On 28-29 July the city of Birmingham, one of the MUFPP Steering Committee cities, hosted the Commonwealth Food Futures 2022, an international retreat to showcase how cities can create healthy and sustainable food systems, with top officials from 20 cities participating from the Commonwealth. Officers from Birmingham, Chandigarh, Durban, Indore, Jabulpur, Jammu, Johannesburg, Mongla, Mzuzu, Nairobi, Nowapara, Panaji, Pune, Rajkot, Rourkela, Sagar, Surat, Tumkur, Ujjain, Windhoek. For a detailed profile of each city, including their food strategy, please visit foodfoundation.org.uk/fc22-network.
The event was being hosted at UK House: The Commonwealth Business Hub, a platform for bringing together businesses and governments to identify opportunities for international partnership and innovations for sustainable growth. A partnership between the Department for International Trade and the West Midlands Growth Company, it harnesses the cooperative spirit of the Commonwealth Games for economic benefit and builds on the UK’s climate leadership at COP26.
Session Cities leading food system transformation
Introduced by the keynote speech of the Birmingham Councillor Mariam Khan, the session cities leading food system transformation involved Tinashe Mushayanyama from the City of Johannesburg, Ravindra Binwade from the City of Pune and Filippo Gavazzeni from MUFPP Secretariat, moderated by the BBC journalist Leyla Kazim.
There is growing international recognition of the role that city authorities play in responding to food system challenges. The food system describes all the complex stages involved in the production, distribution, marketing and consumption of food. Food system transformation aims to ensure food safety and nutritious food is accessible to all whilst reducing food waste and reducing the impact of food supply chains and consumption on climate change and biodiversity. Cities are at the forefront of realising this transformation because their citizens experience the worst consequences of the current food system challenges and because they have demonstrated that they can often mobilise leadership and action more effectively than national governments. This creates real opportunities for cities to learn from each other about what works. During this session, Councillor Mariam Khan will present on the Birmingham India Nutrition Initiative (BINDI) which led to the development of the Food Cities 2022 partnership.
The key role of the Food Foundation
The conference was organized by the Food Foundation, an organization with the mission of changing food policy and business practice to ensure everyone, across our nations, can afford and access a healthy diet.
“We are extremely grateful to our funders who have made the event possible to do in person, in particular the UK Government’s Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office and the SHEFS research consortium funded by the Wellcome Trust. Both have supported us to develop the Food Cities 2022 network and learning platform which the city delegations who are visiting Birmingham have been part of. This event is the culmination of that work and we hope it has served as a valuable resource for all the cities moving forward” said Anna Taylor, Executive Director of the foundation, “The Food Foundation is very proud to have supported such a wonderful group of city leaders.“
Food Justice Pledge
Thirty cities signed at the Commonwealth Food Future 2022 the Food Justice Pledge, a formal commitment ensuring all citizens are entitled to safe, nutritious, and sustainable food.
Launched by Birmingham City Council at the 7th Milan Urban Food Policy Pact Global Forum, the aim of the pledge is to put political weight into the voices of cities emphasizing the need for local, national, and international policies which create and support an affordable, nutritious and sustainable food system for all citizens, irrespective of social or economic grouping.
Birmingham wants to encourage cities of all sizes across the world to pledge and work together collectively to consider how cities can politically commit to the right to food and work to improve the whole food system, opposed to individual issues, so that it is fairer, healthier and more sustainable.
The signatories committing to action included top officials from cities in India, Bangladesh and South Africa.
UK Government announched 1.5B£ to improve global nutrition
A £1.5 billion government funding commitment to improve global nutrition was affirmed at the Commonwealth Food Futures 2022 conference. Speaking to senior delegates from 20 Commonwealth countries, Foreign Commonwealth and Development Minister The Right Honorable Amanda Milling, said the funding would be put in place by 2030 to spend “at least £1.5bn on interventions to improve nutrition right across all of our aid work. There’s no doubting the scale of the challenge’ she said. We all want our people, societies and economies to fulfil their potential and to be able to cope with the shocks that life can present,” she said. “That’s impossible when the spectre of malnutrition is stalking lives and snatching away opportunities. We all want our children to benefit from decent education, for our families to enjoy good health and better income and for our economies to thrive and that’s not going to happen unless there’s a bedrock of good nutrition.”
The day of discussions co-ordinated by The Food Foundation, was focusing on how city food policies across the Indian subcontinent and Africa are addressing the climate crisis, dysfunctional food systems and the dual burden of obesity and undernutrition. Anna Taylor, Executive Director of The Food Foundation, was delighted by confirmation of the funding, saying: “It is fantastic to see the UK Government is continuing to take the lead in their commitments to end malnutrition. Today we’re talking about the vital role which cities can play to help their citizens get access to nutritious food which protects their health.”