© city of Milan

The Milan Food Policy

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Main actors

City Government, Private Sector, NGO / Philanthropy, Public Utility

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Project area

Metropolitan Area

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Ongoing since 2014/06

An innovative framework for making urban food systems more sustainable and inclusive.

The Milan Food Policy is the first step taken by the municipality to make its food system more sustainable, resilient and equal. The policy is the result of growing awareness among relevant actors and civil society of the challenges presented by climate change and the need for responsible management of resources. Through various innovative tools and methods including the establishment of the Metropolitan Food Council and monitoring framework, the policy aims to provide permanent and reliable access to adequate, safe, local diversified, fair, healthy and nutrient-rich food for all citizens.

Sustainable Development Goals

End hunger, achieve food security and improve nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture
Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable
Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns
Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts
Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels

Guangzhou Award

This project was awarded the 'Guangzhou Award' in 2018.

Milan, Italy

Size and population development
City: 1.3 million (second-most populous city in Italy); Metropolitan area: 5 million (5th-largest in the EU)

Population composition
20% of the total resident population is foreign-born (as of 2011)

Main functions
Economic and financial centre: Milan generates approximately 9% of the national GDP

Main industries / business
Health and biotechnologies, chemicals and engineering, banking and finance, telecommunication, media, fashion

Political structure
The legislative body is the City Council, composed by 48 councillors elected every five years with a proportional system. The executive body is the City Committee, composed by 16 assessors, nominated and presided over by a directly elected Mayor.

Administrative structure
9 boroughs

The City of Milan developed The Milan Food Policy in partnership with the Cariplo Foundation after signing a Memorandum of Understanding in 2014 to implement and promote the initiative. The first Vice Mayor of Milan established an office dedicated to the implementation of the initiative and a set of indicators from the Milan Urban Food Policy Pact (MUFPP) tool were used to start the evaluation of impacts on the Milan food system.

In 2015 the Milan City Council voted to adopt the “Milan Food Policy Guidelines” which established 5 priorities of the municipal food strategy.

  1. provision of healthy food and water for all citizens;
  2. promote the sustainability of the food system;
  3. promote food education;
  4. fight against food waste;
  5. support scientific research in agri-food sector. 

The Milan Food Policy is an innovative planning strategy integrating and implementing a food system throughout the city. The initiative actively contributes to improving the health and well-being of citizens.  The initiative is based on an integrated cross-sectoral approach between public agencies, social organizations, and the private sector.

The Food Policy is being scaled using a holistic approach while stimulating local awareness, building public-private partnerships, and aligning municipal policies to SDG indicators.

The project is growing and has approximately 40 ongoing initiatives including:

  1. A reduction on waste tax for businesses who donate food waste to charities who then distribute the food to people in need, was introduced.
  2. As a pilot project, The Food Policy connected the school canteens public procurement system with the supply chain of rice produced by farmers of the Agricultural District of Milan (180 tons/year for a value of € 300,000/year). The result of this experience has increased scalability by including a further 19 horticultural farms in the school canteens public procurement system.

In parallel to the Food Policy, the City of Milan established an international pact on urban food policies - Milan Urban Food Policy Pact (MUFPP). MUFPP involves 175 cities around the world and an advisory group of international institutions and foundations. Shared goals have been identified, with respect to what steps each signatory city undertakes according to its abilities, possibilities and availability.

The Milan Food Policy is a collaboration between the City of Milan (institutional support of the policy and its implementation), Cariplo Foundation (co-financer of the initiative) and EStà, an independent Research Centre, (technical and scientific support).

The City of Milan was the first Italian city to research food issues and consequently implement its urban Food Policy. This provides stimulus to local authorities of the metropolitan area to follow the example of Milan in working toward a more sustainable approach to their food systems.

The project facilitates the exchange of knowledge through community, local organization and international partners. The City of Milan collaborates with other international organizations, including Eurocities, European Commission, C40.

In 2018, the independent research centre that supports the Food Policy Office published an updated and comprehensive report on the Milan food system, including the monitoring framework application on the data gathered in the document.

The most significant challenge for the implementation of the food policy has been finding an integrated and efficient governance model. The city adopted a holistic model instead of the traditional silo model to engage the relevant stakeholders (horizontal integration) and connect with Metropolitan and Regional authorities (vertical integration). 

The positioning of the Food Policy initiative within the Mayor’s Office and directly under the mandate of the first Vice Mayor ensures its visibility and acknowledgement.

The City of Milan is chair of the EUROCITIES Working Group Food. EUROCITIES is one of the most important association of cities in Europe and gathers cities in thematic working groups. Milan established the Working Group Food, that is today composed of 51 European cities advocating to the EU Commission, in order to scale up the process of regionalization prompted by the Milan Pact.

The City of Milan is the only municipal authority engaged directly in the EU Platform for Food Losses and Food Waste, chaired by the DG SANTE Commissioner, voicing the efforts, ideas and aspirations of cities (members of the WG Food) committed to urban food related topics.

The City of Milan is an active member of the C40 Food System Network. The Network helps cities achieve solutions to their most pressing food systems challenges by incorporating both health and environmental considerations into food strategies and activities. Representative of the City of Milan participate in the annual workshop held in Stockholm and to several webinars through the year.

Food Policy: An Innovative Framework For Making Urban Food System More Sustainable, Inclusive, Guangzhou Award for Urban Innovation, http://www.guangzhouaward.org/award_d.aspx?CateId=285&newsid=1433

Milan Urban Food Policy Pact, http://www.milanurbanfoodpolicypact.org/

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Guangzhou Award
Guangzhou, China

Guangzhou Award

Institution | Urban Award

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