Barcelona is a city that consumes a huge amount of food, most of which comes from outside its greater metropolitan area. Until a few years ago, this food was provided without concern for the environmental and social impacts of the supply chains that allow us to eat.
Furthermore, the urban environment is disconnected from the remaining spaces in the wider urban area and in the surrounding region where food is produced. In fact, since 1956, 80% of the agricultural land in the river valleys and mountainous areas of the Àrea Metropolitana de Barcelona has been lost. The year 2021, when Barcelona will be the World Sustainable Food Capital, will provide a great opportunity to turn this situation around and highlight the links between the urban and rural worlds.
It will also offer a chance to make progress in the protection of food production spaces in the areas that make up the Barcelona Metropolitan Region. Some spaces are already protected, like the Baix Llobregat Agricultural Park or the Gallecs Agricultural Space, but others, in El Maresme, El Vallès, El Garraf, Collserola and El Montnegre, require more protection and better management. This way, we can strengthen the resilience of local food systems to create a model based on food sovereignty.
Furthermore, Barcelona’s status as the World Sustainable Food Capital must help to highlight inequalities in access to sustainable food in the real city – the city of daily interdependences that is best placed to face tomorrow’s challenges – and, above all, to demonstrate the importance of working with a holistic perspective. The city’s position as the Capital can serve as a catalyst to emphasise that the food issue affects the whole Barcelona Metropolitan Region, especially in the hospitality and tourism sectors.
In any event, this push to strengthen food policies will continue far beyond 2021. Sustainable food brings about resilience, prosperity and improvements to social cohesion, which is why it will be one of the central axes of the Metropolitan Commitment 2030, the metropolitan region’s strategy for 2030.