Name of organisation
Vienna Food Policy Council (Ernährungsrat Wien – ERW)
Vienna Food Policy Council
Type of organisation
Food policy council
Sustainability, social justice, democratic participation, civic food network
Who is the Vienna Food Policy Council?
The Vienna Food Policy Council (FPC – Ernährungsrat Wien) is a civil-society association formed by about 50 people with diverse backgrounds and relations to the food system. It works for the development of an ecologically and socially sustainable food system for the Viennese city-region. Its vision is “Good food for all!”, and it believes that food and diets for everybody in this region should be based on ecological sustainability, social justice, togetherness and diversity. To this end, the Vienna FPC creates opportunities for the democratic participation of citizens (public plenaries, events, discussions, working groups, policy advocacy, etc.) with respect to food system issues.
The Vienna FPC works with an open, democratic and participatory structure. It is structured around a coordination circle and four working groups, a plenum, and occasionally invites people to thematic round tables.
The plenary is open to everyone. Here, an exchange of content takes place, fundamental decisions are made, and the spokespersons of the Vienna FPC are elected.
The coordination circle consists of the spokespersons elected by the plenum and the delegates of the working groups. It coordinates the activities of the Vienna FPC.
The working groups deal with concrete topics, projects and tasks. They are formed for the duration of a project and are entrusted with new tasks, dissolved or continued in the long term, as required. Current working groups include “Urban Agriculture and Spatial Planning”, “Public Food Procurement”, “Food Literacy and Awareness Raising”, and “Upscaling and Coordination of Sustainable Food Networks”.
The round table brings together the stakeholders of the Viennese food system. Events or meetings of the Round Table take place on an ad hoc basis. The Round Table represents the expert level of the Vienna FPC. One of the last round tables focused on sustainable community catering, and was organised jointly with “Die BioWirtInnen”, an association of Austrian practitioners working in organic gastronomy, and with persons from the catering world. See more about it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UZsOwOfpk8g&t=3313s
Who do the Vienna Food Policy Council work with and how do they do it?
Participation to the Vienna FPC is open to all. It connects people, initiatives, organisations and actors that cover the entire food value chain in the Viennese food system, i.e. from primary food production to disposal of waste – with many steps in between and with various sectors- while also working with municipal administration and political actors.
Collaboration takes various forms depending on the projects. For example, for the Vienna Food Strategy, the Vienna FPC together with the City of Vienna invited up to 100 persons from different sectors of the food system to provide feedback on the Strategy drafted, out of which 50 actors submitted feedback. Other collaborations such as the WeltTellerFeld with “Kleine Stadt Farm” and “Brot für die Welt Austria” have a clear partnership structure where each partner is responsible for a certain component of the project. Many other partnerships are on an ad hoc basis for events or short-term campaigns, after which formal partnerships are dissolved or continue in the background.
The benefits of collaboration are clear, as the Vienna FPC is itself a space of collaboration. Collaboration in processes such as the Vienna Food Strategy provided the opportunity for identifying common goals, implementing collective the goals, financing, and diverse expertise. However, collaboration can also sometimes become complicated as different actors involved do not always share the same understanding, goals, or perceptions. Challenges can arise when it comes to distributing “roles and responsibilities”, or project financing.
What are the Vienna Food Policy Council’s main challenges?
The Vienna FPC has identified the following challenges:
- Lack of human and financial resources (including consistent funding)
- Need to further increase participation in the FPC in terms of representation of diverse actors and communities
- Visibility by and access to political decision-makers
- Conflicting and contradicting goals and priorities in municipal strategies and policy-decisions (e.g. protection of green spaces and agricultural land versus housing and infrastructure projects)
- Pandemic has affected purpose-driven membership/volunteer organizations like the FPC especially hard
- If a goal is seen as too political, then it might have a lack of public funding or collaboration from certain actors – though this never happened so far.
What are the priorities for Granville Community Kitchen?
The top priority is for the City of Vienna to treat the food system and nutrition as a holistic topic in a politically coherent way, starting from food sovereignty as the core framing. To achieve this, the Vienna FPC is supporting the development of a food strategy for Vienna and, together with other actors (initiatives, movements and committed individuals), working out ways to realize our ideas and visions.
In order to meet community needs, increased and more diverse participation in the FPC is key. Furthermore, better representation of the urban food system’s diversity of actors and of Vienna’s various communities will grant the FPC greater legitimacy which, in turn, should advance political buy-in.