On 31st January 2023, the Lazio region (Italy) and Zhengzhou city (China) signed the Memorandum of Understanding for cooperation within the framework of EU-China Cooperation on Regional Policy, facilitated by the EU-funded International Urban and Regional Cooperation (IURC) programme. Both sides committed to building a collaborative relationship and promoting sustainability and innovation in (peri) urban agriculture and agri-food supply chain. The MoU contributes to the regional dialogue, knowledge sharing and fosters innovation on sustainable and safe agri-food supply, and related issues such as heritage protection, resource management, upcycling and carbon sequestration.
Dr. Ronald Hall – Senior Advisor for the European Commission’s DG REGIO, Ms. Wanda d’Ercole, Director General of the Lazio Region, Mr. FAN Jianxun , Vice Chairman of Zhengzhou Political Consultative Conference and Director of Zhengzhou Development and Reform Commission; Mr. LI Weitao, Deputy Director of Zhengzhou Development and Reform Commission; Mr. Amadio Lancia, Head of the Promotion and Market Instruments Area of the Regional Agriculture Directorate of Lazio Region, Mr. Roberto Ottaviani, Director of the Regional Tourism Directorate of Lazio Region, Mr. Giovanni Crisanti, Political Secretariat for Lazio Region Vice Presidency, Ms. Ilaria Corsi, Head of European projects Office & Enterprise Europe Network of Lazio Innova, stressed the importance of joint efforts to achieve sustainable and safe agri-food supply. The signing ceremony was also attended by other members of the cabinet from the Lazio regional government, and stakeholders, including but not limited to the Institute for Preventive Veterinary Medicine and Food Safety Lazio and Tuscany Regions, Agricultural Chamber of Commerce, social agricultural farm Capodarco, Sapienza – University of Rome, and other delegates from Foreign Affairs Office of Zhengzhou Municipal Government, Zhengzhou Municipal Agricultural Committee, Zhengzhou City Bureau of Culture, Broadcasting and Tourism, Zhengzhou Huiji District Development and Reform Commission, and Henan Zhongyuan Organic Agriculture Institute, as well as IURC team.
The MoU between the Lazio Region and Zhengzhou city calls for long-term cooperation, mutual visits, knowledge exchange, co-organisation of thematic events and joint networking. It also foresees the development of a comparative study, capacity building and good practice platform to consolidate knowledge in sustainable agri-food system. The aim of the cooperation is to facilitate regions to achieve sustainable development goals and to provide new opportunities such as organic farming, smart technologies and circular economy in agriculture.
Welcoming the signatories of the MoU, Mr.Ronald Hall, Senior Advisor for the European Commission’s DG REGIO, stated, “In 2023, we look forward to meeting you in person in the context of China’s rapid opening and the progress of EU-China relations in the course of the coming year.”
Ms. Wanda d’Ercole, Director General of the Lazio Region highlighted that “The scope of cooperation ranges from ecological transition to the Green Deal. Sustainability with zero-emission is at the heart of development policy in the Lazio region. We look forward to deepening cooperation with Zhengzhou in sustainable agriculture, food safety and agri-tourism. We hope that the synergies will lead to the best results in sustainable innovation.”
Mr. FAN Jianxun , Director of Zhengzhou Development and Reform Commission stated, “This represents a landmark progress in cooperation between the two sides in sustainable agriculture and food systems and also lays a solid foundation for cooperation in a wider range of areas.”
Ms. WANG Qian emphasised that “the signing of this Memorandum of Understanding between our two IURC China pilot city and region today symbolizes a partnership which we believe will lead to many new joint initiatives and actions and produce new synergies and add socio-economic value for both sides in the years ahead. ”
The MoU signing ceremony was followed by the first Tri-monthly Working Meeting to understand deeper the context of agriculture development in Lazio and Zhengzhou. Mr. Amadio Lancia, Head of the Promotion and Market Instruments Area of the Regional Agriculture Directorate of Lazio Region, opened with a presentation to set the context for the development of sustainable and innovative agriculture in the Lazio region, highlighting the projects encouraging the participation of the younger generation. Mr. HUANG Chunsheng, Chief Livestock Officer of Zhengzhou Agricultural and Rural Working Committee of Zhengzhou Municipal Agricultural Committee, gave an in-depth presentation setting the scene on the agri-food industry and rural development in Zhengzhou, which is critical to understand the opportunities, challenges and solutions in agri-food supply chain decision making; Mr. LI Mingwei, Deputy Director of Zhengzhou Municipal Bureau of Culture, Broadcasting and Tourism introduced the rich historical and cultural resources of Zhengzhou tourism industry.
Ms. Rita Merkle moderated the discussion session. Underlying how the Lazio-Zhengzhou cooperation will support advancing the sustainable, competitive and safe agri-food system, she noted the necessity to discuss deeper the dimensions of organic farming and different practices and regulation in the EU and China. She also shared the planned Lazio-Zhengzhou Cooperation Action Plan, which received broad recognition. Zhengzhou city, Lazio region, and the stakeholders, e.g., Henan Zhongyuan Organic Agriculture Institute and Sapienza – University of Rome, shared initiatives for further collaborative activities.
In her closing remarks, Ms. WANG Qian, Team Leader of IURC China, thanked the public and private stakeholders from Lazio and Zhengzhou participating in the IURC and envisioned concrete cooperation activities in the coming year.
Both sides agreed to hold the second Tri-monthly Working Meeting in May to further exchange regulatory and technical knowledge on organic farming, aiming to explore the concept, method and indicators used in organic farming systems in the Lazio region and Zhengzhou.