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Interview - Östersund

Östersund, City of Gastronomy
Östersund is the only city in the sparsely populated region Jämtland, in the North of Sweden. The kitchen is part of the Nordic gastronomy tradition that has its roots in Sámi reindeer herding and small-scale farming. The city and the region’s support to gastronomic entrepreneurs and farmers are tightly linked to the surrounding nature, and was one of the reasons Östersund was appointed as “Creative City of Gastronomy”.
Development after the application
The focus since the membership of UNESCO Creative Cities Network (CCN) July 2010 has been to establish cooperation within the gastronomy subgroup. A delegation from Chengdu led by the Vice Mayor visited Östersund in July 2012. Östersund was also participating in the 10th Gastronomic Conference in Popayán in September 2012. Östersund and Jämtland have also initiated cross-cultural cooperation initiatives, for example musicians from Östersund have participated in events in Bologna. Östersund has responded to a number of invitations from cities and global organisations to share experiences and knowledge, and the city has also acted as mentor to applicant cities.
Management of the network: regional and national
The management of the network is regarded as a shared responsibility between the city of Östersund and the Regional Council of Jämtland: the city as the market for food products, and the rural areas as the producers, improving the urban-rural connections. Organizations within the value chain of food, culture and tourism are also connected to the development.
Lessons learned
The most important initial result from the membership in CNN has been the UNESCO program's impact of unifying the organizations in Östersund and Jämtland under a common vision. Being acknowledged on an international platform has resulted in a pride and appreciation of our own cultural assets.
The major challenge for our region was to introduce the concept of the CCN to a broad consortium of organizations to make them acknowledge that cooperation will be fruitful in a long-term perspective. The second challenge was to convince the political body to fund international cooperation, which is not seen at the highest priority, especially in crisis.
Future development
The network is important in several ways, basically by connecting creative people throughout the world in a strong vision of cultural and economical development. For the gastronomic cities of the world, we see it necessary to strengthen the cooperation between cities and rural areas, since within the creative field of gastronomy, cities act as markets and the regions as producers of raw material and food.
For Östersund and Jämtland in particular, it is of outmost importance to build a strong vision, to attract young people and creative entrepreneurs, not only in gastronomy but in every field of the creative business.
To keep the momentum of development within the theme of gastronomy as part of the creative industry, several initiatives are under development where two are under immediate launching: 
Launching of a research network within the Creative Cities. The research network is initiated by researchers at the Mid Sweden University and the Regional Council of Jämtland. The initiative was launched at the annual meeting of CCN in Seoul 2011. 
A new food development project is to be initiated in our region during the spring 2013-1014, funded by the agricultural department of Sweden. The focus of the project is to connect the whole value chain in the food industry; stakeholders in the project are primary producers, food producers, restaurants, tourism and public food.
(Dag Hartman, 2013) 
Dag Hartman 
Project Manager 
Regional Council of Jämtland