What can cities do to change our food systems?

12 May 2020

“…current food systems are being challenged to provide permanent and reliable access to adequate, safe, local, diversified, fair, healthy and nutrient rich food for all… cities which host over half the world population have a strategic role to play in developing sustainable food systems and promoting healthy diets…”
– From the Milan Urban Food Policy Pact text –

There is a relatively new area of action for cities: in addition to promote sustainable transport, energy efficiency in buildings and development of green areas, cities can work on supporting the transformation of our food systems, to make them fairer and more sustainable.

In this webinar, we heard from experts and cities experience on the challenges and opportunities related to food action in cities.

We heard from the International panel of Experts on sustainable food system (IPES) on the impact that food systems have on our climate, on our health and at socio-economic level. The experts support a re-alignment of the different and concurring policies related to food production and consumption in cities, at national level and at the EU level, something which is planned to happen with the upcomgin farm to fork strategy, part of the EU green deal.

Representatives from the city of Ghent remarked on how they have brought together the city food and climate ambitions. Even if reporting the exact CO2 emission reduction on food related actions is still difficult, the impact of such actions is often greater than expected from both social and environmental perspective. It is about changing citizens everyday behaviour: support small local farmers, buying local, move towards a more plant-based diet, avoid packaging and above all food waste.

Grenoble-Alpes-Metropole representative demonstrated how they supported a new territorial plan and integrated the objectives of their SECAP and their PLUI (Plan Local d’Urbanisme Intercommunal – Land use regulations Plan). They worked alongside all steps of the food chain, from the support to local food production and consumption, with the creation of an agro-food pole for promoting the selling of local foods, to sustainable transport and distribution and their zero waste plan.

Finally, we heard about the role of the social enterprise ‘Too Good To Go’ in engaging citizens and cities against food waste and how can cities start to work on this domain, for example in school canteens. According to many scientists, reducing food waste is the number one solution to fighting climate change and to stop global warming at 2°C.

You can find the recording of the webinar in the Covenant of Mayors library