From the proliferation of food policy councils in North America to the progressive food strategies of Europe, from Belo Horizonte’s efforts to become ‘The City That Ended Hunger’ to Dar Es Salaam’s urban agriculture revolution, cities around the world are transforming through food.
'Proeftuin Amsterdam' (a play on words: test garden, taste garden, or field of experiment), is a multi-faceted initiative aimed at creating a more environmentally-friendly food chain that will benefit both rural and urban dwellers. The project is part of the Amsterdam’s Green Metropolis Plan to:
- Provide naturally-grown and predominantly local food for everybody whilst minimizing the impact on the environment.
- Promote healthy eating habits, especially amongst children and young people.
- Create a balance between consumer demand and the supply of locally produced food
- Preserve the surrounding agricultural landscapes of Amsterdam.
Already the Proeftuin Amsterdam is proving the good sense of connecting environmental and health aspects of food systems with the preservation of the peri-urban area around Amsterdam. As part of the scheme, school children are taught how to grow food in their own school gardens and regular trips are organised to the 20 children’s farms situated in the city.
The Proeftuin website provides a portal for residents and relevant agencies to communicate on a wide variety of food related issues, allowing for a more integrated approach to developing food policy. A steering group committee helps coordinate and implement the various projects, whilst constantly monitoring progress. Due to its success the concept is now used in different towns and cities across the Netherlands and is used as a blueprint for other European cities.
The city of Belo Horizonte in Brazil is a world pioneer in governance for food security. Its Municipal Law No. 6.352, 15/07/1993 sets out a policy framework that is committed to the concept of food sovereignty: the right of peoples to define their own food and agricultural policies, to protect and regulate their production and trade in such a manner as to secure sustainable development, to determine the degree of their autonomy and to eliminate dumping on their markets.
The Belo Horizonte success story started in 1993 when the Brazilian ‘Movement for Ethics in Politics’ emerged and mobilised up to 30 million people. ‘Citizenship Action against Hunger, Poverty and for Life’ was based on principles of solidarity and human rights and involved social movements as well as political parties. People were viewed as citizens rather than consumers and food insecurity as a market failure requiring government intervention.
The newly elected mayor of Belo Horizonte, Patrus Ananias, acknowledged his 2.5 million citizens’ right to food and the duty of the government to guarantee this right. He created a Secretariat for Food Policy and Supply that included a 20 member council of citizens, workers and business leaders from all sectors involved with food, and church representatives to advise in the design and implementation of a new food system. The explicit mandate was to increase access to healthy food for all as a measure of social justice.
Result: Hunger has been almost eliminated for the cost of less than 10 million USD per year, just 2 % of the city’s annual budget.
Taken from 'Celebrating the Belo Horizonte Food Security Programme; Future Policy Award 2009: Solutions for the Food Crisis' by the World Future Council
Dar Es Salaam
Dar Es Salaam, the largest city in Tanzania, is growing fast as people move from the countryside to seek a better future. The vast majority of the city’s inhabitants – seven out of ten – live in unplanned settlements that cause major challenges to urban infrastructure. In an effort to improve their situation, urban poor use any available space to grow food. In backyards and vacant lots – anywhere you can find a patch of land – people grow crops and raise livestock to feed their families.
In 1993, The International Development Research Centre (IDRC) and UN-HABITAT joined forces in The Sustainable Dar Es Salaam Project (SDP) to develop a new strategic urban development plan and policies for integrating urban agriculture into improved management of Dar Es Salaam’s urban environment. To feed the policy-making process, IDRC supported a team of six Tanzanian researchers from the Sokoine University of Agriculture and the University of Dar Es Salaam.
The team surveyed nearly 2,000 urban farmers documenting the range of farming systems - aquaculture to agroforestry - in use across Dar Es Salaam. They catalogued the areas under production, the numbers of people involved, the types of crops grown and livestock raised. The numbers were compelling: Each day urban farmers supply the city with an estimated 95,000 litres of milk, 6,000 trays of eggs and 11,000 kilos of poultry. Furthermore, some 100,000 tons of crops, including staples like maize and cassava, are grown each year in the city.
By the time the Sustainable Dar Es Salaam Project was completed in 1997, nine other Tanzanian municipalities were preparing to replicate the process. Since then, city networks have formed in both East and West Africa to share experiences and training opportunities, and urban agriculture has been recognized as a key part of a comprehensive solution to the problems of the runaway growth of cities in developing countries.
Taken from 'Dar Es Salaam: Feeding the sustainable city' by sustainable citiestm, part of the Danish Architecture Centre.
For more than a decade, the City of Malmo has invested in progressive climate change adaptation and mitigation initiatives as it works towards its goal to be a world leader in sustainable urban development. The city has committed to becoming climate neutral by 2020, and by 2030 the city is further committed to energy use based entirely on 100% renewable energy. Malmö is advancing citywide climate change policies and strategies, as well as recycling, waste management, biomass and food and agriculture projects.
Through its Environmental Programme 2009-2020, the City has committed to a wide range of sustainability objectives including many that relate to food:
- Procurement - the City of Malmö will revise its procurement and purchase procedures, as well as the municipality’s use of resources. The proportion of organic and locally produced food purchased by the City of Malmö will increase.
- Sustainable agriculture - crop-free and pesticide-free zones in the agricultural landscape will benefit biological diversity and reduce the spread of nutrients and toxins into watercourses and groundwater. More land will be converted to organic agriculture.
- Sustainable Malmo
On 12 December 2009, several hundred New Yorkers attended the New York City Food and Climate Summit to discuss the impact of the modern food system on the economy, the prevalence of hunger and the health of communities and the planet. The event built on a growing public and political awareness of the role and importance of healthy and sustainable food, and resulted in a strategy document that highlighted the critical issues and made recommendations for the future of New York’s food in the years ahead – FoodNYC: A Blueprint for a Sustainable Food System.
Among the various initiatives that have contributed to New York’s reputation as a global leader in sustainable food innovation are the Farm to School programme which helps schools to source locally produced food; the Green Cart programme, which introduced legislation to create 1000 new permits for street vendors who sell exclusively fresh fruits and vegetables; and the FRESH (Food Retail Expansion to Support Health) programme, which introduced zoning changes and ﬁnancial incentives to make it less costly for developers to plan supermarkets in the areas of the city with the least access to healthy, fresh food.
The Canadian city of Toronto is one of the great examples of how local governance and policy has created an integrated sustainable urban food programme. The Toronto Food Policy Council, the first of its kind in North America, was set up in 1990 with a focus on food and health. Over the years the Council has worked to improve food security and address food poverty by working together with local charities and agencies. In 2001, it helped create Toronto’s Food Charter outlining principles to improve social, environmental and economic issues within the food system.
The most recent stage in the city’s pioneering food programme is encapsulated in a new strategy launched in May 2010 Cultivating Food Connections: Toward a Healthy and Sustainable Food System for Toronto, which seeks to identify and build upon positive connections between local government and residents to create an integrated and sustainable food system for the future.