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Publication | 2024

Strengthening urban and peri-urban food systems to achieve food security and nutrition, in the context of urbanization and rural transformation


The report by the High Level Panel of Experts on Food Security and Nutrition (HLPE-FSN) focuses on urban and peri-urban (U-PU) food systems and their crucial role in achieving food security and nutrition (FSN). The rapid urbanization and rural transformation underscore the need to address food insecurity that predominantly affects U-PU areas. This report provides an in-depth analysis and presents action-oriented policy recommendations aimed at ensuring sustainable and resilient food systems in these regions.

Key Findings:

1. Urbanization and Food Insecurity:

  • Over 60% of the global population lives in urban areas.

  • Of the 2.2 billion people experiencing food insecurity, 1.7 billion reside in U-PU areas.

  • Urban poverty leads to high stunting rates among the urban poor, comparable to rural areas.

  • U-PU residents face significant challenges in realizing their right to food amidst climate change, political instability, and rapid population growth.

2. Policy and Governance Gaps:

  • National policies often neglect U-PU FSN and the role of local governments.

  • There's an urgent need to integrate local governments in shaping food systems and FSN outcomes.

3. Multisectoral and Multilevel Governance:

  • Effective governance involves multilevel, multisectoral, and multi-actor approaches.

  • Collaboration between national and local governments is crucial for developing effective food security strategies.

4. Food System Drivers:

  • Addressing FSN in U-PU areas requires tackling systemic drivers such as time and energy poverty, infrastructure deficiencies, and employment instability.

Key Recommendations:

1. Context-Specific Approaches:

  • Policies should be tailored to the unique characteristics of each U-PU setting, considering factors like size, location, infrastructure, demographics, and vulnerability to crises.

  • Integrated strategies using a combination of policy instruments are essential.

2. Strengthening Local Food Systems:

  • Support local and territorial food systems, with a focus on small-scale and informal actors.

  • Trade and supply chain policies should increase access to healthy diets for U-PU residents.

  • Policies should consider the impact on people and areas outside U-PU regions, discouraging those that undermine local food systems.

3. Diversity and Resilience:

  • Maintain and increase diversity within U-PU food systems, including retail types, food sources, and consumption pathways.

  • Assess and address the role of informal-sector actors, particularly in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs), who provide vulnerable residents with affordable food.

4. Food Safety:

  • Improve food safety across all food system activities.

  • Balance promoting food safety with minimizing negative impacts on informal sectors.

Specific Interventions:

1. Production:

  • Encourage sustainable food production using agroecological principles.

  • Protect urban agriculture through land-use zoning and support for local food systems.

  • Facilitate market access for urban and peri-urban producers.

2. Trade:

  • Align trade policies to support affordable healthy diets.

  • Include local governments in national food-trade policy dialogues.

  • Support informal cross-border trade.

3. Midstream Activities:

  • Invest in infrastructure and innovation for storage, processing, transportation, and wholesale.

  • Support small-scale and informal-sector actors in food value chains.

  • Strengthen wholesale markets to connect with small-scale producers.

4. Public Procurement and Non-Market Initiatives:

  • Develop nutrition-oriented public procurement programs.

  • Support community kitchens and food banks.

  • Empower civil society organizations to provide food aid during crises.

5. Food Loss and Waste:

  • Provide infrastructure and technology to reduce food loss and waste.

  • Promote consumer awareness and restaurant guidelines to minimize waste.

  • Encourage composting, biogas, and other circular economy practices.


  • Implement multilevel, multisectoral, and multi-actor governance approaches.

  • Integrate the right to food and the right to the city into governance frameworks.

  • Align policies across different levels of government for coherence and resource efficiency.

  • Foster inclusive governance processes involving all food system actors.


The report highlights the importance of a holistic, context-specific approach to U-PU FSN, recognizing the interconnectedness of food systems with other sectors and rights. It calls for strengthening local food systems, ensuring diversity and resilience, improving food safety, and adopting inclusive governance practices to achieve sustainable and equitable FSN outcomes in urban and peri-urban areas

Disclaimer: This summary has been generated by an artificial intelligence (AI) language model developed by OpenAI. For comprehensive information and context, please refer to the full document.