HABITAT III: inspiring our new Cluster “Food Smart Cities"

HABITAT III: inspiring our new Cluster “Food Smart Cities"

Claudia Van Gool
Claudia Van Gool
External Communication Coordinator

Between October 14-16, 2016, VECO Belgium, VECO Mesoamerica and VECO Andino met with partner cities and strategic allies in the city of Quito, host of the UN Habitat III conference. As a result, we are proud to introduce you to our new international cluster: Food Smart Cities.

It is well known that by 2050 80% of the global population will live in cities, the climate is warming, the pressure on land, water and biodiversity increases, raw materials become scarce, and farmers massively leave the craft. So, how do we provide citizens with food, without further affecting the boundaries of our planet?

We believe that urban food systems can contribute to global sustainability. A central question here is which role city administrations can play in the transition towards sustainable production and consumption models in peri-urban context, and this in function of inclusive, resilient and fair local food systems.

Quito: host city of HABITAT III and partner of VECO

Accordingly, in the framework of the United Nations Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development, HABITAT III, VECO took the opportunity to get inspired and network during the events. One of them was the “Food for cities: the challenge for sustainable development” event, promoted by CONQUITO in alliance with RUAF, ICLEI and VECO, where our partners Ghent, Tegucigalpa and Quito, together with the city of Belo Horizonte, presented their experiences in urban agriculture, food waste reduction, sustainable production and food consumption.

Additionally, VECO Andino took part in the HABITAT III EXHIBITION, where different proposals were displayed for the #NewUrbanAgenda. At the stand of the Belgian Government, we exposed our work through coffee and chocolate degustation offered by our strategic partners Pacari and the barista academy Fresh&Sweet. The cocoa and coffee used for this degustation were produced by our partner farmers organizations UOPROCAE and AACRI.

Food Smart Cities for sustainable development

The objective of the FSC cluster meetings, promoted by VECO, was to elaborate a joint work agenda together with delegates of our strategic partners RUAF, the Global partnership on sustainable Urban Agriculture and Food Systems, and RIMISP, the Latin American centre for rural development. The main players of this proposal are the municipalities of Ghent, Tegucigalpa and Quito, who, for having signed the Milan Pact, have a framework to support sustainable food systems in their territories.

As a result, a 3 level approach was established:

  1. Implement 3 pilot projects between VECO and the cities of Ghent, Tegucigalpa and Quito to design and carry out an urban food policy.

  2. Support knowledge exchange, learning and co-creation between cities and strategic allies like RUAF and RIMISP.

  3. Influence the international agenda, for example the Milan Pact, through evidences from cities and our international network.

VECO has been generating concrete experiences working hand in hand with producer organizations, enterprises and other allies, sharing a vision of food security, urban-rural linkages and inclusiveness. Nowadays, in the northwest of Quito, VECO Andino works with coffee producers to improve the quality of their product and to promote the local consumption of coffee in the Ecuadorian capital. Additionally, VECO Andino and RUAF worked together on a case study to explore the role of the private sector in food distribution in Quito and surroundings. On the other hand, in Belgium, we have 8 years of experience in sustainable catering. We co-develop learning tracks together with schools, enterprises and public entities that are being successfully implemented. Because of this experience, VECO was commissioned by the city of Ghent to support the making of an urban food strategy. In Honduras, we have strengthened farmer organizations to sell their vegetables, fruits and herbs to big market players like Walmart and other important retailers. Together with cities like Ghent, Tegucigalpa and Quito we want to take a step forward towards building resilient urban food policies, within multi-actor platforms.

What we can already reveal, is that sustainable food chains and catering in schools will be at the top of our list. We´ll keep you posted about the next steps of the FSC cluster!

Written by: Claudia Van Gool, Nataly Pinto and Gabriela Gonzalez