Developing tools for mapping and assessing sustainable city region food systems (CityFoodTools)

December 10, 2018

Aim

RUAF’s CityFoodTools project, in collaboration with FAO’s Food for the Cities Programme, engaged with city regions around the world. RUAF and FAO developed a framework and action plan that underlines priority areas of intervention to build sustainable and resilient city region food systems.

Why should cities actively engage in building sustainable food systems?

Cities and towns around the world continue to grow at different rates and increasingly bear the costs of food and nutrition insecurity. Cities often view themselves as having a limited role in ensuring access by all their inhabitants to sufficient, adequate, affordable, nutritious and safe food. Factors that limit their access include volatility and rapid increases in food prices, disruption in food supply due to natural disasters, and climate change effects.

Cities can build more sustainable food systems to reduce food wastes, provide decent livelihood opportunities for rural, peri-urban and urban producers, promote sustainable ways of food production, processing and marketing; and ensure food and nutrition security for all consumers.

Food system policy and planning has not been the main focus of cities. However, cities and
metropolitan governments are increasingly and actively taking part in local, national and international dialogues on food systems and the future of urban and nutrition security.

Why should cities look beyond their own administrative boundaries?

The food system of any city combines different means of food provisioning and consumption. Some cities mainly rely on urban, peri-urban and nearby rural farms and food processors, while others depend mostly on food produced and processed in other countries or continents. Food systems link rural and urban communities within a country, across regions and sometimes between continents. Consequently, cities and urban food supply systems play an important role in shaping their surrounding and more distant rural areas. Land use, food production, environmental management, transport and distribution, marketing, consumption and water management are of concern in both urban and rural areas.

A city region food system (CRFS) approach provides a critical lens for analysis while supporting on the
ground policy transformation and implementation. Working at city region level can leverage the
complexity of rural-urban linkages to a practical level by making food the common denominator. This implies that broader issues (i.e. human rights, climate change and resilience) can be addressed
in a more focused manner.

  • Improved city region food systems will help achieve better economic, social and environmental
    conditions in both urban and nearby rural areas.
  • Access to affordable and nutritious traded foods from local and regional producers will improve consumer food security and nutrition and will enhance transparency in the food chain.
  • Access to markets and support to alternative markets (i.e. farmers’ markets, community supported agriculture) will improve livelihoods of both small-scale and larger scale producers.
  • Local and regional food hubs and shorter value chains, and more broadly, efficient and functioning agricultural supply chains that link hinterland producers to market systems, can contribute to sustainable diets, reduce food waste along the chain and stabilise livelihoods in distribution, processing and manufacture of food and fibre products.
  • Water, nutrients and energy can be resourced, recovered and reused in agricultural production.
  • Participatory governance structures are created to include stakeholders from multiple sectors from both urban and rural areas.

Location

Results

The project generated:

  • Enhanced local institutional capacity to assess and plan for city region food systems.
  • A better evidence-base for informed decision-making on city region food systems in the perspective of future urbanisation and development.
  • Availability and wide dissemination of a validated toolkit and user guidelines to facilitate city region food system assessment, scenario building and strategy development in other city regions around the world.
  • Increased mention of city region food systems in international declarations and development goals.

Funding

Daniel and Nina Carasso Foundation with additional support from the CGIAR Water, Land and Ecosystems Research Program (led by the International Water Management Institute).