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Rural-urban transformation

In the 2012 UNSCN Statement Nutrition security of urban populations: A call for attention and joint action by UNSCN, UNSCN acknowledged the unique specificities of urban and peri-urban environments and the many challenges that they face in achieving food and nutrition security. As a result, it called for increased attention, awareness and research on urban nutrition as well as for an effective engagement and intersectoral and multistakeholder collaboration leading to an efficient use of urban resources. This statement builds on the 2006 Statement The double burden of malnutrition: a challenge for cities worldwide but considers new challenges such as the effects of climate change on our food systems and livelihoods, the specific needs of women and the importance of promoting sustainable, healthy diets. However, despite the awareness raising, the call to action remains relevant: “Rural-urban linkages need to be enhanced. Successful urban nutrition initiatives need to be better documented and more widely shared. Cities need to be empowered to do more, better and now.”

The 2012 statement provided a useful link between these concerns, the Sustainable Development Goals and the recommendations of the ICN2 Framework for Action. Once nutrition had been integrated into the CFS process, rural-urban linkages became a topic of study through the Addressing food security and nutrition in the context of changing rural-urban dynamics: experiences and effective policy approaches.

Recently, several events have tried to move the conversation towards innovative solutions. At the events, Global Forum for Food and Agriculture (January 2016), Food Security and Nutrition in an Urbanizing World (June 6), EAT Stockholm Food Forum 2017 (12-13 June), and through the Expert Group Meeting on Progress in Achieving SDGs (with a specific focus on implementation of SDG 11 on 14 June), UNSCN members worked to connect the various discussions. In the first event, UNSCN linked the ICN2 Framework for Action with SDG11 and the 2012 UNSCN statement, whereas in the second event, UNSCN placed urbanization and its impact on nutrition in the context of the Nutrition Decade. At the Expert Group Meeting on Progress in Achieving SDGs, the UNSCN Coordinator provided concrete suggestions of how to include nutrition in the New Urban Agenda (NUA) to ensure shared lessons learned from the CFS process result in real progress rather than mere wording in a text. This meeting was a follow-up from the event held in Quito (October 2016), where FAO emphasized the importance of food security and nutrition in urban and urbanizing contexts.

With more than 50 per cent of the world's population currently living in urban areas, and this is expected to rise to 70 per cent by 2050, particularly in developing countries, the links between rural producers and urban markets need to be strengthened. Only then will food systems be more socially inclusive, environmentally sound and less wasteful. IFPRI’s 2017 Global food policy report looks at the impact of rapid urban growth on food security and nutrition, and considers how food systems can be reshaped to benefit both urban and rural populations. “Change the future of migration. Invest in food security and rural development” will also be the theme of the 2017 World Food Day.

Credit: ©FAO/Beatrice Giorgi

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