The European Food Forum was established in 2019 as part of the EU’s work on the green shift. NTNU has been involved from the very beginning, and Vice Dean Eva Falch is now vice president of the Management Board for the EU forum. 

What will we eat, where will our food come from, how should it be packaged and distributed – and last but not least, what is best for our planet in the long run? These are important questions for the EU’s European Food Forum (EFF), which is dialoguing with major food players in Europe – such as companies, interest groups, consumer organizations, political actors and universities – to formulate food systems for the future.

Food systems relate to all 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals.

Eva Falch is the EFF representative from Norway and NTNU, along with members of the EU Parliament. The driving force behind the university’s involvement in the European Food Forum has been Massimo Busuoli at NTNU’s office in Brussels.

Vice Dean Falch also heads the NTNU Food Forum, which includes a group of about 60 committed researchers and other members who provide input to the work. Twenty-two departments representing all NTNU faculties are involved, which makes the NTNU Food Forum one of the largest multidisciplinary collaborative projects undertaken at the university. Technologists, chemists, biologists, sociologists and obesity researchers are just some of the many contributing professionals.

Committed engagement at NTNU

The engagement among members of the NTNU Food Forum is considerable and committed. Falch points out that the multidisciplinary nature of the forum is important for finding good solutions for the future and seems to be very motivating for the participants.

The overall goal of both the EFF and the NTNU Food Forum is to ensure that the food we eat in the future is good for our health, is prepared and consumed in a safe and sustainable way, and protects animal welfare as well. The NTNU Food Forum will also contribute to securing and building knowledge jobs in Norway.

“Through the multidisciplinary efforts with our partners, we have great potential to increase Norway’s food self-sufficiency and take better use of our raw materials,” says Falch.

Farm to Fork Strategy

In early summer 2020, the NTNU Food Forum gave input to the Farm to Fork Strategy, which is part of Europe’s Green Deal. The strategy will provide guidelines for a good deal of future food-related developments. NTNU provided input on: 

1. The importance of aquaculture for sustainable food production.
2. Developing educational and participatory approaches to ensure adequate food supplies in the future.
3. The increased importance of food culture and animal welfare.
4. Joint measures to combat the increased prevalence of childhood obesity.
5. Measures to reduce food waste.

Through NTNU’s role in the European Food Forum, NTNU researchers can play strategic roles on committees under the umbrella of the Farm to Fork Strategy in the European Parliament. NTNU has already had experts participate in numerous arenas, including children and obesity, environmental toxins in food, raw material utilization and future packaging materials.

“Influencing policy making is motivating. I think we’ve already come quite far and can point to sustainability areas that are important to us and to Norway which get noticed,” says Falch.

Exemplary working model

“I’m very happy that the NTNU Food Forum has been established,” says Pro-Rector for Research Bjarne Foss.

He says that participation in the EU Framework Programme for Research and Innovation is a high priority for NTNU. Foss believes the university is doing well with the active engagement of many academic environments, but that NTNU as an institution still has a way to go.

“The active participation of our academic groups in important European professional and thematic networks provides access to early information and the opportunity to influence European priorities and announcements, as well as connections to good partners and consortia,” Foss says.

He notes that the establishment of the NTNU Food Forum means that NTNU’s participation in the European Food Forum will benefit any interested academic groups at NTNU.

“The way the Faculty of Natural Sciences is working – well supported by the NTNU Brussels Office and the EU support apparatus – is exemplary and should be used as a model to a greater extent throughout NTNU,” says Foss.

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Contact: 

Eva Falch, Vice Dean Innovation at the Faculty of Natural Sciences, e-mail eva-falch@ntnu.no

Thais Mothe-Diniz, Research Advisor, NV Faculty Administration, e-mail thais.mothe-diniz@ntnu.no