Author Archives: April Sabucco


INTERVIEWS SERIES – International experts on the future of city region food systems

crfs_specialWith the universal exhibition Milan 2015 “Feeding the planet, energy for life” and the COP21 international conference on climate change in Paris, 2015 brings about a new and exciting period for the topic of sustainable food systems for city regions.

IUFN is happy to share with you a series of interviews with international experts on their position on the future of this dynamic and highly strategic issue. In each of these, you will find their opinion on what they consider as being the main achievements and milestones in 2014 and also on what strategic events, orientations, programs need to be shared and worked on in 2015.

Check the interviews below now!
Get the latest trends on city region food systems!


Hans Dieter Temp – Cidades sem Fome (Brazil)

Since 2003, Hans has run Cidades sem Fome (Cities Without Hunger), an NGO that develops urban agriculture projects in the East Zone of São Paulo. Here, they try to establish urban farming as an alternative for areas with high unemployment and low fresh food access.

Marielle Dubbeling – RUAF Foundation (The Netherlands)

Marielle Dubbeling is the Director of RUAF Foundation – an International network in the field of Urban Agriculture and Food Systems. RUAF seeks to support local and regional governments in strategic planning and policy making in the field of urban agriculture and food systems, implement action research and development project, provide training in these areas and develop a wide range of information and knowledge resources. She is also a member of IUFN’s Strategic Advisory Board.

Florence Egal – Independent Expert on food security, nutrition and livelihoods, Former Co-chair of FAO Food for cities initiative (Italy)

Florence Egal has been working for over 20 years for the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), on nutrition and food security issues. She particularly focused on participative approaches and the promotion of local food, as well as the reinforcment of rural-urban linkages. She is still very active today, taking parts in conferences and training on nutrition and food security. She is also a member of IUFN’s Strategic Advisory Board.

Harriet Friedmann – University of Toronto (Canada)

Harriet Friedmann is Professor in the Department of Sociology at the University of Toronto. She has completed extensive research in several aspects of food and agriculture, and her work has been published in American, European and Canadian journals. A current member of the Toronto Food Policy Council (TFPC), Dr. Friedmann has been involved in the TFPC in various capacities, including Chair in the 1990s. She is also a member of IUFN’s Strategic Advisory Board.

Karim Hussein – IFAD – International Fund for Agricultural Development (Italy)

Karim is a Strategic Policy Analysis and Knowledge Management Officer in IFAD’s Strategy and Knowledge Department, responsible for undertaking research and policy analysis on key emerging issues in rural development, food security and resilience, urban-rural linkages, farmers’ organisations, engagement in fragile and conflict-affected situations and inclusive rural transformation.

Emily Mattheisen – HIC – Habitat International Coalition, Housing and Land Rights Network (Egypt)

Emily works as the Global Program Officer for Habitat International CoalitionHousing and Land Rights Network, based in Cairo, Egypt. She also co-facilitates the Urban Constituency for the Civil Society Mechanism for the Committee on World Food Security.

José L. Osete – Hungarian National Federation of Local Territories (Hungary/France)

José L. Osete has lived in Hungary since 1989. Formerly a journalist and then the head of the association INFH (Initiatives France-Hungary) from 1995 to 2013, he is now an International Technical Expert for TÖOSZ (the Hungarian National Federation of Local Territories).

Lynn Peemoeller – Food Systems Planning Consultant (Germany/USA)

Lynn develops projects and partnerships to develop a dialogue about the past, present and future role of food in context to urban systems. You can find out more about her and her involvement in building better food systems on her website.

Makiko Taguchi – FAO – Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (Italy)

Makiko Taguchi is an Agronomist, Co-secretary of the FAO Food for the Cities Initiative, and a working group member for the Global Initiative on Food Loss and Waste Reduction (Save Food).

Gilles Trystram – AgroParisTech (France)

Gilles Trystram is Professor and General Director at AgroParisTech. With a degree in Process Control at Nancy University and a Ph.D, he focuses the research on Food Process engineering applications, mainly thermal processing of food, looking for modelling of unit operations in order to develop algorithm able to help for design and optimisation of the product final qualities. He is also a member of IUFN’s Board of Directors.

Peter Volz – Die Argonauten (Germany)

Peter Volz is working for the small research organisation “Die Agronauten” in Freiburg, Germany. In his work he deals with all sorts of questions related to food and farming culture. He studied social sciences and environmental governance and is a member of the European network “access to land” and the European CSA research group.

Alison Watson – UNEP – United Nations Environment Programme (France)

Alison Watson is a consultant to UNEP working on sustainable food systems. Their big focus for 2015, in partnership with FAO, is developing and launching the 10YFP Sustainable Food Systems Programme.


The U.S. reports on its local and regional food systems

usda_reportA report mandated by the United States Congress on trends within the country’s local and regional food systems has been completed and is now available for the public to access. The report was conducted by the Economic Research Service (ERS) of the United States Department of Agriculture and was requested by the House Agriculture Committee.

The 78-page report shows the growing trend of producer and consumer participation in local food systems, and it highlights a variety of policies and programmes at national, state, and city levels that have helped to support local and regional food systems.

Available for download are the full report, a 2-page summary of the report, and a previously recorded webinar that gives an overview of the report.

The following key findings are taken from the report:

  • In 2012, 163,675 farms (7.8 percent of U.S. farms) were marketing foods locally, defined as conducting either direct-to-consumer (DTC) or intermediated sales of food for human consumption, according to census of agriculture data. Of these farms, 70 percent used only DTC marketing channels, which include farmers’ markets and community supported agriculture (CSA) arrangements. The other 30 percent used a combination of DTC and intermediated channels or only intermediated channels.
  • The number of farms with DTC sales increased by 17 percent and sales increased by 32 percent between 2002 and 2007; however, between 2007 and 2012 the number of farms with DTC sales increased 5.5 percent, with no change in DTC sales. That DTC sales did not increase may be due to plateauing consumer interest or to growth in non-direct sales of local food (i.e., local food sold through intermediated marketing channels like grocery stores or institutions), the value of which is not measured by the census of agriculture.
  • Agricultural Resource and Management Survey (ARMS) and census of agriculture data indicate that local food sales totaled an estimated $6.1 billion in 2012. This is only an estimate because neither data source collects complete information on the value of intermediated sales.
  • Farms with gross cash farm income below $75,000 accounted for 85 percent of local food farms in 2012, according to census data. These farms are estimated to account for only 13 percent of local food sales. Local food farms with gross cash farm income above $350,000 accounted for 5 percent of local food farms and 67 percent of sales.
  • Farms selling local food through DTC marketing channels were more likely to remain in business over 2007-12 than all farms not using DTC marketing channels, according to census of agriculture data. Farms with DTC sales tended to experience smaller increases in sales than all other farms, however.
  • It is difficult to draw conclusions about the local economic impact of local foods systems because the existing literature has narrow geographic and market scope, making comparing studies complicated. Data necessary to conduct economic impact analyses are costly to obtain, and researchers have yet to agree on a standard way of accounting for the opportunity costs involved when local foods are produced and purchased or on a standard set of economic modeling assumptions. Many questions surrounding the economic impact of local foods remain unanswered and could be addressed by future research (e.g., Are local food systems good for the rural economy? Might the economic benefits of expanding local food systems be unevenly distributed?)

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Low, Sarah A., Aaron Adalja, Elizabeth Beaulieu, Nigel Key, Steve Martinez, Alex Melton, Agnes Perez, Katherine Ralston, Hayden Stewart, Shellye Suttles, Stephen Vogel, and Becca B.R. Jablonski. Trends in U.S. Local and Regional Food Systems, AP068, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service, January 2015.

Ile-de-France – A regional strategy for sustainable and local agriculture

In a region that comprises of 49% agricultural land, the regional government of Ile-de-France (where France’s capital city Paris is located) has recently developed a strategy to better protect this land and connect it with local producers and consumers. The Ile-de-France regional strategy for sustainable and local agriculture recognises that in order to have green cities, there must also be access to local and organic agricultural products. In order to achieve this, the strategy consists of three central pillars:

  • Protect farmlands and make them more accessible to agricultural project leaders

  • Encourage the agro-ecological transformation of existing farmlands

  • Develop and promote local industries

The need for relocalisation of the region’s food system is quite apparent: According to the Ile-de-France department of Agriculture, Environment, and Energy, over 90% of the food consumed in Paris is imported. In 2011, Ile-de-France residents consumed 26% of vegetables produced in the region and only 2,7% of regionally produced fruits. This infographic (in French) explains further the statistics of the region’s production and consumption patterns.

Ile-de-France has engaged a number of partners in order to implement their strategy, including existing local and regional networks such as AMAP (Community supported agriculture network), research partners such as PSDR (For and About Regional Development), and partners at the European level such as EAFRD (European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development).

Through these partnerships, a variety of new and existing programmes will be used to facilitate the goals of the strategy. These include an agri-urban programme that will aid the community in setting up local food projects and protecting agricultural land, a program to encourage and aid farmers in their transition to organic farming methods, and a number of programmes to support the diversification of farmers in order to stabilize incomes and ensure their ecological transition.

For more detailed information about the strategy and the various ways it will be implemented, click here (in French only).


Climate change and sustainable food systems – COP20

The 20th annual Conference of Parties (COP) came to a close last week in Lima, Peru, and conference delegates discussed and debated the elements of a global treaty that will address combating climate change and how to deal with its ill effects. This treaty is anticipated to be finalized and signed at next year’s conference in Paris, France (COP21).

A number of side events addressed the topic of our current food system and how they will be affected by climate change. The issues raised were not only related to agricultural production, but also to food security, economics, and the need for strengthening and increasing collaborations between stakeholders.

To read more about some of the outcomes from these side events and the discussions surrounding sustainable food systems, please see the following articles:

Additionally, the CGIAR research program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security has updated their document Six issues facing global climate change and food security to reflect key actions needed post-COP20.

In the perspective of the International conference on climate change COP21 to be held in Paris in December 2015, IUFN (International Urban Food Network) is working on a collaborative international advocacy project highlighting the strategic links between food systems, urbanisation and climate change.


IUFN City Region Food Systems Caravan Milan 2015

Series of awareness raising events on city region food systems’ potential and local food celebration in European cities

From the 1st of May to the 31st of October 2015, the next World Expo Feeding the planet, energy for life – will take place in Milan (Italy). This global event will bring together for six months policy makers and the general public on the issue of sustainable food systems. In this perspective, IUFN aims to organise a series of festive and solutions-oriented one-day events in a selection of European cities, with the goal of raising awareness among policy makers and the local population of the positive potential of a city region food systems (CRFS) approach – the CRFS Caravan Milan 2015.

The CRFS Caravan Milan 2015 will set off in March 2015 and will go through a selection of European cities, starting in Milan (Italy), crossing France (Nantes, Lille, Bordeaux), possibly Belgium (Brussels), England (Bristol) and ending up in Italy again for the final closing meeting in October 2015 during the 2015 World Expo final month.

The CRFS Caravan receives support from the French Pavilion 2015 Milan World Expo, and in this respect it is officially part of the program promoted by the French Ministry of Agriculture, Forest and Fisheries for this global event.

Click here to take a look at our Caravan Milan 2015 brochure.