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An Action Plan for Sustainability

Cover Foddlink Report - An Action Plan for Sustainability

This report reflects innovative approaches to public sector food procurement, and offers an Action Plan to encourage urban governments to engage in sustainable purchasing practices.
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Julie Smith
City University London
Centre for Food Policy
Northampton Square
London EC1V 0HB
United Kingdom
Tel. +44 020 7040 5060

What is a Community of Practice (CoP)?

A Community of Practice (CoP) is a group that evolves or is created specifically based on common interests in a particular field, with the goal of gaining knowledge related to that field. It is through the process of sharing information and experiences within the group that members learn from each other and have an opportunity to develop. Though this type of learning has been going on for centuries, spatial barriers have hindered this type of exchange and therefore new techniques will be experimented with in our project, such as online networking tools.

The three communities of practice the Foodlinks project is exploring have been created specifically for this project with the strong desire that these groups evolve and grow over the length of our project and beyond.

Community of Practice (CoP) Revaluing Public Sector Food Procurement (RPP CoP)

What does revaluing public procurement mean?

The global economic crisis, environmental issues and growing health problems associated with obesity point to the need for a food system that integrates food security, environmental sustainability and public health. This presents significant and pressing challenges for sustainable public sector food procurement.

Foodlinks offers new ways of getting those involved in public sector food procurement (policy makers, researchers, practitioners and actors from  civil society) to talk to each other, share knowledge and good practice. By providing the means for these groups to work more closely together, the work of the Revaluing Public Procurement Community of Practice (RPP CoP) aims to make public sector food procurement more sustainable.

Our achievements

The RPP CoP brought European universities, regional and local governments and civil society organisations together and acted as an arena for exchange and investigation of procurement dynamics, logistics and standards around sustainable food and learning.

Internally, our work has used knowledge brokerage activities that have enabled members, academic scientists and policy makers, to reach a shared interpretation of sustainable public sector food procurement and prioritize its most important aspects within the European context. For example, the report on Revaluing Public Sector Food Procurement in Europe was the result of experimenting with how we exchanged our knowledge on public sector food procurement that came from our work within municipal administrations, urban and national governments, European platforms, civil society and the wider academic community. This reflects not only the reality of devising and implementing innovative approaches to public sector food procurement throughout Europe, but also offers an Action Plan to help and encourage urban governments to take up the challenge of more sustainable purchasing practices.

Externalising the work of the project as a whole and the particular work of our own CoP was critical. In order to do so, and build strong communities with cross-CoP collaboration that will continue well beyond the duration of the Foodlinks project, face-to-face activities were complemented by virtual activities. For example, a small day conference on "Public Procurement of Sustainable Food" took place at City University London; the CoP ran webinars on CAP reform and on social return on investment; and we used  an external-facing website where  CoP members invited those working in public sector food procurement to join the Revaluing Public Sector Food Procurement (RPSFP) Group on the Knowledge Hub, hosted by the Local Government Association  ( ).

Those joining the RPSFP Group have been able to contribute to current debates and access a range of cutting edge information about the public procurement of sustainable food and, most importantly, have shared their own learning, experiences and ideas.

The CoP's mailing has keept members informed about new developments, upcoming events etc.



  • Julie Smith, City University London, UK