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Local food systems, local food policies and public procurement of food and catering: When is local (more) sustainable?

This three-day conference discusses whether, and under which conditions, buying local is indeed more sustainable, and how municipalities can promote local food systems, beyond the use of public procurement.

Sustainable public procurement of food and catering services can be a powerful tool for transformation, by strategically using public purchasing power to attain economic, environmental, and social sustainability goals.

“Buying local” is often advocated as a way to hit the “sustainability bull’s eye”: it is said to be more environmentally friendly, better for local suppliers and for the local economy, and better for local society. 

The conference is organized as part of the project Innovative, sustainable public procurement of food and catering services, a research and innovation project funded by the Norwegian Research Council (2021-2024), in cooperation with the EdiCitNet project. 

The first day of the conference is dedicated to the participants of the project (public procurers from Norwegian municipalities), who will share their experiences with sustainable public procurement of food and catering services.

The second and third day concern (paper) presentations, from an international perspective. We therefore welcome presentations, both from academics and practitioners, on the topic of sustainable food procurement, local food systems, and local food policies.

Call for papers:

We are interested in theoretical and conceptual contributions, case studies, comparative analyses, policy advice, and presentations of best practices.

The conference topic requires discussion of the sustainability of local food systems as such and their role in creating resilience and circularity. Are local food systems more sustainable or not? If they are, how can public procurement capture this? Does the regulatory framework on public procurement allow for a local dimension and how can it be incorporated?

Often, procurers have a narrow focus on environmental aspects (for example: a focus on transporting, or on packaging), with less attention for the other dimensions of sustainability (for example: social aspects). To what extent is this limited focus triggered by the use of recommended criteria and expert guidelines, such as the GPP criteria? Do these criteria really capture sustainability in all its dimensions?

Finally, is public procurement alone sufficient to trigger meaningful transformations? How can sustainable public procurement be embedded in other policies (for example related to school meals)? What is the role of various local actors?

We invite contributions on the following subjects:

Presentations can be paper-based, but this is not required. After the conference, the organizers will proceed with finding a suited outlet for the conference papers.

Call for papers and presentations, deadline:

The deadline for submission of paper/presentation proposals is June 28, 2023. Please submit a proposal (300-500 words) to Nico Groenendijk, Inland University, Norway ( and Kristin Reichborn-Kjennerud, Oslo Metropolitan University, Norway (

A small conference fee will be asked, as a contribution to the conference costs. Participants will have to arrange their own travel and accommodation.

Preliminary programme:


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