In early December, Rikolto had the pleasure to welcome representatives of 7 cities from Africa, Latin America and Asia in Leuven, Belgium for the event "We feed the city". Over the course of one week, we exchanged about our challenges, solutions and ideas to make local food systems more sustainable and discovered over a dozen concrete initiatives that try to make safe, fair, local and healthy food available to consumers.
While it was evident that cities have a critical role to play in creating a favourable environment for those solutions to blossom, it was also clear that they cannot make this change happen alone. Policies and strategies create incentives for change through obligations, restrictions, taxes and subsidies but the bulk of resources are in the hands of economic actors.
For change to happen, there need to be incentives for all actors in the food chain to modify their behaviour: from food producers to processors, vendors and end consumers – and this can be done by ensuring fair prices for all, and long term commitments. At Rikolto, we have been working with food producers and companies for decades. If there’s one thing that we have learned, it is that without a good business model than works for everyone, sustainable food chains are unlikely to scale up. This is why we are convinced that inclusive business relations between urban buyers, transformers, and (rural and peri-urban) producers is a key enabling factor of the transition towards sustainable food systems.