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Roskilde University and the Municipality of Copenhagen in a Horizon 2020 project on sustainable food systems in cities

In the international research project FOOD TRAILS, Professor Niels Heine Kristensen will develop methods that European cities can use to develop food policies.
FOOD TRAILS is a new Horizon 2020 project. Photo: Colourbox

How can cities contribute to developing future sustainable food systems that for example ensure that approx. 25 million meals served annually in the Municipality of Copenhagen’s institutions meet both municipal and EU goals for the environment and climate?

This question, among others, will be investigated by the 19 partners in the EU Horizon 2020 financed research and innovation project FOOD TRAILS. Roskilde University and the Municipality of Copenhagen are Danish partners in a large-scale international project. Copenhagen is one of 11 European partner cities in the project.

The aim of the project is to develop, translate and share knowledge that decision-makers can use to build more sustainable food systems with a focus on strengthening city-regional relations and circularity in food systems.

Roskilde University will work in close collaboration with the Municipality of Copenhagen to investigate how public procurement can be used as a lever for building sustainable, circular food systems. This will build on Copenhagen’s work using public procurement and capacity building to reach organic food goals, and their methods to develop an innovative municipal food strategy. The 11 partner cities have a common goal to develop food policies to support their work in meeting the UN Sustainable Development Goals and EU targets for environmental protection and greenhouse gas emissions defined by the Green Deal and Farm to Fork Strategy.

Professor Niels Heine Kristensen, who will lead the Danish part of the research, stresses the importance of research at Roskilde University that has resulted in methods and tools that integrate theory and practice with the end-goal of developing solutions for real world challenges that are collaborative, action oriented. These methods will be a central part of developing a living lab approach for documenting and analyzing the 11 cities actions and policy development.

”We are looking forward to this project and hope that it will strengthen our research in cooperation with municipal and international academic partners. In our research on sustainable food systems, we work with a pro-active approach that can develop practice-based, user-oriented solutions that facilitate transition to sustainable food systems. There is a real need for new thinking and new knowledge that leads to re-linking rural and urban areas in a constructive manner”, says Professor Niels Heine Kristensen.

FOOD TRAILS will contribute to developing the EU’s new Farm to Fork Strategy that aims to build a healthier, more sustainable food system in the EU. The project partners are confident that the project will inspire to a network of similar pilot projects and living labs across Europe. The long term goals is to build a solid foundation of knowledge, so that cities can develop a broad palate of actions that can contribute to solutions to environmental, social and economic challenges relating to food.

FOOD TRAILS builds on the experiences of The Milan Urban Food Policy Pact, signed in 2015 by more than 100 cities worldwide. The pact formed the basis for the sharing of knowledge and expertise in food policy with the aim of tackling urban food issues such as creating sustainable food systems and promoting social inclusion through food and food security.


FOOD TRAILS is a four-year, €12 million project that will bring together a consortium of 19 partners to turn this shared knowledge into concrete action financed by the European Research and Innovation Programme - Horizon 2020.

The goal is to make the farm-to-fork journey sustainable and to empower communities, promote a zero-waste use of resources and ensure people have healthy and secure diets.

FOOD TRAILS’ 11 partner cities are Bergamo (Italy), Birmingham (United Kingdom), Bordeaux (France), Copenhagen (Denmark), Funchal (Portugal), Grenoble (France), Groningen (Netherlands), Milan (Italy), Thessaloniki (Greece), Tirana (Albania) and Warsaw (Poland).

Alongside these cities a series of prominent universities and European public interest organisations complete the partnership: Fondazione Milano Politecnico (Italy), Eurocities (Belgium), Slow Food International (Italy), EAT Fondation (Norway), Cardiff Univeristy (United Kingdom), Wageningen Research (Netherlands), Roskilde Universitet (Denmark) and Cariplo Factory (Italy).