The UFS Coalition supports sustainable and inclusive transformation of urban food systems to advance equitable access to safe, nutritious foods for all.

Effective food policy is instrumental to foster social inclusion, environmental sustainability, and public health. As the level of government closest to people, cities have a crucial role to play in bringing together stakeholders to shape inclusive policies and ensure effective implementation on the ground. Engagement among all stakeholders of urban food systems, including local, sub-national and national governments, is pivotal to create an enabling environment for promoting sustainable and inclusive food systems. Strong political leadership both at national and subnational levels especially is key.

Many city and local stakeholders worldwide are taking actions towards sustainable food systems transformation. However, there is a lot of work to be done to ensure that cities and local governments contribute to national and global platforms and decision-making processes which promote sustainable food systems transformation.

The Coalition on Sustainable and Inclusive Urban Food Systems (UFS) emerged from the 2021 UN Food Systems Summit in recognition of the importance of the urban food agenda at the local, national and international level. The UFS Coalition offers a platform to better connect small, intermediary and larger metropolitan cities and national governments to promote coherent food policy and coordinated action.

A number of like-minded actors have been active in an informal urban food systems working group led by FAO and GAIN since 2020. Together, they represent a diverse hub of expertise, bringing together city networks, non-governmental organizations, academia, and key UN institutions.

The Issue

Urban communities consume up to 70 percent of food produced and this share is expected to increase as a result of rapid urbanization. As urban populations will grow from 4.4 billion today to 6.7 billion in 2050, so does the urgency of creating sustainable urban food systems that deliver accessible and nutritious food to all.

Many urban and peri-urban communities are exposed to food and nutrition insecurity, combined with the diffusion of diet-related non-communicable diseases and rates of overweightness and obesity, which particularly in urban cities are on the rise particularly in urban settings.

Climate change especially has challenged food systems resilience in and around cities, and has exacerbated the vulnerability of people, particularly in developing countries. Food is responsible for 1/3 of global GHG emissions; cities consume almost 80 percent of the total energy produced in the world, while producing 70 percent of the global waste. In an increasingly urbanized and globalized world, greater attention needs to be paid to food system governance, actors and drivers.

Photographer © Samantha Reinders

Photographer © FAO/Pier Paolo Cito

Our actions

The UFS coalition leverages partner expertise to:

  • Connect urban and national governments by creating space for engagement across scales, and strengthening the capacities of subnational governments to more effectively participate in the implementation of National Pathways, while integrating food into urban planning.
  • Drive dialogue and inclusion to better understand barriers and opportunities for urban food systems transformation, and to share experiences and best practices.
  • Promote evidence-driven decision through the facilitation of knowledge and experience exchange among key stakeholders and the production, management and distribution of appropriate data.
  • Mobilize and leverage human and financial resources to support the capacities of urban administrations to integrate food systems into urban policies, planning and investments.
  • Engage with networks and strengthen partnerships between governments, civil society, private sector and non-governmental actors which are critical to functional food system policy and practices.
  • Advocate – locally and globally – for inclusive, sustainable urban food systems.