At a conference hosted by Cardiff University’s Sustainable Places Research Institute on 3 April, the Cardiff Food Charter was launched. The conference attracted more than 100 delegates from across the public sector, academia, third sector and community organisations. The conference was chaired by Steve Garrett (Riverside Community Market Association). Steve opened with a summary of the context for the Charter and an overview of the day.
Food charter launch
The launch of the Charter involved three presentations. The first, given by Professor Kevin Morgan, set the scene by describing a range of Sustainable Food Cities activity across the UK, Europe and internationally. The talk focussed on the role of food strategies and the work of Food Policy Councils in driving policy and culture change.
This was followed by a perspective from the Welsh Government provided by the Chief Medical Officer for Wales, Dr Tony Jewell. Dr Jewell highlighted current health trends related to food and drink and other lifestyle behaviour. The Government has an ambition, within it’s “Our Healthy Future” programme to reduce unhealthy eating. The Government has a food strategy – Food for Wales, Food from Wales – that sets an integrated approach to food policy in Wales addressing health, culture, education, food security, environmental sustainability and community development considerations. Work has also commenced on a Sustainable Development Bill which, amongst other things, advocates increased localisation of food supply and consumption – this would lead to more fresh, seasonal and local product being consumed, leading to expected health improvements. Dr Jewell concluded by congratulating Cardiff on the development of the Charter and expressed his hope that this would be a beacon for other Welsh authorities to follow.
Finally Gareth Newell of Cardiff Council spoke on why it supports of the Charter. He specifically highlighted the importance of food in relation to delivering the Council’s vision of becoming a One Planet City by 2050.
Following the launch delegates focused on delivery matters, and began by listening to experiences from Plymouth and Brighton and Hove where good progress has already been made. Presentations were given by Traci Lewis (Food Plymouth) and Clare Devereux (Food Matters), and then Tom Andrews (Soil Association) then spoke about the Sustainable Food Cities network, launched in October 2011.
The afternoon then continue with parallel workshops exploring Sustainable Food Sourcing and Sustainable Food Communities. Delegates heard from a panel of experts in these fields and participated in discussions intended to identify key challenges and solutions. The chairs of both sessions then briefly reported back to the whole conference on the deliberations and conclusions.
Professor Terry Marsden in summing up provided some personal reflections on the day. He emphasised the importance of learning from experiences elsewhere and building on good practice, but tailoring an approach to suit local circumstances. He also reinforced the need for effective governance structures which amongst other things would contribute to a delivery plan. Appropriate metrics and measures needed to be developed in order to demonstrate the impact the Charter has – and this required resource. Finally to be successful it was essential there was a collaborative “buy in” to the Charter from stakeholders across all sectors.
In closing Steve Garrett thanked all participants for contributing to an inspiring and constructive event. He briefly reflected on key next steps – and highlighted there was a broad consensus behind the proposal there should be some form of Food Policy Council established. He finished by suggesting that a follow on conference should be organised in around a year to consider what progress has been made and to see what has changed as a result
For more information about the Charter, the Action Plan and the event, please contact Phil Morgan, email@example.com
Gwynedd food charter
Wales’ second Food Charter - for the County of Gwynedd - was launched at a ceremony held during the Urdd Eisteddfod in Glynllifon, near Caernarfon, on 6 June. The Charter was developed by Sustainable Gwynedd as a local initiative under the Sustainable Food Communities project with financial support from Better Organic Business Links (BOBL).
Ben Gregory of Sustainable Gwynedd, the organisation that developed the charter through a series of public consultation meetings over recent months, introduced and explained the purpose of the Charter.
Speeches of endorsement and support were given by Selwyn Griffith, Chairman of Gwynedd Council, Aled Hughes from Public Health Wales and Lord Dafydd Elis-Thomas AM the former Presiding Officer of the National Assembly for Wales and currently Chair of the Environment and Sustainability Committee and Plaid Cymru’s spokesperson on Rural Affairs, Fisheries and Food.
Discussions are now underway between partners about how to maximise the impact of the Charter for the benefit of individuals, communities, food producers, suppliers and food businesses generally across the county.