The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World 2023


5.3 Integrated planning and governance mechanisms across the rural–urban continuum

The policies, technologies and innovations presented up until now will require adequate governance mechanisms that, while engaging multiple actors, coherently address the challenges and leverage the opportunities created in agrifood systems under urbanization. Policymaking processes will not work with a traditional, mostly national and top-down approach, because of the need to focus on places and their functional and spatial linkages. Because these linkages often play out across sectoral and administrative boundaries, policymaking processes should facilitate interjurisdictional agreements and regulations, as well as the participation of a variety (including non-governmental) of actors.5 Hence, agrifood systems governance can be understood as the mechanisms and processes established for stakeholders to articulate their interest, mediate their differences and coordinate around government institutions. Moreover, institutional arrangements need to consider the key role of subnational governments (local and regional) as well as that of non-governmental actors.5

Working with the spatial and functional linkages across the rural–urban continuum, with subnational governments as important players, can leverage agrifood systems transformation under urbanization. The national and transnational production-oriented policies and agendas of the last century created gaps in addressing food insecurity and malnutrition. In reaction to these policies, subnational governments have emerged as important players in agrifood systems transformation.

Other factors which have increased the role of subnational governments on the global stage have been the steady increase in political and cultural power of cities of different sizes, the rapid urbanization processes, and the relatively recent wave of decentralization from national to local governments in an increasing number of countries. In the aftermath of these developments, urban food policy pioneers in municipalities around the world got engaged in the agrifood systems agenda to develop food strategies and implement specific local measures.228

Due to the multisectoral nature of the challenges and opportunities that urbanization creates across the rural–urban continuum (Chapter 3), subnational governments should also be important actors for formulating and implementing coherent policies that go beyond agrifood systems (e.g. environmental, energy, health and other systems). They are in close contact with local stakeholders and can ensure that these policies are adapted to local conditions by promoting advantages and addressing bottlenecks. The launch of the Milan Urban Food Policy Pact in 2015 was a global marker of subnational governments’ increasing role in formulating and implementing policies at urban and regional levels, promoting agrifood systems linkages across the rural–urban continuum and integrating different systems approaches in local, regional and territorial development plans. The New Urban Agenda, endorsed by the United Nations General Assembly in 2016, has been a turning point in terms of recognizing the role of subnational governments in agrifood systems transformation, as it called for integration of food security and nutrition in urban and territorial planning. This recognition has also been carried over into global processes such as the United Nations Food Systems Summit, with the establishment of the Urban Food Systems Coalition in 2021 (see Box 13).

BOX 13Urban Food Systems Coalition: a global platform to raise awareness on the key role of subnational governments in agrifood systems transformation across the rural–urban continuum

The United Nations Food Systems Summit, organized in 2021, recognized the importance of subnational governments as key levers for inclusive and sustainable agrifood systems transformation. During the Summit, the Urban Food Systems Coalition was established; it is currently facilitated by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations and the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition, and includes UN Agencies, city networks, civil society organizations and academic institutions as active members operating across the rural–urban continuum in multiple countries. The coalition229 aims to support national and subnational governments to transform their agrifood systems by facilitating coherent, coordinated policies and actions. It supports subnational governments to engage in global policy debates and establish themselves as key players in the overall agrifood systems transformation. Moreover, the coalition works across the rural–urban continuum to identify context-specific mechanisms for bridging national and local agrifood systems governance gaps.

Subnational agrifood systems governance mechanisms

An important starting point towards streamlining governance based on functional dimensions across the rural–urban continuum is the development of locally based agreements between multiple administrative zones and multistakeholder platforms and networks.

Multistakeholder agrifood systems governance mechanisms, involving multiple non-state actors, farmer organizations, civil society organizations, the private sector and academic institutions, are increasingly emerging as crucial instruments to address gaps in local policies and planning related to food. Among such mechanisms, food policy councils (sometimes also referred to as committees, food groups, platforms, etc.) serve as advisory bodies to local or subnational governments, support policy design and implementation, promote stakeholder engagement, and facilitate monitoring and evaluation of progress in policy implementation, effectiveness, efficiency and impact (see Box 14).

BOX 14Subnational agrifood systems governance agreements among metropolitan, intermediary and small cities in Peru

In November 2019, the Peruvian municipalities of Lima, Huancayo, Arequipa, Piura and Maynas signed an agreement with the objective of strengthening agrifood systems linkages across the rural–urban continuum. The agreement covers: i) linkages between producers, markets and fairs in different cities; ii) knowledge exchange on practices related to agroecology and its promotion in rural and peri-urban areas; iii) modernization of food retail market spaces; and iv) context-specific strategies to improve access to healthy diets. It also includes peer-to-peer learning practices, which allow for sharing experiences in areas such as development of new urban food environment ordinances, public purchase of family farming products, and establishment of the food policy council in Lima.

One experience shared with municipalities involves an ordinance in Lima designed to create healthy food environments in both schools and out-of-home areas.231 The ordinance prohibits the sale or marketing of energy-dense foods high in fats, sugars and/or salt within 200 metres of schools. It also sets minimum health requirements for food and drinks provided to students on school premises, and requires schools to ensure access to fresh drinking water. Furthermore, as part of the Lima Come Sano (Lima Eats Healthy) programme, the ordinance requires local restaurants to adopt new practices to reduce salt and sugar intakes. To promote healthy eating, restaurants are encouraged to prominently display the caloric content of menu items, and to only provide salt shakers and condiments when customers ask for them.

In addition, in October 2020, Lima established the Food System Council of Metropolitan Lima (CONSIAL), which aims to plan, organize, develop and implement sustainable and resilient food policies that guarantee the human right to food and generate a positive impact in reducing rates of poverty and malnutrition. Since its establishment, the council has enacted several local ordinances to promote healthier urban food environments, urban agriculture, the use of public spaces for agroecology farmers’ markets, and the recovery of unsold food in wholesale markets. The council includes multiple actors such as representatives from urban and peri-urban agriculture platforms, rural producer organizations, civil society promoters of healthy eating, research centres and universities, the private sector, and non-governmental organizations active beyond the administrative boundaries of the Lima metropolitan area. Likewise, the council is currently developing an agrifood systems strategy across the rural–urban continuum, aligned with the national and international agendas related to agrifood systems, climate change and sustainability.

The city of Hancayo has also established the Comité de Sistemas Alimentarios (Food Systems Council) which is linked to the CONSIAL in Lima, creating the basis for strengthening agrifood systems governance across the rural–urban continuum.

There is currently very limited evaluation of the collective impact of food policy councils on changing policy or shifting conventional food governance paradigms.230 Some food policy councils are formed through bottom-up, citizen-led processes, which makes them cautious about the degree to which they associate with or are dependent on local government, as formalized links with government may compromise the original vision and direction of the platform and restrict the ability to propose changes to government structures and policy. Others are formed directly within or even by the municipality itself and therefore have strong ties with local government. The strength of food policy councils with closer ties to government is that they can be in a better position to make policy recommendations and receive more support. Being located within a government department can also increase the chances of receiving dedicated resources and ensure continuity.

Food policy councils have existed for 30 years, the earliest in Northern America, but they still require scaling up and strengthened capacity in order to reach their full potential. For example, in Africa, the informal sector is expanding, and street food vending remains key for food purchases. Informal food vendors provide poorer households with better opportunities to achieve food security, as they are spatially accessible and can offer assistance through credit;232 however, they are barely considered in governance mechanisms, not even in food policy councils, which in most cases are still in an emerging state (Box 15). Support to organize these informal food actors in groups (e.g. cooperatives) can be crucial for their integration in the decision-making process.233 However, if formalized, it is important that new forms of democratic governance do not become yet another bureaucratic mechanism. On the contrary, they must remain a place where problems are addressed through participatory multistakeholder processes in a holistic way, and measures are adopted in a way that includes the interests of multiple stakeholders including the most vulnerable.232

BOX 15Inclusive agrifood systems governance mechanism in Kisumu County, Kenya, linking urban and rural areas

In Kisumu County, Kenya, a food liaison advisory group (FLAG) was established in 2020 under the leadership of the county and with representatives from academia, civil society organizations, the private sector, and farmer organizations operating across the rural–urban continuum. The FLAG provides a space to enable dialogue among different actors and identify priority actions intended to promote local food production and processing as well as employment opportunities and business incubators for women and youth. This group is currently in the process of finalizing the development of an agrifood systems strategy encompassing both rural and urban areas of the county. The strategy identifies priority areas of intervention to foster rural–urban linkages, such as improvement of market infrastructure to improve the spatial and functional connection between Kisumu and other counties and as a way to reconnect rural producers with urban consumers. The strategy is also in the process of considering inclusivity among its priorities, particularly in relation to recognizing and formalizing women street food vendors and improving their businesses.

Once an agrifood systems governance mechanism has been established, a major common challenge in local institutions is to ensure its continuity. Monitoring and evaluation – but also adaptation as necessary – are required for continuous learning of local institutions and to report progress to a wider audience, which could potentially bring new stakeholders on board and provide access to additional funding and technical resources.234

Experience shows that agrifood governance mechanisms such as food policy councils perform better if they are institutionalized within subnational governments. Institutionalization refers to the formalization of structures, rules and practices that enable agrifood initiatives to endure. It involves creating the policy and governance infrastructure that will allow a municipality and key stakeholders to design new agrifood initiatives and adapt existing policies and strategies in consideration of new circumstances;235 to do so requires the mobilization of human and financial resources. Finding an institutional “home” to host agrifood systems-related multistakeholder platforms, usually in the format of an agrifood systems “unit” within a municipality, is key to the sustainability of these initiatives.236

A dedicated budget is also crucial for sustaining continuity. In most cases, multistakeholder platforms have limited power to influence budget allocation for agrifood systems initiatives. Municipalities themselves have therefore a critical role to play in integrating the initiative of an informal food governance platform into the municipality’s regulatory framework and budget via ordinances, annual budgetary and programme planning, or other types of formal decisions. Due to the diversity of organizational structures and priorities, there is no single model for successfully securing funding. And ultimately, there is no guarantee that agrifood systems governance will continue in perpetuity. However, institutionalizing governance processes can make it harder for future administrations to erode or dismantle them.237

Integrated local agrifood systems policies and planning

The design and implementation of local agrifood systems policies, investments and legislation for addressing multiple agrifood systems challenges and opportunities require working outside the municipal departmental “silos” and bridging the gaps between departments and policy areas in order to achieve systemic changes. Until now however, most urban food policies have targeted specific sectors such as food production, food distribution, waste management, public health or the environment.238 In the process of integrating food into urban planning and policy, holistic food strategies (connecting different and relevant sectoral domains, municipal departments and disciplines) are just emerging, setting the overall framework and agenda within which targeted policies and actions can be implemented.239 Furthermore, local institutions can align agrifood systems goals with their broader development goals through different planning instruments such as ordinances, by-laws, declarations, resolutions and codes.

Local agrifood systems policies, planning and strategies are quite often introduced through dynamic leadership of “champions” in municipalities of cities of all sizes, in some cases working in collaboration with other government levels and with non-state actors such as non-governmental organizations, civil society organizations and academic institutions.240, 241, 242 The history of local agrifood systems strategiesbb over the past decades has demonstrated how it is possible to create an effective enabling environment for mainstreaming agrifood systems within the local agenda243 and improve the linkage between rural and urban areas. Specifically, the development of local agrifood systems policies, ordinances and regulations has led to scaling up of ad hoc initiatives and projects, contributing to the overall agrifood systems transformation at the national level with clear multistakeholder engagement (Box 16).

BOX 16Local agrifood systems strategies linking large metropolitan areas with rural hinterland in Antananarivo, Nairobi and Quito

In Madagascar, the Municipality of Antananarivo (Analamanga region), collaborating with the Ministry of Agriculture and other stakeholders, created a stakeholder advisory group through which the Agrifood Systems Resilience Strategy 2023–2028 for the city of Antananarivo and its surrounding region was developed and validated. The strategy promotes multisectoral, multilevel and multistakeholder collaboration, recommending coherent and integrated implementation of policies and programmes such as: i) the Integrated Water Resource Management programme led by the Ministry of Water, Sanitation and Hygiene; ii) the national Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries Investments Programme led by the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock; and iii) the Analamanga Regional Land-Use Plan 2023–2043. The implementation of these policies and programmes in Antananarivo and its surrounding region has the potential to empower local communities while strengthening resilience to shocks, improving food distribution, creating employment opportunities and supporting food small and medium enterprises.

In Kenya, the Nairobi Food Systems Strategy was endorsed by Nairobi City County and integrated in the Nairobi City County Development Plan. Currently in the process of implementation, this food strategy aims to ensure affordable, accessible, nutritious and safe food for all, using a multisectoral approach and working across all levels of government. An Intergovernmental Relations Committee on Nairobi City Food Systems was established including representatives from Nairobi City County Government and representatives from various ministries (responsible for food, agriculture, health, environment, land, water, social protection, etc.). A multistakeholder food governance mechanism (food liaison advisory group), which includes non-state actors, was also established and aims to advise decision-makers at all levels on the implementation of the food strategy. Agrifood systems actions across the continuum will be ensured through the strong engagement of the intercounty coordination platform at the national level.

In Ecuador, the Municipality of the Metropolitan District of Quito endorsed the Quito Agri-food Strategy in 2019, allowing agrifood systems to be progressively integrated in city planning tools such as the Quito Resilience Strategy, Vision 2040, the Climate Action Plan and the Metropolitan Development and Land Management Plan (which recognizes food security as the strategic axis of the city’s socioeconomic development). The strategy was developed in collaboration with multiple actors engaged in the agrifood systems governance platform. The platform includes local, provincial and national government representatives; social movements; international cooperation actors; United Nations Agencies; academia; and the private sector (mainly agribusinesses aiming to work in both urban and rural areas).

Gathering evidence is the first crucial step to support the development of local agrifood systems policies and planning. This process can include a wide range of instruments and tools: assessment studies, indicators, open databases, information sharing platforms, etc. Multiple tools have already been developed that can inform policymakers about agrifood systems bottlenecks – i.e. points in the systems that produce constraints in economic, social, health or environmental terms – in order to prioritize interventions, measure progress and, just as important, draw lessons on how to effectively integrate agrifood systems into urban and territorial planning. Developing comprehensive agrifood systems profiles without losing the systemic view remains a challenge for urban policymakers.

The Rapid Urban Food Systems Appraisal Tool is one example of a tool supporting evidence-based policymaking at local levels.bc It assists policymakers and other agrifood systems stakeholders in developing policies and strategies that improve food security and nutrition of urban dwellers and promote sustainable development of agrifood systems (see Box 17).

BOX 17The Rapid Urban Food Systems Appraisal Tool: one possible tool to analyse agrifood systems across the rural–urban continuum

The Rapid Urban Food Systems Appraisal Tool (RUFSAT) aims to assist policymakers and other agrifood systems stakeholders to develop and prioritize evidence-based policies and strategies that address bottlenecks constraining the economic, social and environmental performance of agrifood systems. This is achieved through four interlinked components: i) stakeholder mapping; ii) value chain analysis; iii) mapping of the institutional and policy environment; and iv) a consumer survey that includes a mapping of the food retail environment.

These components are underpinned by geospatial information systems that bring all the information related to the agrifood systems and food consumption patterns within the urban setting onto a common base map. Maps and information in RUFSAT comprise the use of satellite imagery, mobile apps for field surveys, information available in the public domain, and data collected from local authorities. From these sources, RUFSAT identifies challenges and opportunities for planning and transformation of urban agrifood systems. It relies on feedback and technical advice from a food liaison advisory group – a working group of policymakers and subject matter experts created through a consultative process at the city level designed to provide input on the assessment findings as well as guidance on prioritization of challenges and opportunities at the city level.

RUFSAT assessments provide useful data and information for the development of local agrifood systems strategies, ordinances and regulations at the local level, and have been used in some of the case studies included in this chapter: the CONSIAL experience in Lima (Box 14), the Kisumu County initiative (Box 15) and the Nairobi Food Systems Strategy (Box 16).

Agrifood systems analysis is usually complemented with evidence gathered through multistakeholder engagement. While the availability of disaggregated data for the local level may be limited, engagement with local agrifood systems stakeholders can generate deeper insights for identifying bottlenecks and prioritizing action. However, it should be noted that partnerships with stakeholders with interests that run counter to improving human and ecosystem health can result in damage and mistrust. New models for private–public sector funding will be required to avoid conflicts of interest and ensure impartiality, accountability and transparency.244 It is always important to safeguard against conflicts of interest in policy development and decision-making – particularly when multiple stakeholders are involved – and tools are available to help countries prevent and manage such conflicts of interest.245, 246

The priority areas identified at the local level to develop holistic food strategies and planning usually include urban and peri-urban agriculture; short supply chains; inclusive food markets; healthier food outlets and street food; public food procurement; sectoral planning and programming such as school feeding programmes; inspection of food outlets; planning and zoning rules on food outlets and/or marketing; and food waste prevention, reduction and management.238, 240, 241 Urban and peri-urban agriculture initiatives have been one of the catalysing entry points to put food on the local political agenda. Urban and peri-urban agriculture has a close relationship with urban food governance, as it often goes beyond agroecological production and sustainable consumption to incorporate other aspects such as social cohesion, economic development and environmental issues. Another common entry point is school feeding whose potential for improving children’s nutrition, dietary habits and educational attainment is inspiring many municipalities, even smaller ones, to action. School feeding programmes are also valued for their multiplier effects. They can be designed to support local agriculture, strengthen and diversify local agrifood systems, and improve economic and social development through public procurement mechanisms focused on local smallholder farmers and sustainable production (Box 18). The same principles can be extended to food procurement and service policies for other locally run institutions or services.247

BOX 18Strengthening multilevel institutional agreements through public food procurement in Manabí Province, Ecuador

In the framework of the Ecuadorian Food Guidelines, the Provincial Government of Manabí together with the municipalities of Portoviejo, Chone and Santa Ana, and in coordination with the Ecuadorian Ministry of Education, established a food procurement scheme to distribute fruits to children as part of their school meal. This initiative aimed at providing access to healthy diets for Manabí students, while promoting income opportunities for farmers. The first deliveries to schools in Portoviejo, the provincial capital, started in October 2021 with local fresh fruits from family farmers located in the rural municipalities of Chone and Santa Ana. The provincial government financed the purchase and carried out the procurement through the public portal, EP Manabí Produce. Thanks to the initiative, nearly 43 000 children from 95 schools in Portoviejo received, on a daily basis, a kit comprising nine fresh fruit items (mandarins and oranges). This initiative has been crucial for fostering multilevel agrifood systems governance and interinstitutional coordination across national, provincial and municipal levels.

Food waste and circular economy initiatives are another common entry point for initiating food planning and policy processes. Food waste can be converted to compost or used to produce biogas, thereby avoiding harmful methane emissions while also creating employment opportunities; fish offal and waste can also be used to produce fish silage which serves as fishmeal in animal feed. However, this requires municipal organic waste to be properly managed not only at the household level, but also in food retailing outlets. Local institutions play a critical role in creating an enabling environment to reduce food waste and adopt waste management practices. For example, in Bangladesh, municipal food waste in Khulna city is being used to meet the high demand for organic compost fertilizer in the agroforestry sector; but the process has required support from local institutions to produce compost at a suitable level. In relation to food waste management, priority is also given to prevention, recovery and redistribution for human consumption – a process requiring a high level of engagement of local governments.248 Furthermore, in Kigali, Rwanda, a thematic multistakeholder taskforce on food waste management has been created as part of the broader agrifood systems stakeholder advisory group addressing issues related to prevention, recovery, redistribution and the circular economy. The Kigali Municipality has assumed leadership of the platform to strengthen the spatial and functional agrifood systems linkages across the rural–urban continuum in Rwanda.

The degree of decentralization in different contexts and the level of technical capacity can limit the effectiveness of such local policies and strategies. For example, despite major decentralization efforts in recent decades, local African governments still have low administrative and fiscal capacity; consequently, in some cases strategic plans are not implemented due to lack of funding. Linking food policies and strategies to the fiscal decision-making process is therefore indispensable.249

Due to the multisectoral and multilevel nature of agrifood systems, funding to implement the key activities of a food strategy and/or action plan can come from a variety of sources: municipal, provincial, national, and even non-state actors such as non-governmental organizations and international partners. Mobilization of internal and external resources for effective public and private financing is crucial, both in terms of supporting the actions of authorities at all levels and creating incentives to attract private capital towards financially viable investment opportunities.236, 238, 240

Policy coherence at national and subnational levels remains a key challenge in establishing the appropriate enabling environment. National and regional governments usually have the mandate and resources to invest in infrastructure development for well-connected rural and urban areas, and have access to policy instruments dealing with the role of the private sector in agrifood systems transformation.250 As mentioned earlier in this Chapter 5, investments in general services support in SICTs could scale up private investments and take advantage of the closer spatial and functional links that urbanization is creating across the rural–urban continuum. Therefore, these policies and investments will require strong multilevel governance across national and regional agrifood systems policies in order to promote the necessary structural transformation of agrifood systems. In order to address a specific issue systemically and encourage agrifood systems transformation, coordinated actions across horizontal and vertical dimensions of governance are needed. Horizontal governance refers to the coordination and/or integration among sectoral institutions (e.g. related to trade, agriculture, health and planning) and/or with non-governmental actors such as research institutions, civil society organizations, representatives of the private sector, and financial institutions. For example, as agrifood systems usually fall under the mandate of multiple agencies, to improve national coordination among them, countries are creating interministerial committees or similar mechanisms to manage decentralization processes and implement agroterritorial initiatives. On the other hand, vertical or multilevel governance concerns the distribution of power, policymaking capacity and responsibility across supranational, national, regional and local government levels.243, 251 Multilevel governance means operating and coordinating between and across the two axes and creating cohesion across the rural–urban continuum, empowering all levels of government to take shared ownership252, 253 (see Box 19).

BOX 19The multistakeholder participatory process for establishing multilevel institutional agreements for food security and nutrition in Western Cape Province, South Africa

In 2016, the Western Cape Provincial Government of South Africa published a food security and nutrition strategy, Nourish to Flourish, which offers insights into integrated, transversal and multilevel agrifood systems governance. The strategy is co-led by the Department of the Provincial Premier and the Provincial Department of Agriculture. Informed by the mandates of these provincial co-leads, the scope of the strategy spans the rural–urban continuum including rural areas, small towns and large cities, as well as agrifood systems that flow into the provincial system. The development and implementation of the strategy was founded on a wide-ranging, innovative consultation and curation process, which brought together multiple actors including often unheard voices to improve agrifood systems. The strategy engages multiple government units, many of whom are assumed to hold no food or nutrition mandate (e.g. departments of spatial planning, education, economic development and environment), while supporting existing programmes within the food security realm. Avoiding traditional policy formulation processes, the strategy retains an open-ended governance approach, where the lead government officials continually innovate and adapt in response to evolving lessons learned and implementation feedback. Currently, as the post-2023 South Africa National Food and Nutrition Security Plan is being drafted, the Ministry of the President is exploring how the national government can support this strategy of the Western Cape Provincial Government, and also how such strategies can be applied in other regions and what kind of mechanisms can be created to bridge the national–local governance gap.

Conducive policy frameworks for multilevel governance are still not common, although they do exist in a handful of countries. A regional perspective of agrifood systems governance can become an opportunity for initiating the process of establishing multilevel agrifood systems governance mechanisms, such as in the case of the Catalonia Region, Spain (Box 20). Moreover, processes of multilevel agrifood systems governance addressing specific entry points have been initiated in some countries. For example, Denmark has started the process of multilevel agrifood systems governance using public procurement as an entry point (Box 21). The establishment of national networks that engage various levels of government appears to be an important starting point to initiate such multilevel governance mechanisms.

BOX 20The regional Strategic Food Plan for Catalonia 2021–2026 and the Catalan Food Council, Spain

The regional Strategic Food Plan for Catalonia, Spain 2021–2026 (Plan estratégico de la alimentación de Cataluña 2021–2026 PEAC) has been promoted by the regional Department of Climate Action, Food and Rural Agenda of Catalonia, Spain. The PEAC is a regional interdepartamental and intersectoral tool that defines the vision, objectives and priority initiatives and establishes the Bases for constituting the National Agreement for the energy transition of Catalonia which will serve to guide future regional public agrifood systems policies. The PEAC is the result of a participatory process lasting more than a year and involving actors of the regional agrifood systems, including primary producers, the food industry, food distributors, restaurants and catering, research institutions and universities, and local, regional and national agencies operating in the food-related sector.

The Catalan Food Council (Consejo Catalán de la Alimentación), attached to the regional Department of Climate Action, Food and Rural Agenda of Catalonia, Spain is the driving force of the PEAC and acts as a forum for analysis, debate and proposal on issues related to Catalonian regional agrifood policies. It also acts as an agrifood systems observatory for policy recommendations, and is made up of a broad representation of associations and entities related to agrifood systems in Catalonia, Spain.

BOX 21Multilevel public food procurement network in Denmark: national, regional and local governments working together to initiate the process of establishing multilevel agrifood systems governance

Public food procurement is an important mechanism for strengthening agrifood systems linkages across the rural–urban continuum, thus catalysing noticeable changes in primary production, dietary patterns and food education. In 2018, during the preparation of green public procurement guidelines for food tenders in Denmark, the National Food Procurement Network (Nationale Udbudsjuridiske Fødevarenetværk) – a multilevel food procurement network for public sector officials – was formally established by the Danish Ministry of Environment, together with the chief procurement lawyer of the City of Copenhagen, to connect the different levels of government and strengthen the effectiveness of public food procurement. This formal collaboration engages the ministry, mayors and 44 national, regional and local officials, and is an important step towards the establishment of multilevel agrifood systems governance. The network has been created because of the need for closer and systemic collaboration between the state and the city level of government regarding the implementation of state-level rules and regulations. Without this collaboration, the decisions made at the state level may prove unfeasible at the local level. Building on the Danish procurement network, another public food procurement network has been established at the European and global levels to share experience and initiate the process of strengthening multilevel governance at all levels.

Kenya has started the process of promoting multilevel agrifood systems governance using urban and peri-urban agriculture as an entry point. Since 2011, the Urban Areas and Cities Act in Kenya has required counties to regulate urban and peri-urban agriculture. However, although a small number of counties in Kenya have developed (or are in the process of developing) holistic food strategies, the shift from sectoral to systemic for the establishment of multilevel governance is still at the early stage with only initial discussions between national and local governments underway. In Indonesia, after the United Nations Food Systems Summit, the national government committed to promoting the agrifood systems approach at all levels. Currently, the national, provincial and district/city levels are each required to develop a food security and nutrition action plan every five years. In Viet Nam on the other hand, cities have the mandate to develop the national agrifood systems action plan. The above frameworks undoubtedly stimulate policy development across the rural–urban continuum. However, there is a risk that the various localities feel obliged to address national priorities rather than respond to different local priorities.254 Nonetheless, effective institutional mechanisms across government levels, in which the voice of subnational governments inform the national policy agenda, can create bridges across geographies and enhance accountability.

back to top