
The aim therefore is to encourage short production, marketing and consumption circuits by developing a local strategy, with reference to the experience of European cities and regions such as Vienna, London, Scotland, etc.
Vitoria-Gasteiz for a sustainable agriculture/food system
Between 2012 and 2014, a group of Vitoria-Gasteiz associations and citizens carried out a process of reflection on the sustainable future of the city aimed at improving its agrifood system, considered one of the outstanding challenges on the path to the desired future.
This group work led to drafting the “Vitoria-Gasteiz for a sustainable agrifood system” (Vitoria-Gasteiz por un sistema agroalimentario sostenible) manifesto which, from an analysis of the initial situation, raises possible strategic lines for defining a more sustainable food chain from the production phase through to consumption and disposal of food, including processing and distribution.
One of the promoting team’s conclusions was to highlight the importance of carrying out a participatory process at the municipal level involving each and every Vitoria-Gasteiz citizen in defining specific actions useful for raising awareness in this field, and to progressively implement a sustainable agrifood system that is compatible with the characteristics and traditions of the territory.
2015 Previous diagnosis
Towards a sustainable agriculture/food strategy for Vitoria-Gasteiz
In response to the manifesto, and in line with its historical commitment to urban and territorial sustainability and with the shared management of public affairs, in March 2014, the Vitoria-Gasteiz Municipal Council unanimously agreed to implement a Municipal Agriculture/Food Plan. Thus, citizen demand is transformed into an institutional objective.
From here, the Environmental Studies Centre is responsible for moving forward on developing the plan. Based on the results of the manifesto and prior to designing the participatory process, it is considered opportune to conduct a preliminary analysis (Spanish document) of conditions in the municipality. This analysis is the first step in a process for developing a food strategy at local level, and is considered a tool for assessing the viability of the manifesto’s conclusions.
The result is a prior diagnosis document that contains basic material for a participatory diagnosis with the aim of making the future sustainable agrifood strategy viable and consistent with local realities. This document was discussed during the participatory process held in 2016 and was agreed with the consensus of participants as a basic tool for building a new food model; even with the finding that there is missing data and depth of analysis in some respects.
Along with the previous diagnosis, a summary document (Spanish document) has been prepared that is more readable and accessible to all citizens.
Other relevant documents
2016 Participatory process of the agriculture/food strategy
Taking up the baton from the drivers of the manifesto, in 2016, the participatory process was launched, which is aimed at defining, together with all Vitoria-Gasteiz citizens, a sustainable agrifood strategy that is more in line with the local context.
The objective of the proposed participatory work was to validate the preliminary diagnosis made in 2015 and define strategic and specific objectives and guidelines for action at local level. This process was developed over five months between February and June 2016, and consisted of six sessions of physical participation open to all citizens, supported by a virtual environment in which everyone could contribute their opinions and ideas. In addition, a final workshop was held in November to define the next steps to move from theoretical reflection to action.
- Workshop on contrast and validation of the preliminary diagnosis
23-24 February 2016
- Strategy objectives workshop
15-16 March 2016
- Sectoral roundtable about production
12 April 2016
- Sectoral roundtable on consumption and metabolism
3 May 2016
- Sectoral roundtable on distribution and marketing
24 May 2016
- Workshop on action plan guidelines
14 June 2016
- Q4:Workshop on action steps
15 November 2016
The continuity to the participatory process and progress towards the objectives that are prioritised in it should be based on networking, using the space for communication and meeting of opinions that has been created during this participation time and always aiming to keep the essence and results of the process in mind. The document “Bases for building a sustainable agri-food system for Vitoria-Gasteiz” is a summary of what has taken place in this project since its inception and a collection of the documents and reflections drawn from the participatory process.
This document, validated by the participants in the process, should be the starting point for each of the individuals, groups and institutions that feel concerned to have the opportunity to ratify the vision collected and start building their own action plan towards achieving the common goal. The Vitoria-Gasteiz City Council, meanwhile, adhered to this document by plenary agreement on January 30th 2017, has developes a Municipal Action Plan to advance the issues identified throughout the process that are within the scope of municipal powers. With regard to other aspects beyond the municipal level, the city council will support stakeholders who wish to develop their own action plan.
In this same plenary agreement, the City Council decided to join Vitoria-Gasteiz to the Milan Urban Fodd Policy Pact. It is a pact signed by cities on five continents that are committed to working to develop “sustainable food systems that are inclusive, resilient, safe and diverse”.
One of the municipal working areas is the fostering of the local and ecological products demand. Vitoria-Gasteiz is working on this action line in a twofold way: awareness and public procurement, both with the focus on the school canteens.
Throughout the school year 2018-19, a series of workshops have been developed in order to think on the need of a conscious food in the school canteens. The goal of this reflection process was to reach a climate of opinion favourable to the transformation of these canteens in the line of a sustainable and responsible food system. It is important to consider the role of the school canteens in children's health, and as a place to transmit both proper eating habits and the link between the food system and our environment. There were eleven workshops in eight different centres with the involvement of around 160 adult people belonging to the school community.
On the other hand, the public procurement of the food products for these canteens can be seen as an opportunity to promote local agricultural and livestock activity. Thus, one of the actions included in the Municipal Action Plan is the promotion of organic and local food in the Municipal Nursery Schools that depend on the Education Area of the city council. The objective is to provide healthy food to the children and to promote local and organic food in their families. Menus have been modified by Menjadors Ecològics to adapt them to seasonal products and to a healthy diet. And the public procurement to obtain all the necessary products for cooking these menus considers different environmental criteria as well as the supply of organic products.
Food Civic Encounter
This event is held annually since 2007 with Slow Food Araba and the former association Fundación Zadorra as the promoters of the initiative. Today, it is also supported by the Provincial Council of Álava and the Vitoria-Gasteiz City Council.
The aim is to promote a local and sustainable food system and a more conscious and responsible food in our city. Over the last few years, various activities have been developed for different audiences. But the basis is always the link between the citizens and the source of their food. The encounter also tries to value the work done by our local producers.
- XI Food Civic Encounter 2017 – evaluation 2017, in Spanish
- XII Food Civic Encounter 2018 – evaluation 2018, in Spanish
- XIII Food Civic Encounter 2019 – evaluation 2019, in Spanish
- Places in Vitoria-Gasteiz for obtaining local foods
- EU platform on food losses and food waste
- Practical guide for reducing food waste in education centres (Spanish)
- Practical guide for consumers: how to reduce food waste (Spanish)
- National and international initiative catalogue on food waste (Spanish)
- A good food plan for Bristol
- London food strategy
- Food Cardiff
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