Utopian thought is often dismissed as fanciful and unrealistic, confined to the realms of abstraction. However, it can and should be synonymous with action. In the words of Eduardo Galeano, although each time we draw ten steps nearer to utopia, it retreats ten steps; its purpose is thus to drive us to advance. This is the goal of the Pan-Utopia project. We want to get young people thinking creatively about the future, but also debating their ideas, developing and even realising them.
Through this kind of active participation in the classroom we can help empower young people and inspire them to engage with the local and global issues of our time. By giving them the opportunity to express their views, develop their ideas and make decisions through democratic procedures, the project endeavours to inspire a generation of responsible citizens who will contribute to the development of civil society.
One of the biggest challenges facing our world today is how to sustainably produce and consume food in the future. Food is a vital source of life, yet every year we are letting 1.3 billion tonnes of it go to waste, whilst roughly 1 billion people suffer from hunger. We can all play a part in combatting this. In order to do so, the way in which we think about food in our daily lives must go beyond just planning the next mealtime. And this is the challenge that PAN-Utopia is presenting to young people across the globe.
We want students to identify where food waste is occurring in their daily environments, and then come up with a plan to tackle it. Taking into consideration the social, environmental and economic questions relating to food, students are asked to submit proposals for a realisable initiative. The best entries will be supported with a sum of up to 600 euros in order to help realise the project.
People all over the world are coming up with broad and innovative ways to reduce food waste. We welcome ideas in any format, be it inventions for storing food so that it lasts longer, methods for using up unsold produce or workshops to help spread awareness about consuming sustainably.
For guidelines on how to get started, scroll down to the section Design your Project.
Or take a look at our Food for Thought section for some inspiration!
Design Your Own Project
The food on your plate tells a story. Before it gets there it’s already been through quite an adventure. Beyond that delectable moment when you sit down to enjoy a meal is a complex web of people and processes that contribute to our food system; not only in helping provide us with lots of delicious things to eat, but disposing of what doesn’t get eaten too. We want you to engage with the broad implications of food waste and the various stages of production, consumption and disposal. Think about where your food comes from, and where it ends up; go out into your community and talk to people about their role in the food system and how it affects them. The idea then is to use the information you gather to inspire a workable method for reducing food waste in your area.
A spirit of collaboration and consultation should play a part at each stage of your project; in ascertaining where and how food waste is arising, in developing your ideas and finally in deciding on your proposal. We want to see a strong level of participation, not only amongst students but in the broader community too. This could mean involving a school committee, approaching the local council or engaging community groups, local businesses or farmers.
It can also be useful to explore social questions pertaining to food waste. This could include a focus on its political, economic and health implications. With this knowledge it’s possible to develop a strategy or to build on an existing method that’s suitable for your community. Our motto is “Act local, think global!” Small actions can make great changes.
Open: 1st January 2016
Close: 31st May 2016
Winners announced: 20th June 2016
How your entries will be judged
We want to see a real engagement with the issue of food waste and its multiple implications. You should demonstrate a thorough consideration of the potential impact of your proposal, detailing who will be affected.
Collaboration and community involvement
Judges are looking for entries where there has been a genuine consultative process amongst students and across the community in order to develop the idea. You should provide evidence of this in your submission.
We’d like to see evidence that students have thought about the long-term plans for their project. For example; the transferability of the idea to other communities and the sustainability of the idea beyond the period of initial funding.
Entries do not have to conform to a specific format and can be presented using any digital platform (pdf, video, powerpoint etc) and sent via email. They could be anything ranging from inventions to awareness raising programmes. Be creative - but realistic too! We want ideas that we could really make happen. As such, we’d also like you to include a financial plan for realising your proposal.
Projects can be targeted at any level of the community (school, home, neighbourhood, town etc.)
Proposals must be written in English
Possible areas for consideration
Social Context: A lack of awareness about how much food is being wasted and about the benefits of tackling food waste
Solutions: Educational initiatives
How we shop: Temptation to buy more; increased choice, ease of purchase, promotions, shorter shelf lives, pressure to buy healthy, stocking up to avoid return trips, lack of planning
Solutions: sticking to a shopping list, buying on offer, meal planning, pre-shop, making a list, cupboard checking
How we eat: Expectations of perfectly formed food, cooking excessive amounts, snacking
Solution: measuring out portions, freezing or making new dishes with any leftovers
Food knowledge: Storage and preservation methods, costs of food waste, overcautious date labels confuse and frighten customers so that they throw out food that is fine
Solution: Education on fridge temperature, the use of packaging and storing each food in the conditions most conducive to its preservation
How we dispose: Throwing edible food away, lack of disposal options, not liking what is made (children)
Solution: Use of leftovers, use of labels, pragmatic adherence to use-by dates, making use of what you’ve got with creative recipes