FAO Regional Office for Africa

FAO’s Green Cities Regional Programme for Africa

FAO and the Milan Urban Food Pact: Working together for sustainable urban agri-food systems

FAO’s Green Cities Regional Programme for Africa was presented recently at the 4th Milan Urban Food Policy Pact (MUFPP) Regional forum hosted by the city of Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso. Photo: Murad Swaleh.

3 March 2021, Ouagadougou - FAO’s Green Cities Regional Programme for Africa aims to address the continent’s growing urbanization and the related pressure on agri-food systems. It was presented recently at the 4th Milan Urban Food Policy Pact (MUFPP) Regional forum hosted by the city of Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso.

“The FAO Green Cities Initiative is working with countries to improve food security, nutrition and quality of life in urban and peri-urban areas,” said Eduardo Mansur, FAO’s Director of the Office of Climate Change, Biodiversity and Environment.

FAO’s Green Cities Initiative (GCI) and its action programme was launched in late 2020 with the aim of increasing people’s well-being through better access to improved products and services provided by urban and peri-urban forestry, agriculture and food systems on a sustainable basis.

Through the GCI, FAO recognizes the role of cities and local governments as key enablers to help countries achieve the Sustainable Development Goals and turn urbanization from a challenge into an opportunity for cities to be more sustainable and resilient. It presents an integrated approach that looks at agriculture, food systems, natural resources and green spaces in an integrated way.

“It’s an initiative with various entry points, supported by four principles: social inclusion; ​sustainability; rural-urban synergies;  and cross-sectoral interventions, with a vision beyond the administrative boundaries of a city, integrating urban, peri-urban and rural approaches,” added Mansur.

The FAO Framework for the Urban Food Agenda, launched in 2018, is at the centre of the GCI with a focus on mainstreaming urban food systems in local policy, planning and actions.

 Green Cities Regional Programme for Africa

The Initiative focuses on metropolitan, intermediary and small cities. During the first phase, sub-Saharan African cities are prioritized. The project will implement innovative “quick win” solutions as entry points for further action, laying the groundwork for a more systematic approach and further investments.

“What’s exciting about building a GCI Regional Programme for Africa is that working together and being a part of other frameworks and initiatives such as MUFPP, we are able to create an enabling environment that will see long-term sustainable action on the ground,” added Mansur.

FAO, together with MUFPP and other partners is facilitating the engagement of cities in global events such as the Food Systems Summit. In the dedicated session on the “UN Food Systems Summit, COP26, and Nutrition for Growth Summit (N4G)” at the 4th MUFPP, FAO highlighted the importance of bridging the governance gap between local and national governments.

Food waste management, also linked to the circular bioeconomy, is another entry point for the FAO Green Cities Initiative. FAO had the opportunity to expand on this during the forum’s panel entitled ‘Food Waste: challenges and opportunities for cities.’ Food waste issues are linked to urban food policies that need to be developed as part of an holistic approach.

Resilience to shocks is another objective of the FAO Green Cities Initiative. Through FAO’s City Region Food Systems programme, practical solutions, approaches and tools that support assessment and coordinated action planning to build resilience in cities were presented. Three cities: Antananarivo, Kigali and Tamale gave insights on how they are supporting their citizens in assessing risk and vulnerability to climate and COVID-19 shocks.

FAO and the Milan Urban Food Pact

By 2030, 70 percent of the world’s population is predicted to be living in cities, with 90 percent of the increase occurring in Africa and Asia, putting a strain on agri-food systems. Interestingly, 97 percent of Africa’s urban areas have fewer than 300 000 inhabitants and many of these are not officially recognized as ‘urban’, however, they represent major opportunities to connect urban and rural areas and strengthen food systems.

The Milan Urban Food Policy Pact is both an international agreement between mayors and a working tool for cities, made up of a framework of 37 recommended actions aimed at tackling urban, food-related issues. Since 2016, FAO and the MUFPP Secretariat, with the support of the RUAF, have collaborated to develop indicators and guidelines to monitor actions according to each city.

Though cities and peri-urban areas face similar challenges, each city and region is unique.  These regional fora ensure a dynamic exchange of experiences and good practices between cities, including strengthening MUFPPs African cities network.