After his recent inspirational session at the annual conference of the JPI a Healthy Diet for a Healthy Life (JPI HDHL), we interviewed Matteo Villa, coordinator of the Milan City Lab. Matteo works at the largest science museum in Italy, MUST – Museo Nazionale della Scienza e della Tecnologia Leonardo da Vinci.

We asked him the following questions:

What is your role in the FIT4FOOD2030 project?
Our role in the FIT4FOOD2030 project is to be a meeting place for the actors of the local community who are active part of the food system, and who want to collaborate together for a sustainable transformation.

This mission is European, and the Milan City Lab can be the network where the international aim becomes concrete at a local level.

The Lab is coordinated by the Science Museum and works to build educational resources for the future challenges about nutrition and sustainability. The design of those resources for the community derives from a shared analysis and vision over the local food supply chain and wants to bring together the different perspectives of the local stakeholders in the process.

What is the objective of the Milan City Lab?
The objective is to contribute to the local dimension with new educational tools and approaches, exploring the complexity of the food system 360-degree, looking for those processes which are crucial and a showcase for innovation and sustainability. This is the reason why in the stakeholder engagement phase we aimed at giving a voice to various sectors of the food system: we involved actors which are relevant at a public level (municipality, public food service, waste management) and also from the private sector (both big companies and start-ups); many representatives took part in the process; from research institutes, to universities (with experts in agriculture, biotech, health and nutrition…), to other actors representing social innovation, social inclusion and education.

What have you observed so far?
Even if the City Lab members compose a heterogeneous group, the common reflection pointed out some transversal issues, which signed the key points of the City Lab vision and the general reference to set the direction to design the specific educational activities.

The stakeholders reaffirmed the importance to have tools to foster and to spread a systemic approach and awareness related to food issues, and also the importance to communication and educational processes. It is also important to have resources to empower research and innovation (R&I) development and social innovation.

This is the general framework which will be explored with the specific contributions of the different stakeholders, and embedded in the structure of the educational activities.

How do you see the future?
The Milan City Lab is contributing in spreading a local awareness and sensibility about the effective strategies for a sustainable development of the food system. This mechanism fosters the raising of more and more chances for collaboration between the actors who compose the food supply chain, and who have the power to create powerful synergies.

To help a successful food system transformation, it is important to drive the change with a common vision and a common agenda, but also setting processes concretely capable to take in account the bottom-up feedback of the stakeholders involvement strategy.

The slides of Matteo’s presentation can be accessed here.

Picture of the MUST Food & Nutrition Lab, educating youngsters on important aspects around food, nutrition and sustainability.