United foundations for food sustainability

United foundations for food sustainability

March 08, 2019

United foundations for food sustainability

EFSAF is a work group that brings together the philanthropic foundations that support civil society’s efforts in Europe to achieve agricultural and food sustainability. The BCFN is a member of this group, which is beginning to harvest its first fruits. Among these, a collective reflection on the Common Agricultural Policy

Private foundations and philanthropic bodies have an important role to play in sustaining the efforts of civil society to improve the sustainability of agricultural production and the entire food supply chain. This is the opinion of Inga Wachsmann, former head of European Foundations for Sustainable Agriculture and Food (EFSAF) a network of foundations set up within the European Foundation Centre (EFC) for the purpose of promoting sustainable agricultural and food policies, with a focus on the Common Agricultural Policy (PAC). The BCFN is a member of this group and supports its efforts, within the perspective of Sustainable Development Goal 17, which aims to promote cooperation between the various stakeholders.

Shared definitions

The EFSAF has taken this recommendation very seriously indeed, beginning with the formulation of a definition of sustainability designed to facilitate the work of the experts and the citizens’ representatives. Sustainability, say the foundations, is based on the acknowledgment of the connection between agricultural production and climate change; on access to fresh, healthy food as a right, particularly in low-income countries; on support to family farming and small producers in order to combat economic and social tensions in rural areas and, last but not least, on support to the development of innovative methods in agrifood production and on the protection of biodiversity. And of course, on the need to raise public awareness of the importance of these issues.

CAP review on the horizon

ESFAF does not do advocacy work itself» pinpoints Inga Wachsmann in the pages of the magazine Alliance. «In order to achieve its goal of promoting sustainable agricultural and food policies in Europe, it provides economic support to the organizations in civil society that are striving in this direction. We decided to concentrate on the CAP because it is going to be reviewed in the course of 2019”. At a European level, the work is carried out in an informal manner by the Sustainable Food and Farming Platform (SFFP), the ARC2020 platform, the International Panel of Experts on Sustainable Food Systems (IPES Food) and the Good Food Good Farming coalition.

The decision to support these platforms stems from a shared discussion: in the period from 2016-2018, the members of EFSAF collectively allocated around 3 million euro in funds for studies and consultations on the CAP and on topics related to it, such as the protection of farming soil, rural areas, and the health and nutrition of citizens. And since European decisions are heavily influenced by the opinions of Member States, special attention was paid to national debates, particularly in France, Germany, Italy, Poland and Spain. In France, for example, the public debate proceeded hand-in-hand with concrete advocacy work on the institutions, through the initiative Pour une autre PAC. In Italy the Cambiamoagricoltura coalition was formed, and a new coalition has recently been set up also in Poland

An atlas for the Common Agricultural Policy

In January 2019, an EFSAF member, the Heinrich Böll Foundation, published a CAP Atlas: Facts and Figures on the EU Common Agricultural Policy. This is a tool based on information, advocacy documents and educational products that were already available, but the consultation of which has been facilitated through careful, comprehensive cataloging. The Atlas is also available in other European languages, containing the data pertinent to the individual countries in which members of EFSAF are present. 

EFSAF’s strategy is to optimize resources through networking, identifying priorities collectively” concludes Wachsmann. “We create synergies, disseminate information and make the best possible use of what we already have. For example, many partners have contributed to the discussion on the CAP through the platform promoted by IPES-Food EU, and a workshop on the CAP was collectively promoted within the framework of the last BCFN Forum, held in December 2018 in Italy”.

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