Vidzeme is the northern region of Latvia. Territorially it is the largest region in the country, occupying 30,6% of the territory. Vidzeme is the European Union’s border region. The borders with two countries – Estonia and Russia – are the advantage of the region. It is the least populated region of Latvia - 278 000 or 14.7 % of the total population. The region has the lowest density in the country - 14.1 people/km2 (LV average – 30). Key industries of Vidzeme are - dairy, forestry, wood processing, metalworking, chemical industry, ICT, tourism, creative industries.
Vidzeme Planning Region (VPR) is a public regional development and coordination institution, established in 2006 by the Latvian Law of regional development, and acts under supervision of the Ministry of Environmental Protection and Regional Development. The main functions of VPR are to
ensure regional strategic and spatial planning and coordination, as well as cooperation between municipalities and governmental institutions. VPR provides planning services on national, regional, and local level, it ensures regional and local level representation in elaboration of national policies.
The mission of the VPR is to coordinate and promote long-term and well-balanced development of the Vidzeme region. VPR is responsible for the elaboration and implementation of the long-term sustainable development strategy (2030) and medium term (7 years) Development Program of the region. The Strategy and the Program are focused on the development of the selected priority areas of the region: human resources, economic development and innovation, and territorial
development. Until the 1st of July 2021 Vidzeme region consists of 26 municipalities. The administrative-territorial reform in Latvia is currently underway. The existing municipalities will be merged, their number will decrease, but the area of influence of the Vidzeme Planning Region will expand.
As a regional level institution VPR has a wide expertise in many cross-border Projects (in many different areas – tourism, innovation, business development, geospatial planning, ICT, energy efficiency, social services etc.), most of them being large scale Interreg Program funded projects.
VPR has implemented more than 70 international projects and has developed a significant experience in project management, as a project partner, work package leader, lead partner, policy development and good practices transfer, stakeholder management, dissemination, and strategic communication. Below we provide information on the RIS3 priority areas of the region, as they are defined in the current strategic documents of Vidzeme. VPR is one of the first organizations in Latvia that is working in the field of bioeconomy, and in 2019 has elaborated and adopted an Action plan for the development of a knowledge driven bioeconomy innovation ecosystem development in the region.
Vidzeme living lab: description
The food sector plays a significant role in the economy of Vidzeme, which is why the VPR is introducing and supporting initiatives promoting food innovation, particularly at SMEs. VPR is a founder and member of the Latvian Food Bioeconomy Cluster, which is a registered membership association, one of the most developed and internationally active bioeconomy clusters in the Baltic countries. The cluster fosters cooperation between its 15 members and external partners to promote knowledge and technology transfer, develop new products, technologies and innovative solutions, to promote a modernization, competitiveness, growth of export capacity and innovation capacity of the cluster members.
Since 2017 VPR is organizing measures, promoting food innovation. E.g., a) bioeconomy forums with focus on food technologies, b) foreign study visits of food enterprises to RTDs and enterprises dealing with food issues in the different steps of food production chain, e.g. processing, packaging, logistics, c) hackathons for food processing companies, and other.
Latvian pilot will tackle the existing challenges in the REGIONAL FOOD SUPPLY SYSTEM in the territory of the Vidzeme Planning Region. It will identify the best ways to establish and maintain a sustainable and resilient regional food system and to strengthen ties among all food chain stakeholders (producers, processors, traders, logistic enterprises, catering services providers etc.). Especially between producers, processors and consumers – to develop, implement and strengthen sustainable and resilient short food supply chains.
The aim of pilot is to analyse the food flows, good practices and problems in the provision of locally produced food raw materials and products and to seek, develop and offer solutions on how to organize catering services in municipal institutions financially efficiently and as easily as possible using locally produced food (self-catering or purchased catering services).
Main objectives and tasks for the partners of the Vidzeme pilot are:
- To engage local society, communities, organizations and companies in identifying their needs and abilities towards a sustainable and resilient food system.
- Identify good practices and challenges regionally, nationally, and internationally for the development of efficiently functioning regional food systems and short food chains.
- To develop and test new methods and tools for establishing and strengthening resilient regional food systems and short food supply chains in close cooperation with local communities and municipalities.
- To mainstream FOOD2030 framework interests into national, regional and local strategies, plans, initiatives, and actions.
to improve food system resilience and sustainability is on the agenda of VPR and the region's municipalities as a whole. The region has intention and strives to ensure accessible, safe and healthy food for its inhabitants today and in the future, and to have systemic solutions for farmers, producers and processors to have secured a place in the local food chains. Latvian pilot will tackle the existing challenges in the REGIONAL FOOD SUPPLY SYSTEM for public sector institutions in the territory of the Vidzeme Planning
Region. It will identify the most efficient ways to establish and maintain a sustainable and resilient regional food system and to strengthen ties among the food chain stakeholders (producers, processors, traders, logistic enterprises, catering services providers etc.) in order to increase availability and use of locally produced food, especially healthy food. Especially between producers, processors and consumers – to develop, implement and strengthen sustainable and resilient short food supply chains.
Possible solutions within the CITIES2030
- Green public procurement adapted to needs of sustainable and resilient regional food chains (already on national and EU political agenda; provided financial support within EAFRD LEADER programme).
- Smart villages and towns – local initiatives facilitating the development of short food supply chains, diverse forms of cooperation and positive changes in inhabitants/consumers consumption behaviour.
- Public –private partnerships creating favourable preconditions for existing and appearing food chains in the regions.
- Promoting development and introduction of innovative/new business models, production, storage, and delivery solutions based on territorial uniqueness.
Others to be identified within the implementation of the project.
Vidzeme focus areas
- Food system resilience
- Food system sustainability
- Regional food systems
- Direct local engagement
- Community supported agriculture / school gardens
- Short supply chains
- Integration of local initiatives into (supra)national policies
The synergy between the partners Vidzeme Planning Region (P24) and Latvian Rural Forum (P25) is based on the common understanding that each partner provides the available resources and expertise for the Cities2030 implementation. Project activities directly related to the support of the pilot area - Vidzeme Planning Region – are mutually coordinated:
- Vidzeme Planning region (VPR, P24) ensures engagement of inhabitants and local municipalities in identifying most relevant challenges of the regional food system to be addressed and to pilot the solutions with target groups. Working towards improvement of policies, strategies, action plans and regulations regionally and nationally. More info about VPR: http://www.vidzeme.lv/en/about_vidzeme
- Latvian Rural Forum (LLF, P25) works with public private partnerships, local producers, local communities and initiatives. Recommendations for policy framework and implementation methods for green activities (in a context of sustainable food) within RDP and EAFRD LEADER.