Food for the cities programme


FAO, in collaboration with the RUAF Foundation, seeks to build sustainable and resilient city regions by:

  • Strengthening capacity of local actors within a local food system to improve food and nutrition security;
  • Strengthening rural-urban linkages while ensuring sustainable use of natural resources;
  • Strengthening governance for enhanced local actor capacity and multi-stakeholder dialogue;
  • Scaling-up practices by evaluating, monitoring and mapping the food system.

The Food for the Cities Programme is a key component of the Food for the Cities multidisciplinary initiative. This umbrella initiative was launched to meet the challenges of rapid urbanization and to foster dialogue and partnerships with institutions at international and national levels.

Our approach builds on the need to better understand and operationalize the concept of City Region Food Systems (CRFS) as a basis for further planning and informed decision making. CRFS are assessed and characterized to identify gaps and bottlenecks, prioritize investments, and design sustainable food policies and strategies, through a continuous participatory multi-stakeholder dialogue.

Our work is implemented within the following framework:

1.   Inception

During this phase, activities are implemented in a specific city region. A local team is set up, and an institutional focal point and research/dialogue coordinator are identified and appointed. This work is done in close collaboration with the local government and through a multi-stakeholder dialogue. 

2.   Assessment

A preliminary analysis of the food system is carried out in a given geographic area beyond its administrative boundaries and across different government jurisdictions. The environmental, social and economic aspects related to the entire food chain in a spatial rural-urban continuum perspective are taken into consideration.

  • Situation analysis: Assessments and appraisals of the local context and food system are conducted to provide an overall view and description of the city region food system, and an indication of the general trends and possible areas of intervention to increase the sustainability and resilience of the CRFS. This is conducted in consultation with stakeholders.
  • In-depth analysis: Assessments of the identified areas of interventions and their relevance are necessary to best address local needs and priorities. They are based on both quantitative and qualitative information collected by local multi-stakeholder focus groups and individual/household surveys.
  • Mapping: Thematic maps and indexes are developed to show the previously identified priorities and areas of intervention within the defined city region.

3.   Policy support and planning

Informed decisions can be made on the basis of the assessments and multi-stakeholder dialogues. This includes:

  • Developing scenarios and proposals to provide localized solutions to better address pressing issues;
  • Mainstreaming new strategies into the policy agenda;
  • Developing a strategic planning framework for each city region;
  • Implementing local action plans and investments in different policy fields (i.e. urban food security, nutrition and health, local economy, urban environment, land use planning and social development policies).

4.   Knowledge sharing and dissemination

Dissemination of good practices and fostering dialogue between all the different stakeholders involved.