The role of advocacy actions within the SISTERS project

Efforts to combat food loss and waste (FLW) are gaining momentum worldwide, driven by the urgent need to address global hunger and the environmental impact of food waste. One of the work packages of the SISTERS project is mainly working in two directions. The first one is to be constantly in contact with EU institutions. The second makes sure that the partners cooperate and connect between each other and share their innovations to maximise the efforts and reduce FLW in the European Union (EU).

The workload of the project is divided in the so-called Work Packages (WP). They represent small work blocks, and each WP include deliverables and/or results as outcome of the work done by the consortium. The advocacy and networking Work Package 7 (WP7) started on the first month of the project and will finish at the end of the project, even though the results of the work done are meant to be sustainable after the project ends. WP7 is led by SAFE and is the result of the fundamental cooperation with AITIIP, ARCHA, ENCO, and INNOVARUM.

Being active in advocating for consumers’ rights, SAFE established contact with relevant EU Commission bodies. The initial step was to prepare a comprehensive report outlining the current situation of FLW in the EU. This report evaluated potential EU entities working in this field, summarised relevant data, and provided an insight into EU policies and regulations affecting the issue.

To engage with consumers, WP7 partners launched a coordinated communication campaign to showcase the project’s innovations but also to raise awareness on the problems associated with FLW and plastic packaging. WP7 partners also drafted policy briefs, policy messages and joint statements, to support policymakers at regional, national, EU and international level in aligning their policies with the Farm to Fork (F2F) strategy. The last one was published at the end of November, ahead of the EU Parliament’s Committee on Environment, Public Health, and Food Safety (ENVI) vote.

Collaboration with other EU-funded projects under the F2F topic is a crucial aspect of the WP7. The consortium reached out to awarded consortiums in the five subtopics to understand their scope and to identify synergies between projects. This collaborative approach paved the way for joint efforts and cooperation, maximizing the impact of all initiatives. Thanks to the Working Group (WG) set up by the Green Deal Support Office (GDSO), the SISTERS partners of WP7 are in contact with the other projects and able to foster information exchange among the consortia. The WG focuses on Food policies and latest EU Regulatory Affairs, making sure that everyone is constantly updated and that the work done by each consortium is maximised when done together.

Another important and regular appointment is the trimonthly WG meeting on FLW, organised to discuss progress and share insights on the different stages of the food value chain. Moreover, SAFE and INNOVARUM just organised the second webinar that showcased the correlations between EU policies in different projects and what are the proposed solutions or the best practices to address existing gaps at logistics level. WP7 partners are committed to establishing links with other projects, programs, and initiatives at the EU and national levels. They are indeed actively participating in activities conducted by other consortia, contributing to mutual learning, and enhancing collective action.

The collaboration between SISTERS and the EU Commission, along with active engagement with other projects and programs, marks a significant step forward in addressing FLW in EU. With concerted efforts, EU can pave the way for a sustainable and resilient food system, minimising FLW and ensuring access to nutritious food for everyone.