Re: The e-Consultation on Hunger, Food and Nutrition Security

Julien Custot Food for the Cities - FAO - Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN, ...

Dear all,


Urbanization is, with climate change, among the greatest challenges of the XXIst century. Today, already more than 50 % of the population lives in urban areas. By 2050, urban dwellers will make about 70 % of the 9 billion people. All the increase of population will in fact take place in cities, in Asia and Africa. There has been many examples in the recent years - from the food riots in 2008-2009 to the Arab Spring - that food insecurity in cities can lead to civil unrest or conflicts. Development goals regarding food and nutrition security have to consider explicitly the urban areas.


Theme 1:


Because poverty is measured mainly through money, the MDGs may have been partially blind on food and nutrition security for the urban dwellers. Indeed, in a specific country, 1$ often does not have the same value in a rural area or in a city. Besides, in a rural area, there are often still a lot of non-monetary economy (in low but also in high income countries) while a city is mainly a market place. Moreover, in a city, you have to pay for housing (even in informal housing and slums), transportation, health and education, even before thinking about food. More comprehensive indicators need to be designed to better measure poverty in urban settings.


Among the challenges, we can then suggest:


  • The need to address food and nutrition security for the urban dwellers, include with a gender perspective,
  • Within a city or a metropolis, indicators should not only look at individual and household status but they should also consider the level of inequalities between the richest and poorest. Higher inequalities will impact access to food for the most vulnerable,
  • The volatility of the food prices should also be consider as an indicator leading to food and nutrition insecurity.
  • Theme 2:


Local authorities need to be involved in and committed for food and nutrition security for the realization of the right to food. Local authorities should be fully engaged in the governance process, in relations with the National Government. We may seriously consider promoting local food councils as an effective and most progressive way to get all stakeholders together at sub-national level. At municipal level, accountability of the mayors is linked to a close and daily contact with the population.


The “Zero Hunger Challenge” offers a great opportunity as it implicitly include cities:


  • 100% access to adequate food all year round, including urban dwellers, with access to staple food as well as fresh food for a sustainable diet. It should include an indicator on the biodiversity and seasonality of the food available.
  • All food systems are sustainable: it must include both rural and urban areas and consider the dynamics across the rural-urban continuum of the local food systems. The role of consumers as drivers of the food systems should be acknowledge. Food systems should not only be sustainable but also resilient. They include management of natural resources.
  • Zero loss or waste of food: waste is mainly done by households in urban areas.

The first version of the Global Strategic Framework for Food Security and Nutrition ( identifies, among the “issues that may require further attention” (page 36), the “ways to boost rural development to strengthen food security and nutrition in the context of rural‐urban migration”. It is indeed a priority.


Theme 3:


The Post-2015 Global Development Framework, objectives, targets and indicators should also be at the local level.


To make the Zero Hunger Challenge more operational, the objectives should be time-bound, with intermediate goals, standing somewhere between 0 and 100%.


The linkages between food and nutrition security and agriculture with the management of natural resources should be more directly reflected in the development goals to further promote sustainable diets.