The Role of Cities in the Transformation of Food Systems: Sharing Lessons from Milan Pact Cities

08 October 2018

This report published by the FAO highlights trends in urban food policy and practice as seen in the 157 submissions from the 2016, 2017 and 2018 cycles of Milan Pact Awards. These trends are illustrated by a series of examples.

For most cities signing the Milan Pact, the inclusion of the local food system as a priority is a new or relatively recent development. Most cities do not yet have a comprehensive food policy. Despite challenges in terms of delineation of responsibility, conflicting mandates, lack of coherence, lack of resources and of a robust evidence-base and lack of proper cross-representation, patterns in urban food systems evolution are identifiable and they have begun to address these challenges.

The report highlights 4 trends:

1. Cities have begun to integrate food security and nutrition with other urgent priorities such as poverty, climate change, migration, economic development, and civic engagement, among others.

2. Cities typically enter food systems through one or two entry points such as health, economic development (jobs), land-use planning, food safety, markets, sanitation,etc. However, many cities have begun to take more integrated governance approaches through mechanisms linking departments and creating cross-jurisdictional institutional arrangements in shaping municipal food governance.

3. As cities embrace the full breadth and inherent complexity of a food system approach, including primary production, distribution, storage, processing, and marketing and food waste management, local governments increasingly recognize the need to strengthen urban-rural linkages in diverse and synergistic ways.

4. In the food systems linking urban areas to their surrounding rural areas, food producers, food businesses and many other actors from civil society, the private sector, civic and research institutions are increasingly recognized by local governments as essential participants in food policy and practice through partnerships and alliances.

Read the full report


Leon Ballin
Sustainable Food Cities

Sustainable Food Cities is a partnership programme run by

Soil Association

Food Matters

Esmée Fairbairn Foundation
Sustainable Food Cities is funded by the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation 

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