*Since the writing of this article, our Food Smart Cities programme has been renamed as Good Food for Cities programme.*
Between 29 January and 4 February 2018, representatives from 6 Regional Offices and Rikolto’s International Office met to design Rikolto’s International Food Smart Cities programme for the next four years.
Rikolto’s Food Smart Cities cluster was initiated in the margins of the United Nations Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development (Habitat III) in Quito in October 2016. Shortly after, the founding members Quito (Ecuador), Tegucigalpa (Honduras) and Ghent (Belgium) were joined by the cities of Solo (Indonesia), Da Nang (Vietnam) and Arusha (Tanzania), covering 4 continents. United by a shared interest in developing more sustainable urban and rural food systems, those cities are working with 6 regional Rikolto offices to implement policies and practices that contribute to fair, sustainable, and healthy food systems. In order to do so, the Food Smart Cities Cluster is adopting a three-tier approach:
The purpose of the workshop was to design a joint programme across the 6 Rikolto regional offices based on a realistic assessment of how Rikolto and its partners can bring about change towards more sustainable food systems, taking into account spatial and territorial contexts.
Based on local context analyses and needs assessments, each city and regional office came up with a series of local priorities for the next four years. In Tegucigalpa, the municipality is targeting school catering to ensure children’s access to healthy, quality food, while Rikolto focuses on developing inclusive business models to bring smallholder farmers’ quality food to urban markets. In Arusha, implementing risk-based management of food safety was determined as a much-needed measure to address consumers’ concerns about vegetables’ safety. In Quito, efforts are concentrated on developing a local food policy, building the capacity of local cooperatives to supply safe food, and building win-win business relationships with companies. In Solo, reducing food waste and investing in organic rice for poor consumers were identified as key priorities by the local government. In Ghent, Rikolto helped developed the municipality’s local food strategy and is a partner in its implementation, particularly on bringing sustainable, local and healthy food to schools. Finally, in Da Nang, the focus lays on improving consumers’ access to safe food, rolling out Participatory Guarantee Systems for safe vegetables, and developing sustainable food value chains.
After mapping each office’s interventions in their respective partner cities, five issues came up as of common interest to most cities:
In 2018 and 2019, Rikolto regional offices and their partner cities will focus on launching and strengthening concrete activities at the pilot level. According to each cities’ individual priorities, this includes the assessment of cities’ food system and policies in order to inform future interventions and policy development, conducting a feasibility study to develop safe food supply pilots at traditional markets, designing a public procurement policy to connect local quality food producers with schools, conducting consumer awareness campaigns on the importance of safe & sustainable food and how to reduce food waste, facilitating inclusive business relations between farmers and supermarkets, supporting farmer organisations to obtain certifications for food produced according to quality standards, and building the capacity of consumer groups to represent consumers on food-related issues and to advocate for consumers’ right to safe and quality food.
At the peer-to-peer learning level, activities will focus on the documentation of best practices and the sharing of lessons learned. Together with other partners, we will facilitate exchanges among cities on a wide range of issues such as how to set up food policy council and multistakeholder platforms to strengthen local governance, methodologies to assess the food system, management systems for food safety, the inclusion of food in cities’ planning and how to successfully engage consumers to guarantee their right to healthy food.
At the international level, we aim to share Rikolto’s expertise on supporting cities with regards to the five priorities mentioned above. We will also actively contribute to international dialogues and conferences by sharing the main lessons learned from our work at the pilot level, with the objective of influencing the international agenda towards more sustainability in the food sector and a better balance between the rural and the urban.
Achieving these ambitious targets is not an easy undertaking. Therefore, Rikolto aims to partner up with international organisations and networks such as RIMISP (the Latin American Centre for Rural Development), FAO’s Urban Programme, the RUAF Foundation, ICLEI, and the City Food Network to share methodologies, best practices, and to join forces to influence the international urban agenda.
Partnerships are also critical to foster changes at the local level. This is why Rikolto offices in the regions will help set up and facilitate multi-stakeholder platforms to discuss issues related to local food sustainability. This is already the case in Tegucigalpa and Quito, where Rikolto colleagues have already launched these platforms.
In Da Nang, the City’s Department of Agriculture and Rural Development and Rikolto are collaborating on the development of safe vegetable value chains and the promotion of consumers’ right to safe food. We work together to set up Participatory Guarantee Systems, an innovative participatory quality assurance mechanism that improves smallholder farmers’ access to markets and builds consumers’ trust in the food system. We also collaborate with the city to improve local governance in food policies in order to improve the sustainability and safety of Da Nang’s food chains.