Creating an Enabling Food Ecosystem: Insights From Milan
15 December 2022
3.30 pm – 5.00 pm.
The URA White Room 3rd Storey, The URA Centre, 45 Maxwell Road Singapore 069118
EXPO Milano 2015, themed “Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life”, was an exposition that accelerated existing policies and encouraged the development of new food-related initiatives in the city of Milan, ranging from short food supply chains, climate-friendly diets, redistribution initiatives, and food waste management. These initiatives have enabled a more robust, resilient, and inclusive food ecosystem in Milan.
On 15 December 2022, as a part of the EU ICP-AGIR programme’s1 study visit to Singapore, Vice Mayor of Milan, Anna Scavuzzo, and officers from Milan’s urban food policy programme, Filippo Gavazzeni and Elisa Porreca, shared with policymakers and planners in Singapore on how Milan has built its food ecosystem with support and innovation from its stakeholders. The session was hosted by the Centre for Liveable Cities, and moderated by Professor Paul Teng, a member of the World Cities Summit Knowledge Council.
As the moderator of the session, Professor Paul Teng, summarised, Milan's approach to ensuring a robust food system has been driven by the imperative to “think global and act local”.
At the international level, the Vice Mayor of MIilan, Anna Scavuzzo, highlighted how Milan has promoted alliances between cities through the Milan Urban Food Policy Pact (MUFPP). Launched in 2015, MUFPP formed a network of cities committed to developing, implementing, and sharing about sustainable food systems, which to date has more than 200 signatories. She explained how the Milan food policy pact supports concrete action by city leaders, for their specific urban contexts.
“The Milan food policy pact launched in November 2015 is made up of 36 recommended actions. Each mayor can choose the goals and priorities for his communities and city. We prepare this with international stakeholders. [Milan] is the leader of this pact, in the sense of creating the context for others to [develop their solutions], not to have the power to do something; it’s a creative commons cooperation.” – Vice Mayor of Milan, Anna Scavuzzo
Within Milan, food policies have been guided by a broad vision that recognises food as a key node in the urban system, and which maps it to a variety of urban systems and goals, such as guaranteeing health and sustainability:
“[It is important to] not just to think about food as a [standalone] issue, but to see an open urban system from the point of view of food. You can talk about logistics, quality, health, school, waste management, circularity, tradition, culture, social, poverty – everything can be connected through food.” – Vice Mayor of Milan, Anna Scavuzzo
The city’s started the efforts to transform its food system from 2014, commencing with the work of mapping the food systems and the role of stakeholders within the system.
Fig 1: Milan’s food system is highly complex, involving multiple processes, output, stakeholders, and goals.
In 2015, the city developed the Milan Food Policy with a multi-dimensional approach around five key priorities: To ensure healthy food and water for all citizens; to promote the sustainability of the food system; to promote food education; to fight against food waste; and to support the scientific research in agrifood sectors.
Reflecting on the experience of developing and executing the Milan Food Policy, the speakers all highlighted the importance of having strong stakeholder support and driving community action, in order to achieve a robust urban food system.
In another example, to support local produce, Milan’s Food Policy department collaborated with farms, agricultural districts, and universities to launch short supply chains. At the same time, the community was engaged to support local produce through education and clear communication of the policy intent and goals.
“An education programme must be considered from the beginning. Every policy must raise awareness and invite new habits… We begin with gentle nudging. Doing the right thing is simpler, everyone can have a good opinion about your habits. You also need to communicate the goal.” – Vice Mayor Anna Scavuzzo
Similarly, when it comes to food waste management, Filipo Gavazzeni, Head of the Milan Urban Food Policy Pact Secretariat, said that the city had developed several Food Waste Hubs, which aim to halve food waste by 2030. Today, each hub saves approximately 100 tons of food each year. To support the various efforts to reduce food wastage, the public had to be educated on these efforts. Dedicated programmes in schools were also rolled out.
Elisa Porreca, a Food Policy officer, added that platforms for support and collaboration should be provided to engage the community. For example, local farmers utilised government platforms such as the “Milano Metropoli Rurale”, which refers to the Framework Agreement for Territorial Development, aimed at enhancing the rural parts of the Milanese metropolitan area for greater sustainability. Through this platform, farmers can find immediate solutions during crisis situations such as floods.
Reflecting the inter-connectedness of food systems with other urban systems, Elisa also highlighted that the city’s efforts to launch short supply chains, not only helped in securing local produce for school canteen meals in a pilot project, but also supported the local economy, and helped to lower the emissions associated with the city’s from food procurement.
Fig 2: By making simple adjustments to menus in school canteens, emissions of the Milan food system decreased.
“In just five years, by decreasing the amount of red meat we were buying, we were able to drop the amount of greenhouse gas emissions produced through food procurement for school canteens by 20%. Just by intervening in one category of food!” – Ms Elisa Porreca, Food Policy Department, Milan
In closing, Professor Paul Teng thanked Vice Mayor Scazzero and her colleagues for their sharing. He reflected that Milan’s experiences and successes in engaging stakeholders in food waste recycling, supporting local produce, and strengthening short food supply chains serve as an inspiration to Singapore and other cities which are seeking to create more robust food ecosystems through partnerships, innovation, and communication with stakeholders.
1The European Union International Cities Programme, Acting for Green and Inclusive Recovery (EU ICP-AGIR), matches EU and Asian cities in a knowledge exchange. Singapore has been paired with Milan.
About the Speakers
Vice Mayor of Milan
Anna Scavuzzo is Vice Mayor of the City of Milan and Deputy
Mayor for Education since 2016. She is also in charge for the
Milan Food Policy. Within an innovative framework of the food
system governance, she is developing actions in several fields:
reducing food waste, healthy diets, local public procurement,
As Deputy Mayor for Education, she works closely with the
municipal agency for school canteens, and she promotes
policies for a more organic local procurement and healthier
Master’s degree in Physical, she worked on the applied info
technologies, data analytics and public administration learning
tools for a leading editorial group.
Head of the Milan Urban Food Policy Pact Secretariat,
Food Policy Department, City of Milan
Filippo is responsible for the Milan Urban Food Policy Pact
Secretariat animating a network of more than 250 cities
committed to working on sustainable urban food policies. The
Secretariat supports signatory cities to exchange and learn best
food practices and is committed to highlighting mayoral role in
the international food agenda.
He previously was Policy advisor of the Milan Vice Mayor,
overseeing the implementation of the Milan Food Policy and
contributing to the designing and development of different
policies related to school canteens, food losses prevention,
including the Zero Food Waste Hub model that has been awarded with The Earthshot Prize. He also
played a primary role in developing the Milan Food Aid System during the pandemic outbreak.
He serves as a Climate Reality Leader and as a Global Shaper of the World Economic Forum with the
aim of raising awareness among youth on environmental issues.
Food Policy Officer,
Food Policy Department, City of Milan
Graduated in Linguistic and Cultural Mediation, she also studied food system issues at the Master Food & Society. She started working for the Municipality of Milan in 2017, focusing on various issues of the Milanese food system, in particular the reduction of food waste and the systems answering to food poverty.
In parallel, she contributed to the drafting and implementation of European projects on food policies and the exchange of knowledge with international cities active on sustainable food systems. She is now contributing as project officer to the European Food Trails project.
Professor Paul Teng
Adjunct Senior Fellow,
S.Rajaratnam School of International Studies, Nanyang Technological University
Professor Teng is Adjunct Senior Fellow, S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, and concurrently Managing Director & Dean, NIE International Pte. Ltd., both of Nanyang Technological University Singapore. He is also Senior Adviser (AgriFood) to A*STAR Singapore. Paul previously held leadership positions in the Worldfish Centre, the International Rice Research Institute, Monsanto Company and U.S. universities. He is internationally recognized for his expertise in tropical agrifood systems, urban agriculture and food security. He has published widely and is a Fellow of The World Academy of Sciences and other professional societies and has an Honorary D.Sc. from Murdoch University, Australia.
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