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Over 100 Cities Pledge to Fight Hunger & Reduce Food Waste

UNITED NATIONS, Oct 15 2015 (IPS) - Over 100 cities around the world have come together in Milan to sign the Urban Food Policy Pact, promising to develop equitable and sustainable food systems.

During the Mayors Summit on Oct. 15, the pact was signed by Milan’s Mayor Giuliano Pisapia along with his counterparts from cities worldwide including Belo Horizonte, Barcelona, Dakar, and Moscow.

The agreement was proposed by Mayor Pisapia at the Cities Climate Leadership Group (C40) Summit in 2014 and was launched during his city’s Expo 2015 whose theme was “Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life.”

The pact includes five core actions: engage with relevant stakeholders to ensure an enabling environment; promote sustainable diets and nutrition; ensure equitable access to food; promote rural-urban food production and supply; and reduce food waste.

Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) Director-General José Graziano da Silva lauded the initiative, noting that urban centers are key actors in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), especially the eradication of hunger by 2030.

“Cities have a key role to play in ending hunger and improving nutrition,” said Da Silva in his address to the summit.

“A majority of the population of the world already lives in cities and the urban population is going to increase, particularly in developing countries…nevertheless food security and nutrition remains overlooked in urban planning and development,” Da Silva continued.

According to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), 50 percent of the world’s population lives in urban areas. By 2050, the global urban population is expected to increase to 66 percent, making access to affordable and sustainable food a key priority.

Da Silva also underlined the link between food security and climate change, stating that sustaining the SDGs in the long-term will require reducing emissions and tackling climate change.

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon made similar comments during a High-Level Working Lunch on Climate Change on Sept. 27.

“Food production and agriculture contribute as much to climate change as transportation,” Ban remarked. He particularly pointed to food waste as a contributor to climate change.

According to FAO, one third of all food is wasted. The energy that goes into the production and transportation of uneaten food generates more than 3.3 billion metric tons of greenhouse gases.

If food waste were a country, it would be the world’s third largest emitter of greenhouse gases, behind the U.S. and China. Food waste in cities is particularly and increasingly higher, said Da Silva at the summit.

During the High Level Meeting, Ban also noted the social implications of food waste, stating that it is “shameful when so many people suffer from hunger.”

Though world hunger has decreased since 1990, almost 800 million people still go hungry every day.

The Urban Food Policy Pact was developed with FAO as well as key stakeholders from governments, the private sector, and civil society. It is described as “one of the most important legacies of Expo 2015.”

The signed text will be presented to the UN Secretary-General on Oct 16.


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