56 Territorial approach to urban rural transformations and food security in Africa


  • Government of Niger
  • FAO
  • France


Africa is facing a challenge never seen in the world history, a very rapid population growth displaying a unique pattern:  an urban growth not driven by industrialization, and a growth of its rural population in absolute number. This pattern raises specific challenges to the continent questioning the sustainability of the urbanization process and the features of the rural transformation, and inequalities between territories often resulting in social instability. Food security and nutrition could be an integrator of these challenges and offer opportunity to simultaneously transition food systems towards sustainability and respond to some of the development challenges the continent is facing. Territorial approaches to food security and nutrition includes multi-sectoral perspectives, participatory and inclusive processes for setting visions, strategies and plans for the future of a territory, and a dedicated focus on multi-level governance and the role of institutions. The side event will focus on the ability of territorial approaches to respond to Africa’s challenges of today and tomorrow, and set the stage for further work and collaboration for moving such approaches forwards.

Key speakers/presenters

  • Daniel Gustafson – Deputy Director General of programmes, FAO
  • Patrick Caron – Director General in charge of Research and Strategy, French Agricultural Research Centre for International Development (CIRAD)
  • Hamady Diop - Head of the Natural Resources Governance – Food Security and Nutrition Programme, New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD)
  • Nadjirou Sall - Secretary General, Network of Farmers’ and Agricultural Producers’ Organisations of West Africa (ROPPA)
  • Saley Mahamadou - Director of Social Mobilization and Capacity-building Department and Technical adviser to the high commission of 3N (Nigeriens Nourish Nigeriens)
  • Brahim Hafidi - President of the Regional Council of Souss-Massa in Morocco
  • Bernhard Worm - Senior Policy Officer, German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)
  • Alison Blay-Palmer - Founding Director, Centre for Sustainable Food Systems
  • Vicente Ruiz – Economist, OECD Development Centre
  • Delphine Borione - Ambassador of France to the FAO, WFP and IFAD


Participants from different countries, international organizations, Non-Governmental Organizations, and academia, were invited to discuss the role that territorial approaches could play in helping countries to achieve Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 1 and 2 on ending poverty and hunger, and SDG10 on inequality. The debate was articulated around two main questions: why is territorial approach relevant for achieving SDGs and what steps have been taken by countries toward territorial approaches; what is the way forward to promote territorial approaches at global, national and local level to achieve SDGs?

In striving toward eradicating hunger and reduce rural poverty, countries in the past have mostly focused their attention and efforts on policies and strategies that target the agriculture sector, especially from a productionist point of view. Nowadays, In recognizing the complexity of addressing food and nutrition insecurity and poverty, a more holistic territorial approach that is multi-sectoral to promote diversified local rural economies is needed.

Rural areas are facing increasingly complex endogenous and exogenous challenges such as climate change, degradation of ecosystems, forced migration, gender discrimination, etc. These challenges call for a critical rethinking of the ‘business as usual’ development approach traditionally operated from sectoral and mainly agricultural growth perspective, and a shift toward approaches that recognize the complexity and multidimensionality of food security and rural development challenges.

Territorial approaches are viewed as promising and tailored solutions for addressing and managing the complex relationships that exist between the economic, social, economic and geographic drivers of rural development, poverty and food security. They promote inclusiveness and sustainability, which are both an objective and a means to achieve SDGs, and they provide a suitable framework to link top-down and bottom-up interventions,  thus contributing to engage rights-holders at the local and community-level.

Key outcomes/take away messages

Despite the growing popularity of the territorial development, the approach has not been clearly defined in operational terms, and for this reason we need to translate the increasing interest into concrete actions in order to show the value-added of territorial approaches, and create the additional evidence that would demonstrate how important this approach could be toward the achievement of the SDGs.

A continuous and strong exchange of experience is essential in order to learn from each other’s territorial experiences, looking both at success stories, but also at the failures of the past in order to learn from the mistakes and further improve the effectiveness and impacts of territorial approach. Additionally, the creation of an international alliance would help raise awareness and advance territorial approaches as a means for the implementation of SDGs and national food security and rural development strategies. It would also constitute the appropriate framework to harmonize tools and methodologies and come up with the development of guiding principles as well as a toolkit based on proven and successful practices. Therefore territorial approaches should be promoted in rural development programmes targeted to improve rural livelihoods.

Side Event - 56 - Territorial approach to urban rural transformations and food security in Africa