Cities, great protagonists of food systems transformation

Cities, great protagonists of food systems transformation

January 25, 2019

Cities, great protagonists of food systems transformation

From Milan to Tel Aviv, including numerous cities across the five continents, changes in food systems must go hand in hand with urban policies based on sustainability, says BCFN’s new Food & Cities report

In an increasingly urbanized world, cities inevitably play a main role in managing and transforming food systems, as emerged during the BCFN International Forum on Food and Nutrition, held recently in Milan.  The two-day event was also an opportunity to present the Food & Cities report, result of the collaboration between BCFN and the Milan Urban Food Policy Pact (MUFPP). “More than 50% of the world's population lives in cities and the figure will reach 80% by 2050, and urban population’s demand for food will grow accordingly. Data show that current food systems cannot satisfy this demand”, explained Marta Antonelli, Research Programme Manager at the BCFN Foundation, during the International Forum in Milan, adding that the Food & Cities study is the result of the collaboration of more than 70 international experts and accurately depicts the role played by cities in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals set by the United Nations, and provides practical recommendations for the successful transformation of food systems


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Milan leads the way to change

Anna Scavuzzo, Vice-Mayor of Milan and responsible for food policies in Lombardy’s capital city, was at the BCFN International Forum and presented “Milan’s case”, the food policies the city has been implementing for the past few years, which are now showing results worthy of notice. “Milan is becoming a living laboratory in terms of food and the results show that each city, with the help of its citizens, can play a central role in the transformation of food systems”, said Scavuzzo, explaining that Milan’s project, launched in 2014, involved many different players and analyzed the city’s food policies creating ad hoc policies. “In other words, it is an institutional solution aimed at achieving UN Goal  11: make cities inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable”. The idea underlying the concrete initiatives taken by Milan’s administration is the careful observation of the situation, followed by the collection and analysis of the data pertaining to the different areas involved in the sustainability of the food systems: from food waste to obesity, including logistics and horticulture. 

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Sustainability beyond national borders

Milan also launched another important urban sustainability initiative: Milan Urban Food Policy Pact (MUFPP). The “pact” announced in February 2014 during the C40 Summit in Johannesburg (South Africa), was signed by more than 100 cities (now 180) across 5 continents on October 15, 2015, and was presented the next day to the Secretary-General of the United Nations Ban Ki-moon, during the celebrations of World Food Day. 

“One of the greatest legacies of Expo 2015, held in Milan and dedicated to Feeding the planted, Energy for life” it says on the MUFPP website. International collaboration is, no doubt, one of MUFPP’s strongest points: more than 150 food policies and practices involving food have already been collected in a database and are used to compile a series of “recommended actions” that cities can implement. The Eurocities project also moves along the same lines. It was launched back in 1986, thanks to the will of the mayors of 6 main European cities (Barcelona, Birmingham, Frankfurt, Lion, Milan and Rotterdam), and now has been subscribed by 140 European cities. “The European network offers participating cities a platform to share knowledge and exchange ideas, but also works in close contact with European institutions, to answer the common questions and needs of citizens’ daily life”, explain those responsible for the project. 


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