The city regions approach to building resilient landscapes and food systems presents interesting policy and implementation challenges. And while an increasing number of cities and organizations in the Global North and Global South are collaborating on integrating urban and rural management of food systems, more training, technical assistance and policy advice is needed. Planners, government officials and resource management councils need practical guidelines for taking tangible steps towards developing more resilient city region food systems – methods and tools for systems planning, design and monitoring across the urban and rural divide.
Guidance comes from local and subnational governments that have already enacted and implemented food policy in strategically integrated initiatives. Lessons learned can be drawn from Turkey’s Seferihisar, where the city has taken a “seed to plate” approach to education and trainings for a more resilient city region food system. In Brazil, the city of Belo Horizonte has implemented anti-hunger strategies that address inefficiencies and disconnect between city and rural food systems. Bobo-Dioulasso, Burkina Faso, has embraced urban agriculture as part of its larger food system. And in Sri Lanka, the Kesbewa Urban Council has succeeded in bridging the gap between city and provincial governance of agriculture. By incorporating food systems thinking into city region planning, stakeholders create support and enabling policy environments for local and sustainable food production.
The cooperation and exchange of experiences between these and many more city regions and between local governments and civil society are an important part of the battle for resilient food systems. Local Governments for Sustainability (ICLEI) and the International Network of Resource Centres on Urban Agriculture & Food Security (RUAF) have come together to create the CITYFOOD network, a global platform for urban agriculture and city region food systems. This collaboration encourages open dialogue between successful and aspiring city networks to facilitate better dissemination of research and data and share best practices, examples, projects and policies that contribute to urban food security and more sustainable city regions.
By encouraging horizontal, city-to-city learning exchanges, lessons learned can be identified, localized and adapted to specific contexts for future opportunities. With this kind of vision, engaged networks working at all levels from the local to the international, and using the strategies and tools outlined above, the challenges of a rapidly urbanizing world can be overcome, and we can transform our city regions into true landscapes for people, food and nature.Marielle Dubbeling is the director of the RUAF Foundation. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Monika Zimmermann is deputy secretary general of ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability. She can be reached at email@example.com. Feature Photo: Dave Zawislak on Flickr