2021 is a particularly important year for food systems. The UN Food Systems Summit, which will work towards ensuring healthier, more sustainable and equitable food systems through bold new actions from all actors, will take place in New York in September, 2021. A pre-summit will be taking place in Rome on July 26-28, 2021.
Prior to the summit in September, various independent and global dialogues on food have taken place to feed into the processes and outcomes of the summit. On 28 June, the Global Taskforce of Local and Regional Governments (GTF) co-organized an official UN Food Systems Summit Global Dialogue on "Empowering Cities and Local Governments To Improve Food Systems Globally" with FAO, GAIN, and the UN Food Systems Summit Secretariat.
The Global Dialogue brought political attention and promoted action towards commitments related to sustainable urban food systems transformation at the local and regional levels. It also was a moment to exchange experiences and best practices among local and regional government representatives as well as urban food systems stakeholders. In this regard, the dialogue counted on the presence of the Special Envoy of the United Nations Secretary-General for the Food Systems Summit 2021, Agnes Kalibata, the Mayor of Tunis, Souad Abderrahim, and the Mayor of Huancayo, representing the local and regional government constituency, and other high-level representatives of representatives of international organizations, UN Member States, and academia.
During the dialogue, the results of city consultations and independent dialogues that have been supported by networks of the GTF through the Urban Food Systems Working Group facilitated by FAO and GAIN (UFS-WG) were presented. The local and regional government representatives presented in this regard their perspectives on solutions and challenges related to food systems.
The Mayor of Tunis, Souad Abderrahim, underlined how it is absolutely key to empower cities and local governments to improve the world's food systems through financial, technical and legislative support. She then emphasized how the independent dialogue conducted by the city of Tunis with the support of FAO allowed the city to interact with local actors to better cater to the needs of their residents. Ms. Abderrahim then stressed that “it is at the local level that people live, consume and manage their waste and resources” and that this should be reflected in key policy and decision-making processes.
The Mayor of Huancayo, Juan Carlos Quispe, represented by Hugo Bustamante Toscano, brought up the importance of engaging in international policy and learning processes related to food systems, highlighting that, for Huancayo, these are especially important in ensuring food production is sustainable and resilient and contributes towards fighting malnutrition. Mr. Toscano stated that “Huancayo’s goal is to construct a vision where the city develops food policy that respects the health of people and the environment”.
Throughout the dialogue, it was made clear that local and regional governments are key actors in food systems as opposed to mere consumers, guaranteeing they are sustainable and inclusive. They are playing a crucial role in ensuring the global agendas become a reality.
The current situation shows that local public service provision is vital to ensuring that people and the planet are duly protected. The Global Taskforce will continue to engage the constituency of local and regional governments in the process towards the UN Food Systems Summit and the outcomes of the dialogue are set to feed advocacy towards the UN Food Systems Summit in September and pre-summit in July, the CBD COP 15 and the UNFCCC COP26, and the 7th Milan Urban Food Policy Pact Global Forum 2021 hosted by Barcelona on 19-21 October 2021.