Monthly Archives: August 2019

Drome Valley: a single territory with complimentary stakeholders implementing food innovations

The territory of Drome Valley/Val de Drôme, from the Alpes to Rhone’s valley, close to Valence and Montélimart, covers 2 200 sq. m. for 54,000 inhabitants and has long been known as a nest for innovative ways of living. Since the 60s, together with an exponential arrival of neorurals in the last decades, it has seen the emergence of ecological communities such as at Les Amanins, as well as laboratories for new forms of citizens-led democracy, such as in Saillans. Its geography, climate, economy, history at the crossroads of migrations and host to the first French Water Development and Management Scheme (Schéma d’Aménagement et de Gestion des Eaux – SAGE) is not without influence in this process (the report of LPTransition on these questions is particularly enlightening). In particular, alternatives have been prominent in the food sector, and this under the responsibility and leaderships of different groups of stakeholders, some of which are presented here.

Vegetable boxes' scheme at Piegros-La-Clastre ©Eric Escande
Vegetable boxes’ scheme at Piegros-La-Clastre ©Eric Escande

 “Mini marché”: a citizens-led CSA

In the 800-inhabitant city of Piegros-La Clastre, after the local farmer, Cécile Grigoryev Anciant decided to stop delivering her weekly vegetable boxes, a citizen, Eric Escande, decided to take over the lead to collect orders from citizens interested in her weekly products. From vegetables, the scheme started proposing fruits, dairy products, meat and bread, under a snowball effect and without any particular promotion, except for the weekly distributions on the main square of the village. The scheme has been a success since the beginning, with a weekly 500-euro turnover and 130 families signed up. The voluntary aspect of it (enrolling 30 people) makes it an alternative to other paying schemes predominant in cities such as La Ruche Qui Dit Oui.

Brins de Terroir ©Marcelline Bonneau
Brins de Terroir ©Marcelline Bonneau

Brins de terroir”: local producers’ grouped selling point

Since 2008, local producers sell their products under a cooperative, Brins de Terroir, labelled under Terre d’envies, promoting collective selling points. Today, around 40 producers of fruits, vegetables, meat, dairy products, preserves, drinks as well as local craftsart, occupy a former train station in Vaunaveys-la-Rochette to sell their products directly to consumers: half of them are associate producers. The contributing producers work in shift in the shop together with two employees. The strategic location and opening hours (on Sundays and bank holidays) have contributed to the success of the shop with an annual turnover of circa 850 000 euros.

“Innovative food systems”: co-created food policy

The two Communautés de communes (Local Federation of French municipalities) Val de Drôme and du Crestois et du Pays de Saillans, together with three NGOs CIVAM, AgribioDrome and Court Circuit, launched in 2015 a collaborative process to co-create the food policy of their area. A first phase (2015-2018) inaugurated the governance model of the five organisations together with initial definition of actions under three axes: awareness-raising and food outside home; transformation, distribution and logistics; networking between local stakeholders. In a second phase (2018-2019), workshops have brought together citizens and stakeholders to identify the issues that were of importance to them, seeking to move away from the initial agricultural focus to a food one. Grouping them by target groups (children, youth, elderly people, precarious groups), the work has then carried on by the types of activities that could be implemented while prioritising them. This work is also based on learnings from other experiences throughout France and Europe, with an objective to co-implement and co-monitor food actions with all stakeholders.

“BioVallee”: an NGO for the sustainability of the territory

BioVallee© is a project and trademark to make three Communautés de Communes (Val de Drôme and du Crestois et du Pays de Saillans, and Diois) a responsible, innovative and alternative rural metropole whereby sustainable development is at the heart of human, agricultural, economic and cultural activities. It seeks to conceive, identify, promote and upscale sustainable practices accessible to all via cooperation tools such as the Trademark BioVallée ©, a website, a sustainability self-assessment grid, networking of its members, thematic workshops, interviews, access to call for projects, a funding programme, an observatory and a charter. Initiated by Drome Valley ( and supported by the two others Communautés de Communes, the project has been delegated to an NGO, funded by them. Amongst its objectives, the project aims to reach 50% of organic producers and production by 2020 and 80% of organic and/or local products in collective catering by 2025, with a reduction by 50% of chemical products non organic agriculture. Even if the 230 members of the NGO who can use the Trademark are not all organic, they engage themselves to follow the principles of the charter and reach the objectives of BioVallée, in progressing towards better practices: divide by two energy consumption, using renewable energies, buying local, creating open-ended contract, using ethical funds…

Bringing (more) sustainability to cities: 5 golden rules

How are cities putting sustainable urban development into practice?


Here are 5 golden rules from URBACT’s City Lab.

The second URBACT City Lab took place in Brussels (BE) on 2nd and 3rd July 2019: “How are cities putting sustainable urban development into practice?” was the core question that drove us through general and specific considerations in the fields of Air Quality and Mobility, Energy Transition and Climate Adaptation and Sustainable Food Systems. When seeking to feed into the work of the updated Leipzig Charter, it appeared that on the one hand sustainability is still a complex paradigm to get into and embed for a city, but on the other, cities are leading the way in what can be done.

Here are 5 golden rules for cities to become sustainable.

1. Sustainability is polysemic

Angeliki Stogia, Councilor at the City of Manchester (UK) asked us: “what do you, what do we, actually mean by sustainability?”. Although its official definition from the 1992 Brundtland Report is unambiguous, but, what does it mean and how should cities approach it? The realm of participants showed a variety of understandings. For example, for Filipa Pimentel from the Transition network it is for society to become more resilient, which in turn would make our ecosystems more resilient. From a people-based approach, to a planning-based one, focusing on regeneration (or the inclusion of environment in local policies) can only bring in consensus and a chance for all stakeholders to adjust their visions and priorities.

2. Sustainability should be tackled at all levels

Our discussions started with Thomas Béthune from DG REGIO, European Commission, stating his needs to be in touch with cities themselves to feed sustainability into European policies. They were wrapped up by Filipa Pimental who expressed the leadership of citizens who become actors of change. In between the two, the Leipzig Charter is focusing on neighbourhoods and Alicja Pawlowska, Head of EU projects and mobility management at the City of Gydnia (PL) stressed the importance of this in their daily work. Cities are where changes take place and these considerations stress the need for territorial and contextual approaches. This would be impossible without the collaboration and inputs from member states, as Olli Maijala, Adviser at Finnish Ministry of the Environment suggested.

3. Sustainability requires a new mindset

Experimenting in cities is not new, yet they need to keep on being innovative, combining social and technological innovation (e.g. Urban Innovative Actions (UIA) Vilawatt project in Viladecans (ES), developing market-based instruments (e.g. Stockholm’s successful congestion charges), in addition to nature-based solutions (e.g. Chinese sponge cities, which mainstream urban water management into the urban planning policies and designs), and consumption-based approaches (e.g. URBACT BioCanteens network) and to focus on processes.

Increasingly, cities need to change their vision, and to think out of the box and take risks. The inner change needs to look beyond traditional city-makers, including other profiles such as psychologists (as strongly supported by the Transition network and already tested in Gdansk (PL).

4. Sustainability applies to all

Sustainability applies to jobs and skills creation such as a Food Innovation Hub in Milan (IT) within the UIA OpenAgri project, as well as to the city of Gdynia seeking to make freight transport more effective in cities within URBACT FreightTails. Not to mention the H2020 Ruggedised where Rotterdam (NL) experiments smart city developments.

Mobility. Energy. Food. Air quality. Digitalisation. Health and well-being. Urban planning. Sustainability should be a transversal approach, and “business as usual” as Angeliki Stogia phrased it. In order to support this process, city governance should be rethought to be bold and to be participatory, with citizen scrutiny.

New forms of involvement and partnerships should be promoted as with the engagement of citizens in air quality control within Helsinki’s (FI) UIA Hope project; the public-private-citizen partnership for energy production in Viladecans’ UIA Vilawatt project; or the use of culture and arts to mobilise citizens to address climate change in the URBACT C-Change network.

Sustainability also requires cross-departmental collaboration such as in the City of Schaerbeek (BE) cross-cutting solutions which tackle social environmental and neighborhood issues within an action-research project on organic waste transformation, Phosphore.

5. Sustainability requires strong leadership

Leadership for sustainability can happen at all levels of cities. Angeliki Stogia from Manchester, Gilles Perole from Mouans-Sartoux (FR) (lead partner of BioCanteens) and Laura Rodrigues from Torres Verdas (ES) (2015 Green Leaf Capital City) are the elected representatives who took part in this second URBACT City Lab, confirming their city’s commitment to this challenge. This is just the beginning of a global movement of awareness and action towards more sustainability in cities.

Reposted from the URBACT website.