Global Forum on Food Security and Nutrition (FSN Forum)


Urbanization, Rural Transformation and Implications for Food Security - Online consultation on the background document to the CFS Forum

Dear all,

Urbanization and the transformation of agriculture, food systems and rural spaces present challenges and opportunities for inclusive growth, poverty eradication, economic, environmental and social sustainability, and food security and nutrition. As a result, there is an increasing focus on rural-urban linkages and approaches which can address these issues in a holistic and integrated manner in order to fully address the challenges and maximize the opportunities.

This online consultation invites you to contribute to the elaboration of a background document that the CFS Secretariat is preparing to support the discussions at the Forum on Urbanization, Rural Transformation and Implications for Food Security to be held at CFS 43 in October 2016. The Forum’s outcomes will inform next year’s work which will be focused towards the development of policy guidance for endorsement at CFS 44 in October 2017.

The current working version of the Zero Draft is informed by input received during a technical workshop held in February 2016, where key areas and existing approaches related to addressing rural-urban linkages were discussed. In order to make best use of this online consultation, we invite you to reflect on the following questions:

  • Are the key challenges and opportunities related to food security and nutrition in the context of changing urban-rural dynamics addressed? Are there issues missing or any that are included that don’t seem directly related?
  • Is it clear how each of the dynamics explored affects food security and nutrition? If not, how could this be better clarified?
  • Have the key elements of governance issues and integrated approaches to addressing rural-urban linkages been captured? If not, what is missing?
  • Where/how do you think CFS can add the most value to current initiatives aimed at addressing food security and nutrition in the context of urbanization and rural transformation?

The outcomes of this online consultation, will feed into the further elaboration of the background document and design of the Forum at CFS 43.

We thank you in advance for your time and for sharing your knowledge and experiences with us.

Deborah Fulton,

CFS Secretary

This activity is now closed. Please contact [email protected] for any further information.

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Simone Borelli


Zhuhai Declaration: make forests and trees central to Asia-Pacific's future urban planning

"We wish to send a message... reaffirming our belief that forests and trees in and around cities are the key element to make cities in the Asia-Pacific region greener, healthier and happier and more resilient to climate change..." is one of the key statements in the Zhuhai Declaration, the outcome document of the First Asia-Pacific Urban Forestry Meeting, which calls for large-scale urban greening to improve the lives and livelihoods of citizens in the region's rapidly growing cities.

Read more in the meeting summary of the First Asia-Pacific Urban Forestry Meeting, co-organized by FAO, the Urban Forestry Research Center of the State Forestry Administration of the People's Republic of China, and the host city of Zhuhai, from 6 to 8 April, and read more about FAO's work on Urban and Peri-urban Forestry.

Many thanks for your advice.

Best regards,




Uchendu Chigbu

TU München

Received through Land Portal (

Addressing rural-rural linkages

I find "rural-rural" linkages or exchanges missing in the discussion on "territorial approaches" and/or "smart systems" in pages 17-19 of the Zero Draft. I will like to suggest the inclusion of rural-rural linkages or exchanges (or partnerships, interrelationships, cooperations) within the territorial or/and smart systems approaches.

In the context of food security, it is important to recognize that rural areas have to be primarily food secure to contribute to broader food security at regional or national levels. And as different rural areas have different concentration of agricultural or food systems, they need to partner and link with each order to attain a more balanced security and then have a stronger potential for urban-rural cooperation. Although little or no research efforts have been dedicated to rural-rural linkages, it has been in operation and only need to be further sensitized as part of the broader picture.

In another way (and from a system perspective), what I am saying is that the "rural" and "urban" as two systems and internally driven by sub-systems such as "urban-urban" and "rural-rural" first. But in the case of "rural" where the primary food sources are mostly generated, a "rural-urban" system that is not supported by a "rural-rural" system will not be sustainable to rural transformation, hence, will not have the best impact on global Food Security and Nutrition.

"Tenure security" and "tenure responsive land use planning"

The entire 26-page document has no word or phrase like "tenure security" or "land tenure security". Land use planning and land tenure security can provide strong links on how the issues mentioned in the Zero Draft can connect to food security.

Tenure security is directly connected to food security. Considering that most developing countries and rural areas depend largely on land-based activities and/or natural resources for their food security attainment, it will be good to mention the need to make land tenure more secure.

Concerning land use, let's give a thought to "tenure responsive land use planning" -that is conducting land use planning in ways that lead to tenure security improvement, hence, will have a high impact on food security.

Generale Comments

  1. 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.

Detailed comments

  1.   Section on  What do we mean when we refer to urbanization and rural transformation
  • The first paragraph, last sentence, states that urbanization is largely 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.
  1.  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”
  1.  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. 
  1.  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.
  1. 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.
  1. 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.
  1. Section on Governance issues.
  • Could be merged with the section on vertical and horizontal coordination.
  1. 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.

Dear all, 

I’d like to thank all of you for sending your input on not only the background document for the CFS Forum on Urbanization, Rural Transformation and Implications for Food Security and Nutrition, but also your thoughts on this topic more broadly. As many of you highlighted, this is a broad framing of an issue which is very context specific in terms of the resulting implications and dynamics for achieving food security and nutrition. 

Your contributions will help us to revise the background document and also to plan for the Forum at CFS43 where these issues will be discussed, together with the role of CFS going forward on this work. The revised version of the background document will be available in all languages on the official documents page of CFS43 in early September. Thank you again for taking the time to share your knowledge and experience on this important issue. 


Deborah Fulton

CFS Secretary

Dear colleagues,

Please find below a few comments to the background paper to CFS43 Forum Discussion.

I have read the paper trying to focus on the implications for nutrition. The paragraph that is dedicated to nutrition does not tackle nutrition in a very structured nor consistent way. It does say something about consumption and household spending, but hardly anything about nutrition or malnutrition.

In order to be able to improve the nutrition element in the document  it would be helpful to have a look at the following documents:

  • The UNSCN statement on nutrition security of urban populations:  This provides a very useful overview of nutritional issues related to urban contexts:

  • In addition I would like you to refer to the Global Nutrition Report 2015, which has a chapter on food systems, comparing the risks and opportunities for nutrition if there is a shift from one system to another. E.g. a shift from Rural systems to more industrialised and urban systems: more highly processed foods but also more diverse range of foods
  • The HLPE report about Social Protection for Food Security also gives a good overview that is relevant in an urbanising context
  • Finally: The Framework for Action of the ICN2 provides useful elements about urbanisation and nutrition ( e.g. relation to lifestyles).

I am very much willing to comment on a further draft of the document.

Kind regards

Stineke Oenema

UNSCN Coordinator

c/o Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO)

Viale delle Terme di Caracalla, 00153 Rome, Italy



Dear secretariat, contributors,

Please find below the contribution of the FAO-Food for the Cities Programme's team.

You can find, first, (1) general comments in regards to the background document, and secondly (2) a more in-depth presentation of the City Region Food Systems concept and how it can represent a relevant approach to address urbanization and rural transformation issues, and then some more practical insights by presenting and giving examples on how we operationalize it through the programme.


Best regards,

Louison Lançon, on behalf of the FAO's Food for the Cities Programme.


Contribution and comments


1. General comments :

- Good starting point as a background document. While it reflects on topics such as territorial approach, rural urban linkages, the document might serve better to reflect on the role of food security and nutrition in the wider territorial approach/rural urban linkage discourse.

- Similarly, impact of rural transformation and urbanization on natural resource is mentioned, but it can be strengthened with concrete examples on how land/forest/water management is mutually influential with urban space, and how that may also affect fisheries also considering the fact that three quarters of large cities are located on coastlines.

- The potential roles for CFS needs further elaboration (but it should be done in the next workshop seeing the timeline). One suggestion that can be made in this area is that the “urban” discourse represented in Habitat III is still very tilted towards “urban development” rather than a balanced rural and urban development. This needs a strong, more “rural” constituency such as the CFS platform to make a strong case on the need of balanced investment and policy prioritization. This also includes the need to look at the rural and urban contexts as a continuum, as part of a territory.

- The CFS platform may also further discuss the importance of inclusive food system in the urbanization discourse. Urban areas mostly “import” food from rural areas (near and far), in general this system is heavily dominated by few private companies and the tendency will only increase unless actions are taken.  We need to highlight the need in building more inclusive food systems for smallholder farmers and businesses, from both surrounding and remote rural areas.

- We may also want to include the need in efficient flows of information between urban and rural areas in the background document. Indeed, as mentioned by Julio Berdegué et al., rural-urban linkages include reciprocal flows of information, especially on labour opportunities, markets and consumers preferences.  It is a key element for rural dwellers, and farmers, so they can adapt their production to the demand and market requirements.

- CFS may also want to highlight the dwellers’ knowledge role’s in building food secure territories. Inappropriate consumption patterns and diets might not be just due to bad access to healthy food, but also to knowledge gaps and customs.


2. City Regions Food Systems concept, and how we operationalize through the programme

With its Food for the Cities Programme, FAO builds on the need to better understand and operationalize the concept of City Region Food Systems (CRFS) as a basis for further planning and informed decision making. City region food systems (CRFS) is proposed as an appropriate solution to support local institutions in assessing and governing the complex network of actors, processes and relationships connected to food production, processing, marketing, and consumption that exist in a given geographical region that includes a more or less concentrated urban centre and its surrounding peri-urban and rural hinterland; a regional landscape across which flows of people, goods and ecosystem services are managed. CRFS approach provides a critical lens for analysis, and at the same time supports on the ground policy transformation and implementation. Working a city region level can be a means to unpack the complexity of rural urban linkage to a practical level, with food being the entry point or common denominator.

The Programme provides assistance to local governments in identifying and understanding gaps, bottlenecks and opportunities for sustainable planning, informed decision-making, prioritizing investments, designing sustainable food policies and strategies to improve local food systems. In this process, cities define the city region food system as the most appropriate geographic scale to improve food security and nutrition and promote sustainable food systems.

The progamme is currently implemented in four cities: Colombo, Medellin, Lusaka and Kitwe.The boundaries CRFS are generally defined on the basis of the food flows of the main commodities consumed within the city regions. In addition, for data collection purposes, jurisdictional and natural boundaries are often used to define the CRFS boundaries.

The definition of CRFS boundaries is really context specific, for example:

  • - In Colombo (Sri Lanka), the CRFS boundaries are based principally on the food flows of the city’s most consumed commodities. But as the city dwellers’ diets are very diverse, various commodities are consumed and come from diverse and sometimes far away areas. For governance instances and action taking reasons, the CRFS boundaries definition has been based on demographic criteria, to end up covering  a broad populated area of the Western Province (Colombo’s province), and so including local areas that allows the production of just a small part of the food consumed in the city;
  • - In Kitwe (Zambia), where the food supply is more localized, the definition of the boundaries has been based on the flows of the city’s most consumed commodities and on the administrative boundaries. The CRFS ends up covering a narrow area that still allows the production of an important part of the food consumed in the city.
  • - In Lusaka (Zambia), the CRFS boundaries are based on the food flows of the commodities that represent 60% of the amount of food consumed in the territory.



CSM Input to the Urbanization and Rural Transformation FSN Forum

This represents a collective input from the working group within the Civil Society Mechanism of the CFS- which includes the input from several different CSOs and Social Movements globally.

We thank the CFS Secretariat for putting together this paper and making an effort to distill the various information available. It is a big topic, and still needs some refinement. Before going throughout the paper, it’s important to first outline: what are the policy shifts that we want to see? And what is the role for the CFS?

Human rights are transversal and must be integrated into the policy analysis throughout as the center of the entire analysis, not just an afterthought or a sub topic. Human Rights, and specifically the realization of the right to adequate food and nutrition is at the core of the CFS mandate and within the Global Strategic Framework which guides the work of the CFS. Through the interaction with different issues in the document- from migration to climate change, access to resources and governance -  a human rights analysis puts those most negatively affected at the center of the discussion, thus creating a clear entry point for putting communities at the center of the solutions. A Human Rights Based Approach  must be employed, where the rights of women and indigenous people are respected. This is fundamental to the future success of the work in the CFS, and an added value of the CFS process. Within this framework other issues that were not fully addressed in this paper would also need to be addressed which include:

  • Equal access to resources for small scale food producers, both men and women (including, pastoralists and fishing communities)
  • Decent work and labor rights for all (in all levels of the food supply chain)
  • Full integration of nutrition- not just from a consumption/medical perspective.

Substantial issues that need to be considered in this paper are:

Internal learning of the CFS and utilizing the HLPE reports: the CFS has produced a wealth of information through the HLPE processes.  It is fundamental that the CFS build greater internal coherence, by utilising  these reports, which offer important insight into this topic, and that we have all collectively invested in as  actors in the CFS.

Many of these reports would add greatly to this complex topic and provide more nuanced guidance on the linkages with different aspects and research of FSN. As it stands now, CSM does not feel that this has been done fully, and hopes to see a greater inclusion of past CFS documents in the next draft. In reality, this workstream can take the lessons from past CFS work and contextualize it into a territorial framework- or rather localizing the issues. 

- Tenure, and access to resources and markets: It would strengthen the narrative of the report considerably to include these aspects that are part of other core CFS workstreams/existing policy.. The Tenure Guidelines were not mentioned at all, yet  all aspects of the Guidelines are relevant here- as tenure in terms of FSN are not an issue only in rural areas- but specifically the section on spatial planning should be fully included in terms of integrated territorial planning. The Tenure Guidelines will support a more in-depth discussion on 1) local governance of tenure, 2) protection of peri-urban agricultural land from urbanization and speculation, and 3) tenure in urban areas for agriculture and food production, which is a fundamental means of FSN for many communities in impoverished urban centers of all sizes, and key to ensuring the right to adequate food and nutrition in both urban and rural areas.

Market access for small-scale producers: This is critical for territorial development (or in other words, stronger rural-urban linkages).  A given territorial space can range from local, to transboundary to regional -  as distinct from global - and can be located in rural, peri-urban or urban contexts. They are the dominant source of the food consumed in the world (leaving aside self-consumption), particularly in the Global South. They are also expanding steadily in the North. They are the markets in which smallholders have most presence and exercise most control, and which they access autonomously, individually or through their own associations.

These markets enable a greater share of value added to be retained and returned to farm level and hence they constitute an important contribution to fighting rural poverty, and increase the viability of small-scale peri-urban and urban agricultural production. Because of the decentralized nature of the food systems in which they are embedded, they help to counter the desertification of rural space.  As 70% of the world’s food is produced by smallholders, this is an important factor, especially as it is generally estimated that only 20% of cities food needs can be supplied by urban agriculture.

Secure access by smallholders to land and other natural resources is, of course, a prerequisite to their survival. Territorial markets are defined by additional characteristics including the following:

  • Multiple functions beyond exchange of commodities, acting as spaces for social interaction, exchange of producers’ knowledge, redistribution of products like seeds, maintaining cultural identities.
  • Direct interaction between producers and consumers including on price negotiation and genuine short supply chains.
  • More climate-friendly logistics.
  • Less food waste in the entire food chain, including in artisanal processing and marketing.
  • Labor intensive systems that generate more employment per unit of value of merchandise in the case of small-scale food production.
  • Resilience deriving from the autonomy of smallholders, which has to be defended and strengthened.

There is reference in the draft to the problem of cheap importers undercutting local producers and the local market— this is clearly an issue of trade agreements, and it is critical that we clearly state this problem, as it was also discussed in the technical workshop to prepare this draft. International and bilateral free trade agreements consistently challenge the various elements of the right to adequate food; they challenge the sovereignty of states and communities, prevent the development of national and local economies, put economic pressure on small scale food producers, and challenge the right of non-food producing communities to have economic and physical access to healthy, local and culturally appropriate food.

-Public procurement – was not mentioned at all in the draft, and must be engaged with as both an issue on its own and a solution to strong territorial development. Public procurement constitutes an extremely important market for smallholders, and a way to source local, fresh foods in public institutions and is recognized to be a practical and useful policy tool. The experiences of Brazil and India are well-known but they are by no means the only ones and additional information needs to be collected and analysed. European Directive 2014/24/EU - EUR-Lex - and Directive 2014/25/EU - EUR-Lex - also support this approach. The CFS policy recommendation on food loss and waste also contains decisions towards improved procurement policies, stating that governments at all levels should be: “Assessing and improving, where relevant, public food procurement management and distribution policies and practices to minimize FLW while ensuring food safety and quality, safeguarding the environment, improving economic efficiency and pursuing social benefits, for instance facilitating access for small-scale food producers where appropriate”

As with any public policy, institutional procurement can be targeted to support a range of objectives according to the criteria and modalities that are applied. The focus should be on the criteria and conditions that should be applied for public procurement to work for smallholders and the constraints that need to be addressed, with a view to supporting positive rural transformation, for example.

-Decentralized governance and government structures:  The conversation within the technical workshop, and within the literature on this topic (including the Habitat process) revolves a lot around better articulating the role of local governments (including at city, town, regional or territorial level) in implementing policy and governing towards FSN and the right to food and nutrition. The CFS has a clear role and responsibility to provide guidance on these issues. The UN HRC issued a report last year on the Human Rights obligations of local government ( ), which clarifies two main theoretical points: (1) the application of human rights in local administration is essential to democratic governance and (2) local authorities share the same human rights obligations as central governments, as all spheres of government within a treaty-bound state are equal duty holders under international human rights law. It is the responsibility of bodies such as the CFS to provide guidance to member states on how to better include all levels of government in policy implantation, as well as to provide a platform for civil society to make clear their expectations and needs at the local and territorial level as well in terms of policy for FSN and right to food and nutrition.

-Rural vs. urban:

The historical process of defining rural and urban, has effectively separated the rural and urban in policy making. As was discussed in the technical workshop, “territorial approaches” better characterizes the spatial frame of reference, the economic scope and the formative policy change that  we are trying to achieve.

If we persist with the rural vs urban  dichotomy, many things are lost when posing the topic of this workstream as “urbanization and rural transformation” the question clearly positions itself as to how should rural areas transform to better meet the needs of cities. The CSM position is that the fundamental issue is questioning the development paradigm that has made it difficult or even impossible to sustain rural livelihoods, and reconsider how we can transform urban development to create opportunities and fulfil the human rights of rural communities (and all communities for that matter).  While the paper makes an effort to examine the uneven development patterns that cause these spatial shifts, and the complexities of changing territories, it fails to explore the real solutions that  can make a genuine difference to food security and nutrition policy, as well as to realizing and operationalizing the human right to adequate food for communities in both rural and urban areas. Also missing is a clear exploration of the various barriers in the current food system to realizing rights and creating stronger and balanced territorial development.

Specific attention should also be dedicated to the issue of urban – fisheries questions. Many cities are also coastal, and the impacts on coastal traditional communities and small-scale fisheries should also be taken into consideration, not least because fish is an important part of these populations’ traditional staple diet. Issues to be considered are the following: land speculation and tourism that force traditional fisher communities off their lands/fishing grounds; destruction of mangroves, wetlands and estuaries that are the breeding grounds of many fish; and industrial fisheries that are a threat to both the environment and to coastal fishery communities’ livelihoods.  Access to and preservation of these areas and traditional fishing rights are key to the right to food of these communities.

The city-region food system perspective that is put forward in the document is welcomed. We believe that for the CFS it is important that we use this concept but refer to it as territorial food systems- as this term overcomes all artificial boundaries and is a frame of reference and terminology that makes more sense to the actors of our various constituencies - including both civil society and Member States. In order to understand some of the nuances of this discussion, we recommend the authors of the paper to please include information and resoruces from this publication:

-Nutrition and social protection: It is disappointing that nutrition is not really dealt with in this paper. The literature on this topic is wide and diverse, some documents to look at are included as bibliographical references. In this context the issue of nutrition cannot be reduced the changing dietary patterns and food safety- these are symptoms of a larger systemic issues which is touched on, but not fully addressed. The food system that undercuts local markets, replaces local foods with imports (processed, sugar, etc.) is important, as is the fundamental problem of corporate influence in marketing, availability, etc..

Poverty does not exist in a vacuum. It is a symptom of larger structural inequalities, and has a clear link to the right to food in both rural and urban areas. Much literature on this issue and economic access to food exists. It is a question linked to issues of access to resources for growing food; many people in rural and urban areas cannot afford to access fresh food due to low income, physical lack of access to fresh food, insufficient possibilities to access the direct producer to consumer possibilities and other factors.. Much research has been carried out in the United States, Australia and other countries on food deserts. In developing countries, local traditional markets are threatened by the importation of cheap industrially grown food, often imported and unsafe. This is important in understanding socio-economic discrimination, as well as posing clear solutions in terms of the role of urban, metropolitan and territorial planning.

The document contains no reference or information on social protection mechanisms. This is surprising, as social protection is a key issue when discussing FSN and territorial approaches, and also there was an HLPE report and CFS policy document on Social Protection that should be referenced here, as should the materials from the ILO on social protection floors.

-The role of data: With the development of the SDGs, everyone is very preoccupied with gathering data and creating indicators to measure progress, but within this excitement about data we fail to understand that our current modes of data collection, metrics and even the questions that are being asked are limiting. Statistics and data are challenging, as data collected is rarely neutral and always has a specific goal that often leads to a limited/reductionist presentation of the issue. Measuring hunger is recognized as a challenge in the draft, and in fact a problem – current data does not? accurately capture “urban hunger”. However going beyond this, the data sets commonly used for measuring hunger are generally inadequate, and does not reflect the whole picture of hunger and malnutrition. Civil society and other actors have put forward criticisms of the SOFI over the past several years. Additionally, what data is actually collected is also problematic. For example, despite the importance of informal and territorial markets, they are not included in data collection systems, with negative impacts on the quality of the evidence base for public policies.

The draft also addresses that measuring employment is difficult as it doesn’t account for the range of activities in which families are engaged, or the informal activities that generate income.  These areas are critical to understanding the real extent of the challenges families and communities face, and to proposing supportive policy solutions. We understand that data will be used: we wish to request that the authors ensure a critical lens is used in the methodologies for data collection and that they fully assess the limitations.

-Food waste and loss: It is important to distinguish local small-scale producer-to-consumer chains that are not wasteful, and that are based on decent living for farmers and farm workers and a fair price paid by consumers, such as Community Supported Agriculture , from the perpetuating of the current wasteful industrial system that recycles food through charities but does not imply any system change to the existing unsustainable system per se.  Hypermarkets working with small-scale producers using contract farming is a trend that perpetuates a system by using a false solution and marketing it is “local short chain” agriculture. Please refer to the important work done in the CFS process on food loss and waste, which presents a more nuanced vision of the issue.

The issue of “efficiency” is often presented to introduce issues of mechanized farming, whereas there is evidence elsewhere to show that small-scale production and agroecology have more long-term beneficial impacts. Increased mechanization is not the answer: it uses more fossil fuels and contributes to climate change and relies on chemical inputs to combat soil depletion. Furthermore the negative externalities must be taken into account: this constitutes a different kind of waste. Agroecology based on low impact labour-intensive farming provides employment and is climate friendly. The current situation of FWL is a symptom of a larger problem, and creating policy and reviewing literature that support the development of sustainable local food systems inherently reduces waste.

Other resources to utilize:

-Accounting for Hunger: The Right to Food in the Era of Globalisation

edited by Olivier De Schutter, Kaitlin Y Cordes

-on governance and Food Policy Councils:

-On food procurement:





Dear Colleagues,

Thanks for sharing this document that is relevant to the on going discussions in regard to the current discussions on City Region Food Systems and Urban-Rural Linkages even as the UN prepares for the Habitat III conference and the New Urban Agenda. The rise of urban systems has for sure and for long in the history of urbanisation affected the delicate balance between urban growth and food security.  Urbanization has been a strong transformative force which has reshaped the world’s urban and rural landscapes and brought prosperity to many urban regions. However, urbanization forces have also led to various challenges and opened up new forms of inequality, unsustainability, polarization and divergence in development and incomes between urban and rural areas. Rural urban linkages thus became a thematic area that the UN through UN Habitat prioritized in its approach to promote sustainable regional and metropolitan development. This was done through resolution HSP/GC/25/L.9 passed during the 25th Session of the Governing Council of UN-Habitat that requested UN-Habitat 'to continue working closely with other intergovernmental organizations and stakeholders to strengthen urban-rural linkages focusing on knowledge exchange, policy dialogue and capacity development'

To address the hazy line along the urban-rural interphase especially as it related to food systems, a multipronged approach should be adopted that is country or region specific to ensure the data collected is more accurate and presents the right ‘urban-rural’ scenarios as depicted in different jurisdictions. It might be practically impossible to use a universal approach to mete individual country/regional depictions of urban vs. Rural.


The paper articulates well the key challenges and opportunities relating to food security in the draft document. The issues touch on how urbanization and urban-rural linkages impact on food systems from production to consumption, touching on consumption, distribution, waste and other related issues. The paper also clearly articulates the contribution of non-farm employment. The production component could be further elaborated, for instance touching on the role of small and intermediate towns in enhancing production, and how urbanization is shaping agricultural activities. The policy recommendations in terms of governance issues and integrated approaches could further be enhanced. Some of the specific comments are:

The definitions in the first section are clearly stated. The paper could also define ‘rural urbanization’ that could be relevant to this discussion. The sub-topic on pg 4: “What are the implications of the growing rural-urban linkages for food security and nutrition?” seems to focus more on the implications of urbanization as opposed to rural-urban linkages. It could briefly elaborate more on how urban-rural linkages impact on the whole food system chains from production to consumption.

The analysis on pg5 from a human rights perspective is good and could be strengthened by a mention of the related SDGs. The gender based aspects especially in relation to women could be more enhanced.

Pg6: The demographics and shifting settlements sub-topic is clearly elaborated especially in regard to the small and intermediate towns. More emphasis could be on implications to food systems. The potential of small and intermediate towns to food security could be further expounded to also include agri-based industries, food consumption and supply of farm products. The potential dividends of their growth can be harnessed to reverse the potential negative impacts of urbanization on food security as depicted.

Pg8: The section on consumption patterns could cover the impact of effects of consumption patterns in urban areas in influencing shift in livelihoods in rural areas. (This aspect seems to be covered in the pg 9 the last paragraph). The role played by the emerging preference of food crops and cash crops and its effect on food security could also be elaborated. The section on food loss and waste could also be linked to this section on consumption. On food markets, there is an unmentioned aspect of contraband food products/smuggled goods that flood local markets. Case in point is the Kenya Sugar Market that was dogged by inflows of cheap foreign sugar that out priced the locally produced sugar, and cascading impacts on local food growers and subsequent market constraints in providing products such as wheat, rice and sugar that are usually implicated in such trades. (Pg 9)

Pg10: The issue of the role of non-farm activities is well elaborated. This could be further analyzed in terms of the implications on rural urbanization in small and intermediate towns and territorial approaches. The section on land use in pg 12 could also cover issues of the effect of urban sprawl on land use, and the necessity of adoption of compact well planned urban settlements as a viable option that can help curb the unsustainable land use in peri-urban areas.  

Pg 12 on natural resource flows, the flow of pollutants from urban to rural areas could also be highlighted especially in regard to food contamination. The demand for water resources and the role of resource conflicts in contributing to mass displacement of population, the subsequent impact on urbanization and overall food security could be mentioned. This is a pertinent issue in conflict regions around the world. This is also relevant to the climate change component that could mention mobility as a result of floods, drought and famines and its effect on urbanization in terms of increase in vulnerable population. How can urban-rural linkages address this? What is the effect on food systems?

Pg 14: The role of infrastructure as a transformative force in both urban and rural areas is highlighted. It could be more emphasized especially in regard to small and intermediate towns that are more directly linked to rural areas. A mention of access to farm inputs and access to finance in agriculture needs to be discussed in more detail in terms of the overall effect it injects into food (in)security. Also a mention of SDG 9 “Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and foster innovation.” How does infrastructure influence food production? How do better serviced small and intermediate towns enhance food production, distribution and consumption?

The section of Governance issues on pg 14 could further be enhanced to cover for instance aspects of land governance; the role of local and metropolitan authorities in enhancing urban-rural linkages e.g the Milan Food Pact. Also the issue of decentralization, and how it can contribute to food systems. The section on integrated approaches also needs to be enhanced. It could also cover aspects like the system of cities under territorial approaches. (Could make reference on the report by IFAD on “Territorial approaches, rural-urban linkages and inclusive rural transformation: Ensuring that rural people have a voice in national development in the context of the SDGs”

On the potential role of CFS: having a community of practice/experts in your network is a great asset that will assist regions and countries implement the desirable food secure programmes and policies, and advice all stakeholders in the food systems and food ecosystems in a bid to improve food security. This will add value to CFS’ inputs into this discourse. Further CFS could strengthen the operationalization of urban-rural linkages for instance through some guiding principles on urban-rural linkages building on successful case studies. 

Best Regards

Jackson Kago

Regional and Metropolitan Planning Unit,

Urban Planning and Design Branch, UN-Habitat

Dear Madam/Sir:

Some contribution to the consultation.

Have the key elements of governance issues and integrated approaches to addressing rural-urban linkages been captured? If not, what is missing?

The implementation of decentralization provided local governments with an avenue to have greater control over local resources, which can be used to improve services and enhance the welfare of constituents. However, providing better services may involve greater expenses that will require a larger amount of funds, which can be obtained from generating greater revenues. Generation of local revenues can be increased by investing local resources and prioritizing economic activities that can have greater returns.

Strengthening of urban-rural linkages can potentially enhance the performance of food systems because it can provide for the efficient flow of commodities, inputs, information and technology. However, this will require coordination among local governments who generally have their autonomy because of decentralization. There is a need to look at the political dynamics in terms of the configuration or structure of governments. There may be a need to look at how collaboration between local governments can work to improve urban-rural linkages.

Where/how do you think CFS can add the most value to current initiatives aimed at addressing food security and nutrition in the context of urbanization and rural transformation?

There is very little doubt that city/town planning can contribute to initiative addressing food security and nutrition. However, there is a gap in the knowledge and skills of city/town planners particularly in the area of integrating the food system in city/town plans. This was mentioned in Pothukuchi and Kaufman’s work in the US. This issue was also identified by the Meeting Urban Food Needs Project (MUFN). Technical assistance can be provided by the CFS in equipping these city/town planners with skills and knowledge to address the gap.

A Policy Guide Book that has a dynamic framework for addressing the concerns may be developed by the CFS.

Kind regards,



Luis Antonio T. Hualda

School of Management

University of the Philippines Mindanao

Davao City, Philippines


Dear CFS Secretariat and Dear Contributors to the Urbanization, Rural Transformation and Implications for Food Security - Online consultation on the background document to the CFS Forum.

Please find below a contribution to the area of food loss and food waste prevention and reduction. The background document provided for this online consultation included food loss and waste in the Rural-Urban Dynamics and Implications for Food Security and Nutrition section.

The Second International Conference on Nutrition (ICN2), G20, CFS, Habitat III, African Union, CELAC, EU and numerous National Governments have prioritized food loss prevention and reduction. Local, national, regional, and global actions should strengthen and facilitate harmonization of terminologies and definitions; data quality and availability; enable vertical and horizontal policy interventions and public-private-civil society networks for effective investments with short, medium, and long time returns for all actors, including end consumers in rural, peri-urban, and urban areas.

Concrete tools and policy recommendations to facilitate and enable prevention and reduction of food loss and food waste at local, national, regional and global level are mentioned in the attachment. The previous contribution has the same information. However, the format of the website modified the content structure and left out some content. Attached the compelte contribution.

Contact for more information: [email protected]

Working Group (Interdepartamental) on Food Loss and Food Waste Prevention and Reduction