A pact designed by cities for cities: the Milan Urban Food Policy Pact
The population of large cities is growing steadily. Half of the population already lives in cities and in thirty years, it is estimated that 70% of the world’s population will live in large cities. This has a profound impact on our planet and forces us to make decisions, both individually and socially, to achieve a basic goal: to ensure food security and a nutritious and sustainable diet for all.
To address this imminent need, the Milan Urban Food Policy Pact (MUFPP) was proposed in Johannesburg in 2014 and signed in Milan in 2015 under the auspices of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO).
The initial proposal was to promote an international protocol capable of addressing problems related to urban food and which could be adopted by the most diverse cities in the world. Immediately afterwards it became clear that, in addition to having a basic document, the Milan Pact could become a space capable of fostering dialogue to understand and address the issue of urban food.
Since the initial meeting in Milan, the cities of the Pact network and meet in annual meetings to exchange proposals (small and large) for tackling climate change, promoting policies for healthy eating and creating an urban food system based on sustainability.
Faced with great challenges
The goal of these meetings is to combat both hunger and malnutrition, even in countries where the problem is hidden: there is a need to provide a variety of appropriate, safe, local, fair, healthy and nutritious food for all. And achieving this is not easy, as it involves creating resilient and sustainable food systems. To this end, we know that it is essential to involve family farms and small food producers, to dignify agricultural work and to strengthen the link between the urban and rural worlds. Because, ultimately, every individual decision we make as urban food consumers influences the lives of the farmers who produce the food.
On the other hand, we need to find solutions to the economic, social and environmental impact of rapid urbanisation. This invites us to rethink the ways in which cities supply food and water, and to transform them into more sustainable practices, such as opting for less industrial and more ecological agriculture, thus reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
In order to work towards a solution to these problems, since 2015, 210 cities of various sizes and located on all continents have joined the Pact. The signatory local authorities share the common goal of ensuring healthy diets for all, reducing food waste, preserving biodiversity and mitigating climate change. By joining, they commit to reviewing and changing existing policies, plans and regulations at the urban level to promote the creation of fair, resilient and sustainable food systems. They also aim to promote and develop policies to support urban production and to implement logistical distribution systems with low environmental impact.
It is not a simple task. Therefore, and as a starting point for organising their own food systems, cities have a Framework for Action that proposes recommendations that can be addressed progressively. These include: creating a favourable context for the adoption of good practices; promoting healthy, safe, culturally appropriate, environmentally sustainable and rights-based diets; reducing food waste; encouraging the operation of urban canteens and gardens; local employment; and the integration of urban and peri-urban agriculture into municipal programmes.
The key to success: working together
The Milan Pact was launched five years ago and set ambitious targets. Now, the signatory cities are working to advance these targets and involve all actors—because everyone has to play their part: the administrations, the private sector, civil society and each one of us. We can only hope that more and more cities will join the Pact, and that we will all move towards a fairer and better fed society.