Team Europe and Thai cities commit to sustainable food systems

Categorized as News from Asia & Australasia

The European Union, the Embassy of Italy to Thailand, the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration, Chiang Mai Municipality and the Milan Urban Food Policy Pact (MUFPP) are cooperating to make Bangkok’s and Chiang Mai’s food systems more sustainable through the definition of each city’s food strategy. The two Thai cities are participating in the International Urban and Regional Cooperation (IURC) programme of the European Union (EU), which promotes decentralised city-to-city cooperation on sustainable urban development and innovation between Europe and Asia.

From 8th to 11th August 2022, delegates from the City of Milan and the MUFPP Secretariat made a visit to both the Thai capital and the northern city as part of the IURC programme to advance their cooperation.

“The IURC programme is an important project for the European Union’s urban cooperation and foreign policy,” said H.E. David Daly, Ambassador of the European Union to Thailand. “It works with cities as the key actor in the fight against climate change and achievement of the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Transforming food systems will have a positive impact on health, the environment and urban development. The EU’s Farm to Fork Strategy is crucial to achieve the green transition, and I am glad to see Thai and European cities working on food policy within the IURC programme.”

The Embassy of Italy actively supported the signature of Bangkok to the Milan Pact in August 2021. The strengthening of relations between the EU, Italy and Thailand through this cooperation reflects the spirit of Team Europe, which enhances the collaboration between the EU and its Member States towards a positive action. In this case, the partnership with Thai cities on sustainable development will enhance food system transformation and accessibility as well as contribute to the global efforts for climate change.

“The Milan Urban Food Policy Pact is a legacy of the Milan Expo 2015, which was about ‘Feeding the planet, energy for life’. This is the first international protocol through which cities commit themselves to develop sustainable food systems,” said H.E. Lorenzo Galanti, Ambassador of Italy to Thailand. “Over the years, the Pact’s members around the world have showcased innovative ideas to grant healthy and accessible food to all, protect biodiversity and fight against food waste. It is great to see the establishment of relations between the MUFPP and major cities in Thailand since food plays such a prominent role in both Thai and Italian cultures.”

“We are excited to be Bangkok’s counterpart in the IURC programme,” said Mrs. Anna Scavuzzo, Vice Mayor of Milan in charge of Food Policy. “Bangkok is a metropolis with great potential to create positive impact on its own food system and the citizens’ quality of life as well as those of other provinces that are connected to Bangkok through the food supply chain. We thank the EU for the support of our cooperation with Bangkok and for creating a new link for us with Chiang Mai. We hope that these new MUFPP signatory cities will pave the way for other cities in the Asia Pacific region”.

Food has long been a priority topic for the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration and urban agriculture exists in 26 of Bangkok’s 50 districts. The city’s agricultural activities range from growing rice, vegetables, fruit and flowers to fish and livestock farming. Meanwhile, food waste is a pressing issue that the new Bangkok governor is working to tackle.

“Governor Chadchart and his team have developed 214 policies to transform Bangkok, at least 10 of which concern issues related to food,” said Mr. Pornprom Vikitsreth, Advisor to the Governor of Bangkok. “The policies in question have to do with food security, nutrition, and, most importantly, food waste. The collaboration with Milan and the European Union, through the IURC programme, and with the Italian embassy will contribute to making Bangkok’s food system more sustainable, resilient and inclusive. We look forward to exchanging our best practices with other cities in the IURC and MUFPP networks.”

Together with the BMA, the IURC team organised a workshop with relevant stakeholders of Bangkok’s food system. The activity was an important step towards mapping the civil society commitment as well as empowering bottom-up initiatives. The meeting was chaired by the Governor’s Advisor Mr. Pornprom Vikitsreth and included presentations by food-related organisations, such as Na Projects, Food Loss Food Waste, Chula Zero Waste, The NETWORK for Sustainable Development Association, and VV Share. A deep-dive session was organised with the NGO “Scholars of Sustenance – SOS“, a food rescue foundation. SOS has developed a bold food strategy, including food equity, access to good food, addressing food waste and food security issues.

After the bilateral meetings with the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) and the various meetings with project partners, the Milan delegation met with the Delegation of the European Union to Thailand to share its views and update about next steps in the cooperation. Michel Mochiroud from the EU’s Foreign Policy Instrument (FPI) expressed his support to working hand-in-hand with the Italian Embassy to Thailand (Team Europe) to support Milan’s pilot actions with the BMA. This includes the participation of Bangkok in the MUFPP fellowship programme, the mapping of Bangkok’s urban food ecosystem and the elaboration of a food policy strategy,

In June 2022, Chiang Mai became the second Thai member of the MUFPP. Although its focus for city-to-city cooperation in the IURC programme with Granada is on smart city, the northern city’s commitment to becoming more sustainable looks at all paths and actions.

“We have witnessed how the Milan Pact has made positive impact on the sustainability of food systems in many cities,” said Mr. Assanee Buranupakorn, Mayor of Chiang Mai Municipality. “We are excited to improve our local food system for a better life quality of the Chiang Mai people and for the better travel experience of Thai and international tourists visiting our city. Urban farming is one area we are working on. We believe there is knowledge we can share with IURC and MUFPP cities.” The 4-day study visit offered Milanese delegates an on-site broad outlook of both Bangkok’s and Chiang Mai’s food policies and actions within different districts. It will pave the way for the development and implementation of concrete pilot projects to enhance food systems in Bangkok and Chiang Mai.