Global Forum on Food Security and Nutrition (FSN Forum)

The report is dense and rich with analyses and recommendations. I found the policy perspective especially interesting (as developed in Chapter 6). Some suggestions to further improve the report are given below.

  1. The institutional/policy focus may leave behind the questions related to infrastructures, i.e., physical market places and rural-urban transportation, which are constraining in terms of consumers’ regular access to local and safe food (especially fresh food items which are essential in terms of nutrition). Improvement in logistics is necessary to reduce food losses, and should be grounded by a characterisation of city foodsheds. 
  2. The characterisation of Urban and Peri-Urban food systems (Chapter 4) looks more like a list of items than as a classification and I would suggest to draw more on the typology we developed in Moustier et al. 2023, which considers the type of food items, the length of chain, the nature of relationships, the value orientation and the consumers’ socio-economic profiles. I find that the use of the term « territorial markets » is little appropriate to the district-based retail markets which make the bulk of urban consumers’ food supply in Asian and Sub-Saharan African cities. Likewise, most wholesale markets in Asia and Africa are not territorial. In these regions of the world, most retail and wholesale markets are place-based but not territorial, as they distribute local as well as imported food items, and they are not necessarily supported by a place-based community of stakeholders, sharing common visions and objectives. Relative to supermarket or e-commerce distribution, retail and wholesale markets (which may be formal or informal) are characterised by regular interactions and some amount of trust between the vendors and their customers, this is why we prefer to term them as relational rather than as territorial. The term territorial markets may be more appropriate to qualify assembly and retail markets with strong links with neighbouring communities, including various types of farmers’ markets (which are accounted for in our typology in the « value-oriented, SME-based urban food systems »).
  3. The report stresses on different occasions how diversity is essential for resilience. This is especially relevant. Diversity of food formats is also important to reduce food losses, as different formats have different requirements in terms of quality standards with consequences on food losses as demonstrated in the case of Colombia (Chaboud and Moustier, 2020).
  4. About successful interventions on UFS, some examples of UFIL (Urban Food Innovation Lab) can be found in the Urbal book (Valette et al, 2024), in particular, the setting of a value-oriented SME-driven tortilla enterprise in Mexico (Leloup and Legall, 2024) [other technical innovations for small-scale food processing e.g. fish drying in Africa can be found in Pallet etal, 2020], direct farm-consumer chain for food based on digital technology in Hanoi (Bruckert et al, 2024), sustainable school catering programme in Montpellier (Perignon et al, 2024). On the whole I think that there should be more developments on the value of urban public food procurement programmes. Also reference to some successful participatory guarantee systems to ensure food safety at low cost could be made (Niederle et al, 2020). And Urbal could be mentioned as a valuable participatory impact evaluation method of innovations in urban food systems.
  5. The statement p.35 that most of the burden of foodborne disease originates from informal markets surprises me, please check the reliability of the source.
  6. I think there should be more emphasis on the link between urban poverty and urban food insecurity, which makes working on other aspects than food supply per se even more critical than in rural settings.
  7. About research needs : more data should be available on foodsheds (where food comes from, taking into account different food items and periods of the year, with elements of quantification adapted to the context of informal markets (common absence of standardised units of sale).
  8. There are many repetitions in Chapters 5 and 6, for instance about urban food platforms/city councils. The chapters could be substantially reduced. I also find a lot of the sections about food losses in Chapter 4 could be cut when it is not consumer-centered and relates more generally to urban waste management.


Quoted references :

Bruckert, M., Lepiller, O., Sautier, D., Loc, N. T. T., & Sau, N. T. (2023). Studying the impact of e-commerce on the sustainability of food systems in Vietnam. In Evaluating Sustainable Food System Innovations (pp. 118-143). Routledge.

Chaboud, G., & Moustier, P. 2020. The role of diverse distribution channels in reducing food loss and waste: The case of the Cali tomato supply chain in Colombia. Food Policy,

Leloup, H., & Le Gall, J. (2023). 4 Traditional tortillas in Mexico. Evaluating Sustainable Food System Innovations, (1), 55-76.

Moustier, P., Holdsworth, M., Dao The Anh, Pape Abdoulaye Seck, Renting, H., Caron, P., Bricas,N. 2023. The diverse and complementary components of urban food systems in the global South: characterization and policy implications. Global Food Security, 36, 100663.

Niederle, P., Loconto, A., Lemeilleur, S., & Dorville, C. (2020). Social movements and institutional change in organic food markets: Evidence from participatory guarantee systems in Brazil and France. Journal of Rural Studies, 78, 282-291.

Pallet, D., & Sainte-Beuve, J. 2016. Systèmes de transformation durables : quelles nouvelles stratégies pour les filières ? In Biénabé, E., Rival, A., Loeillet D., (Eds), Développement durable et filières tropicales, Montpellier, Editions Quae, 151-165.

Perignon, M., Lepiller, O., Intoppa, B., Valette, É., Roudelle, O., & Wood, A. (2023). 5 The role of school canteens in building more sustainable food systems. Evaluating Sustainable Food System Innovations, 77.

Valette, É., Blay-Palmer, A., Intoppa, B., Di Battista, A., Roudelle, O., & Chaboud, G. (2024). Evaluating sustainable food system innovations: A global toolkit for cities. Routledge Studies in Food, Society and the Environment.