The Right to Food

On the way to the Milan Pact: the right to adequate food, key to urban food policies

On the ground - 09.12.2020

9 December 2020, Rome- In 2015, mayors of more than 100 cities in the world signed a non-binding agreement known as the Urban Food Policy Pact, in the search of local solutions to end extreme poverty and malnutrition, reduce food waste and adapt to climate change. Five years later, it is time to measure progress and check whether the expected results have been achieved, including the realization of the right to food.

The Right to Food Watch in Spain (ODA-E) has carried out research into the implementation of the Milan Pact in Valladolid and Valencia, with the support of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), in coordination with the NGO Enraíza Derechos and in collaboration with the Network of Cities for Agroecology.

The food strategies of these two cities refer explicitly to the human right to food, with special attention to the most vulnerable groups. The results of the study note that they apply human rights principles such as transparency and accountability. For example, in Valladolid, the representatives of the City Council have appeared on several occasions to explain the evaluation of this policy.

Other factors that have had a positive impact on the right to food have been the engagement between actors when taking decisions; the participation of the private sector, academics and civil society; as well as coordination between municipal, provincial and autonomous administrations.

Challenges to overcome, progress ahead

The reports prepared by the ODA-E provide in-depth knowledge about the dynamics of putting the Milan Pact into practice. Based on these, FAO will identify opportunities for improvement that can guide other signatory cities.

According to the findings, Juan Carlos García y Cebolla, FAO Right to Food Team Leader, recommends that strategies should adapt to the local context. Greater dialogue between specialists on different topics, as well as funding that combines resources from municipalities and the government, are also needed. Likewise, the monitoring framework should adapt to the capacities and needs of cities, so that it is as useful as possible.

The research, which was carried out during the COVID-19 crisis, advises local governments to respond to these challenges and reduce the risk of a decreasing quality of the diet for low income groups.

Cities, allies in the transformation of food systems

Urban areas play a fundamental role for food policies, not only to make food systems sustainable, but also to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The 2030 Agenda is a shared responsibility at all levels of governments. The Milan Pact can serve to strengthen the implementation of the SDGs at the local level.

The collaboration between the ODA-E and FAO forms part of the efforts to consolidate the Urban Food Policy Pact, through longstanding political measures, evaluations of political processes, awareness raising, and inclusive laws and programs based on human rights.

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