Hivos and RUAF launch Urban Futures: youth action for inclusive, climate-resilient urban food systems

RUAF and Hivos are pleased to announce the launch of Urban Futures, a new global program working at the intersection of urban food systems, youth wellbeing, and climate action. Urban Futures will operate in intermediary cities in Colombia, Ecuador, Indonesia, Zambia and Zimbabwe, supporting local partners and especially young people to drive more inclusive, climate-resilient cities and urban food systems. The program is supported by Fondation Botnar and is the result of a 2022 co-creation process with Hivos, the RUAF Global Partnership on Urban Agriculture and Food Systems, Fondation Botnar, and local partners, networks and experts.

“Hivos wants to help build more inclusive, climate-resilient urban food systems, where young people collaborate to voice their priorities, influence decisions, and seize opportunities in the food sector.”

The time for food system transformation is now

Our current food systems are not meeting the needs of people or the planet. Food systems are responsible for 34% of global greenhouse gas emissions, yet the “triple burden” of nutrition is increasing. Our extractive food system is fragile and unsustainable in the face of multiple crises. Food is not just a commodity – sustainable food systems address issues such as public health, climate justice and economic inclusion.

At the same time, rapid urbanization will result in 68% of the world’s population living in urban areas by 2050. Intermediary cities are growing fastest and will host over 400 million new residents in the next 15 years. As cities already consume nearly 80% of all food, urban food systems have a major local and global impact on issues including climate change, youth wellbeing, and economic opportunity.

Cities also offer unique opportunities. Decentralization is increasingly giving responsibility to local authorities, with opportunities for citizen participation and accountability. And cities are taking the lead on climate action through initiatives like the C40 and Milan Urban Food Policy Pact. More holistic “food systems” thinking is gaining momentum, in particular its intrinsic link with the climate crisis. And the UN Food Systems Summit showed the importance of food systems transformation, including with an urban focus, and the need for building agency, changing narratives and the central role of young people.

“We are really proud to be supporting Urban Futures, as we believe that young people can play an active role in researching, innovating, and advocating to bring about change in urban food systems. This program is a great addition to our portfolio, aimed at creating healthy, sustainable, and liveable environments for young people, where they’re always included as key decision-makers and contributors.”

Susanna Hausmann, Cities Portfolio Lead at Fondation Botnar

Young people driving change

Through Urban Futures, Hivos wants to help build more inclusive, climate-resilient urban food systems, where young people collaborate to voice their priorities, influence decisions, and seize opportunities in the food sector. Food systems with shorter value chains providing healthy, sustainable food that is accessible, affordable and attractive.

We aim to achieve this in ten intermediary cities in five countries (Colombia, Ecuador, Indonesia, Zambia and Zimbabwe), supporting local partners and innovators to lead multi-stakeholder collaborations and locally-owned innovations. Hivos will be the global fund and program manager, complementing and amplifying these local experiences through linking and learning, advocacy, communication, and strategic coherence. RUAF, hosted by Hivos, supports this through urban food systems technical experience and support on research, advocacy and policy development.

An inception phase in 2023 will first localize the program framework and co-create city strategies with local partners and experts. As this develops and the program becomes more established we will share further updates via the Hivos website and program page.

Through Hivos and RUAF’s experience and programs like HealthyFoodAfrica, Youth Food Action and Sustainable Diets for All, we have witnessed an increasingly vibrant urban food space, with young people, civil society organizations, start-ups and local innovators full of energy, ideas and visions for their future cities. Now it’s time to support them in their push for more inclusive, climate-resilient cities and food systems.


Photo: KB Mpofu