Many cities are faced with the challenge of rising urban food insecurity and growing food waste. In 2015, 19.8% of the urban population was moderately food insecure and 7.3% were severely food insecure (WB and FAO, 2017). The increasing high consumption of packaged and ultra-processed food with low nutritional value has not only led to a rise in obesity, micronutrient deficiency, and diet-related non-communicable diseases, but it has also been driving the unsustainable agricultural expansion.
Urban dwellers have increasingly been disconnected from the production of their food, and very few cities are engaged in pursuing food strategies. This reliance on external sources and long-food chains have rendered current urban food systems vulnerable to shocks and disruptions, as made evident by the latest Covid pandemic. Policy makers now realize the urgent need to transform current food systems to become more efficient, healthy, inclusive, equitable, sustainable and resilient. Given their size and economic prominence, cities have a transformative power to support and accelerate the transformation of our food systems. Cities consume 75% of the world’s resources, including two thirds of the produced foods. Moreover, half of the world population lives in urban areas, and is projected to increase to 70% by 2050 with developing countries witnessing 95% of this expansion (UN).
Using a systems approach and tools such as DPSIR Framework (Drivers, Pressures, State, Impact and Responses) and Life Cycle Assessment, Thriving Solutions helps identify the best entry points to drive the needed reforms, recommend and design context-specific policies and programs, create the required urban-rural linkages and build the capacity of relevant actors and institutions to enable transitioning to more circular, sustainable, healthy and equitable urban food systems. Research has shown that food supply chains, food environments and consumer behavior are key entry and exit points within the food system to drive change.