A worker pulls radishes in one of Real Food Farm's hoophouses

About Ruaf

About Ruaf

The RUAF Global Partnership on Sustainable Urban Agriculture and Food Systems is a consortium of expert institutions and individuals that includes cities, research institutes and NGOs, with a recognised track record in urban and peri-urban agriculture and urban food system solutions. The partnership is a platform for learning and knowledge brokering between science, policy and practice.

RUAF strongly believes in the benefits of interdisciplinary work and multi-stakeholder learning. Established in 1999, RUAF has over 20 years of experience in developing and implementing strategies to advance urban agriculture and the transformation of food systems in cities around the world.

To promote inclusive and resilient urban food systems, RUAF:

  • supports local and subnational governments, urban producer organisations, NGOs, CBOs, research centres and other stakeholders, with training and technical assistance;
  • develops innovative solutions to food system issues faced by towns and cities;
  • informs and influences city and municipal governments as they develop and adapt policies to forge sustainable food systems;
  • supports and promotes knowledge exchanges between cities and towns on specific food system issues, drawing on the considerable expertise and experience of the partners;
  • provides innovative methods and tools for research and participative assessment of food system resilience in urban and peri-urban areas, and for identification of sustainability challenges;
  • shares accessible information on advances in both research and practice through the Urban Agriculture Magazine (UAM), a one-of-a-kind online magazine with 38 issues to date.

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development

RUAF supports global agendas (including the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the New Urban Agenda) that respond to the increasing urbanisation of poverty and challenges that cities and city regions face in ensuring secure access to food, productive livelihoods and resilient development for their citizens.

RUAF is guided by three strategic goals:

  1. Promoting localised systems of production and consumption for more inclusive food systems
  2. Strengthening the resilience of urban food systems
  3. Strengthening the role of cities in food policy governance

The RUAF Network

Current RUAF partners are:

  • the International Water Management Institute (IWMI) based in Colombo, Sri Lanka;
  • the Institute of Geographical Sciences and Natural Resources Research of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (IGSNRR/CAS), based in Beijing, China;
  • the Centre for Sustainable Food Systems, Wilfrid Laurier University in Canada;
  • the City of Toronto, Canada, Food Strategy team and the Toronto Food Policy Council;
  • the City of Ghent, Belgium;
  • CONQUITO, the Economic Promotion Agency of the Municipality of the Metropolitan District of Quito;
  • Economia e Sostenibilita (ESTA), an NGO based in Milan, Italy;
  • Mazingira Institute, an NGO in Nairobi, Kenya;
  • Hivos Netherlands.

In addition to these partner organisations, RUAF works with several RUAF Associates (former partner or network members) who have collaborated in various projects for several years.

RUAF Secretariat

The work of RUAF partner organisations is coordinated and supported by a small and dedicated team of experts in these fields of work, and the RUAF Secretariat. This Secretariat is hosted by Hivos.


UAF receives funding from the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs (DGIS), the EU, IDRC (Canada), UN HABITAT, Ministry of Environment Norway, the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), CDKN (UK), the World Bank, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), OXFAM, CARE (Netherlands), Welthungerhilfe (Germany), the Daniel and Nina Carasso Foundation and the CGIAR, as well as municipalities and several local governments.

Our history

RUAF started in 1999 as a project managed by ETC Foundation in response to the recognition by representatives from various international organisations, including UNDP, FAO, IDRC, GTZ and CIRAD, of the need to address the increasing “urbanisation of poverty”. The challenges identified included urban food insecurity related to urban-rural migration, lack of formal employment, rising food prices, increasing dependence on food imports, dominance of supermarkets and fast food chains, and threats posed by climate change. These issues remain relevant today.

As the Resource centre on Urban Agriculture and Food Security, RUAF started in 1999 and evolved as RUAF into a Global Resource Centre with Regional Partners. Through the implementation of programmes on Multi Stakeholder Action Planning (MPAP), Resource Recovery and WASH, Value Chain Development, Climate Change, and City Region Food Systems and Urban Planning, RUAF has engaged with local and international partner organisations in over 100 cities in 50 countries around the world.
In 2004 RUAF became an independent Foundation, first led by Henk de Zeeuw, followed by the late Marielle Dubbeling. Since May 2019 RUAF is hosted by RUAF partner Hivos, and coordinated by a Secretariat based in The Hague, Netherlands.