International visibility through joint regional development projects

At a time when increasingly fast-paced globalisation and worryingly rapid climate change threaten our territories and our living, a strong commitment is needed to promote sustainability as a goal and as means to ensure a better quality of life for present and future generations.

The Regions of Gastronomy are tackling these challenges taking on the responsibility to ensure their communities sound and sustainable development by capitalising on their existing unique resources. And, more than ever, they are determined to generate change by supporting local food, traditions, biodiversity and cultures. within their territories as well as by creating strong cross-border synergies.

This strengthened collaboration framework has been the main focus of the 13th European Regions of Gastronomy Platform meeting, held from 28 February to 2 March 2018 in ‘s-Hertogenbosch, North Brabant, European Region of Gastronomy 2018 (The Netherlands) was attended by representatives from IGCAT as well as past, present and future awarded Regions of Gastronomy.

The Platform also welcomed, for the first time, representatives from Slovenia that expressed the wish for their country to be accepted as a candidate Region of Gastronomy for 2021. Coordinator of Slovenia, candidate European Region of Gastronomy 2021, Darja Škufca Adlešič; and Head of Research of the Slovenian Tourist Board, Barbara Zmrzlikar impressed the meeting with the commitment already confirmed by thirteen public, private, third sector and university stakeholders, out of which ten have signed a protocol agreement committing to the principles of the Award. The Platform unanimously approved the candidacy of Slovenia and IGCAT’s President, Dr. Diane Dodd will sign the agreement to formalise the process.

With the aim of increasing the visibility of the regions and their best practices at an international level, the Platform engaged in a fruitful knowledge-sharing conversation centred on key focus areas such as education, community awareness-raising, and the reconnection of urban and rural environments to name a few. Members exchanged virtuous examples of initiatives implemented locally and discussed possible further development of cross-border and cross-sectoral joint projects. Among them, alongside the consolidated European Young Chef Award, the Food Film Festival and the Local Food Gift Award as well as a proposal to select the Top Food Visitor Experience of the year in each region. The possibility was also discussed to collate all these best practices into a publication for the projects’ dissemination.

During the meeting, the Platform highlighted the growing interest that the Region of Gastronomy programme is raising not only across Europe, but also in other continents, especially following IGCAT’s participation in the 2nd UNWTO/UNESCO World Conference on Tourism and Culture, organised in Oman, on 11-12 December 2017. The possibility was thus agreed to open up the Award to world regions and invite them to learn from the experience of the European Region of Gastronomy Platform.

The Platform’s joint promotional strategy was also discussed with special reference to the newly designed European Region of Gastronomy website and the collaboration with the European Travel Commission on VisitEurope portal. Furthermore, the possibility was proposed to create a new promotional video for 2018 to highlight the regions’ common projects and the added-value of working together internationally. 2016 and 2017 videos are available on IGCAT’s YouTube channel.

The calendar of events for 2018 was agreed and included for the first time a collaboration with IGCAT to organise the 1st International Conference on Gastronomy and Cultural Heritage in Minho, Portugal as well as the 3rd edition of the European Young Chef Award to be organised at Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology in Galway-West of Ireland, European Region of Gastronomy 2018, on 25-27 November 2018.

The 14th European Region of Gastronomy Platform meeting will take place in Galway-West of Ireland, European Region of Gastronomy 2018, on 27-29 November 2018.

The European Region of Gastronomy Platform and Award aim to contribute to better quality of life in European regions, by highlighting distinctive food cultures, educating for better health and sustainability and stimulating gastronomic innovation. IGCAT (International Institute of Gastronomy, Culture, Arts and Tourism) organises the award with the support of European institutions.

IGCAT is a non-profit organisation established in 2012 working in the fields of gastronomy, culture, arts and tourism. Through its worldwide network of experts, IGCAT aims to empower local communities by guiding, facilitating, and supporting local leaders in cities, regions and cultural projects to understand the potential of their distinct food, culture, arts and sustainable tourism assets. IGCAT is the official secretariat for the Region of Gastronomy Platform and provides the European Region of Gastronomy Award, the European Young Chef Award and the Local Food Gift Project.