Coalition on Sustainable and Inclusive Urban Food Systems

  • Ensure that the importance of urban food systems transformation is highlighted in relevant global, regional, and national fora.
  • Create space for dialogue among stakeholders at all levels (geographical, administrative, political) on priority actions for urban food system transformation
  • Leverage stakeholders’ knowledge and experiences and ensure the production, management and distribution of appropriate data for evidence-based policy design and implementation
  • Mobilise and leverage resources to support the capacities of urban administrations to integrate food into urban policies, planning and investments
  • Promote linkages between national and sub-national governments to enable coherent food policies and empower local governments (legally, financially and institutionally)
  • Leverage and promote coherence of actions by existing networks, private sector and civil society initiatives attempting to improve urban food systems

Science based evidence to prioritize this coalition

Over half the global population resides in urban areas, and by 2050 this is expected to rise to 75%. The pace of urbanization increases the demand for basic goods and services, including food. At present, urban areas consume 70% of all food produced, are responsible for 70% of global waste and for 60% of global greenhouse gas emissions. The sheer weight of urban in total food consumption points to the importance of urban food systems transformation for overall food system sustainability.

Many urban and peri-urban communities experience food insecurity, malnutrition and undernutrition. At the same time, the over-consumption of nutrient-poor, calorie-rich foods is increasing overweight and obesity rates, with associated negative impacts on physical and mental health. Urban food systems are characterized by high levels of food waste while urban agriculture and post-production activities are practiced in unsustainable ways.

Urban households consume different kinds of food products than rural ones: they spend a lower share of income on cereals, fats and oils but higher in meat, dairy and fish. Therefore urbanization does not only increase overall demand for food but it also changes the composition of demand and, as a result has the potential to change the structure of national food systems.

However, instead of addressing the complexity of urban food systems sustainability, policies and programmes to shape urban food systems are generally fragmented, compartmentalized and de-linked from other interventions such as social protection, climate action plans and the development of green infrastructure. There is clearly an urgent and increasingly recognized need for: (a) better integration of food systems transformation in urban policies and planning; and (b) for enhanced coherence between urban, national and global food system governance.

Food systems transformation towards sustainability requires both horizontal and vertical policy and planning coherence across different levels of governance. This entails strengthening the technical, regulatory, institutional, and financial capacities of urban administrations.

Mechanisms of implementation

Establish a global platform for the exchange of knowledge, information and experiences regarding urban food systems transformation

Establish links to UN bodies contributing to the SDG process in order to ensure that Urban Food Systems Issues are included (HLPF, Financing for Development etc.)

Introduce Urban Food Issues in the discussions of UN Regional Commissions, FAO Regional Conferences and UN Agencies global governing bodies

Ensure that Urban Food Systems are prominent in the development agenda at all levels and all relevant partners ( Work Programmes of Development Partners, UN Agencies, National Development Plans and Policies)

Liaise with the CFS to ensure that sub-national level governments are represented in the advisory group and the HLPE and that HLPE reports look at food issues and actions at sub-national level

Leverage UN Country programmes and teams to ensure inclusion of Urban Food Systems in One UN country programmes and the United Nations Sustainable Development Cooperation Framework

Awareness and advocacy campaigns

Leverage actions by existing networks and initiatives for undertaking city-to-city exchange and twinning arrangements between cities

Strategic partners

The informal Working Group on Urban Food Systems (the Working Group), led by FAO and GAIN will be the nucleus of this coalition. It will seek to expand to more stakeholders especially national governments as key actors to achieve its objectives. The Working Group currently comprising 26 partners (see below) was established in early 2020 to support cities bringing their voices to the global processes such as the Food Systems Summit (FSS) and the Nutrition for Growth Summit. In the process of the FSS, the Working Group and its members have: i) organized 16 independent dialogues in 26 cities; ii) undertaken the city consultation among cities to discuss game changing solutions; iii) collectively submitted game changing solutions; iv) organized one Global Summit Dialogue on cities food systems; v) organized a session as part of the main programme of the Pre-Summit.

The members of the Urban Food Systems Working Group are the following:

City networks
Delice Network
Global Resilient Cities Network
ICLEI-Local Governments for Sustainability

Other organisations / academic institutions

Cardiff University
CEMAS (World Sustainable Urban Food Centre of València)
Consumers International
EAT Foundation
Food Foundation
Nourish Scotland
RUAF Secretariat
The Prince’s Foundation
University of Cape Town
World Union of Wholesale Markets

UN agencies
UN Habitat
UN Nutrition
World Food Programme

Monitoring and Evaluation

Anchor SDG Targets

1.1 By 2030, eradicate extreme poverty for all people everywhere, currently measured as people living on less than USD 1.25 a day.
2.1 By 2030, end hunger and ensure access by all people, in particular the poor and people in vulnerable situations, including infants, to safe, nutritious and sufficient food all year round.
11.a Support positive link between urban, peri-urban and rural areas by strengthening national and regional development planning.
12.1 Implement the Ten-Year Framework of Programmes on Sustainable Consumption and Production Patterns, all countries taking action, with developed countries taking the lead, taking into account the development and capabilities of developing countries.

Anchor SDG indicators

1.1.1 Proportion of population below the international poverty line, by s*x, age, employment status and geographical location (urban/rural).
2.1.2 Prevalence of moderate or severe food insecurity in the population, based on the Food Insecurity Experience Scale (FIES).
11.a.1 Number of countries that have national urban policies or regional development plans that (a) respond to population dynamics; (b) ensure balanced territorial development; and (c) increase local fiscal space.
12.1.1 Number of countries developing, adopting or implementing policy instruments aimed at supporting the shift to sustainable consumption and production.

FAO will be the responsible agency to lead the process of monitoring and evaluation.

The Coalition on sustainable urban food systems will also use the Milan Urban Food Policy Pact (MUFPP) Monitoring Framework jointly developed by FAO, RUAF and the MUFPP

Express your interest in joining this coalition

Focal point contacts