Questions and answers
What is the objective of the Glasgow Food and Climate Declaration?
The Glasgow Food and Climate Declaration is a pledge and call to action by subnational, local and national governments to accelerate the development of integrated food policies as a key tool in the fight against climate change with co-benefits for biodiversity, ecosystem regeneration, circularity, access to sustainable and healthy diets for all, and the creation of resilient livelihoods for farm and food workers.
The Declaration commits subnational governments, from towns and cities to federal and devolved states, to reduce GHG emissions from urban and regional food systems in order to fulfill the Paris Agreement and the Sustainable Development Goals.
Building on previous work by the World Urban Forum Medellin, the Milan Urban Food Policy Pact, the C40 and others to strengthen the governance mechanisms for food systems transformation, the Declaration further calls on national governments to develop similar policies which build on, align with, and reinforce local change efforts.
Why a prominent role for sub-national actors?
Cities, regions, and sub-national states are leading the way in pioneering integrated food policies and strategies to drive positive food system change at a local and regional level, where the majority of sustainable food system innovation is occurring.
This includes food waste reduction schemes; healthy and sustainable food procurement for public canteens; public campaigns to encourage behavioural change towards healthy diets; the creation of urban gardens, agricultural parks, incubator farms, regional food hubs, and farmers markets; frameworks to support short supply chain and social and solidarity economy initiatives; strengthening agroecological development plans; integrated territorial and urban food planning; strengthening urban-rural linkages; or the development of pesticide-free and GMO-free districts, bio-districts and organic regions.
At the same time, limited international and national government recognition, mandate and support for sub-national food system policies and partnerships hamper or fails to incentivize effective scaling and extension of this vital action. This declaration by sub-national actors is designed to amplify their voices in global conversations on food and climate, nature and health, where to date they have had a limited input.
Why take a food systems approach to climate change?
Food touches on many different policy areas and this often leads to policy contradictions and friction. A food systems approach makes it easier to develop coherent policies, address tensions and trade-offs, and deliver the food systems transformation needed to tackle urgent environmental and nutritional challenges.
It considers the range of actors and interactions involved in producing, manufacturing, supplying, consuming and disposing of food, while recognizing their profound interconnections with public health and the underlying socio-cultural, economic, biophysical, and institutional factors that shape our food systems.
A food system approach, therefore, considers that different problems in food systems are deeply interconnected and mutually reinforcing. Unless all food systems’ impacts are considered together, climate change mitigation and adaptation strategies associated with food production and consumption are likely to be inefficient.
Why integrated food policies?
To achieve sustainable food systems transformation, actions must be aligned horizontally across policy areas and vertically between different levels of governance.
In most countries, responsibility for food systems is split horizontally across several ministries, with agriculture, trade and industry, health, labour, and environment departments typically setting agendas based on different priorities and conflicting objectives.
There are also important inconsistencies vertically between governance levels. Limited international and national government recognition, mandate, and support for city and regional food system policies and partnerships fails to incentivize the leading sustainable food systems innovation that occur at the local level. The development of integrated food policies would serve to correct these oversights, particularly through multi-actor and multi-level governance mechanisms. Integrated food policies can also create mechanisms for cross-sectoral work, inclusive priority setting and multi-level exchange of best practice and evaluation tools across governance levels, which are generally lacking.