FAO’s Green Cities Regional Action Program for Africa, recently launched by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), includes Nairobi and Kisumu counties as pilot projects. As part of the Program, innovative solutions are being applied and an increasing number of cities are being offered a platform to solve sustainable, resilient, and healthy food issues.
By integrating food production and distribution systems in a more integrated manner, cities of all sizes will have more resilient and nutritious food systems, pleasant natural environments, and better prepared to deal with climate change.
Six African cities signed letters of intent: Kisumu and Nairobi in Kenya, Praia in Cabo Verde, Quelimane in Mozambique, Antananarivo in Madagascar, and Kigali in Rwanda. A pilot phase involving six cities will lead to a global program expected to involve 1000 cities by 2030.
At the FAO online launch, FAO Director-General QU Dongyu said, “We can redesign cities.” According to him, the solution can be found in healthy, affordable food, greener societies with green jobs, and affordable, available green spaces.
Africa’s cities are overwhelmingly small, with fewer than 300 000 people living in them. Local governments and communities can create resilience by adopting appropriate policies and planning, he said, which can be combined with innovative solutions to improve the livelihoods of urban and peri-urban dwellers.
“The County Government of Kisumu has undertaken several initiatives to green the city and also improve food security over the past 5 years, with assistance from development partners. Moreover, the Kisumu County Governor, Prof. Anyang Nyong’o, was happy to be part of such a great program.
In Burkina Faso, where urbanization is expected to double by 2050 to 20 percent, Minister of Agriculture, Hydro-Agricultural Development, and Mechanization Salifou Ouederaogo praised the FAO initiative as timely. Through the promotion of Green Cities Initiative action plans, the FAO’s program provides an opportunity to consolidate and expand the initiatives already underway at the national level for the development of the rural sector in our country.
A great deal of focus should be directed by cities and mayors to engage innovators, entrepreneurs, and young people to take a step forward and bring forward new digital technologies, climate-smart practices, and creative strategies that will enhance sustainable livelihoods and strengthen urban-rural connections. Authorities are encouraged to engage youth, especially those living in the early stages of urbanization and growing rapidly.
In 2050, it is expected that 68 percent of the world’s population will live in cities, with most of them in low-income countries, particularly in Africa and Asia. Despite their economic potential, cities can also be characterized by a substantial amount of poverty and can use a large number of resources, emit greenhouse gas emissions, and consume a considerable amount of food.
At the 75th UN General Assembly session in September 2020, the FAO launched the Green Cities Initiative (GCI), underscoring the impact that urbanization has had. As cities transition to a low-carbon economy and achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, urban forestry, agriculture, and food systems play a critical role. In addition to creating more opportunities for the self-sustaining production of goods and services, greener, cleaner, and resilient towns can also improve individuals’ lives.
Through geo-referenced data and other indicators, FAO will assist participating countries in identifying potential vulnerabilities to shocks, potential biodiversity hotspots, and strategic mapping of food retail environments to improve access to nutritious food.
In addition, the Organization will assist Members in building platforms for city-to-city dialogue and partnerships.
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