Food Smart Cities @ VECO
Food Smart Cities @ VECO
More than half of the world’s population currently lives in urban areas, a proportion that is projected to increase to even 70% by 2050. But how do you provide healthy food for everyone? And how do you do this in such a way that the effects of climate change are taken into account and that the environment is not further damaged?
Cities all over the world are reflecting and exchanging on how they can address these huge challenges. New urban food policies are being developed. These policies can offer opportunities for farmers in periurban and rural areas around the world. They can improve the livelihoods of farmers and push food production and consumption towards more sustainability.
In 2015, 137 city mayors gathered in Milan to discuss two of the most severe emergencies of the third millennium: food security and sustainable development. It was during this conference that “Food Smart Cities” became the central concept for cities that work towards new urban food systems. The food systems address the consequences of population growth, the effects of climate change and many other complex socio-economic issues. At the end of the conference, the Milan Urban Food Policy Pact was signed by 137 city mayors. They agreed to develop sustainable food systems that are inclusive, resilient, safe and diverse. Among the signatories are the cities of Tegucigalpa (Honduras), Quito (Ecuador) and Ghent (Belgium). VECO works with farmer groups in all three regions and decided to cluster its activities.
Farmers should have a voice in the discussions on these policies. Their views and role should be valued and taken into account so they can benefit from more organised food links and chains between their villages and consumers in the cities. We are also convinced that tangible activities in these 4 cities can inspire and nourish global discussions on food sustainability
Towards the Sustainable Development Goals
The Urban Food Policy Pact is also an important contribution to the Sustainable Development Goals. The goals, launched by the UN in December 2015, unite global and collective challenges of the global community that need to be overcome by 2030. For example, one of the 17 goals focuses on the importance of cities incentivising sustainable development. Other objectives focus on sustainable food production, sustainable consumption and the development of global partnerships. Furthermore, the important role of cities in developing strategies towards sustainability was emphasised during the UN Habitat III conference in October 2016 which focused on the New Urban Agenda.
VECO’s Food Smart Cities Cluster: a partnership based on tangible action, complementary strengths and collective impact
VECO supported the formulation of ‘Gent en garde’, the food strategy for the city of Ghent, Belgium. VECO is now discussing its involvement in the strategy implementation: this could range from developing short food chains to increasing sustainable catering in schools. By 2021, Ghent wants to implement a sustainable food policy in all schools that is not limited to just school canteens but also extends to the classroom.
In and around Tegucigalpa, the capital of Honduras VECO works on sustainable inclusive vegetable chains. Tegucigalpa is, furthermore, also investing in sustainable school catering. A close collaboration between the municipality and VECO is exploring how these efforts can be integrated in a broader food policy that is in compliance with the Milan Pact.
In Ecuador, VECO works with Conquito, the operating agency of the municipality of Quito. We are supporting the coffee chain development, namely by promoting the consumption of coffee that is processed in the country instead of imported coffee. We want to install a real, local coffee culture. VECO and Conquito are working together to investigate possibilities to broaden the efforts by working with private companies and producer organisations of fruit and vegetable chains. VECO and the city of Quito also collaborate on the construction of urban food strategies with RIMISP, the Latin American Centre for Rural Development, and with the RUAF Foundation (a global network and leading centre of expertise in the field of intra- and periurban agriculture and city region food strategies). Additionally, VECO Andino and the RUAF foundation worked together on a case study exploring the role of the private sector in food distribution in Quito and surroundings.
In Indonesia, Gita Pertiwi is our partner in the region of the city Solo, Java. Its network is initiating new supply chains for healthy food like healthy rice, vegetables and coconut sugar. Farmer organisations supported by VECO are involved, but also other producers in rural areas close to Solo, and also hotels, restaurants, school canteens and supermarkets. Furthermore, Solo has already implemented food-related programs for several years, for example a consumer awareness program on healthy food and healthy lifestyle, urban farming and healthy food canteens. In collaboration with the government, we expect to develop the program further, expand it and take it to a higher level within Indonesia.
About our partners
The cluster is composed by complementary partners with a shared interest. Our partners involve:
The cities of Ghent (Belgium), Quito (Ecuador), Tegucigalpa (Honduras) and Solo (Indonesia)
Networks like the RUAF Foundation, a global partnership on sustainable Urban Agriculture and Food Systems, and RIMISP, the Latin American Centre for Rural Development.
The Food Smart Cities Cluster works on 3 topics, using a variety of approaches
1. Development and implementation of urban food policies
Developing new food systems in urban areas is extremely complex. How to involve producers, traders, companies, city departments, consumers in the discussions on new policies? How to involve not only the city’s agriculture department, but also the health department, the environment and special planning department, initiatives to stimulate local economy etc. How to organise all that in an efficient way? And how to make sure all that fits with regional and global food systems?
We thoroughly explore and forge links across boundaries to get a better insight into the complexity of a sustainable food system and on how the implementation of a local policy can convey that vision and position it on relevant national and international forums.
2. Rural-urban-periurban sustainable inclusive chain development
Although urban agriculture is important, it´s not enough to feed the entire city population. Thus we must ask ourselves: how to connect cities to their surrounding rural areas?
Challenges are located in the area of sustainability in relation to distance, transportation, growth and production methods, the volume and quality of production, the organisation of the trade model, the distributions system, logistics and the business model. There is a need for a long term strategy developed by all stakeholders. Stakeholders include the government, the financial sector and the chain players in question, such as producer organizations, processors and retailers.
3. Sustainable procurement & purchasing (including legal framework and consumer involvement)
Developing more sustainable food consumption and production patterns will have a significant impact on sustainable development. Public sector institutions as well as centres of procurement (e.g. hospitals, care homes, universities, schools and canteens) represent a significant part of any national food economy. They can take up the responsibility to promote an “ethic of care” for their communities and environment in the ways that they purchase, prepare and serve food.
Several examples demonstrate that public procurement is one of the most powerful tools urban governments have at their disposal to design sustainable food systems that prioritise quality foods. They also show that successful long-term change has to be tailored to the culture and system of governance in each city or region. Commitment and creativity is vital and the ability to think ‘outside the box’ brings environmental, financial, health and social rewards.
Food system analysis
Multilevel, multi-actor, multi stakeholder dialogue
Co-creation / shared value
Peer to peer knowledge exchange and monitoring
Communication and awareness raising
Our track record
- VECO supported the formulation of the food strategy for the city of Ghent, Belgium. Now we are involved in its implementation.
- In and around Tegucigalpa, Honduras, we support various sustainable inclusive vegetable chains.
- In Quito, Ecuador, we promoted a strong campaign on sustainable consumption and we enhance local consumption of coffee that is processed in the country. Now we are including fruit and vegetable chains.
- In Solo, Indonesia, VECO worked on healthy food awareness campaigns together with youngsters. We are currently part of a broader network to set up new supply chains for healthy food like rice, vegetables and coconut sugar.
The aim of the Food Smart Cities Cluster is to obtain results located at 3 levels
Level 1- Piloting with cities
Together with the cities of Ghent (Belgium), Quito (Ecuador), Tegucigalpa (Honduras) and Solo (Indonesia), we are implementing four pilot projects on:
Strategy design or implementation of the cities’ food policy.
Piloting rural, urban and periurban food chains like fruit, vegetables, coffee and rice.
Implementation of sustainable catering in schools.
Level 2 - Learning cycle
Peer-to-peer monitoring, knowledge exchange, learning between cities, VECO’s and strategic allies such as the RUAF foundation and RIMISP.
Level 3 - Influencing the international agenda
The findings will go to international discussion platforms so we can share our what we learned and advance the political agenda in favour of sustainable food systems and inclusive rural- urban value chains.
The new issue to be considered is food waste. Just recently, a newspaper published a report that Jakarta, the capital of Indonesia, produces more then 4.000 tonnes of food waste per day, which is 54% of all the waste.
City of Tegucigalpa
City of Ghent
City of Solo
The RUAF Foundation
International Food Smart Cities Cluster coordinator/ Food Smart Cities VECO Andino
Nataly Pinto nataly [at] veco-andino.org
Food Smart Cities VECO Belgium
Gert Engelen gert.engelen [at] vredeseilanden.be
Food Smart Cities VECO Mesoamérica
Melvin Fajardo melvin.fajardo [at] vecoma.org
Food Smart Cities VECO Indonesia
Purnama Adil Marata padmarata [at] vecoindonesia.or.id