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Towards sustainable urban food policy

Information updated on 24/09/19

The UNESCO Chair in World Food Systems with Montpellier SupAgro and Cirad launch “Surfood”, a research program for sustainable urban food systems, in partnership with Montpellier Méditerranée Métropole.

Nicolas Bricas, chercheur au Cirad, directeur de la Chaire Unesco Alimentations du monde à Montpellier

Nicolas Bricas, Cirad researcher, director of UNESCO Chair in World Food Systems in Montpellier

A multi-disciplinary team of professors and researchers at Cirad, Inra, and SupAgro have been working together since 2012 on methods to develop sustainable food systems for cities. Entitled “Surfood”, this research program notably focuses on “relationships with the food landscape – where stores are located, how they are supplied, and how people get around – and people’s food habits (Foodscape project),” summarizes Nicolas Bricas, Cirad researcher and director of the UNESCO Chair in World Food Systems in Montpellier, one of the only Chairs examining this topic at an international level.

For example, does living near diversified stores, ordering food on the Internet, and having access to gardens have effects on the nutritional quality of food? A survey was launched on this topic in June and remains open until December 2019 : It seeks to identify the food habits of at least 500 residents in the Greater Montpellier area and collect their grocery store receipts for one month.

Cooperative stores

“The food space in cities is changing rapidly,” observes the researcher. 

Supermarkets are returning to neighborhoods, home delivery is becoming increasingly popular, and alternative distribution modes are emerging, such as cooperative stores.

“It is important for metropolitan areas to evaluate the impact of these factors on low-income populations, nutrition, the environment, and jobs,” adds Nicolas Bricas.

These are fundamental questions for Montpellier Méditerranée Métropole, whose agroecology and food policy is accompanied by the UNESCO Chair. “We are in constant contact with Montpellier Métropole so that this research is as useful as possible for local development policy and, beyond that, for cities in general.”

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