Beyond Urban: City-Region Food Systems for Resilient and Sustainable Development

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From Urbanet

A large share of the world’s population lives in urban areas, making cities a major cause of climate change. Food is especially relevant in this regard, calling for strategies that make food systems contribute to urban resilience. How this may look like can be seen when looking at the City Regions Food System presented by Michela Carucci, Roman Malec, and Guido Santini.

Addressing Food Systems at Urban and Regional Level

Most of the global strategies on climate adaptation and mitigation in cities focus on how to make clean energy and clean transportation the new norm. Whilst, efforts towards risk-sensitive sustainable food systems planning are still overlooked. Nevertheless, cities account for 70 per cent of global carbon dioxide emissions of which food is among the top five largest contributors. The global food system emits 21-37 per cent of the Earth’s greenhouse gases, with pre- and post-production activities included. A recent analysis suggests that 2.5 billion people, living in over 1,600 cities, will experience declining agricultural outputs, posing a tremendous challenge for residents and local authorities.

This decline could set off a chain-reaction that leads to increased food prices and reduced food security in many cities around the world. Meanwhile, the route from farmer to urban consumer is a long and winding one: climate change related impacts can disrupt it – be it crop production, transportation, processing, or retail. This results in food shortages especially after a major climate-related hazard. With 70 per cent of the global food supplyintended for urban food markets, cities are especially vulnerable to climate shocks and stresses.

At the same time, this highlights the importance of cities as actors in the battle against climate change and in developing resilience strategies. 60 per cent of the area expected to be urban by 2030 is yet to be built. Thus, planning resilient and sustainable food systems creates significant opportunities for climate resilience, mitigation, and adaptation, while, at the same time, generating jobs and improving food and nutrition security within the rural-urban spectrum.

A Global Partnership on Sustainable and Resilient City Region Food Systems

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO), through the financial support of the German Government, implement the City Region Food Systems Programme and advocates for food systems intervention strategies to build climate resilience in cities and nearby peri-urban areas.

With its focus on food systems, the programme proposes an innovative approach to assess climate risks and strengthen the resilience of cities and connected peri-urban and rural areas. It aims at improving capacities of local governments and food stakeholders. With a better understanding of the food system, its main actors, and its exposure to climate related risks, they can make informed decisions, plan interventions, and prioritise investments that reduce its vulnerability. The project, global in its nature, is implemented in four city regions: Kigali (Rwanda), Colombo (Sri Lanka), Antananarivo (Madagascar), and Tamale (Ghana). It is realised jointly with RUAF, the Water, Land, and Ecosystems (WLE) Programme, and Laurier University – a global partnership on sustainable agriculture and food systems.

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