Urban food systems at second meeting of the world’s mayors


Photo credit: FAO

The Milan Urban Food Policy Pact unites mayors from 130 citites in the search for solutions to end extreme poverty and malnutrition, reduce waste and adapt to a changing climate.

Feeding the cities of the future

All cities, big and small, can and must help build the sustainable, resilient food systems of the future, FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva stressed during the second meeting of the Milan Urban Food Policy Pact, a collaboration between mayors of 130 cities from around the world.

Signed at the world Expo in Milan last year, the pact unites mayors from Banjul to Barcelona  and from Kyoto to Quito in the search for local solutions to end extreme poverty and malnutrition, reduce waste and adapt to a changing climate.

Cities occupy just 3 percent of the world’s land area, but are home to some 3.5 billion people, Graziano da Silva pointed out — more than half of humanity. And these numbers are rising.

Rapid urbanization puts pressure on food systems and natural resources, calling for solutions that make cities more inclusive, safe and resilient, according to FAO’s Director-General.

“Local authorities have an important role to play in our global quest for sustainable development,” Graziano da Silva said that the Mayors’ Summit held in Rome on the occasion of World Food Day (WFD), adding that “It is at the local level where people live, where people eat, use water and take out their garbage.”

But for too long “food security and nutrition have been overlooked in urban planning and development,” he said.

Referencing this year’s WFD theme, he also underlined the direct impacts of climate change on food security and its role as driver of migration from rural to urban areas.

Rising to the challenge

Already, many cities are responding to the challenges of climate change and rapid urbanization. From initiatives to reduce food waste to projects that transform urban food deserts into hubs for fresh local produce, cities have emerged as laboratories of innovation for solving today’s food challenges.

And more and more, urban centres are becoming food producers, Graziano da Silva noted, increasing availability of healthy, affordable food while cutting down on transportation. This can make an important contribution to household food security, he stressed, especially in times of crisis or food shortages.

Cities are also finding creative ways to cut food losses and fight hunger at the same time, transforming left over and unwanted produce into nutritious meals for struggling citizens.

Read the full article: FAO


Author: Willem Van Cotthem

Honorary Professor of Botany, University of Ghent (Belgium). Scientific Consultant for Desertification and Sustainable Development.

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