Good Food for Cities

Building bridges for sustainable and healthy food for all

In a super-connected and rapidly warming world, cities have a critical role to play in ensuring that 8 billion people - rich and poor, young and old, regardless of gender - have access to and can afford sufficient, safe and nutritious food. Cities are key entry points for speeding up the transition to sustainable food systems. Focusing on key supply chains and the wider urban food environment, Rikolto works to make that happen.

What is at stake?

  • Today, 3 billion people around the world cannot afford a healthy diet. In 2020, 149 million children under 5 were estimated to be too short for their age, 45 million were estimated to be too thin for their height, and 38.9 million were overweight or obese. The developmental, economic, social and medical consequences of the global burden of malnutrition are severe and long-lasting for people and their families, communities and countries.
  • 21 to 37% of greenhouse gas emissions are linked to our food systems, with 8% attributable just to food loss and waste. Industrial and conventional agriculture is also leading the loss of biodiversity - a worrying trend considering that biodiversity underpins healthy and nutritious diets, improves rural livelihoods and agricultural productivity and is essential for resilient food systems.
  • Our food systems provide jobs for an estimated 1 billion people and constitute an essential source of livelihoods for small-scale actors, both in formal and informal economies. In Africa alone, urban food markets are worth USD 250 billion per year, 5 times more than export markets (AASR, 2020).
  • By 2050, 80% of all food is expected to be consumed in cities. Food is the largest source of consumption-related emissions in cities, accounting for 13% of the total, as reported by C40 Cities. Under a business-as-usual scenario, urban food-related emissions could grow by 38% by 2050 (C40, 2019). 85% of cities, which are home to hundreds of millions of the most vulnerable people, are already experiencing major impacts of climate change.

Cities are key entry points for action. With global food consumption, markets and decision-making centres concentrated in urban areas, cities have a fundamental role in sparking a shift towards more sustainable food systems.

At Rikolto, we believe that cities offer critical opportunities to test innovations in ways that keep urban food systems within the ecological limits of the planet, while meeting the needs of urban dwellers and food chain workers.

Our purpose

To catalyse collective action among local food system actors to make urban food environments and food supply chains more conducive to healthy, sustainable and nutritious diets for all citizens as part of resilient and inclusive city region food systems.

“Cities are like laboratories where new ideas, models and collaborations can be tested, and their potential demonstrated. With the Good Food For Cities programme, we want to help lay the groundwork for them to flourish and help contribute to more resilient, sustainable and inclusive food systems for all citizens.”

Charlotte Flechet, Good Food For Cities Global Programme Director

Our impact

Rikolto invests about €5.2 million annually in 33 cities and territories as direct partners in 14 countries in Latin America, Europe, Africa and Southeast Asia. Our ambition for 2026 is to pilot and scale the adoption of inclusive food system innovations that directly contribute to improving access to healthy, sustainable and nutritious food for at least 2 million consumers worldwide.

Through peer-to-peer exchanges, networks and activities at the national, regional and international level, we hope to indirectly impact 30 more cities by 2026.

Take a closer look at our work!


  • Rikolto was one of the founders of local food distribution platform Kort’om in Leuven (Belgium). Based on a business-to-business model, it currently serves 13 supermarkets and 19 buyers from the hospitality sector. A study demonstrated a conservative return-on-investment ratio of 1.86 euro for every euro invested in the platform. The ratio goes up to 3.11 when considering health benefits.
  • During 2019 and 2021, to overcome the attitude-behaviour gap and make it easier for citizens to make sustainable choices, Rikolto started a coalition with 5 organisations representing more than one million citizens in Belgium. Our key strategies include giving a voice to a large group of “imperfect” consumers who want to eat sustainably but struggle to do so, engaging in a dialogue with supermarkets and sustainability experts, and exerting positive pressure through an annual award ceremony for the best sustainability and food accessibility initiatives organised by supermarkets.
  • In 2022, in partnership with the Questionmark Foundation and Test Aankoop, and in cooperation with BOS+, Canopea, écoconso, FoodWIN and Bond Beter Leefmilieu, we launched the study Superlijst. The research analysed how the supermarkets Colruyt, Delhaize, Carrefour, Aldi and Lidl, which together account for more than 80% of the market share in Belgium, score on a series of environmental sustainability criteria. We also presented these results to citizens on different “citizen panels” for adults and young people in the cities of Leuven, Antwerp and Ghent.
  • We supported the development of the EcoFoodMap, a digital compass to inform actions around Leuven’s food system.
  • In 2019, Rikolto organised a multi-stakeholder consultation process that resulted in the adoption of a charter for healthy, sustainable and balanced school meals. The charter was signed by school caterers, Horeca Vlaanderen, the Union of Belgian caterers (UBC), the school networks, the umbrella organisation for parents’ associations, the Minister for Education and the Minister for Health and Welfare. The charter forms the basis for a Flemish Green Deal for healthy, sustainable and affordable school meals launched in 2022.
  • Rikolto, in collaboration with Lidl, Bodemkundige Dienst van België, Boerenbond, and Boerennatuur Vlaanderen, is on a mission to encourage Flemish farmers to adopt "carbon farming" in their land. This initiative began in 2022 and will span five years, during which fifteen farmers will receive guidance on making carbon storage an essential part of their operational management. But that's not all – the consortium is also developing a sustainable earning model around carbon farming. By storing carbon in the soil, agriculture can help other companies achieve their climate objectives. And farmers can benefit from this by selling "carbon credits" to companies looking to reduce their CO2 emissions
  • SchoolFood4Change in Europe! Rikolto is part of a consortium of 43 European partners headed by ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability, implementing the EU-funded SchoolFood4Change (SF4C) project. In line with the EU’s Farm to Fork Strategy and the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, the project develops tailored, innovative solutions and locally adaptable good practices for schools, school meal providers, public authorities and policymakers. Rikolto also lead the developing process of the whole school food approach. The consortium aims to reach 600,000pupils in 3,000 schools in 16 cities and regions in 12 countries.
  • Rikolto contributed to the development of the Flemish Food Strategy as a member of the Flemish Food Coalition in 2022. The strategy, also known as Go4Food, provides the basis for working towards a better food system in Flanders that both respects the planetary boundaries and is socially equitable. The strategy consists of four pillars, 19 strategic objectives and 11 short-term food deals that should leverage multiple objectives and fill gaps that arise. Rikolto is also working on some of the food deals.

Rikolto is part of a consortium of 43 European partners headed by ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability, implementing the EU-funded SchoolFood4Change (SF4C) project.

East Africa

  • To green our cities, we are piloting circular food economy models that minimise and valorise food waste as much as possible. In 2021, for instance, Rikolto partnered with Arusha City, the Arusha Sustainable Food Systems Platform, and two enterprises, Kusanya and Chanzi, to improve food waste management in Arusha. Kusanya employs young people to collect food waste from markets, hotels, restaurants and residential areas, whereas Chanzi purchases and recycles food waste into animal feeds, biogas and fertiliser, using black soldier flies.
  • In 2021, we worked with the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA) in Uganda to establish 50 urban and peri-urban agriculture model farms, resulting in increased community awareness and a demand for inputs for urban agriculture. In 2022, we collaborated with UNEP again to develop a policy brief and train KCCA officials and key stakeholders in how to apply a food systems approach to urban and peri-urban agriculture.
  • In 2022, as part of the EU-funded 'Building Inclusive and Competitive Horticulture Businesses in Southern Highlands Tanzania' project, Rikolto, the Tanzania Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Agriculture (TCCIA) and Mbeya City Council improved market infrastructure in Mbeya's public markets. A sub-committee was established within the Food Smart City multi-stakeholder platform to lead the design process. Rikolto facilitated the sub-committee. The vendors co-invested in the improvement of their food stalls, what resulted in 273 new stalls, new roofs and areas to wash fruit and vegetables using clean water. In addition, we set up a Participatory Food Safety System (PFSS), a participatory certification system in which farmers and vendors work together to monitor the safety of their food. Since the launch of the PFSS system, 104 farmers and 126 vendors in Mbeya City have been working together to improve their food safety and hygiene practices.
  • In Uganda, we set up multi-stakeholder initiatives in Mbale and Kampala, bringing together policymakers, regulatory agencies, city authorities, the private sector, research institutions and civil society organisations. In Kampala, it served as a platform for policy chats over different approaches for building key aspects of a sustainable urban food system. In Mbale, this was aimed at developing a shared vision to improve food safety in urban food chains. Particularly in Mbale, this was demonstrated by an investment in the construction of 88 model food stalls; this incentivised the adoption by market vendors, who invested in the improved stalls, and the local government to enforce food safety practices in the markets.
In Kampala, Arusha and Dar es Salaam, we have piloted digital food distribution models together with youth-led enterprises, such as Bringo Fresh, Mesula, GreenfootGo and East Africa Fruits. Digital food distribution models can help improve efficiency and make food chains shorter, enabling traceability, better control over food safety practices and helping balance the need for affordability for consumers with that of a decent income for food producers and vendors. It also allowed consumers to avoid busy marketplaces during the height of the Covid 19 pandemic.
  • In Arusha, we launched Generation Food, a business incubator aimed at early-stage young food entrepreneurs. After the initial hackathon which was joined by 158 young people to generate new ideas, 65 entrepreneurs took part in a 2-week bootcamp to refine their business ideas. Finally, 20 businesses participated in the incubation phase, with business models ranging from reusable packaging for chilli sauces to insect-based animal feeds processed from food waste and electrical bikes to distribute safe food around the city. The graduates in Generation Food Arusha obtained loans at interest rates as low as 12%, compared to the average market rate of 25%, thanks to a partnership with the private sector and the establishment of a revolving fund.
  • Following in the footsteps of Arusha, Generation Food incubators were launched in the Southern Highlands of Tanzania, and in Mbale and Gulu in Uganda. In the southern highlands, 100 young people were recruited to generate and develop their business ideas, and  25 participants were offered a start-up capital and matching grants.
  • In Rubavu, Rwanda, Rikolto supports a Food System Multi-Stakeholder Platform to create an enabling environment for Rubavu District citizens to access healthy and affordable food. Through the platform, we're working directly with 2,260 smallholder farmers to promote safe vegetable production and regenerative agricultural practices. Through a partnership with six cooperatives, we're also helping to strengthen food safety standards in the city, with business links to the city's food vendors committee. We're also supporting 40 young people's agri-food businesses through our Generation Food incubation programme, in partnership with Kilimo Trust and Rwanda's consumer rights organisation - ADECOR.
  • In Bukavu and Goma in the Democratic Republic of Congo, we are helping to strengthen collaboration between food system actors through the establishment of multi-stakeholder platforms. We also launched Generation Food programmes in both cities. In Bukavu, the 40 young people's agribusinesses are up and running, working with the e-commerce platform 'Sokoletu' to improve the food distribution system through digital technology and a single point of sale. In Goma, Rikolto has set up a Generation Food incubator for young agribusiness entrepreneurs. 40 entrepreneurs have graduated, and they are now using their knowledge and skills to improve the food system in their community. Our partnerships with urban food vendors and social restaurants support sustainable food practices. We're also promoting food literacy and good governance by working with five schools and reaching 5,000 primary school children.

West Africa

  • Since December 2022, Rikolto is supporting the coordination of AfriFOODlinks in Ouagadougou and Mbale in Uganda, a four-year EU-funded project implemented by 35 partners and led by ICLEI Africa which aims to improve food and nutrition security, deliver positive outcomes for climate and the environment, while building social and ecological resilience in 65+ cities, focusing on 5 African hub cities by 1) promoting public shifts to sustainable healthy diets; 2) transforming urban food environments through real-world socio-technical experiments; 3) promoting inclusive multi-actor governance to empower public officials, established and informal small businesses, communities, youth and women with ownership and agency to shape their food systems; and 4) accelerating innovative, women- and youth-led agri-food businesses to support local value addition and inclusive economic participation.
  • Since late 2022, we are piloting activities in schools’ food environments in Thiès and Dakar (Senegal), combining activities related to the integration of healthy eating in the teaching curriculum, the establishment of healthy snack bars, collaborations with local vendors to make healthy and safe food more available around schools, and the creation of school gardens. The same action will be launched in Bobo Dioulasso, Burkina Faso, in three schools in the city of Bobo Dioulasso.
  • In Tenkodogo (Burkina Faso), we supported young entrepreneurs to develop their business and strengthened their access to finance and business development services.
  • We developed the strategic framework for FAO’s Green Cities Regional Action Programme for Africa based on national consultations in 10 countries, with 30 cities.
In Ouagadougou (Burkina Faso), young entrepreneurs participating in the Generation Food programme are transforming local food produce from tomatoes, tamarind, baobab, bissap, grains, and seasonal fruits such as mangoes and oranges into ready-to-eat products that are minimally processed and packaged to preserve their nutritional value. Two of these young entrepreneurs have been selected by OVO Benin. They will receive further coaching and seed funding to grow their businesses.

Latin America

  • In Nicaragua, Rikolto mobilised over 20 different stakeholders around MASLAGO, an integrated landscape management initiative, to implement a plan for the sustainable management of the area around Lake Apanás, where 60% of Nicaragua's vegetables are grown. In 2019, at least one practice related to erosion control was implemented by 28% of the families living in the Sisle micro-basin. By supporting farmers in establishing contracts with large retailers and SMEs, the average income of farmers from vegetables increased by almost 54% between 2019 and 2021. Read more in this case study produced for the One Planet Network.
  • Since 2023, Rikolto, together with a group of 15 public and private actors in Sololá city, Guatemala, have been coordinating solutions in line with the community agreement and indigenous beliefs, as well as the Guatemalan Municipal Food and Nutrition Security Policy (SAN). The initiative is moving forward with cultural relevance in a context where the indigenous population is one of the most affected by malnutrition. The implementation is led by the municipality of Sololá in collaboration with the Ministries of Agriculture, Education, Public Health and Social Development, as well as the Human Rights Ombudsman's Office, Rikolto, Caritas, Helvetas, Ceiba, Asociación Renacimiento and COINDI, among others.
  • In 2020, during the Covid 19 pandemic, we supported the agro-ecological consumer cooperative Sur-Siendo in developing an online marketplace for the distribution of food baskets to vulnerable families in the south of Quito, home to some of the city's poorer neighbourhoods. By July, 400 citizens had access to healthy food through the cooperative. 25 farming families supplied the cooperative. Rikolto worked with the cooperative to pilot a social franchising model to multiply the organic shops.
  • In 2020, the “Innovamos” project (“We Innovate” in Spanish) built a collaboration between 21 agricultural organisations and universities, private enterprises, service providers and NGOs to analyse the main challenges and needs of the Central American fruit and vegetable sector. One focus areas was hydroponics, the cultivation of crops in water as an alternative to soil cultivation which combines traditional, biological and chemical methods. Farmers' cooperatives and their members were trained and received support in implementing the recommendations made by the research partners of the consortium.
  • Between 2021 and 2023, Rikolto, Ecosad, Funsad and other partners implemented the participatory action research project “Food Hubs” (Vecindarios alimentarios Saludables) in Lima (Peru) and Quito (Ecuador), with funding from IDRC Canada. The project aimed to: 1) evaluate the resilience of Quito’s and Lima’s agri-food systems and the evolution of gender and social inequalities during the various crises affecting the cities; 2) map and improve actions by governments and citizens to strengthen food markets and ensure nutritious food for vulnerable groups; 3) engage food producers, consumers and authorities in the development of neighbourhood-based healthy eating hubs; 4) assess the barriers and enablers for the development of Food Hub networks; and 5) translate findings and recommendations into public policies.
In 2020, Rikolto supported Lima’s Bicentennial Markets Initiative to create a new brand, “Surquillo, Barrio del Sabor” (Surquillo, neighbourhood of flavour), to reactivate the economy of Surquillo and promote access to food for everyone. The purpose was to support the economic reactivation of 14 food markets and 618 formally registered restaurants in the District of Surquillo, in line with the action plan and vision created for Surquillo’s municipal district.

Southeast Asia

  • In Vietnam, thanks to the implementation of a Participatory Guarantee System (PGS) for safe vegetables – a traceable production and quality assurance system promoted by Rikolto and Hanoi’s Plant Protection and Production Department – around 3,200 households (of which 65% are women) are cultivating more than 1,900 hectares according to safe vegetable production techniques, accounting for 14% of Hanoi's vegetable production area. It is estimated that the PGS accounts for 140,000 tons of vegetables annually, and almost 2 million consumers in Hanoi now have access to these safe vegetables.
  • Rikolto and partners in Indonesia supported food sharing and donation initiatives that enabled the conversion of 29,900 m2 of vacant land into urban farms. These allowed more than 7,400 urban dwellers to access nutritious and safe food. 9.66 tonnes of food was rescued in the cities of Solo, Bandung, and Depok in 2021.
  • In 2023, we started a new project funded by the Flemish Climate Action Programme to develop a scalable, circular urban agriculture model in Depok, Indonesia to reduce the amount of organic waste that ends up in landfills.
  • In Bali, Indonesia, we work with our partner Pasar Rakyat -  a social enterprise distributing fresh and organic produce from local farmers to urban customers at affordable prices to promote regenerative agriculture. As part of the initiative, we support the adoption of better irrigation systems and work with farmers on how to best manage scarce water resources. About 67 hectares of land have moved towards a regenerative agricultural model. We also participated in and supported 10 multi-stakeholder platforms that promote sustainable and inclusive food systems, including the establishment of Solo and Bandung as Food Smart Regions and, together with the FAO, city-to-city learning exchanges on food governance in Southeast Asia.
Since October 2022, we are working with schools in Hanoi to increase pupils’ consumption of healthy, sustainable and nutritious food at school. An initial survey was conducted to understand parents and pupils’ knowledge and attitude towards healthy food at school and school coordination committees were set up to guide the process on the ground.


  • Rikolto has supported several cities in developing their local food strategies, either by playing a facilitating role such as in Ghent (Belgium) during the inception of the Gent en Garde policy, by being directly involved in their writing such as in Da Nang (Vietnam), or by being a thematic lead such as in Leuven where we continue to offer our expertise on local food distribution and work with schools as part of the food strategy process. In Quito (Ecuador), we contributed to the development of the city’s agri-food strategy and Food Charter.
  • In 2022, we co-published with FAO and RUAF the “Urban and peri-urban agriculture sourcebook: from production to food systems”, which systematises existing experiences and case studies on urban and peri-urban agriculture (UPA) and provides guidance to local decision-makers, policy advisors, urban planners, practitioners and others involved in the design and implementation of UPA initiatives.
  • On the way to COP26, we contributed to the development of the Glasgow Declaration, a commitment by local and regional governments to tackle the climate emergency through integrated food policies and a call on national governments to act, as part of a global coalition led by IPES-Food and Nourish Scotland. We also facilitated Farm to Fork local dialogues in Ecuador (in Quito’s city region and in the coastal area in Manabí) and Belgium (in the city regions of Leuven and Antwerp) to build trust and strengthen the relationship between farmers and policymakers in the context of climate action.
  • In 2022, we've partnered with FAO to establish two networks aimed at increasing policymakers' awareness of and capacity for urban food governance, with a focus on small and medium-sized cities, and improving urban food markets so that they contribute to more sustainable food systems. Both networks contribute to FAO's Urban Food Agenda. The networks reached cities on 4 continents.

Multi-stakeholder partnerships = a tool for food systems impact​

Co-creating new recipes for a future-proof food system is a team effort. Whether you are looking for inspiration or are keen to polish your facilitation skills, we invite you to get your copy of our guide: “Facilitating multi-stakeholder processes: a toolkit”.

Download your copy here to discover the essential concepts, tools and attitudes needed to make multi-stakeholder collaboration work for sustainable food systems.

Read more

Our approach

A Sustainable Food Systems approach

Anchored in the Sustainable Food Systems framework, the Good Food For Cities programme approaches urban food systems through a systems-thinking lens.

Co-creation, multi-stakeholder collaborations and learning are at the heart of this approach. We strive to build interconnections between actors and to foster collective action mechanisms through participatory and inclusive food governance structures.

We intend to break down silos and create bridges across different parts of the food system so that it can better perform its function of delivering healthy and sustainable diets for all. We try to understand how different areas are connected to each other and to identify levers for systems change that help us to navigate difficult trade-offs, such as how to improve access to affordable healthy food, while incentivising farmers and food chain workers to adopt more sustainable practices.

Inclusive business facilitation

Inclusive business is essential for incentivising smallholder producers in rural, urban and peri-urban areas to produce and market crops that contribute to sustainable and healthy diets. Inclusive business translates into a fair and transparent collaboration between all actors in the food chain (e.g. open communication, fair prices, risk-sharing), driven by a common goal and leading to a more stable market and supply of quality food to cities. It is built on equitable access to services such as credit, technical support and market information and is supported by inclusive innovation that helps make the chain more efficient and fairer. Coupled with strong market demand, it is a key element of the pull factor that contributes to stronger rural urban linkages.

Read more about our work on inclusive markets.

Our strategic entry point: urban food environments

Building on our experience, we focus on urban food environments and food supply chains. Food environments comprise the physical, economic, political and socio-cultural context in which consumers engage with the food system to make decisions on acquiring, preparing and consuming food (HLPE, 2017). Favourable food environments are those that make it easier for citizens to choose healthy and sustainable diets. They rely on sustainable and efficient supply chains that ensure that healthy and sustainable food is available, accessible and affordable in citizens’ preferred food acquisition locations. This is also an area where cities and local actors can have an impact, by influencing how food is presented and accessed in their city.

Evidence for impact

Our evidence for impact approach is the cornerstone of Rikolto’s strategies. It refers on the one hand to the process of co-creating, testing and documenting models that have the potential to be adopted at scale, and on the other hand to the continuous engagement of target “upscalers” (authorities, businesses, investors, local CSOs) that have the capacity, desire and means to invest in the replication of these models at city or national level.

Read more about how we measure our impact.

Our strategies

Rikolto's global strategy focuses on three pillars: sustainable production, inclusive food markets and an enabling environment.

Sustainable production to bring good food to cities

Industrial farming techniques, which have largely prioritised yields over resilience and environmental sustainability, have already degraded around a third of the world's soils. This puts our global food supply at serious risk.

  • In order to provide healthy, nutritious food such as fruit, vegetables and pulses for local markets in a warming world, Rikolto focuses on preserving food landscapes, promoting regenerative agriculture and improving farmers' resilience to climate change and other shocks.
In Nicaragua, we mobilised stakeholders through the platform MASLAGO to implement a plan for the sustainable management of the landscape around Lake Apanás, where 60% of Nicaragua's vegetables are grown and which is threatened by sedimentation and deforestation. This contributed to a 54% increase in incomes for vegetable and fruit farmers (2019-2021), making the case for inclusive business relations as a necessity for preserving the area’s natural resources while fostering profitable economic activities at the same time. Through MASLAGO, Rikolto inspired stakeholders to invest in research and new initiatives to preserve the lake’s natural resources.

Inclusive urban food markets, so that no one is left behind

For healthier and more sustainable food to reach urban markets, there must be incentives for behaviour change at all stages of the chain. Inclusive business relationships are therefore a powerful enabler of the transition to sustainable food systems in cities and beyond. To contribute to more inclusive markets, we focus on:

  • Food Markets 4 All, where we work on the professionalisation of farmers’ organisations, including facilitating better access to finance and business development services and the promotion of inclusive business models. During the Covid-19 pandemic, we supported 17,887 farmers in selling their produce through local food distribution channels.
Rikolto helped set up Kort'om, a local distribution platform to support farmers in achieving a decent income while increasing the availability of locally produced food in the city of Leuven, Belgium. Based on a business-to-business model, it currently serves 13 supermarkets and 19 buyers from the hospitality sector.
  • Through GoodFood@School, we provide tailored support to schools and a wide range of actors within the schools’ environment to make healthy and sustainable food the new normal for students. Our aim is to make it easier for pupils to have a sustainable diet, focusing on ingredients that are sustainably sourced, traceable and nutritious.
“School access to good, healthy, sustainable food. This is an important issue for all of the regions in which Rikolto is active. It is the best health care everywhere. It is an important response to poverty and has a major impact on the climate. Future eating habits are determined to a large extent in the early years. That is why GoodFood@School is all about accessible, healthy and sustainable food. It is part of a whole-school approach to nutrition. We do this through collaboration. With schools, with governments, with local authorities, with civil society organisations. We do it Rikolto's way.” Myrthe Peijnenborg | GoodFood@School project coordinator, Rikolto.

In parallel, we promote the scaling up of good practices through city-level and national multi-stakeholder initiatives. In Surakarta, Indonesia, our partner Gita Pertiwi led the co-development and piloting of a healthy, nutritious, safe and environmentally friendly canteen standard. In 2021, the standard was circulated by the city authorities as the procedure for all schools in Surakarta.
  • Through our Generation Food business creation and incubation programme, we support ambitious young entrepreneurs in the establishment of sustainable food businesses that contribute to solving some of the key issues in their city region’s food system. The initiative is currently implemented in Leuven (Belgium), Arusha and Mbeya (Tanzania), Ouagadougou (Burkina Faso) and Mbale and Gulu (Uganda), but will expand to new regions in the future.
  • Finally, we support the design of Circular Food Economy models that help avoid, reduce and valorise food losses, waste and surpluses.
“When the cities of Solo and Bandung decided to sign the Milan Urban Food Policy Pact, one of their commitments was to reduce food waste in their cities. We work with the local authorities of Solo and Bandung to reduce food waste, by facilitating the development of circular and inclusive business models between sustainable producers and urban buyers.”  – Nonie Kaban | Director of the Good Food For Cities programme in Southeast Asia

Enabling environment

Under this third pillar, our interventions seek to incentivise sustainable and healthy diets through policies, collective learning and new partnerships. Below are some of the initiatives we support in our network.

  • Urban food governance processes: we facilitate or contribute to multi-stakeholder dialogues or platforms at city level that help create a shared understanding of local food system issues, build a common vision and create a collective strategy or action plan on how to put it into practice.
  • Food citizenship: we curate dialogues between citizens and the private sector to make healthy and sustainable food the easy choice and facilitate the co-creation of new solutions between citizens, researchers, retailers and public authorities.
How easy do supermarkets in Belgium make it for us to eat sustainably? A comparative study by the Questionmark Foundation, with the support of Rikolto and Test Aankoop, and in collaboration with BOS+, IEW, FoodWIN and Bond Beter Leefmilieu, sought an answer to this question. During the Superlist survey, the voices of Belgian citizens were included for consideration. Discover more about this dialogue.
  • Peer-to-peer learning: we facilitate exchanges between partner and non-partner cities and stakeholders to inspire them to take action. In 2022, for instance, we facilitated an informal network of municipal experts on urban food markets and another one on food governance in small and medium-sized cities with the support of FAO.
  • Investments in food system transformation: we engage financial institutions and (impact) investors to create financial products that are accessible for SMEs, and particularly small-scale food chain actors and entrepreneurs.
  • Multi-level governance: we facilitate discussions between local actors and national authorities on how they can enable cities to take action.
  • Evidence building and methodology development: we create and disseminate evidence and methodologies related to the innovations and models that we support to encourage investments in their replication. In 2019, we launched the book: “What will we eat tomorrow?”, gathering stories from 9 cities on initiatives that make safer, healthier and sustainable food more accessible to citizens. The book was presented at an international conference in Leuven in December called “We feed the Cities”, in parallel with a learning journey for representatives of 7 cities in Africa, Latin America and Asia.

“We must build a world where healthy and nutritious food is available and affordable for everyone, everywhere. (…) First – we need food systems that support the health and well-being of all people. Malnutrition, hunger and famine are not forces of nature. They are the result of the actions – or inactions – of all of us. (…) Second — we need food systems that protect our planet. It is possible to feed a growing global population while also safeguarding our environment. (…)Third and finally — we need systems that can support prosperity. Not just the prosperity of businesses and shareholders. But the prosperity of farmers and food workers — and indeed, the billions of people worldwide who depend on this industry for their livelihoods."

António Guterres, United Nations Secretary-General, 23 September 2021 | New York

Who do we work with?

Rikolto works with a variety of partners across many sectors, including:

  • Local authorities such as municipal departments of agriculture, education and health, city councils, market management authorities, schools and district and provincial authorities.
  • Farmers’ organisations: farmers’ groups, cooperatives, farmers’ unions.
  • Private sector partners such as local chambers of commerce, supermarkets, catering companies, sectoral associations, business incubators, SMEs active throughout the food chain and business development service providers.
  • Local and international civil society organisations and consumer associations.
  • Academic and research institutions such as universities and international research networks.
  • International agencies and cities networks such as the United Nations, the One Planet Network and the Urban Food Systems Coalition.
  • Funders and investors such as the Belgian Directorate General for Development, EIT-Food, the European Union, Canada’s International Development Research Center, the Food & Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations, the United Nations Environment Programme, the Business Partnership Facility, OVO Acceleration Fund, GIZ, 11.11.11, Vlaanderen Circulair, Enabel, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, DOEN Foundation, Gilles Foundation, Vandersypen Foundation, Federatie SCW, Over 20 Belgian cities and 2 provinces (West-Flanders and East-Flanders), the Belgian public and more!

Find below a non-exhaustive list of the networks to wich we contribute:


Charlotte Flechet

Good Food for Cities | Global director