Don't Waste Our Future - Building a European alliance of youngsters against food waste and for new models of sustainable development and consumption in the Euro

This project was led by FELCOS Umbria - Fund of Local Authorities for Decentralized Cooperation and Sustainable Human Development, and the other partners were:

  • The Education for Global Citizenship Unit of the University of Glasgow (Dr Alan Britton and Dr Jesus Granados Sanchez)
  • CARDET (Centre for the Advancement of Research & Development in Educational Technology - University of Nicosia),
  • Agios Athanasios Municipality,
  • Oxfam Italia,
  • Associação In Loco,
  • FPMCI (Milanese Provincial Fund for International Cooperation),
  • FAMSI (Andalusian Fund of Municipalities for International Solidarity),
  • ACR + (Association of Cities and Regions for Recycling and Sustainable Resource Management),
  • PASSERELLE.INFO Association and the Municipality of Foligno.

This project took place in several European countries (Italy, United Kingdom, Spain, France, Belgium, Portugal and Cyprus) through a broad partnership between ten different organisations which complement one another – local authorities, funds of local authorities, non-state actors – and each one with proven experience in actions for development education and awareness of citizenship.

The project was awarded a significant budget by the European Union of 1,727,604 EUR in total. It was a two-year project from January 2015. 

The overall objective of the project was to increase the critical understanding, the accountability and the leading role of young European citizens in relation to sustainable development at a local and global level. The specific objectives were:

  • Increase awareness among young Europeans on the issue of food waste, on responsible consumption and the relationship with the global right to food, in order to make them responsible agents of the necessary change;
  • Build a European alliance of students against food waste and develop new models of development and sustainable lifestyles;
  • Raise awareness among local authorities and their networks on the issue of food waste and the role they can play in the formation of citizens and promoting concrete actions – in the framework of their respective competencies – in the fight against food waste and, generally, in the construction of sustainable human development starting from their territories.

In Scotland five secondary and five primary schools from Glasgow City Council were identified to lead the pilot stage of this work. The Executive Director of Education at Glasgow City Council signed a formal memorandum of support for the Project. Further links are anticipated with Stirling Council, and negotiations are underway with Perth & Kinross and Fife Councils to explore their involvement. A connection with at least one other local authority will be sought to fulfil aspects of the local authority networking goals (five participating LAs) outlined below.

These additional local authorities were less directly involved in some of the hands-on training opportunities outlined below. However they were provided with some of the learning resources and strategic ideas emerging from the project, and would be invited to share good practice within Scotland and beyond.

The vision underlying the project was based on the awareness that the huge waste of food that is apparent in our society is above all a practical obstacle to the global fight against hunger and poverty, both within European and in developing countries. This shameful trend affects not only the right to food of millions of people, but it has led to the waste of valuable and limited natural resources, such as land, water and energy, used at different stages of the food production chain.

Food waste not only has ethical, economic, social and nutritional consequences, but also has serious adverse effects on health and on environment at the global level, given that large amounts of food waste produce carbon dioxide, which in turn contributes to global warming.

The project DON’T WASTE OUR FUTURE focused primarily on the prevention and reduction of food waste in Europe, where much of the problem is related to the bad behaviour of consumers due to the lack of awareness on the issue in all its complexity.

This bad habit is unfortunately widespread in our society and involves, at different levels, all actors of the society, with a strong impact on the resources at our disposal.  Two-thirds of the goods from the nature, in fact, such fertile grounds, clean water and air, are in decline: climate change, biodiversity loss and demographic trends are approaching limits beyond which the consequences for the society and the environment may become irreversible.

Moreover, although to a lesser degree, the project aimed to have an impact on the issue of food waste also in developing Countries, where the problem is more related to technical and financial constraints along the entire chain of food production, through encouraging the Local Authorities involved and their networks to develop decentralized cooperation initiatives focused on improving the efficiency of food production chains.

Although some initiatives in this direction have been recently undertaken in many of the target countries, there is still too much fragmentation and no systematic strategy involving public authorities and educational programmes in schools.


1.    Activities in schools

The formal education system is an important framework through which to transmit not only knowledge and points of view on the complex changes taking place at the global level, but also values and principles that could orient behaviours and personal interests towards a more effective and systematic fight against food waste, for the right to food and for new models of responsible consumption and sustainable development.

2.    Workshops for high school teachers

The Project Partners will, as a first step, foster collaboration between teachers and the thematic experts who will be identified at the beginning of the project, for the implementation of activities with students. In each school two teachers will be invited to attend two workshops, 2-3 hours each, on the core issues of the project.

The active involvement of teachers in the implementation of activities with the students led by the team of thematic experts was be based on the "learning by doing" methodology, which allowed teachers to learn new methods and educational paths.

3.    Modules with high schools students

Four modules targeting about 40 students were realised in each school involved. Each module took place during the school timetable, for a duration of 2-3 hours each.

These modules were led by the team of thematic experts with the support of teachers, focusing on some key issues, such as the interrelationship between food waste and personal behaviours; new lifestyles and responsible consumption; the interconnection between waste and other issues related to sustainable development.

All teaching materials, elaborated and used within the project activities, were collected in a manual shared with teachers in order to enable them to disseminate these ideas and activities, building a sustainable change in practice across the school, the local authority and indeed across the entire country.

4.    1st European youths' forum against food waste and for new models of responsible consumption

2015 was the European Year of Development, therefore a youths' Forum was held on October 2015 in Milan on the occasion of EXPO 2015 dedicated to the theme "Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life". 

The forum was a great opportunity for stimulating dialogue, discussion and exchange of experiences among young people on the issues related to food and food waste, from a perspective of sustainable human development and poverty reduction.

The reflection and debate that the Forum aimed to encourage concerns the close connection between these issues and environmental sustainability, starting from the evidence that it is not possible to ensure a "decent life for all" (EU 2014, "A decent life for all: from vision to collective action") without pursuing a three-dimensional – social, environmental and economic – development in a well-balanced way.

Many of the students and teachers directly involved in the previous activities participated in the event, sharing their reflections and final products.  During the event they elaborated the “European Charter of Youngsters for food waste fighting and new model of responsible consumption and lifestyle”, as a common platform of youngsters containing the basic principles for sustainable and responsible behaviours.

5.    School campaign against food waste, for responsible consumption and the right to food

The Project intended to develop efficient communication campaigns targeting schools in their fight against food waste, and for responsible consumption and the right to food. These activities offered the opportunity to disseminate the products and results of the work done within the schools, and in particular to disseminate the “European Charter of Youngsters for food waste fighting and new model of responsible consumption and lifestyle”.

In the school year 2015-16 there was a series of workshops targeting pupils in primary schools. The students of secondary schools that were involved in the project led the workshops. Around five youngsters from each secondary school involved were trained by the expert team on peer-to-peer methodology, in order to help them to develop and deliver (with the support of teachers and experts) two workshops of two hours each.



1.    Territorial Workshops

In each territory (including Scotland) where the Project is active, two workshops will be organised, involving five Local Authorities.

The main goal of the workshops was to raise LAs awareness of the issues related to food waste and the related use of natural resources towards a more responsible management. Another question that was tackled in the workshops is the existence of legislative and administrative rules that often lead to waste and what possible solutions can be put in place in order to overcome these obstacles. One result of these territorial workshops is the elaboration of recommendations and proposals to share with other LAs on the occasion of the European Forum of LAs. These recommendations will constitute the basis for the definition of common European Guidelines.

2.    European meeting of Local Authorities

The meeting was designed to be an important occasion of debate and exchange of experiences among European local authorities with the aim of identifying possible common strategies to orientate local and national policies against food waste.

The meeting took place in parallel with the 1st European Forum of Youngsters and - in addition to the specific sessions targeting LAs involved in the project, with a special session inside the Forum of Youngsters, as a space of participative democracy.

This common session will offered the opportunity for an interesting debate and direct dialogue between the representatives of local institutions and the students participating in the Forum.  This direct interaction between the institutional representatives and the young citizens represented a unique place for participative democracy to search for and identify a common strategy in order to orientate local and National policies against food waste.

3.    European guidelines for Local Authorities on concrete policies and actions to put in place against food waste, for the right to food and sustainable consumption

The aim of this activity was to focus and reflect on the role that LAs can play to reduce food waste and promote responsible consumption. These guidelines were be translated into the different languages of partner countries and made available on the project website. The guidelines were a strategic tool to amplify the impact of the action, taking into consideration that wide dissemination that will be realized by each partner (being many of the co-applicants network of LAs).