Today around 55 percent of the world’s population lives in urban areas while 90 percent live within 1 hour from a city of 20000 or more inhabitants. By 2050, the world’s urban population is expected to nearly double, and all together 68 percent of the world’s population is estimated to be urban.
With 70 percent of global food consumed in urban areas, the role of cities and patterns of urban consumption are becoming extremely important for food systems transformation. Rural and urban areas are becoming closely integrated and so are food systems. It is fundamental that such changes are reflected in food systems governance aiming at a sustainable food systems transformation. However, local governments are still not recognized as key players in food systems management. And yet they can be major contributors to affordable healthy diets, food waste reduction and a circular food economy. Strengthening their role should go hand-in-hand with strengthening their capacity and policy space.
The important role of cities has been recognized during the 2021 UN Food Systems Summit, where a Coalition on Sustainable and Inclusive Urban Food Systems was created to support urban food systems transformation and ensure it is appropriately reflected in the implementation of the national pathways. In addition, the importance a territorial approach to food systems transformation which links food systems in rural areas to those of urban areas of various sizes is increasingly recognized. Such developments have not yet found their reflection in food systems governance.
The expert panel will try to identify innovative ways for strengthening the role and function of urban, local and territorial food systems to sustainable food systems transformation by looking at recent trends and new sources of data and information. The panel will also explore appropriate forms of food systems governance which reflect food systems dynamics. In this context, the expert panel will focus on the empowerment of city and local stakeholders by national governments and other regional and global actors to play their role in achieving sustainable food systems transformation.