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Conceptualising and Assessing City Region Food Systems

Posted on | February 8, 2015 | Comments Off

WG23 – Conceptualising and Assessing City Region Food Systems

In the context of rapid urbanization, a major challenge for the 21st century, cities are by far the biggest markets for agriculture and food industries. However, the food and nutrition security of (poor) urban populations is still at risk as a consequence of market volatility and rapid food price increases. In this context, there is an urgent need to develop tools, methodologies and approaches to address the challenges of food and nutrition security, agriculture and natural resource management. Moreover, there is the need to enable local authorities to ensure governance of dynamic and sustainable food systems, contributing to the realization of the right to food and the promotion of sustainable and healthy diets, with strong urban-rural linkages and enabling the involvement of all key local stakeholders, with particular attention to small-scale farmers.

In recent years, the concept City region food systems (CRFS) has emerged as promising approach to improve local food system sustainability, while taking into account ecological and socio-economic aspects. This is evidenced by, among other things, the growing number of cities worldwide which have developed their own urban food strategies and policies. Additionally, new governance structures for CFRS are being put into place, such as Food policy councils which spread from Canada and the US to Europe, and multi-stakeholder policy processes initiated elsewhere.

City region food systems encompass a given geographical region that includes a more or less concentrated urban centre and its surrounding peri-urban and rural hinterland; a regional landscape across which flows of people, goods, resources, and ecosystem services are integrally managed and provide a basis for sustainable livelihoods and resilient local economies. In this WG it is proposed to discuss conceptual approaches and assessment methods of city region food systems, with particular attention to the following issues:

• How to identify weaknesses in existing food chains, gaps to be bridged and bottlenecks to be removed for more resilient and inclusive food systems?
• How to improve access to adequate food for the vulnerable and poor urban population, and enhance market access for the smallholder farmers in urban, peri-urban and rural areas?
• How to support local governments and multi-stakeholder bodies such as Food policy councils in taking informed decisions on food planning and prioritize investments to make the CRFS more sustainable and resilient and improve livelihoods of rural and urban dwellers?


Guido Santini, Makiko Taguchi, Yota Nicolarea, FAO
Henk Renting, Marielle Dubbeling, RUAF Foundation


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