Network of Cities for Agroecology: a network for promoting agri-food policies
The Network of Cities for Agroecology is an association made up of twenty-two Spanish local entities and twenty-four other social organisations. Since the end of 2019, the Board of Directors has been presided by the City Councils of Zaragoza, Valladolid, València and Murcia. It is the state structure that currently unites the largest number of signatory cities of the Milan Urban Food Policy Pact (MUFPP). Its main objective is the construction of local food systems that ensure a healthy, sustainable and accessible diet for the entire population, especially for the most vulnerable social groups. They also promote local employment, strengthening the position of small sustainable food operators in the local distribution chain, in line with the perspectives of agroecology and food sovereignty.
Paula Ortega is part of the network and shares with us that the organisation’s approach is eminently practical. Its work aims at sharing experiences and collaboratively developing innovative solutions. The meetings, strategies and webinars serve to think about how to strengthen local food networks, strengthening the role of municipalities in promoting sustainable and healthy food consumption, boosting local economic networks and developing multi-stakeholder food governance structures and processes to promote food sovereignty and sustainability.
Their latest report “Local food systems against global risks, from COVID19 to the climate crisis“, presented at the annual meeting of the Network that was held this past October online, served as the basis for the member municipalities to sign the Declaration of Valladolid for the promotion of local agri-food systems in the face of global risks; a series of actions that have become an operational reference for the development of public policies, understanding that the health crisis highlights the importance of a healthy, sustainable and local diet as a preventive health measure and as one of the priorities to be addressed. In this declaration, the entities also addressed the need to develop comprehensive and coordinated strategies that, on the one hand, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and, on the other hand, protect us from both zoonoses and the effects of climate change. These measures would limit the fragility of the economy and society, advancing in self-sufficiency in relation to basic products and services and developing protocols for adaptation to extreme climate and health events, inevitable in the short and medium term.
On World Food Day on 16 October the Network also launched the #AlimentosEsSalud (#FoodisHealth) campaign, which will be developed in online and physical formats throughout 2021, both at state and local level. The campaign defends the right to food and disseminates information materials about the relationship between our health and our eating habits, how we eat, how organic food can improve our health, the intersection between food insecurity and poverty, food and gender. All the materials of this campaign can be consulted and downloaded here.
This year the Network will participate in the Glasgow Declaration, an initiative promoted by international agents such as IPES-Food, Nourish Scotland, ICLEI, Rikolto, the FAO Urban Food Program, MUFPP, Sustainable Food Places and Under2Coalition. The Glasgow Declaration is a pledge and call to action by subnational, local and national governments to accelerate the development of integrated food policies as a key tool in the fight against climate change with co-benefits for biodiversity, ecosystem regeneration, circularity, access to sustainable and healthy diets for all, and the creation of resilient livelihoods for farm and food workers. The Declaration commits subnational governments, from towns and cities to federal and devolved states, to reduce GHG emissions from urban and regional food systems in order to fulfill the Paris Agreement and the Sustainable Development Goals.
In addition, in 2021 Barcelona will be the world capital of sustainable food and the Network will actively collaborate with the Barcelona City Council in many of the associated events, such as the coordination of the III European Agroecology Forum in June and the Milan Pact Summit in October. The Network of Cities for Agroecology is also linked to the Barcelona Challenge for Climate Food and Nature initiative, a tool to support the development of concrete policies by cities so they can put into practice the commitments made in previous declarations such as the MUFPP or the Good Food Cities of C40 declaration, a network of megacities committed to addressing climate change, the Glasgow Declaration, or the 2030 Agenda.