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.
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.
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.”
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!
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
Rikolto's global strategy focuses on three pillars: sustainable production, inclusive food markets and an enabling environment.
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.
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:
“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.
“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
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.
“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."
Rikolto works with a variety of partners across many sectors, including:
Find below a non-exhaustive list of the networks to wich we contribute: