Rome – The Food & Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) took stock of its Green Cities Initiative on Wednesday with the Green Cities Initiative 2nd Year Anniversary Event: Supporting Cities to be Greener.
In 2020, in line with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), FAO launched the Green Cities Initiative to help small, intermediary & metropolitan cities to improve their resilience & the well-being of urban & peri-urban populations.
It aims to increase people’s well-being through better access to improved products & services provided by urban & peri-urban forestry, agriculture & food systems on a sustainable basis.
“Greening cities – whether small or very large – will deliver benefits across the entire sustainable development agenda,” QU Dongyu, the FAO Director-General, told the event.
Participants included Maimunah Mohd Sharif, UN-Habitat Executive Director, Souad Ben Abderrahim, Mayor of Tunis, Tunisia, & Aloke Barnwal, Coordinator, Sustainable Cities Program, Global Environment Facility.
Since 2007, a majority of the world’s people has lived in urban areas, & this is projected to rise to two-thirds by 2050. Cities heavily contribute to climate change by using about 70 per cent of the global food supply & 80 percent of the world’s energy, & by producing 70 percent of global waste & 60 percent of greenhouse gases.
By integrating agriculture, forestry, & food systems into urban policy, planning & action, cities can: increase food security & access to green spaces for all; improve public health, nutrition, air quality, & resilience to extreme weather events; improve the local economy & creation of green jobs; better mitigate risks from multiple shocks (climate change, economic, pandemic); & reduce the ecological footprint.
The Director-General pointed out that local governments are at the centre for delivering a large part of the wins from greening cities. He added that is why FAO along with its Members, UN HABITAT, the Global Environment Facility & many other partners support local & sub-national governments through this initiative.
FAO has already laid the groundwork for change, Qu said. New partnerships have been set up & existing ones have been expanded. Through the Initiative, FAO is engaged in 80 cities around the world. Twelve African cities have benefited from training on integrating urban agrifood systems & forestry into urban planning, for example.
More to be done
Qu praised those involved for the progress made so far but added that more must be done.
“Local governments need increased support to develop concrete, inclusive, innovative solutions for day-to-day problems,” Qu said. “They need support to address urban sprawl, which continues to eat into productive land & natural ecosystems that are crucial for adapting to climate change.”
Qu told mayors that they have a key role to play in their cities through better land use planning & developing multifunctional agrifood systems. He also stressed the need for national frameworks that encourage cities to promote sustainable urban & peri-urban agriculture, forestry & agrifood systems. The Director-General also underlined the importance of policy coherence at all levels.
“Cities are the present & the future, narrowing the inequality gaps,” Qu said. “We need to make them more efficient, more inclusive, more resilient & more sustainable, in harmony with nature & rural communities & also even across borders.”
Wednesday’s event included a panel discussion involving participants from Europe, Asia & Africa titled Green Cities in action – achievements in 2021/2022. Manuel De Araújo, Mayor of Quelimane, Mozambique, Souad Ben Abderrahim, Mayor of Tunis, Tunisia, Matteo Lepore, Mayor of Bologna, Italy, Njoroge Muchiri, Deputy Governor of Nairobi City County, Kenya, & Subram Ramaswamy, Senior adviser of the Mayor of Colombo, Sri Lanka, took part.
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