More than 50 percent of the world’s population currently lives in urban areas, a proportion that is projected to increase to 66 percent by 2050. How to provide healthy food for everyone in a sustainable way is a challenge affecting especially cities. The right to food is the core of many projects of decentralized cooperation too.
In 2015, the European Year for Development, the EU Commission decided to finance the Food Smart Cities for Development project, which involves 12 urban areas over three continents that will coordinate their food policy and their international cooperation activities until the end of 2016. The project is led by the city of Milan and involves also he municipalities of Turin, Barcelona, Bilbao, Utrecht, Gent, Bruges, Marseille, and some civil society partners: People’s Expo, Equo Garantito, World Fair Trade, World Fair Trade Europe, Fair Trade Advocacy Office, Fair Trade Hellas, GRAIN and ACRA. The municipalities of London, Thessaloniki, Dakar and, department of Antioquia and Medellin are associated partners to the project.
Food Smart Cities for Development is part of EU DEAR (Development, Education and Awareness Raising) programme and aims to foster the role of the cities in changing the urban food production and consumption paradigm. Reduce food waste, promote healthy eating and encourage the purchase of food produced respecting the rights of people and of the environment, are local actions that can trigger a global change. Starting from this consideration cities and civil society organizations will work together until the end of 2016 organizing activities that will enhance the collaboration to create a coordinated urban food policy agenda and show the potential of the European decentralized cooperation in the fight against poverty and hunger.
The project has three main objectives:
- to raise public awareness on the impact of European cooperation policies, with particular emphasis on decentralized cooperation, on food security and on sustainable development;
- to strengthen the role of European Cities as facilitators in the promotion of sustainable development focusing on global food security strategies;
- to make partners’ cities and CSOs participate to the debate about post-2015 development agenda.
In 2015 and 2016 several local and international events are taking place: Food Smart Events in the partners cities; workshops on Food Policies in the partner cities; the World Fair Trade Week (May 23-31 2015) a 7-day event with conferences, workshops, meetings to discuss topics connected to the Fair Trade movement; People’s Expo (June 3-5), the international forum of civil society and small farmers’ movements; third UNDP World Forum on Local Economic Development, in Turin (October 2015); local events to spread the food guidelines that will come out of the workshops and the other events; the international conference in the framework of the presentation of the Milan Urban Food Policy Pact (October, 15-16); the final conference in Brussels.
One of the most important goals of the project is to push participant cities to adopt a sustainable food policy by exchanging good practices and building a common framework of actions: the Food Guidelines. Their purpose is to help cities and civil societies to translate food strategies into action. Since European citizens and civil society organizations are key actors of Food Smart Cities for Development, they will be actively involved in drafting and implementing the Food Guidelines.
Building more resilient urban food systems is essential for the sustainable development and in this way foster the debate and discussion on the Post-2015 development agenda.