Policy for Sustainability and Food

2021-01-29 14:49:11 sisd 73

The City of Malmö has developed a joint Sustainable Development and Food Policy, which is a shared responsibility of the entire municipality. The main purpose of the policy is to contribute to a sustainable Malmö with healthy citizens and to strengthen the importance of food in Malmö’s own operations as well as to make Malmö’s own food purchases more sustainable.
To reach its goals, Malmö launched the initiative ‘Climate-Smart Food in Malmö’, as a way to reduce the climate impact of the city’s food purchases. This initiative focuses on two key areas that have the greatest potential to reduce greenhouse gas emissions associated with food: reducing food waste and introducing more plant-based and climate-friendly menus. With the city’s preschool chefs as a main target group, the project explores everything from nutrition to cooking with more colourful vegetables and less meat. The goal for the chefs is to bring their new knowledge and enthusiasm back to their workplaces and contribute to making a difference. Over 4000 preschool chefs have participated in the training so far and the reactions have been positive and full of curiosity.

Objective of the practice

Everyone in Malmö has the right to good, nutritious food as a part of an economic, social and ecological sustainable development. This is made possible by following the “eat S.M.A.R.T. model” which combines health and environment without increasing costs.

The eat S.M.A.R.T. is built on the Swedish nutrition recommendations combined with the environmental goals of Sweden.
S.M.A.R.T. stands for:
- Smaller amount of meat
- Minimise intake of junk food/empty calories
- An increase in organic
- Right sort of meat and vegetables
- Transport efficient

Greenhouse gas emissions relating to food shall decrease by 40 % by 2020, compared to the 2002 levels. All food that is served in the City of Malmö shall be certified as ‘organic’ by 2020. By 2020, all other goals of the policy shall also have been reached.

Challenges along the way has been facing norms, regulations, human habits and behaviours that sometimes are hard to change.
It has been an effective response in working with the 2030 Agenda as it integrates environmental, social and economic indicators. It all so aims at both a systemic and individual level which is an effective way to work with change.

Key stakeholders and partnerships

Key stakeholders are all public canteens, preschools, elderly care etc. The city’s preschool chefs have been a main target group and the project has helped exploring everything from nutrition to cooking in a sustainable way with more colourful vegetables and less meat. Chefs have brought new knowledge and enthusiasm back to their workplaces in order to fulfil the aim of the project and to truly make a difference for the City of Malmö. Over 4000 preschool chefs have participated in the training so far and the outcome have been positive and workplaces full of curiosity. Climate-smart, plant-based and environmentally-friendly food is good for the whole chain - for the planet, the food producer and our citizens in Malmö.
The project has been made possible through financing via Swedish Environmental Protection Agency.

Implementation of the Project/Activity

In order to have the policy implemented and the goals reached by 2020, there has been a need of a strong commitment from the city’s administrations and departments. As the policy is a s shared responsibility for the City of Malmö, dialogue, communication and education have been key factors for success.

The technical and district committees in Malmö have and will break down the overarching goals to sub-goals and actions suitable for their respective areas of responsibility and adapt them to fit into their operations. The environment committee is responsible for cross-committee issues and questions concerning implementation, evaluation, follow-up criteria and indicators of the policy.

Every technical and district committee has a responsibility to fulfil parts of the policy that relates to their operations. The follow-up of the policy will be integrated into the general follow-up and to be found in the technical and district committee’s annual report and thereby follow the economic accounting structure.


The city serves around 60,000 meals a day in schools, nurseries and care homes, all of which are free of charge (tax-financed). As the policy objectives is to decrease greenhouse gas emissions, the most important measures adopted to cut emissions from food are an increase in plant-based meals and reduction of food waste. And as a result of the policy, schools are now offering a vegetarian dish every day and meat only two days a week.
With funding from the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency, the city Council has trained council staff, both catering staff and those working closely with eating customers eating (4000 employees), on the theoretical background behind food and climate change and what changes can be done to reduce emissions. Catering staff have learnt about nutrition and attended practical cookery courses in climate smart cooking. Thanks to the policy, we have seen an increase in pride and ambassadorship of the catering staff.
An additional result of the policy are more structured dialogues with procurement officers and suppliers to offer more plant-based products, and programmes to reduce food waste have started in the public kitchens.
The City of Malmö is well on its way to reach the targets and goals. Over 65 percent of the food served is now organic and with an increased number of plant-based meals. As a result, there is a 20 percent reduction of greenhouse gas emissions relating to food procured and consumed in public canteens.
One of the key factors for successfully implementing the policy has been the widespread knowledge of the policy and the decisions related to this. A team up to four persons have been working with implementation and follow-up since the policy was adopted, which is identified as important. As the policy timeframe soon will be expired, it will be crucial to continue and revise the policy after 2020 for a long-term and long-lasting result and the contribution to the 2030 Agenda.

Enabling factors and constraints

Important, enabling factors for the policy outcome has been the financing from the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency and the drive and motivation from the City of Malmö to invest in food and working with the 2030 Agenda.
A challenge for the project has been related to public procurement, which is something the City of Malmö is working intensively with. Consequently, good discussions with procurement staff and suppliers to offer more plant-based products has taken place. Additionally, the selection and range of purchases has sometimes been missing good alternatives, leading to both desirable and less desirable options have to choose from. In those situations, people’s habits can be hard to break and patterns difficult to be changed. A change in behaviour has to be reinforced on both a systemic and individual level.

Sustainability and replicability

The City of Malmö has developed a policy for Sustainability and Food with a focus on health and the environment, without even increasing costs. Simply because the costs related to the policy should be seen as a long-term investment that saves money in the long-run.
We believe every citizen in Malmö have the right to good, healthy and nutritious food in schools and in elderly care.
As the policy timeframe by 2020 soon will be expired, there is a suggestion to update the policy for a long-term and long-lasting result and the contribution to the 2030 Agenda. In relation to this, there are plans to include and engage citizens participation in the coming years of the policy.


The Sustainability and Food policy together with the Climate-Smart Food initiative, are long-term efforts, but the city can already see results. Over 65 percent of the food served today is organic and the city has increased the number of plant-based meals. The City of Malmö have educated 4000 of the catering staff and as an outcome and result, there is a 20 percent reduction of greenhouse gas emissions related to food procured and consumed in public canteens.
In Malmö, we believe the combination of theoretical and practical work, as well as a combination of input at both a system level and an individual level has been one of the main reasons for the good results.