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


Anja Katalin De Cunto Project Coordinator


  • Saving the world with tomatoes

    Ghent has won a UN award for the way the Belgian city puts food on the table. See the ingredients of Ghent’s food policy.

    5 minutes read
  • Let it rain

    What would happen if cities let rain run its course? Paris is becoming a permeable city and with rain, other positive effects have trickled in.

    5 minutes read
  • CARbon free

    At the heart of Prague's new transport policy is a more integrated, energy efficient and environmentally friendly public transport system.

    5 minutes read
  • People power for climate

    Vantaa, the fourth most populous city in Finland, is thinking on a global scale. This is particularly so when it comes to living up to global climate commitments.

    5 minutes read
  • Branching out

    Planting urban trees to boost climate action and citizen wellbeing is a growing trend, but what does it take to get it right? France's greenest city, Angers, shows how it should be done.

    5 minutes read
  • My future city 2030

    Porto has a goal to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 50% by 2030, but thinking green requires a strong vision of the future.

    6 minutes read
  • Sorting it out!

    The fast food industry has been slow to take action against plastic waste but now cities are helping big brands make amends. And Reims is lovin' it!

    6 minutes read
  • Street smart

    Walking down Bogoridi Street in Burgas feels like stepping into the past – you might not suspect that this wide, sand-hued street is one of the most high-tech public spaces in Europe. The old-style streetlamps are more than they seem...

    5 minutes read
  • Pumping Heat

    You don’t need a volcano for geothermal energy that works well – in fact, it’s the relatively moderate underground temperatures that allow the system to provide not only heating during the winter, but also cooling during the summer months.

    4 minutes read
  • The world is over. Time to save it.

    We did our best to save the world, but now it’s too late for that. This is the premise of the game Age of Energy, which is harnessing its addictive power to cajole young people into energy saving behaviour.

    5 minutes read