Urban Food Agenda

City-to-city cooperation is key to implementing inclusive and resilient governance in urban food system policies


On the second day of discussions of the 8th MUFPP Global Forum, the Office for Latin America and the Caribbean of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), ICLEI, Rikolto and the Food Institute of Amanhã held a debate that allowed the exchange of experiences between medium and large cities to share challenges and opportunities in the implementation of inclusive and resilient governance policies in urban food systems.

 “Governance is at the core of the approach to integrate food systems into local policy and planning. We have many examples of cities establishing multi-stakeholder governance systems. The crucial thing is to connect the different sectors and actors, and the different levels of government”, explained Cecilia Marocchino, coordinator of the Urban Food Agenda of the FAO.

During a welcome message, Juliana Tangari, director of the Institute Comida do Amanhã, stressed that there is no ready-made recipe when it comes to urban food policies. “Dialogue is very important, because that is how we learn from each other. In addition, this constant debate is fundamental for those managers who are at the forefront of the process of guaranteeing the human right to food”.

With unprecedented levels of urban population growth and with almost 80% of all food produced already consumed in urban areas, it is essential to increasingly promote integration and exchange between cities to make food systems more sustainable. Investment in infrastructure is also crucial to strengthening rural-urban linkages.

The Agrifood Supply System of Antioquia (SABA), a strategy of the Secretariat of Agriculture and Rural Development of Antioquia and the FAO, is one of the programs that guarantees greater decentralization of food production in the region and a change in marketing flows. Estefania Hoyos, Marketing Secretary of the Provincial Government of Antioquia, Colombia, explained that in her city, rather than proposing bills, mechanisms are being implemented to guarantee small producers access to sustainable and resilient urban development policies.

Governance of urban food systems

Sara Granados, FAO Food Systems Specialist for Latin America and the Caribbean, moderated the governance panel attended by representatives from Ouagadougou (Burkina Faso), Bandung (Indonesia), Porto Alegre (Brazil), Peñaflor (Chile), Canelones (Uruguay) and Quito (Ecuador). Mayors and representatives shared how they are implementing food system governance in their country and shared lessons and challenges in coordinating with other levels of government.

“In 2022 we realized that we need to approach other sectors such as civil society, since they are important actors in the food systems of the municipality. We need to integrate the actions so that the results are more efficient”, explained Carolina Breda, coordinator of the Porto Alegre food policy plan.

Francico Legnani, Secretary General of the Departmental Government of Canelones, also presented the Network of Intermediate Cities and Agrifood Systems, chaired by the municipality, whose objectives include ensuring the visibility of local governments in the construction of sustainable food systems, promoting the integrated governance between the different levels of government and promote local food production, supporting small and medium producers. 

Leaving no one behind

The second panel was moderated by Elizabeth Affonso, ICLEI South America Circular Development Regional Coordinator. The cities of Quelimane (Mozambique), Nairobi (Kenya), Recife (Brazil), Santa Ana (Costa Rica), Lima and Huancayo (Peru) discussed how they can learn from each other and what steps can be taken to increase the active participation of groups that are often underrepresented in governance processes, such as informal traders, youth, vulnerable citizens, and small producers.

“We suffer the impact of three or four cyclones every year and that puts us in a very vulnerable situation. We are developing projects to face the challenges generated not only by issues inherent to the geographical issue, but also by these climatic shocks”, said Manuel de Araújo, mayor of Quelimane. The Mozambican city received an honorable mention in the 2022 Milan Pact Award for its work to ensure basic sanitation for the population and reduce high levels of child malnutrition.

Raquel Hernández, Food Security Coordinator for Santa Ana, shared how the city works at both ends of the agri-food systems. “On the one hand, we offer training for producers to act in a climate-resilient manner. On the other hand, we work on the awareness and nutritional education of consumers so that they learn that food has a face, it has a family that produced it so that it reaches our table.”