Bellagio, Italy 28 April 2017—Early this year, the African Centre for Cities at the University of Cape Town asked partners including UN-Agencies such as UNECA, WPF and UN-Habitat to participate in a meeting for considering potential impacts of the ESRC/DFID-funded research project Governing Food Systems to Alleviate Poverty in Secondary Cities in Africa Project (Consuming Urban Poverty) on the implementation of the African Union’s Agenda 2063, Agenda 2030 and the New Urban Agenda.

The meeting was convened at the Rockefeller Foundation Bellagio Center (Italy) and resulted in a joint communiqué: The Bellagio Communiqué.

The Communique focuses on “Harnessing urban food systems for sustainable development and human well-being” and acknowledges that food security is a basic human right. It pledges that “urban food insecurity, poverty and dysfunctional urban form and management are inextricably linked and mutually reinforcing;” and also clearly underlines that “spatial/territorial planning and land management has a critical role in affecting the food system”.

The Bellagio Communique was signed by several organizations and agencies and is strongly linked to the SDGs and the New Urban Agenda, recognising that “achieving all the SDGs will depend largely on the future of cities, and hence the urban food issue has importance beyond SDG 11 to the entire 2030 Agenda, particularly SDGs 2, 3 and 12.” (Urban) food security is one of the issues clearly addressed in the New Urban Agenda and needs to be integrated into policies and plans as urban sprawl and unplanned urban growth consume valuable agricultural land and have a strong impact on food security, ecosystems and natural resource management.

UN-Habitat contributed to the meeting and the Communiqué by underlining that the urbanization process in Africa is ongoing, especially in small and intermediate cities and that those are crucial for integrated territorial development and food security in their role as market places and for locations for food processing, providing non-agricultural employment opportunities for the rural population and acting as rural service centers. The Communiqué recognizes the “important role of urban management and planning in impacting on urban food security and nutrition - through a wide range of issues including urban form, land management and tenure security, infrastructure and housing, access to energy and water, the planning and use of public spaces for small producers, vendors and food retailers, the public provision of food retail markets etc, the relationship of these to poor households, and the protection of nearby agricultural areas and natural resources for ecosystem services.

The Bellagio Communiqué states that “integrating urban food security within local, regional and national urban policy processes” is needed to achieve “sustainable urbanization and addressing urban inequalities across the globe.” With the work on National Urban Policies, the implementation of the International Guidelines for Urban and Territorial Planning (IG-UTP) and the Global Tool Land Network (GTLN), UN-Habitat already provides tools and guidance to Member States and relevant stakeholders that are supporting an integrated territorial development and in this respect relate to food security issues.

UN-Habitat will continue to work on exploring, how using those tools for strengthening Urban-Rural Linkages can improve food security among other thematic areas. With series of events, including a side event during the UN-Habitat Governing Council and a session at the International Conference on National Urban Policies (Paris, 15. – 18.5.2017), UN-Habitat puts the topics how Urban-Rural Linkages can be enhanced by National Urban Policies and how urban food systems and integrated territorial development can be integrated into policies and strategic development plans at different (national to local) levels into international focus.

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