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Global Forum on Food Security and Nutrition (FSN Forum)
Global Forum on Food Security and Nutrition (FSN Forum)
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Urbanization, Rural Transformation and Implications for Food Security - Online consultation on the background document to the CFS Forum
The paper provides a comprehensive review of issues related to the subject matter. However, the rationale, the logical flow and the fluidity of the text require some improvements. This would help to strengthen the focus of the main points emerging from the literature, some of which may not necessarily related to urbanization and rural transformation unless explanation is provided of how they are linked. For instance, the third bullet point of the chapter “Points Emerging from the literature” reads Malnutrition has become more of an issue than undernutrition. What is exactly the nexus with urbanization and/or rural transformation? The same applies to the fifth bullet point, etc.
Section on What do we mean when we refer to urbanization and rural transformation
The first paragraph, last sentence, states that urbanization is
the result of migration. As a matter of fact, as rightly recalled on page 7 of this report (last paragraph), the evidence shows that most of the increase of urban population is due to natural growth. It would be advisable to nuance this statement by saying that
migration also contributes with a significant share although not necessarily the main cause of urbanization
Section on What are the implications of the growing rural-urban linkages for food security and nutrition.
The suggestions is to inform from the very beginning that the linkages are through three types of movements/flows: people (long term and temporary migrations but also commuting), services (financial, public administration, but also environmental services including landfills, landscape, etc.) and goods (food among other things, taking into account that food is not produced only in rural areas but often in urban areas where processing, packaging, distribution, etc. of agricultural products takes place). This makes the boundaries and distinction between rural and urban areas blurred.
The current section only mentions the challenge of migration (second paragraph). To be consistent the text should address all the three categories and explain where are the challenges and opportunities for food systems and FSN.
In principle this is explained in the third paragraph, which requires some further elaboration. How the linkages can impact on productivity, employment, diversity of availability/consumption, services.? Moreover, a challenge/opportunity that is missing in terms of the possible impacts on rural transformation and development is the environmental issue. Urban sprawl reduces agricultural land and increases (often good agricultural land), rural land is generally used for waste disposal. On the other hand, urban population appreciates rural services in terms of outdoor recreation, etc. These are also opportunities for rural employment generation and livelihood improvement.
The definition of food systems (footnote 4) is very useful. What is the source? Please note however that as defined by the High Level Panel of Experts on food security and nutrition (HLPE) “a sustainable food system (SFS) is a food system that delivers food security and nutrition for all in such a way that the economic, social and environmental bases to generate food security and nutrition for future generations are not compromised”
Section on Consumption patterns/diet/nutrition.
The last paragraph mentions environmental hazards as one of the possible factors threatening food safety and health. This is fine but how relevant is it in the context of urban-rural linkages? The same applies also to the lack of infrastructures. It would be interesting to know if they affect differently urban and rural areas. Maybe the focus should be placed on the urban markets and street food and the related risks associated with lack of hygiene, etc. The last paragraph is very important and should also be emphasized.
Section on Trade/markets/value chains
Two things that require more attention when addressing trade, markets and value chains is the environmental footprint (vaguely mentioned in the report) and price transmission often overlooked. Though no clear conclusions can be drawn on how price transmission work in a value chain, there is sufficient evidence that producers are often residual in the distribution of margins within the chain due to a number of market failures (fragmentation, information asymmetry, etc.). In these situations, value chain, short or long can be efficient but do not help develop rural livelihoods and increase farmers’ income. This can apply to both short and long value chains.
Section on land use.
Another aspect that should be considered is the impact of urbanization on land prices/values. Land prices may increase as a result of urbanization and in general of food demand. This is happening already. This can also be an opportunity for farmers and rural households provided that land rights are well defined.
Section on natural resources use
This section could also include environmental factors such as pollution (gas emission, energy intensive activities, etc.), waste disposal, etc.. This is also an area where rural urban linkages are strong.
Section on Governance issues.
Could be merged with the section on vertical and horizontal coordination.
Section on initiatives.
You may also wish to include the Joint FAO, OECD, UNCDF initiative on Territorial Approach to FSN Policy and make reference to the publication Adopting a Territorial Approach to FSAN Policy (forth coming). The publication will be launched officially in April 2016.
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