News & Events

Some reflections on the Agroecology Knowledge Exchange Workshop: August 2016. By Robert Home

I was a little nervous as I registered for the Agroecology Knowledge Exchange Workshop that was held in Waterloo and hosted by Wilfrid Laurier University, Centre for Sustainable Food Systems in August this year. The workshop was organised through its FLEdGE (Food: Locally Embedded, Globally Engaged) project, and promised to “bring together leaders in agroecology research and practice from Cuba, Mexico, Honduras and Costa Rica, as well as Ontario”. I’m a European based researcher who is just starting to turn my focus to agroecology, so wasn’t really sure I’d fit in. My plan was to keep my head down, not say too much, and mainly just listen to what the impressive line-up of presenters had to say. If it turned out that there was small group work where a contribution was unavoidable; well, I’d cross that bridge when I came to it. To give some perspective, I work at the Research Institute for Organic Agriculture in Switzerland, which is better known by the German acronym: FiBL. FiBL is quite a large institute with 175 people working on practical problems related to organic agriculture.

For the full blog Agroecology Workshop Experience by Robert Home

Workshop on Ecological Farm Internships: Models, Experiences and Justice

October 13, 2016, 9:00am-5:00pm

Father Madden Hall, 100 St. Joseph Street, Toronto
Register by September 20 at

Over the past decade, growing numbers of interns, apprentices and volunteers have been working on ecological farms across North America and Europe.  Increasingly, farmers are looking to young people seeking hands-on farm experiences as a way to train the next generation of ecological producers and meet the labour demands of their operations.  Interns often exchange their labour for room and board, a stipend and importantly, training in agro-ecological and/or organic production methods.  This is a relatively new and potentially defining trend within the ecological farming sector with considerable significance for farm operators, interns and the broader food movement.

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City Region Food Systems and Food Waste Management: Linking Urban and Rural Areas for Sustainable and Resilient Development

Marielle Dubbeling (International Network of Resource Centres on Urban Agriculture and Food Security / RUAF Foundation), Camelia Bucatariu and Guido Santini (UN Food and Agriculture Organisation / FAO), Carmen Vogt and Katrin Eisenbeiß (Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit / GIZ)

Executive Summary

Rapid urban growth; growing food and nutrition insecurity; unbalanced food availa- bility, distribution and access; environmental degradation, resource scarcity and climate change; unsustainable production and consumption patterns, including generation of food waste – all of these have important developmental implications for both urban and rural areas alike. It is increasingly recognised that in order to respond to these challenges, integrated territorial development and balanced urban-rural linkages must be pursued for the benefit of both urban and rural populations.

City region food systems (CRFS) offer concrete policy and programme opportunities within which these developmental issues can be addressed and through which rural and urban areas and communities in a given city region can be directly linked. These specifically address Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) Target 11a – to support posi- tive economic, social and environmental links between urban, peri-urban and rural areas – and are instrumental in linking SDG 11 with SDG 2 (on sustainable agriculture and food and nutrition security) and SDG 12 (on sustainable production and consumption).

This publication documents thirteen case studies from city regions around the world which are developing CRFS projects, programmes, and policies, including those related to the prevention, reduction and management of food waste. Lessons learned from the case studies for sustainable development of CRFS call for local, city regional, and (sub) national governments to institutionalise city region food systems, providing them an institutional setting and budget, linking them to larger city region development plans, and monitoring their developmental impacts across urban and rural areas.

They also call for (sub)national and legal frameworks which embed CRFS within broader legislation, specifically the ‘Right to Food’ and the ‘Right to the City’, acknowledging
the need to guarantee both urban as well as rural food and nutrition security, as well as to regulate (unplanned) urban expansion on agricultural land in order to safeguard food and ecosystem services. The selected cases also highlight the need to strengthen horizontal and vertical governance systems as well as multi-stakeholder and cross-sectoral partnerships.

Finally, the cases offer a large number of strategies and tools that can be applied by city regions around the world, including the promotion of (peri)urban agriculture, preserva- tion of agricultural land areas and watersheds through land use planning and zoning, development of food distribution and social protection programmes for vulnerable groups, support for short supply chains and local procurement of food, and promotion of food waste prevention, reduction and management, as well as the recovery and redistribution of safe and nutritious food for human consumption.

City Region Food Systems are vital to the implementation of the Agenda 2030 and the New Urban Agenda (NUA) in three key ways: i) City region food systems address several key policy areas of concern to the NUA, including local economic development and urban governance, spatial and economic planning, public health, and ecosystem protection; ii) Coalition building around city region food systems can generate positive political support for wider urban-rural linkages through coalition building centred on food; iii) City region food systems deserve particular attention, given their potential to address the challenges outlined above.

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Rural-urban linkages and food systems in sub-Saharan Africa. The rural dimension by Karim Hussein & David Suttie


Given the context of transitions related to rapid urbanization, the roles that rural economies and societies will have to play (particularly smallholder farmers and other rural producers) in creating sustainable and inclusive food systems, in generating employment and incomes and in contributing to more balanced, equitable and mutually reinforcing patterns of rural-urban development in Africa require the attention of analysts, policymakers and development programmes in the years ahead. Addressing challenges related to a bulging population of young people will be particularly important in any work on the rural-urban nexus, in which youth migration plays critical roles. This is borne out by an analysis of evidence from sub-Saharan Africa and elsewhere, which stresses the importance of increasing productivity and incomes among rural people, particularly smallholders, during processes of economic and social transformation.

Emerging trends and opportunities – such as the increasing demand for food and the changing nature of that demand as consumer preferences evolve, urbanization, demographic patterns that mean young people are an increasingly important proportion of the overall population, and more integrated food value chains – all point to the importance of ensuring key rural dynamics are taken into account in developing rural-urban linkages. Taking account of these dynamics will mean addressing key rural-urban inequalities and connectivity gaps, developing more integrated and inclusive links within food systems and agricultural value chains, testing spatial and territorial approaches to development that provide valuable tools to integrate the rural dimension into debates surrounding urbanization, the promotion of a more sustainable urbanization, and building decent employment in food value chains. Nonetheless, the review of evidence in this paper suggests that, while urbanization potentially opens up opportunities for inclusive rural and structural transformation, this can only be achieved when suitable policies and investments are put in place to adequately address the particular needs of often-neglected rural people who play critical roles in food systems.

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