Food Systems

Empowering Cities for Sustainable Food Systems Transformation

19/07/2023 24/07/2023

The global population is rapidly urbanizing, with urban areas expected to accommodate 68% of people by 2050. As cities become hubs of consumption and economic activity, they play a crucial role in shaping the future of food systems. Recognizing this, an increasing number of cities and local governments are collaborating with national governments to address local concerns and contribute to sustainable food systems. 

The event – Leveraging Urbanization for Food Systems Transformation – hosted within the The UN Food Systems Summit +2 Stocktaking Moment (STM) on 24 July at 16.30 (CET), will explore the efforts being made by Food Systems Summit champion cities, the evolving rural-urban dynamics, and the importance of inclusive, resilient, and sustainable food systems.

The Urban Challenge

Urban populations, currently responsible for consuming 70% of the world's food production, face numerous challenges in accessing affordable and nutritious diets. In many low and lower-middle-income countries, such as those in Africa and Southeast Asia, urban residents struggle to afford healthy food due to factors such as urban poverty, weak social protection systems, and limited diversity and resilience in local food supply chains. This leads to a nutrition transition characterized by both undernutrition and overnutrition, resulting in poor health outcomes and hindering socio-economic progress.

Redefining Rural-Urban Relationships

Traditional rural-urban distinctions no longer capture the evolving dynamics of food systems. The boundaries between rural and urban areas are becoming increasingly blurred, forming a spatial continuum that connects rural hinterlands with metropolitan regions. Within this continuum, small and medium-sized cities and rural towns have a pivotal role to play in reshaping food systems to be inclusive, sustainable, and resilient. Recognizing these changes, strategies and policies must adapt to address the complexities of both urban and rural contexts.

The Importance of Collaboration

To tackle the challenges of transforming food systems, cities are forging partnerships with local and national governments. Collaborative efforts aim to align policies and actions at all levels, ensuring that local concerns are integrated into national food systems agendas. By sharing experiences and learnings, cities can work together with national governments to drive systemic change in global food systems. These collaborations create an opportunity for cities to amplify their impact and catalyze sustainable food transformations.

The Event: Leveraging Urbanization for Food Systems Transformation

The Special Event is co-organized by the Urban Food Systems Coalition (UFSC) and the Transforming Rural Urban Food Systems Consortium (TURFS) to facilitate discussions and actions related to joint food systems initiatives, focusing on three main areas:

1. What advancements have cities made in fostering collaboration between city, local, and national governments, and what are the next steps?

2. How can local food system actions be scaled up, and how can cities share experiences and drive systemic change in collaboration with national governments?

3. What support or policy changes at the national or global level are needed to foster more sustainable and equitable food systems in cities?

The event aims to strengthen awareness and knowledge of food systems policies and programs, particularly those implemented since the UN Food Systems Summit, including the role of coalitions born after the summit. 

Concrete actions and initiatives by city, local, and national governments will be showcased to support the implementation of national food systems pathways. The event will identify collective follow-up actions, including capacity building on how different levels of government can collaborate more effectively to achieve sustainable and resilient food systems transformations. Emphasis will be placed on system-level issues and interventions that can have a significant impact when implemented at scale.

Inclusive and Multi-Stakeholder Approach:

The event emphasizes the importance of multi-stakeholder engagement and inclusive food systems transformations. It highlights the involvement of various stakeholders, including the informal sector, in governance mechanisms at the city level. Examples of innovative strategies, such as food policy councils and national city alliances, will be referenced to showcase successful models for engaging marginalized groups, farmers, youth, women street vendors, and indigenous communities.

Cities are at the forefront of the global shift towards sustainable food systems. By collaborating with local and national governments, cities can shape policies, programs, and initiatives that address local concerns and contribute to broader national and global goals. The special event serves as a platform for sharing experiences, fostering collaboration, and identifying collective actions to achieve more inclusive, resilient, and sustainable food systems. Through these efforts, cities can play a pivotal role in ensuring access to affordable and nutritious food for all, while also mitigating the environmental impacts of food production and consumption.

Download the Agenda HERE

Register for the Event HERE