Urban Food Agenda

Retail food environment and green spaces for healthy cities


A methodological approach based on experiences in Dar es Salaam, Lima and Tunis

On Tuesday November 15th FAO will host a Webinar on the key role of food environments for healthy diets in urban contexts.

The virtual event is co-organized with The Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN) and INFORMAS (International Network for Food and Obesity / Non-communicable Diseases (NCDs) Research, Monitoring and Action Support), under the title “Retail food environment and green spaces for healthy cities”.

In the Framework of the FAO Urban Food Agenda (linked to the FAO Gren Cities Initiative), the webinar will present the contents of the recently published Report “Assessment of food retail environment and green spaces for healthy cities: Methodological guidance based on the experiences in Dar es Salam, Lima and Tunis, illustrating the methodological details and results of the assessments in these three cities and explaining how these experiences can help develop guidelines for assessments in other cities.

At the global level, hunger, malnutrition and diet-related non-communicable diseases (NCD) are on the rise again, after enormous progresses made so far to fight them. .

Such escalation urgently calls for a shift to the supply of healthy and sustainable diets, which contain more fresh fruits and vegetables, legumes and wholegrains, and less refined carbohydrates, sugars, animal fats and ultra-processed foods.

Towards this end, food environments play a key role in shaping diets and eating habits. Food environments are made up of various components: food price, quality of the food supply (especially in schools and other public venues), promotion, marketing, and retailing. Therefore, the retail food environment (RFE) has been identified as critical, as it influences most of the aspects above, including food availability, price, quality, etc.

Most RFE studies have been carried out in high-income countries and some of those have led to the design of policy interventions, such as, for instance, the introduction of fresh fruits and vegetable mobile carts in low-income areas of New York. Similar approaches are needed also for low-and middle-income (LMIC) settings for which a better understanding of  the specificity of RFEs in these contexts, and link link to diets can help to design context specific interventions.

In 2019 FAO, INFORMAS and GAIN partnered to develop the Food Environments and Green spaces for Healthy cities (FEG) project, implemented in three cities: Dar es Salaam (Tanzania), Lima (Peru) and Tunis (Tunisia). Faced with rapid rates of urbanization, the green spaces component was introduced in recognition of the fact that green spaces are key for healthy lifestyles, and that quality green urban and peri-urban areas provide spaces for recreational and physical activities and indirectly contribute to local communities’ health by increasing urban resilience to the effects of climate change. The novelty of the FEG project is thus that of carrying out joint assessments of both the “food” and “green” environments within cities, as well as its adaptation of existing tools to assess food and green environments in LMIC settings.

Read the Agenda for the Webinar HERE