Hungry for more: Cities are shaping the global food agenda

It is clear that the food, urban, resilience and sustainability agendas must come together.

At the Urban Food Forum at Resilient Cities 2017, Monika Zimmermann, Deputy Secretary General of ICLEI and Thierry Giordano, Decentralized Cooperation Advisor at FAO, drew an analogy between the way cities are seizing the food agenda and how they got a jump start on the climate change decades ago.

When national governments shied away from real commitments to tackle climate change, cities took action that raised national and global ambition. It took many years of hard work – and the challenges to tackle climate change still loom large – but nations have now adopted the Paris Agreement and recognize the important role of local and subnational governments.

A similar process is happening with food. At least, this is the hope many have. They are hoping that the actions taken at the local and subnational levels can give the necessary push to national governments and spur global change.

But to achieve that, cities need support.

ICLEI, the RUAF Foundation and FAO came together today and invited local and subnational governments to what looked more like a dynamic working session than a traditional conference. As we see a number of initiatives emerging to support cities, these three actors sought direct input from local and subnational governments in the room. The key question was: What tools and methodologies would help them most?

The local and subnational governments in the room answered with great interest and showed their commitment to urban food issues. They are taking action and are expecting to shape the local and global food agenda. They are already learning from each other and believe in the power of sharing their experiences more widely. They have the ambition and need support to build capacity and scale up. They know the challenge is huge, but they believe the opportunity is even greater – particularly when they become part of knowledge-based networks and partnerships.

In response to demands for information, training and technical and policy advice by an increasing number of cities, ICLEI and the RUAF Foundation launched the CITYFOOD network on resilient city-region food systems and urban agriculture.

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