RUAF Urban Agriculture and Food Systems website

Who we are

Photo: Pops Lopes

A partnership to make urban food systems work better

The RUAF Global Partnership on Sustainable Urban Agriculture and Food Systems is a partnership of strategically selected expert institutions. The partnership brings together cities, research institutes and civil society organisations with a recognised track record in urban and peri-urban agriculture and urban food systems. This enables us to combine technical and policy expertise, scientific research and practical knowledge. 

RUAF is a powerful collaboration for action and advocacy to advance transformation of food systems in cities around the world. The partnership is a platform for learning and knowledge brokering between science, policy & practice. RUAF strongly believes in the benefits of interdisciplinary work and multi-stakeholder learning.

RUAF synthesises knowledge from its exchange, advocacy and learning activities. We disseminate this knowledge online through the Urban Agriculture Magazine, RUAF papers and newsletters and through partner publications, and at international meetings and events.


The RUAF Secretariat, hosted by RUAF partner Hivos, coordinates and supports the work of the RUAF Global Partnership. The secretariat facilitates the execution of joint projects between members of the partnership and knowledge sharing.

Hivos represents RUAF in agreements with donors and strategic partners.

Who we work with

  • RUAF works strategically with organisations such as the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), ICLEI Local Governments for Sustainability, the CGIAR Research Program on Water, Land and Ecosystems (WLE), WASTE, and the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN).
  • RUAF facilitates the ICLEI-RUAF CITYFOOD Network, and supports the Milan Urban Food Policy Pact (MUFPP). RUAF co-leads the CGIAR Water Land and Ecosystems Programme/Rural-Urban Linkages Flagship.
  • We support frontrunners such as local food entrepreneurs and SMEs to catalyse promising initiatives. We connect citizens and stakeholders, particularly marginalised groups, in multi-stakeholder platforms (food policy councils) to ensure inclusive policy planning. And we help create an enabling policy environment in which local solutions can flourish, powered by (citizen-generated) evidence and representation at local, national, and global levels.


RUAF has received funds 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 from several local governments.


ETC Foundation initiated RUAF in response to the needs identified by a group of representatives from 28 international organisations, including UNDP, FAO, IDRC, GTZ and CIRAD. This group met in Ottawa (Canada) in 1994 and recognised the need to address the increasing “urbanisation of poverty” including growing urban food insecurity related to urban-rural migration, lack of formal employment, rising food prices, growing dependence on food imports, increasing dominance of supermarkets and fast food chains, and challenges posed by climate change.

Since the start in 1999, RUAF has engaged with local and international partner organisations in over 100 cities in 50 countries around the world. While over many years the RUAF activities and international networks were managed by the independent RUAF Foundation, first led by Henk de Zeeuw, followed by the late Marielle Dubbeling, the RUAF Secretariat is hosted since May 2019 by RUAF partner Hivos.