Agenda de la Alimentación Urbana

Advancing the Urban Agenda for Sustainable Agrifood Systems


The Committee on World Food Security (CFS) - which gathered for its 51st session last October - serves as the foremost inclusive international platform for all stakeholders to work together towards food security and nutrition.

An emerging trend from the Committee is the growing attention on urban food systems, which was the focus of the Side Event: Our Seat at the Table: Maximizing Transformative Opportunities Across the Rural-Urban Continuum to Deliver Healthy Diets from Sustainable Food Systems.

This 65 minutes panel focused on the role of local and regional governments in promoting the importance of local and territorial food systems. Such systems, as it was argued, are essential for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and combating malnutrition in all its forms.

The session, moderated by Corinna Hawkes - Director of the Food Systems and Food Safety Division at FAO, underscored the commitment of the partner organisations (see full list below) to improving urban food systems. It highlighted the central role that the CFS can have in elevating the role of cities in food system transformation, especially in light of the upcoming High-Level Panel of Experts Report, which focuses on strengthening urban and peri-urban food systems.

Local Government Initiatives

The event brought to light numerous examples of how local governments can drive transformative change in food systems. Mayors from Quelimane, Mozambique, and Chefchaouen, Morocco, shared their experiences, demonstrating the potential of grassroots initiatives in addressing the specific needs of their communities. These initiatives focused on reducing childhood malnutrition, improving food production, transportation, and market access, as well as preserving local food culture and traditions.

Quelimane, a coastal city in Mozambique, faced a significant malnutrition challenge with 53% of its children being malnourished. In response, the municipality initiated the "Quelimane Agricola" project, which worked at  farmers level to improve productivity and reduce food waste. The results have been promising, with childhood malnutrition decreasing from to around 40% over a period of 7-8 years. This project also involved initiatives such as "Quelimane Limpa," which trained women and youth in biodegradable waste sorting and the "Coastal City Adaptation Program," which aimed to preserve biodiversity and fish stocks.

In Chefchaouen, Morocco, local government has played a significant role in promoting the Mediterranean diet as part of UNESCO's Intangible Cultural Heritage. This initiative led to various complementary food systems projects, emphasising the importance of local governments in providing public services, waste management, and town planning to deliver sustainable and healthy diets for all.

Global Initiatives

The World Farmers Market Coalition, established in response to the UN Food Systems Summit, highlighted the potential of farmers' markets to connect consumers to nutritious foods and provide income streams for farmers. These markets serve as public learning spaces and contribute to inclusive nutrition and social protection programs, offering the example of the Dhaka Food Project in Bangladesh.

Consumers International emphasised the need to connect consumers and urban food systems governance. Cities, they contend, offer a unique value-add in bringing the consumer perspective to the forefront of policy discussions, which is essential in addressing malnutrition.

Lastly, UN-Nutrition Secretariat reinforced the importance of delivering healthy diets from sustainable food systems, underscoring the link between food systems, health, and nutrition. They stressed the need for integrated governance, human rights-based principles, and the incorporation of nutrition and environmental impact into planning.In addition, they made the point not to look at cities in isolation from the surrounding areas, but rather look at the rural urban linkages that from the various connections. Planners manage these linkages and have various entry points through which they can improve infrastructure for people and for their nutrition. Good territorial governance both horizontal and vertical, is important to shift food systems for healthier diets, better environment and better nutrition.

Collaboration and the Way Forward

The event also featured numerous interventions from the audience, such as the experience of VeryNile in Egypt, which focuses on cleaning the Nile of plastics and creating job opportunities for fisherfolk, and sustainable urban food systems in Kenyan cities Kisumu and Nairobi. It is evident that cities and local governments have a crucial role in decision-making for food system transformation, and they require greater clarity in governance.

This CFS51 session highlighted the importance of cross-learnings between cities, fostering multi-level action, and supporting local governments with technical assistance and expertise. As the world continues to urbanise, collaboration between national and subnational levels is imperative to realise the vision of healthy diets from sustainable food systems.

Collaboration between governments also needs to involve stakeholders at all levels to move forward the necessary transformation of our food systems.  

Useful Links

*The event was co-organized by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), UN-Nutrition, United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat), United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), The Urban Food Systems Coalition (UFSC), United Cities and Local Governments (UCLG), The Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN),and The Coalition of Action on Healthy Diets from Sustainable Food Systems (HDSFS). This collaborative effort underscores the gravity of the issues at hand and the collective commitment to finding solutions.