Report on 18 European cities. Empowering urban youth for food and climate action.

“Empowering urban youth for food and climate action: A research on 18 European cities ” offers a very broad and significant panorama of how policies concerning food and climate are developed and the ways in which young people are the object or co-protagonists of these policies. As these issues are mainly developing in the absence of a regulatory or policy framework, in each of the contexts analyzed, climate and food issues are addressed differently, depending on many factors. Hence, this report put the attention on what is happening at the local level with the aim to better understand the impact that territorial actors and the institutions have in shaping policies and initiatives that strengthen the food-climate nexus.

Through a collection of practices regarding crucial topics such as urban food policies, data collection and monitoring at the local level, youth engagement and activism, and food consumption, the report shows that cities constitute a privileged observatory in which not only awareness of the interconnections between complex themes is being built, but also their concrete implementation is being experienced. Some of the main findings of this qualitative study highlight that climate change is a key part of the cities’ strategies and visions while food and youth still remain marginal issues when it comes to institutionalization of the themes. However, among the great number and variety of initiatives gathered in the report – over 110 in total – education on sustainability issues in and outside schools and waste management are hot topics for both administrations and civil society.
Experience from the cities show that alliances between institutions and territorial actors are an important push towards tailored and place-based policies, whether they regard food, climate or youth. Including the recipients of the policies into the policy making – through ad hoc administrative structures, european projects, initiatives and more – push a new way of understanding social action into the local administrative mindset. Moreover, data on the local level are another key part of creating evidence-based policies, however they are very complicated to gather and share, especially because there are no common urban monitoring systems on climate and food. Therefore, beside continuing the great work that many cities are doing to collect and monitor their systems, there is a need to cooperate towards common indicators and parameters.
Regarding youth, this report demonstrates the presence of a number of different approaches where youth policies are not just for young people (related, for instance, to education or employment) but are developed directly by young people. However, it also shows that young initiatives are not always in the radar of administrations, which creates a missing opportunity when considering the great impact they have on broadcasting climate change issues and helping during COVID19 pandemic.
Finally, food consumption is an interesting angle to look at the complexities of the current food system. The impact of our consumption behaviors and the possibility to implement sustainable alternatives, both at the individual and social level, are important leverages of change. This report shows many projects that create a positive impact either through the school canteens system, with the help of restaurants and markets, or with autoproduction and more. Food consumption links production with waste and surplus, helping societies to see the issues and opportunities of sustainable development.
The analysis carried out in the 18 cities provides a very broad look at how local governments and civil society groups address these issues, contributing a knowledge base to stimulate both institutional and social action.