Our work

RUAF supports the development of sustainable and resilient urban and peri-urban agriculture and city region food systems

We do this by creating, sharing and using knowledge, expertise, practices and innovations to improve action-research and practice, advise on policy, and build capacity in governments and other organisations, including among producers. We combine technical and policy expertise with scientific research and practical knowledge, based on over 20 years of working within more than 50 countries and at the global level. RUAF advises on multi-stakeholder policy and planning, providing services and building capacity of cities and stakeholders on urban and peri-urban agriculture and city region food systems.

RUAF has identified seven focus areas to advance inclusive and resilient urban food systems. These are:

  • Climate resilience and sustainability
  • City Region Food Systems
  • Urban Agriculture
  • Food Policies and Governance
  • Jobs, equity and social justice
  • Urban Planning
  • Resource, Recovery & Reuse

Our role

RUAF participates in the Working Group on Urban Food Systems (UFS-WG), facilitated by FAO, to facilitate the engagement of cities and local governments to the UN Food Systems Summit and to other global policy processes (created in 2020), which includes international city networks, academia, civil society organizations, and UN Agencies.

RUAF collaborates with FAO and the Milan Urban Food Policy Pact (MUFPP) in improving the Monitoring Framework related to the Pact; this work builds on RUAF’s important role as member of the Technical Advisory Committee supporting the drafting of the MUFPP.

RUAF collaborates with FAO in further developing the City Region Food Systems approach and toolkit. And in developing training modules, including on Integrating Food into Local Planning.

With ICLEI, RUAF facilitates the international RUAF ICLEI City Food Network.

RUAF supported inclusion of urban agriculture and food systems in the New Urban Agenda (NUA), which guides global efforts around urbanisation for the next 20 years

Why sustainable and resilient food systems

Environmentally sustainable and resilient food systems are critical to end hunger, ensure food security and safety, and offer equitable and inclusive economic, social and environmental benefits. However, it is estimated that at least 155 million people suffered from acute hunger in 2020 and acute food insecurity has continued its relentless rise since 2017, according to figures from the 2021 Global Report on Food Crises. Food insecurity affects rural as well as urban and peri-urban areas, as a consequence of the increasing number of people moving from the countryside to cities and rapid urbanization. This process is transforming ways of producing, distributing, marketing and consuming food, including land-use, exploitation of resources, waste management, transportation and infrastructure chains. Malnutrition (both under-nourishment and overweight and obesity) has become a major urban issue, affecting low income and vulnerable residents in particular, with alarming implications for public health. Meanwhile, cities’ dependence on outside food sources means their food systems are at risk from shocks and stresses resulting from the effects of climate change.

Cities play a crucial role in addressing community needs, sustainable economic development and ecological security. Cities and subnational governments need technical assistance, training, policy and planning and financial support to design, develop and implement urban and city region food system policies, programmes and projects through participatory (multi-stakeholder) processes. RUAF strives to meet this need.