Course Details - Feeding Cities: Improving Food Systems in Urban Areas

Towards sustainable and resilient food systems in urbanising socities

Providing food and nutrition security for the rapidly expanding populations in the world’s cities is a pressing challenge. The urban population heavily relies on a multitude of food systems for their daily food needs, varying from industrial agro-logistical networks to local engagement of consumers with producers. The projected population growth adds a layer of complexity to the current food systems. Strengthening the access to nutritious, affordable and acceptable food for communities in the cities requires resilient agri-food systems. Therefore, a better understanding of urban, peri-urban and rural food systems from an integral perspective is vital for contributing to the resilience of these food systems against other pressing trends of our era, such as globalisation and climate change.

Integrated solutions

Achieving urban food and nutrition security calls for integrated solutions. It is crucial to develop resilient agri-food systems, effectively linking rural and urban areas, and manage food value chains from production to consumption in a holistic approach including efficient waste and energy management. Alongside these approaches, public health interventions are required to provide effective food safety nets, improve nutrition literacy, and induce changes in consumer behaviour to reduce various forms of malnutrition, such as stunting, micronutrient deficiencies, overweight or obesity.

City-region food systems

Various angles in food and nutrition security in urbanising societies will be discussed during the course. Various types of food sub-systems exist, each with their own merits. They vary from intra-urban green buildings, rooftop- and community gardening, to peri-urban high-tech integrated systems, like the metropolitan food clusters, in which food production and market systems are integrated into a holistic, systemic and spatial manner. The multiple linkages and functions of food in sustainable urban development will be explored. These so-called city-region food systems should be able to integrate adaptive and innovative change processes with technical, social and cultural aspects, to address the current and future challenges of complex food systems around the world.

Course programme

This two-week course focuses on how to facilitate rural-urban integration and enhancing food value chains; not only guaranteeing access to healthy food in adequate quantities for urban dwellers, but also assuring environmental, social and economic sustainability within the food systems. Four key dimensions will serve as guidance to explore the potential pathways for sustainable urban development: the societal, environmental, economic, and spatial aspects, in order to bring together multi-disciplinary innovative ideas to improve food and nutrition security for the cities of tomorrow. We use the city region food systems approach to address the critical aspects in: i) enhancing food value chains for access to healthy food in adequate quantities for urban dwellers, ii) ensuring the environmental, social and economic sustainability of the production areas. At the end of the course, participants will be able to analyse and design interventions addressing food and nutrition insecurity in urbanizing societies.

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