The next edition of the Art of Food: Culture and Food Diversity will take place  1-3 July 2015 in Barcelona. It aims to explore two areas of interest:

Free Trade and its possible impact on Culture and Food Diversity
This a follow-up session to the Art of Food 2014 edition when participants looked at the challenges posed by widening markets. At the meeting professionals (academics and policy-makers) from  tourism, cultural and food sectors raised concerns regarding the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) between EU and USA and the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) between EU and Canada. Both TTIP and CETA are bilateral trade agreements that are currently being negotiated and that will set the legal framework for trade in the future and thus will affect specific sectors (agriculture, industry, cultural products and services, food, tourism etc.).

Both the experts at the meeting and the International Institute of Gastronomy, Culture, Arts and Tourism are concerned about food and cultural diversity. In view of the potential effects of these agreements on cultural and food diversity, we wrote to the negotiators of both TTIP and CETA to:

  • ensure that the aims and obligations of the 2005 UNESCO Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions (the UNESCO Convention) are fully   The Convention reaffirms the sovereign right of the signatory States to formulate and implement their cultural and food policies and to adopt measures to protect and promote the diversity of cultural expressions and food diversity.
  • guarantee that there will be no commitments that might be damaging to cultural and food diversity by respecting the aims and obligations of the UNESCO Convention and to especially take into account Article 20 of the Convention, which provides that signatory States recognize that they shall perform in good faith their obligations under the Convention and all other treaties to which they are parties. Accordingly, without subordinating the Convention to any other treaty, when interpreting and applying the other treaties to which they are parties or when entering into other international obligations, States shall take into account the relevant provisions of the Convention.
  • adequately reflect a ‘local food and culture diversity’ exemption by securing a broad and future-proof exclusion; and a clear exemption of local foods and cultural services is needed in the agreement, and we hereby recommend the negotiators respect the rights and governance of established controls such as Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée (AOC), denominations of origin (DOP) and protected geographical indications (IGP).
  • acknowledge the fundamental role of civil society in protecting and promoting the diversity of cultural and food expressions by encouraging an active consultation with civil society before signing the trade agreements.

If adequate safeguards are not enshrined in the free trade agreement, this will logically affect national and regional cultural subsidies and schemes, harm local and regional employment in the cultural and local food sector, harm food quality and safety and affect agricultural diversity and biodiversity. All these possible detrimental effects of the trade agreements are counterproductive to the strengthening of the conditions of the SME’s, artists, local food sectors, agricultural cooperatives, governments, small farms, sustainable tourism and the creative sector in Europe.

An open and democratic negotiation process is crucial to make the free trade agreement a success for everyone.

The 2015 edition of Art of Food will examine progress made and consider what more can be done to support culture and food diversity for the future.

The following questions will be examined:

  • How can regions and cities support food and cultural diversity? And who else is advocating for food and cultural diversity and can we join forces?
  • What role can we play in lobbying the EU on food diversity issues? And can we identify good practice and citizen-led initiatives?
  • Should the public sector subsidise local cultural and food production/products?


Gastrodiplomacy – ‘Gastrodiplomacy is the act of winning hearts and minds through stomachs’ (Rockower, 2010).
Gastrodiplomacy is a form of public diplomacy which uses gastronomy as tool for communication and attraction. Recent years have seen a rapid rise in gastrodiplomacy initiatives around the world.  As a component of national culture, gastronomy can reveal a society’s heritage and values, but it is also a commodity to be consumed. Gastronomy carries a blend of cultural and commercial qualities, contributing to cultural understandings but often coming from commercial contexts, such as tourism campaigns or food businesses. Gastrodiplomacy may be practised by both state and non-state actors and in both diplomatic and commercial contexts. It is this interesting mix of the cultural, commercial, private and public sectors which make gastrodiplomacy worth investigating, as it allows us to compare the outcomes of these different players and environments.

The scope for gastrodiplomacy is potentially huge. We might find it in small cultural exchange initiatives, in  tourism campaigns, in nation branding projects or simply in privately-owned food businesses around the world. Its ambitions might be diplomatic, such as a tool for soft power or cultural communication or they might be commercial, such as trying to develop a food export market.

The following questions will be examined:

  • What is gastrodiplomacy? Is it a one-way promotion or can it be a two-way exchange? And, if the emphasis is on cultural relations, does that undermine national, regional or city branding potential?
  • What makes a cuisine authentic? Is it locally sourced ingredients prepared with different methods? Or do the ingredients needed to be exported? If gastrodiplomacy initiatives have increased food exports as one of their aims, do they wish to use locally-sourced ingredients
  • What is the future of gastrodiplomacy? What about regional paradiplomacy initiatives (eg.: European Region of Gastronomy)? Should the public and private sectors collaborate in gastrodiplomacy initiatives? If so, how?


Please send your short papers (500-2000 words) for either or both topic areas by 15 May 2015 to

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