The desire to work on a relocation and ” decarbonisation ” of the food system, to brainstorm about the revitalization of Liège’s local economy, or to think about how to guarantee access to healthy food to everyone, these were some of the main motivations behind the project of a Green-Belt in Liège (Belgium), officially launched last November. Born during an informal discussion between social entrepreneurs and members of Liège in Transition at the 2012 conference ‘For innovative sustainable development alliances’, the project quickly began to take shape. Its goal – structuring reflection and action plan for the development of multiple initiatives all aiming at a greater market share for local products, “good, clean and fair food”, accessible to the whole population.
Thus, on November 5th and 6th 2013 was held in Liège the official launch of the green-belt project (Ceinture aliment-terre liégeoise). More than 300 people attended the evening debate and the next day, the Open Forum has mobilized 150 actors with varied and complementary profiles: producers of different types of agriculture (conventional, rational, organic, biodynamic, permaculture) and livestock actors from meat, dairy and horticultural processing industries, representatives of all the possible range of short supply chains (joint purchasing groups, farmers’ cooperatives, consumer cooperatives, organic grocery stores, web platforms), representatives of farmers’ organizations and trade unions, actors of territorial development, catering, alternative finance, local and provincial government, culture, social economy, training or even research.
Designers of the Art School of St. Luke had the place scenography. Theatre skits punctuated the event.
Designed as a true exercise of collective intelligence, the open forum gave birth to 25 workshops and allowed to come to the definition of structural projects. It was a precious and regenerating moment, allowing exchange and building around a common desire: to restore the city’s capacity to promote local food.
Collaborative platform, the green-belt project (Ceinture aliment-terre liégeoise) is now composed of seven social economy structures. Its official launch was an opportunity to assert its structuring role: to act as facilitator of different stakeholders’ interaction, but also as a spokesperson, especially towards national, international institutions and the media …Today, the project is receives support from many local partners.
A pilot project farm and a cooperative of agro-ecological activities are also emerging in Ourthe-Amel with Agroecoop. Ultimately the project aims to train and assist agricultural entrepreneurs to settle. Beyond these issues, the Agroecoop project is a concrete case illustrating the start of the green-belt project (Ceinture aliment-terre liégeoise) dynamics. Local development structures, the Regional Economic Grouping Ourthe- Amel (GREOA) and Local Development Agency (ADL) from Comblain-au-pont are actively engaged as they share a common vision: local agricultural production valued through short supply chains is a new vector of employment and the social economy has a role to play in supporting independent producers.
For more information on the green-belt project (Ceinture aliment-terre liégeoise), visit their website (in French only).