Ensuring a transition towards sustainable food systems: this is the objective of the European project FUSILLI (Fostering the Urban food System transformation through Innovative Living Labs Implementation) funded by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 programme.
The overall objective of the project is to support the participating pan-European cities (and their peri-urban areas) in addressing the challenges of food system transformation through strong cooperation for knowledge sharing and mutual learning.
Each city is expected to create or enhance the development of an open, innovative ecosystem where concrete actions will be deployed to develop and implement urban food systems policies. The policies should address the four FOOD 2030 priorities ( (i) Nutrition for sustainable and healthy diets; (ii) Climate-smart and environmentally sustainable food systems; (iii) Circularity and resource efficiency of food systems; (iv) Innovation and empowerment of communities).
A total of 34 partners from 13 different countries are involved in this European project. 12 cities participate, including the City of Differdange* in the south of Luxembourg.
Differdange benefited from Luxinnovation’s support to join the European consortium. “Two and a half years ago, we hired a consultant in the field of sustainable development and it turned out there was an interest to improve the food system. We followed this path, prepared a project and we were put in touch with Luxinnovation in this context,” explains Martin Kracheel, City Manager of the City of Differdange.
“Constructive and efficient support”
Differdange put together a first proposal to join a European consortium based on this initial project, but it was not accepted. “However, we were well aware of the interest of the City of Differdange in this theme and we kept a close eye on it,” explains Sanna Alaranta, Advisor – European R&D and Innovation Support at Luxinnovation. “We managed to find another European project and a consortium that was working on a project and was looking for a city like Differdange. We created the links and helped the city in the proposal process,” adds Charles Betz, Senior Advisor – European R&D and Innovation Support at Luxinnovation
The collaboration was successful this time. In December 2020, the City of Differdange was officially integrated into the project, together with the TNT asbl (Territoire Naturel Transfrontalier de la Chiers et de l’Alzette) and the University of Luxembourg. The launch took place one month later during an online conference.
“The support from Luxinnovation was very constructive and efficient,” says Mr Kracheel. “We were able to benefit from a really personal, very professional follow-up with knowledge and skills in the field of food. We were challenged and guided at every stage of the preparation of our application, and were also put in touch with a number of other players in the ecosystem.”
The FUSILLI project, which has been set up for a four-year period, is obviously intended to remain in place for a long time. Moreover, last Summer, the City of Differdange hired Carla Jellema as Project Manager, in order to bring the project to fruition. And there is no shortage of work to be done in conjunction with TNT and the University of Luxembourg. “We are in the process of finalising the whole process of designing our Living Lab,” explains Ms Jellema. “We are also going to use a small part of a large 115-hectare plot of land owned by the city of Differdange , in order to develop an agro-ecological project to produce fruits and vegetables. Other activities will be held on the terrain as well.”
At the same time, information and awareness-raising work will be carried out among the population. Citizens will also be asked to propose ideas for better management of the entire food chain, and to mark the topics they find most important between “Food growing”, “Tips for a healthy diet”, “Food safety”, “To buy local and regional” and “Anti gaspi: reducing food waste”.
“Once these ideas have been collected, we will organise citizens’ workshops early next year on the most relevant topics,” says Ms Jellema.
The City of Differdange will also present the FUSILLI Project, in March 2022, at the large market fair for regional products, “Au Goût du Terroir” in Käerjeng.
* The other 11 cities are: Athens (Greece), Castelo Branco (Portugal), Kharkiv (Ukraine), Kolding (Denmark), Nilufer-Bursa (Turkey), Oslo (Norway), Rijeka (Croatia), Rome and Turin (Italy), San Sebastian (Spain) and Tampere (Finland).