Food for the cities programme

Capacity-Building for Strengthening City Region Food System Resilience


On Monday, 26 June 2023, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the RUAF Global Partnership on Sustainable Urban Agriculture and Food Systems, the Milan Urban Food Policy Pact (MUFPP), and the Resilient Cities Network organized a webinar to explore capacity-building for strengthening the resilience of city region food systems (CRFS) across the world.  

The webinar provided actionable takeaways for cities striving to build capacity for resilient food systems. City-to-city exchanges, data-driven decision-making, multi-sectoral collaboration, grassroots engagement, and securing funding were identified as crucial areas for capacity-building to strengthen cities’ resilience and contribute to the transformation towards sustainable and inclusive food systems. 

The event started with an introduction of the MUFPP Fellowship Programme launched in 2022, enabling knowledge-sharing, capacity-building and networking activities between member cities. Within this framework, the MUFPP recently hosted the first Milan Pact Awards Retreat to facilitate exchanges and sharing of best practices among the representatives of the winning cities of 2022 edition. 

A panel discussion, moderated by the Resilient Cities Network, featured city representatives from Baltimore (USA), Chennai (India), and Nairobi (Kenya), who shared their experiences in capacity-building within the food system to enhance resilience. The discussion revealed the importance of collaboration, data-driven decision-making, community empowerment, policy-level engagement, and sustainable funding mechanisms. 

One important takeaway of the webinar was the significance of city-to-city exchanges and workshops. These interactions enable cities to learn from each other's experiences and practices. By sharing the successes and lessons learned from their initiatives, cities can educate and inspire other cities. 

The panel discussion also highlighted the crucial role of data in building resilient food systems. Each city used data in different ways, but all emphasized its importance. While the MUFPP Monitoring Framework can be a useful resource in this context, there is a need for additional capacity-building in research, data analysis, and working with indicators. Enhancing these skills will enable cities to make informed decisions and develop effective strategies based on evidence. 

Another key takeaway was the importance of integrated collaboration between government departments and leveraging connections with other agencies. The panel stressed the need to work in a multi-sectoral manner and across policies, which can be challenging to achieve in practice. Cities were encouraged to explore how they can effectively engage across departmental silos to foster collaboration and integrated approaches. 

Moreover, the panel underlined the crucial role of grassroots stakeholders and community engagement. Local governments need to interact with all stakeholders to ensure their understanding and buy-in. Experiences from Chennai and Baltimore demonstrated that effective co-creation of interventions with the target beneficiaries, understanding food equity issues and building community sovereignty are important steps towards building resilience. Empowering communities to become self-reliant and less dependent on external aid is a key goal.  

Lastly, bridging gaps in funding for resilience initiatives emerged as a critical factor. Establishing an emergency management fund, kept in reserve for use during emergencies or for longer-term resilience work, could be one solution. Moreover, as more political buy-in is necessary to secure funding, cities may require capacity-building to make a compelling case and sustain their advocacy efforts. 

The recently launched CRFS Assessment and Planning Handbook and Online Toolkit offer comprehensive guidance to food system stakeholders for developing evidence-based strategies to build resilience. In addition, the MUFPP, along with its capacity-building initiatives, and the Resilient Cities Network play important roles in supporting cities on this journey, inspiring concrete action and sharing knowledge and solutions.  

The recording of the event is available here