Food for the cities programme

City Region Food Systems and Food Waste Management: Linking urban and rural areas for sustainable and resilient development

New publication released - GIZ, FAO, RUAF Foundation


GIZ, the RUAF Foundation and FAO have released the publication “City Region Food Systems and Food Waste Management: Linking urban and rural areas for sustainable and resilient development”. This publication documents thirteen case studies from city regions around the world which are developing City Region Food Systems projects, programmes and policies with a special focus on the prevention, reduction and management of food waste.

Rapid urban growth, food and nutrition insecurity, unequal food distribution and access, environmental degradation, resource scarcity and climate change, unsustainable production and consumption patterns (including food waste)  are all factors that have important developmental implications for both urban and rural areas. It is increasingly recognized that in order to respond to these challenges, integrated territorial development and balanced urban-rural linkages must be pursued for the benefit of both urban and rural populations. City region food systems (CRFS) offer concrete policy and programme opportunities within which these developmental issues can be addressed and through which rural and urban areas and communities in a given city region can be directly linked.

The case studies offer a large number of strategies and tools that can be applied by city regions around the world, including the promotion of urban and peri-urban agriculture, preservation of agricultural land areas and watersheds (through land use planning and zoning), development of food distribution and social protection programmes for vulnerable groups, support for short supply chains and local procurement of food, promotion of food waste prevention, reduction and management, as well as the recovery and redistribution of safe and nutritious food for human consumption.

The publication documents the following case studies:

  • Belo Horizonte, Brazil: Rural food supply for vulnerable urban groups;
  • Quito, Ecuador: Protecting rural areas for ecosystem services and sustainable food systems;
  • Quito, Ecuador: A metropolitan agriculture programme for the promotion of integrated territorial planning;
  • Rosario, Argentina: Operationalizing urban-rural linkages through the preservation and improved use of peri-urban agricultural land;
  • Greater Monrovia District, Liberia: Integrating urban and agricultural development in metropolitan planning;
  • Kesbewa, Sri Lanka: Rehabilitation of productive flood zones in urban and rural areas as a disaster risk reduction and food security strategy;
  • Toronto, Canada: Integrated food planning across urban and rural areas;
  • Île-de-France Region, France: Recovery and redistribution of safe and nutritious food through social supermarkets;
  • Medellín, Colombia: Food redistribution and value addition from rural to urban areas;
  • York, Canada: The Ontario Food Collaborative – A city region initiative for preventing and reducing food waste;
  • Curitiba, Brazil: Reduction and recycling of urban waste in support of adequate urban diets and prevention of on-farm food waste;
  • Linköping, Sweden: Linking rural and urban areas through agricultural and urban waste recycling;
  • Balangoda, Sri Lanka: Composting urban organic waste into agricultural inputs.

Lessons learned from these cases call for local, regional, and (sub)national governments to institutionalize city region food systems by providing them an institutional setting, linking them to larger city region development plans, and monitoring their developmental impacts across urban and rural areas.

They also call for (sub)national and legal frameworks which embed CRFS within broader legislation, specifically the ‘Right to Food’ and the ‘Right to the City’, acknowledging the need to guarantee both urban and rural food and nutrition security, as well as to regulate (unplanned) urban expansion on agricultural land. The selected cases also highlight the need to strengthen horizontal and vertical governance systems, as well as multi-stakeholder and cross-sectoral partnerships.