ILSI Research Foundation Scientific Session 2017
Hungry Cities: The Global Revolution in Food Systems
Dr. Jessica Fanzo, John Hopkins University
Who Will Feed the World’s Cities? The Rural-Urban Convergence
On January 23, 2017, the ILSI Research Foundation organized a scientific session entitled Hungry Cities: The Global Revolution in Food System. The session explored drivers of food choice in low and middle income countries, with presentations from experts who shared their research and perspectives on how we may address this global revolution in food systems.
Dr. Jessica Fanzo, John Hopkins University, presented on Who Will Feed the World’s Cities? The Rural-Urban Convergence.
By 2050, 70% of the world’s population will be living in urban areas in search of employment and economic opportunities. Who will feed this exponentially growing population as rural societies begin to slowly disappear? Sixty percent of Africa remains rural and Asia, although rapidly shifting to an urbanized region, has approximately 50% who still live in rural areas. Rural development is an important part of the equation and investments in rural food systems are critical to sustainable development and feeding the world well. In many parts of the world, we are seeing encroachment of cities into peri-urban and rural communities with “ruralized” urban areas and “urbanized” rural landscapes. Although investments are cyclical and the urban-bias often dominates, there are important reasons to invest in rural development and support food hubs and food systems that harness this convergence. First, hunger and undernutrition dominates in rural areas (although also high in many urban slums), thus there is a need to invest in sound food security and nutrition strategies to tackle the burden to ensure that farmer families are healthy. Second, while urban agriculture holds some promise, rural landscapes still produce the majority of food around the world. Third, smallholder farmers have more diversified landscapes and produce approximately 60% of the world’s nutrients, making important contributions to the overall dietary diversity for the world’s population. Fourth, there are many successful examples of how, through better linkages with urban centers, rural development can feed these populated centers while jumpstarting entrepreneurship, empowering women, and sustaining rural livelihoods. This presentation will examine the diet and health consequences of urban migration and rural stagnation, and examples of how rural-urban cooperation can benefit health, economic and sustainable development of populations.
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