Integrating food planning into urban planning is essential as cities grow and policymakers overlook food security and nutritional issues, a top UN official said.
Maria Helena Semedo, deputy director-general for natural resources at the UN food agency said providing healthy diets for the world’s growing urban population required forging stronger links between rural producers and urban markets and building food systems that are more socially inclusive, environmentally sound and less wasteful.
Speaking at the recent Global Forum for Food and Agriculture, Semedo warned of the difficulties that many cities face in ensuring regular and stable access to adequate food for all. “This will worsen as an increasing proportion of the hungry will be living in urban areas,” she said.
More than 50 percent of the world’s population currently lives in urban areas and this is expected to rise to 70 percent by 2050, particularly in developing countries.
Increasing effects of climate change, including storms, floods and other extreme weather events, pose an added threat to how people in cities, especially the poor, access food.
To address these needs, food systems – from production, distribution and consumption – must be made more sustainable, according to the Food and Agriculture Oorganization (FAO).
This includes guaranteeing access and active involvement of all stakeholders, farmers and smallholders, along the whole supply and value chain. Crucial to this is drastically reducing food losses and waste, which are especially high in urban areas through measurs redistribution of edible unused food and using waste as compost or to generate energy.
“Feeding cities creates considerable opportunities for sustainable development – both in cities and in rural areas – especially when family farmers and small-holders are linked to these markets,” Semedo said.