From Rio to Sharm-El-Sheikh: RUAF’s work to place food at the centre of the sustainable development dialogue

November 18, 2022

In spite of the many advancements made to build a more sustainable and just future, we are at a tipping point for life on our planet, with numerous crises at the local, national and global scale. The current globalized and highly industrialized food system that serves cities, no longer supports our future. The RUAF Global Partnership believes there is an urgent need to transform food systems to make them more just, inclusive, safe, sustainable and resilient.

The effects of the climate crisis on the planet, the environment and citizens are getting worse, and the urgency to act is clear and present. The COVID-19 pandemic and the economic crisis have demonstrated the vulnerability of the global food system, the transformation of which is urgent and must be fast and fair. This was acknowledged at recent international meetings, like COP27. However, the agreements were not overly ambitious and the need for implementation and accountability has become essential.

Agroecology, building agency and food and climate justice are vital components of this needed food systems’ transformation. RUAF is working to unravel the complexity of food systems, addressing the current fragility as a whole, providing long-lasting solutions to mitigate climate change and increase resilience.

Fair and sustainable food systems transformation

On 17-19 October 2022, RUAF participated in the 8th MUFPP Global Forum, held under the theme “Food to Feed the Climate Justice: urban food solutions for a fairer world”. The event, for the first time held in South America, was a unique opportunity for cities, political representatives, international organisations, actors and stakeholders to discuss food systems transformation and explore how food can be a leverage for achieving a more sustainable world.

RUAF and its partners organized three events highlighting the importance of putting people at the center of the food systems dialogue and illustrating the experiences of cities. Emphasising the urgency of collecting, measuring and tracking data and using different analyses and tools to identify vulnerabilities, RUAF called out the need for cities to build actions that protect people and food systems from shocks and stresses, focusing on impact prevention, anticipation, adaptation, and transformation.

RUAF calls for a long-term perspective and transformative action based on understanding of the vulnerability of our global food system and actions cities can take. Through our projects and programs with partners, we encourage holistic approaches that involve knowledge sharing, multi-level and participatory multi-stakeholder processes, urban food system monitoring and progress tracking through tools such as the Milan Urban Food Policy Pact (MUFPP) Monitoring Framework Handbook and Resource Pack or the CRFS handbook and online toolkit” – René van Veenhuizen, RUAF Senior Programme Manager

The interconnection between climate justice and resilience

At ​​the 27th Conference of the Parties of the UNFCCC (COP 27), food systems have finally taken center stage in the global negotiations, moving up the agenda driven by the recognition of the need to take concrete steps toward food systems transformation. RUAF and partners contributed with an event on ‘City region food systems: strengthening resilience against multiple shocks and stresses’ at the Food Systems Pavilion. RUAF highlighted how the challenges we are facing are sides of the same coin and as such must be addressed as a whole. There is no way to tackle the climate crisis without considering the impacts on the city region food systems, and the social, political and economic ecosystem.

Cities consume and produce food and are deeply connected to surrounding peri-urban and rural areas through flows of people, goods, food, natural resources and ecosystem services. Building the resilience and sustainability of city region food systems must come through the participation of the actors involved in and most affected by the crisis and through policy decisions that encourage the building of different forms of resilience capacity: preventive, anticipatory, absorptive, adaptive and transformative.

Food systems must be on the agenda of climate dialogues not only to build resilience against current and future shocks and stresses, but also to reduce the social divide that sees some people more vulnerable than others. The goal is to ensure that collectively and individually we build the capacity to prepare for, respond to, and recover from the impacts of climate change, considering existing vulnerabilities, resources, and capacities.