Thursday, June 30, 2022
An extremely important outcome of the Food Systems Summit convened by the UN Secretary General in September 2021 was the clear recognition of the key role of cities and local governments as a part of the solution in promoting sustainable food systems transformation at all levels. This has been a historic development.
The main challenge is that many factors shaping food systems operate beyond the urban scale and decisions made by cities and local government have wide reaching implications. New evidence shows that the vast majority of the world population lives within 3 hour travel time from an urban area and that small and medium size cities have larger catchment areas than large metropolises compared with their populations.
Food related Policies are often designed by national governments and do not take into consideration local concerns and challenges. This one-way link “from national to local” compromises consistency and coherence in policy design and implementation, and often results in inefficient and ineffective policies with regards to urban food systems.
Managing food systems is a task which, in many countries is entrusted to the ministry of agriculture and to related ministries (food, livestock, fisheries). The same may occur at the level of urban administrations: food systems issues are separate portfolios than environmental, health and infrastructure.
Therefore, the key challenge in front of us is to find ways to close such institutional gaps if we want the so much coveted policy and programme coherence across spatial domains. Moreover, such challenges may vary within the same country across different city sizes: small, intermediary and metropolitan cities.
This session can be the opportunity to discuss and identify possible mechanisms through which UN Agencies can join forces amongst them and with others to bridge this national-local food governance gap. The panel will be an opportunity to listen to the voice of cities, national governments, as well as representatives from UN-Agencies to identify innovative solutions for joined up action.
Strengthening the existing urban food systems coalition, which is part of the emerging coalitions of the Food Systems Summit, could be an important next step to be considered towards supporting the design and implementation of food systems policies and actions. The connection with the UN Food Systems Coordination Hub that aims at supporting the follow up to the Summit, could be another possible UN mechanism that could be considered for fostering engagement of cities in the overall food systems transformation agenda.
The event aims at: