Ghent’s urban food policy wins UN climate action award


Gent en Garde is an inspiring example of practical action against climate change, says UN

Planetary health

Ghent’s urban food policy, Gent en Garde, has been honoured with one of this year’s United Nations Global Climate Action Awards. The awards are intended to shine a light on practical examples of what people around the world are doing to combat climate change.

“These inspiring examples of climate action serve as beacons, guiding us towards a more resilient, more sustainable and more prosperous future for everyone,” said Niclas Svenningsen, manager of the UN Climate Change global action programme.

Gent en Garde was one of four winners in the planetary health category, alongside projects from China, the US and Dominica. The award will be handed over in December at the UN climate conference in Santiago, Chile.

“The big challenge now is to continue to fulfil our pioneering role,” said Tine Heyse, Ghent city councillor for the environment . “We can do that thanks to the effective co-operation of the many partners involved in the Ghent food strategy.”

Ghent’s food policy has evolved from a range of small-scale initiatives to enable wide-spread structural change

Launched in 2013, Gent en Garde aims to strengthen short food supply chains in the city, while increasing sustainable production and consumption. It also aspires to provide better access to food and decrease food waste.

Initiatives have included systems to redistribute surplus food to those in need, encouragement for community vegetable gardens and promotion of the weekly vegetarian day Donderdag Veggiedag.

According to the UN, the project demonstrates the potential to transform food systems at the local level. “Through participative governance models, including a food policy council, Ghent’s food policy has evolved from a range of small-scale initiatives to enable wide-spread structural change to the city’s food system,” it said in a statement.

The awards were selected by an international panel from 670 applications from all over the world. “This year’s winning activities are amazing examples of innovative, scalable and replicable climate action,” said Gabrielle Ginér, chair of the panel and head of environmental sustainability for British telecoms company BT. “We hope they will inspire others as we look to tackle one of society’s biggest challenges.”

Photo: Gent en Garde’s Plukplekken initiative mapped fruit trees in public spaces
©Gent en Garde