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FAO launches the idea of City to City Cooperation Mechanism for urban food systems through South-South Cooperation


The mechanism aims at supporting cities in the South to share and promote best practices to strengthen urban food systems. 130 cities have signed up to the Milan Urban Food Policy Pact that sets out key goals for urban food security.

13/10/2016 - 

13 October 2016, Rome. FAO launched the idea of a City to City Cooperation Mechanism which aims to support cities in the South, particularly in Africa, to share and promote best practices to strengthen urban food systems and help speed up the implementation of the Milan Urban Food Policy Pact (MUFPP). The launch took place during the first day of the Mayor’s Meeting of the Milan Pact held at FAO Headquarters in Rome.  

City to City cooperation, especially through south-south and triangular cooperation, is an important way to share good practices, where one city context can readily relate to another. Of the total 130 Pact signatories, a total of 44 are in the South and 20 are African cities. Through sharing best practices cities can quickly adopt and adapt them to their own contexts and make huge strides towards their own food goals.

FAO is offering to play a leading role in the mechanism as a facilitator, helping to connect city demands with cities offering solutions. “Building on a long history of facilitating South-South Cooperation, FAO is encouraging active city to city exchange on the many dimensions of the Pact, including issues as wide-ranging as getting policy frameworks right, to setting up microgardens and reducing food waste,” said Katrin Taylor, South-South Cooperation Programme Officer, FAO.

Urban food systems and the Milan Pact

Recent years have seen a historic shift in where the world’s communities are living and working. Increasingly, people around the globe are moving to urban areas. By 2050, it is predicted that nearly three-quarters of the world’s population will live in towns and cities. This poses huge challenges, particularly for the poorest cities, which are already facing increased urban poverty, and growing levels of food insecurity and malnutrition. Women and the youth are particularly vulnerable. Dedicated actions are needed to develop city region food systems which are resilient, inclusive and sustainable in the long-run. Local governments have a critical role to play.

As a result, during the 2015 World Exposition, the City of Milan launched the Milan Urban Food Policy Pactwith the aim of championing sustainable food systems and promoting healthy diets in cities and their connected rural areas.

However, not all cities are implementing the Milan Urban Food Policy Pact at the same pace. This is the reason why some cities might benefit from other cities experience, knowledge and expertise. “This proposal aims at championing sustainable food systems through city to city cooperation, prioritizing the needs of those cities that face greater challenges to implement the Pact. Every city has something to offer and share, be it from the north or south.  ” explained Thierry Giordano, Technical expert in decentralized cooperation, Partnership, Advocacy and Capacity Development Division, FAO.

Last September, at the Dakar Forum of Francophone African signatories of the MUFPP, all participating African cities (Abidjan, Brazzaville, Dakar, Douala, N’Djamena, Niamey and Nouakchott) got together to discuss their challenges, successes and expectations. They agreed upon the mechanism and were very keen to further explore opportunities for City to City collaboration among signatories of the Pact, with the support of FAO.

Alternative and cost-effective solutions

South-South and Triangular Cooperation aims at sharing innovative solutions. The exchange can be very cost-effective “FAO is committed to support cities in finding cost-effective ways to collaborate such as through offering in-kind contributions, as host cities can provide accommodation or transportation, resulting in cost reduction of the exchange”, stated Taylor. “In-kind contributions do not fully replace financial resources, but they are extremely valuable and demonstrate the commitment of all partners involved”, added Taylor.

The cities of Douala (Cameroon) and Dakar (Senegal) participated at the launch of the mechanism. They proposed a good example of an exchange;Dakar offering microgarden, or home gardening, expertiseand Douala seeking support. Their example showed how needs and offers can be matched and that both are willing to provide in-kind contributions to facilitate the cooperation.

Cities from the North were also invited to provide technical expertise and resources to support the collaboration among the cities in the South. As an example, Dakar had previously cooperated with Milan (Italy) to acquire microgarden technical expertise that would eventually share with Douala.

Good practices repository

“There is a need to organize a structured repository of good practices. FAO, given its vast experience and technical expertise, could  design and develop a catalogue of food systems good practices and cities willing to share their experiences, and provide the technical assistance in identifying, matching and implementing the good practices”, said Guido Santini, Programme Coordinator, Food for the Cities Programme, Plant Production and Protection Division, FAO.

Commitments and Next Steps

Cites at the meeting welcomed the proposal, with Mexico City open to sharing their experience with others, and Luanda and Brazzaville interested in receiving more support.

Further consultations with African cities will result in the identification of two to three City to City cooperation projects to be piloted in 2017, and after which lessons drawn and the programme will be further rolled out.