As communities across the globe grapple with challenges in food policy ranging from insecurity to obesity, and climate change to growth and employment, cities are emerging as a new frontier for creative solutions.
It describes several key lessons from case studies in Brazil, Kenya, The Netherlands, Canada and the United States:
- investment in collating or gathering data on a city’s food challenges, both when developing policy and in its later analysis
- identifying and leveraging the city’s existing capacity to address food policy challenges
- deliberate engagement and active involvement of all relevant city departments to target ambitious, integrated policy yielding outcomes on multiple fronts
- participatory policy development involving city and community, where conflicts and ideological differences are recognised and managed
- obtain sufficient funds for policy implementation and optimise their use
- win, leverage and sustain political commitment
These factors were common to causes across the spectrum of food challenges faced by cities, which the report said were diverse and sometimes diametrically opposed (shortages in some places, obesity in others).
Despite advances in global nutrition status, the report said gaps remained, with about 800 million people worldwide food insecure, two billion micronutrient deficient, another two billion overweight or obese and some 160 million children growth-stunted due to malnutrition.
Food systems were also contributing to climate change (contributing about a third of the planet’s manmade greenhouse gas emissions), waste, environmental degradation and economic inequality.
Where cities were the locus of these issues, they also held the key to solutions, the report said.
Examples of urban food policy in the report range from microgardens and urban farms to ‘greenways’ reforestation projects, reuse and donation schemes, tax reform (increased levies on unhealthy foods and relief for healthier options) and professionalisations schemes for street vendors.
It’s worth bookmarking the report to read in full, but there’s also a nice executive summary here.