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A Role Model for the World

A Future Food Campus in Hamburg is set to revolutionize food production in the long term and strengthen Hamburg as a center of innovation.

Bertold Brecht once put it in a nutshell: "First comes the food, then comes morality". Worldwide, industrial agriculture is one of the main causes of CO2 emissions: Hence climate catastrophe and climate change.

Hamburg and its Chamber of Commerce have recognized this and are taking action to counteract it. With 5.6 percent of the total employment rate, 4500 companies and about 123,000 employees, the food industry is an important job engine in the metropolitan region. A recent study shows that a holistic and long-term food cluster approach is needed in Hamburg to ensure innovation and competitiveness at the location and thus counter CO2 emissions.

Two years ago, the Chamber of Commerce's Innovation Committee invited Eva Keretic to present her ideas for more sustainable food production. The U.S. citizen, who has lived in Germany for more than 30 years, had made a name for herself alongside Al Gore, the former U.S. vice president and respected environmentalist. When she was "shocked to see what livestock and meat production were doing," she decided to work on a sustainable solution here.

After the kick-off in the Innovation Committee of the Chamber of Commerce, a groundbreaking concept was created together with a team of dedicated food workers, which is to make the Hanseatic city a pioneer in sustainable innovation - and which, in the best case scenario, can be taken into the world as a role model. To this end, she and her fellow campaigners are acquiring partners and supporters in Hamburg's business community, but also worldwide: "Young people in particular should realize that the future is not hopeless if you look for solutions."

In the meantime, the idea has become a viable concept that will now be realized step by step in the coming years. The centerpiece is an imposing Future Food Campus that brings together under one roof regenerative food production in cities based on innovative technologies, renewable energies and the principles of the circular economy. This includes vertical farm production, bioreactors and green technology that generates energy from waste. The aim is to optimize the entire value chain in a sustainable way. On the first floor, people can eat in the Farmer Market what is produced on the upper floors. "Eating while helping the environment is my dream," Keretic says. Grant money has already made possible an initial feasibility study for the building. A second will follow.

The Future Food Campus is representative - analogous to the UN's Sustainable Development Goals - of Hamburg as a business and innovation location. -Here, innovative food companies can produce in a climate-positive way, and schoolchildren, families and tourists can find out about pioneering production methods. In addition, the Future Food Campus is already an exchange platform for companies and researchers on the way to its opening. "Among other things, we are pleased to be in an exchange with Dr. Mazen Rizk from the organic startup Mushlabs," says Keretic. The Hamburg-based company has already received millions in funding from the European Union for the production of mushroom-based meat substitutes.

There is still a long way to go before the campus opens. 2027 is what Eva Keretic is aiming for. "I'm American," she says. "My motto is: If you can dream it, you can do it."

*Translated from the article by Martina Goy for the HK Magazine December 2022

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