Smart and sustainable holidays with the City Monitor

Food and society

Smart and sustainable holidays with the City Monitor

Smart and sustainable holidays with the City Monitor

Commitment to the environment and policies for sustainability don’t go on holiday. The choice of a holiday location can be based on criteria which support sustainability with the help of the Food Sustainability Index developed by the BCFN and the Economist.

Some people choose the location of their long-awaited holiday based on monuments and architectural wonders, others prefer to relax in the great outdoors, while some make their decision based on their favourite cuisines. However, the switched-on traveller makes their choice according to environmental sustainability and the policies which various cities have implemented to protect the environment and the citizens themselves. So how can you decide? With the help of the results from the City Monitor project, part of the Food Sustainability Index – the pilot project developed by the Economist Intelligence Unit in collaboration with the BCFN – which uses specific indicators to cast a light on the food systems and policies of 16 cities in 4 continents to help you choose sustainable holidays.

Cycleways and green spaces

A city can also be a perfect place for nature lovers and those who like to get about on two wheels providing there are plenty of green spaces and cycleways to allow you to move around safely, according to the basic principles of environmental sustainability. Based on the data from the City Monitor/Food Sustainability Index, one of the best locations for a sustainable holiday is undoubtedly Toronto, in Canada, which is top in the ranking of the 16 cities analysed thanks to its 1,351.5 m2 of green space per inhabitant. Second in the list is Johannesburg in South Africa with 231m2 per inhabitant, closely followed by Berlin in Germany with around 207m2 of green space per person. Last in the ranking is the densely-populated Indian city of Mumbai with just 1m2 of green space per inhabitant. Toronto is also near the top of the ranking when it comes to cycleways, coming in second place with a total length of 856km. In first and third place are the two European capitals of London (900km) and Paris (700km), but Berlin (620km) and San Francisco (560km) are also well placed in the ranking, fourth and fifth respectively. Once again Mumbai brings up the rear, with hardly any cycleways at all and a general infrastructure which is not conducive to environmental sustainability. 


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Focus on food

Holiday makers who like to eat out should pay particular attention to evenings out in Paris, because the French capital is one of the most expensive holiday locations, followed by Shanghai and Berlin. At the other end of the ranking are, from the bottom up, Johannesburg, Mumbai and Belo Horizonte (Brazil). Unprocessed food is significantly more expensive in Kyoto, but also in Paris and San Francisco, which occupy the top three places in the Food Sustainability Index ranking, while once again Johannesburg and Mumbai are at the bottom. However, the focus on environmental and food sustainability is also channelled through targeted policies aimed at, for instance, reducing waste or improving school canteens. The information provided by the City Monitor speaks for itself. Almost all the cities included in the analysis have specific policies for reducing waste, ranging from using left-overs to produce bio-fuels (Japan) to the donation of surplus food to those in need (Dubai) and through the “food sharing” (Berlin): this practice was taken into account when the ranking was being compiled, but is currently suspended for reasons of hygiene and food conservation regulations which the promoters are seeking to resolve. 


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Last but by no means least, analysis of the data from the City Monitor shows that despite the growing focus placed on food and food-related policies around the world, there are still very few cities which have well defined and clearly structured food policy plans. The leader in this ranking is Milan, which, along with its own city policies, promoted the Milan Urban Food Policy Pact. It is an international agreement signed by 123 cities around the world which requires mayors to make food systems sustainable, to guarantee healthy and accessible food for all, to preserve biodiversity and to combat waste. The urban areas which have signed up to the Pact contain 460 million people either living or working and, for this reason, it is one of the most tangible legacies of EXPO 2015.

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