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Climate emergency: 14 cities commit to sustainable food policies

Fourteen global cities on Thursday, October 10, 2019 committed to the “C40 Good Food Cities Declaration”, in order to promote and preserve the health of citizens and the health of the planet.

Sustainable food policies
14 cities have committed to the “C40 Good Food Cities Declaration”

Mayors will work with their citizens to achieve a “Planetary Health Diet” for all by 2030, with balanced and nutritious food, reflective of the culture, geography, and demography of their citizens. Mayors will use their procurement powers to change what kind of food cities buy, and introduce policies that make healthy, delicious and low-carbon food affordable and accessible for all. They’ll also reduce food loss and wasted food.

The cities signing the C40 Good Food Cities Declaration are Barcelona, Copenhagen, Guadalajara, Lima, London, Los Angeles, Milan, Oslo, Paris, Quezon City, Seoul, Stockholm, Tokyo and Toronto. The pledge was made at the C40 World Mayors Summit in Copenhagen, Denmark.

Research released by C40 Cities in June 2019 revealed that food is amongst the biggest sources of consumption-based emissions from cities. Eating a sustainable diet and avoiding food waste could cut greenhouse gas emissions from the food we eat by more than 60%.

Research by The EAT-Lancet Commission released in January 2019 found that if adopted universally, the “Planetary Health Diet” would dramatically reduce emissions, provide a balanced, nutritional diet for 10 billion people, and save 11 million lives each year.

The planetary health diet is comprised of balanced and nutritious food providing up to 2,500 calories a day for all adults, not to exceed 16kg of meat per person per year or ~300g per week, and 90kg of dairy per person per year or ~250g per day, and low in ultra-processed food. A planetary health plate should consist of approximately half a plate of vegetables and fruits; the other half should consist of primarily whole grains, plant protein sources, unsaturated plant oils, and (optionally) modest amounts of animal sources of protein.

Under the “C40 Good Food Cities Declaration”, cities commit to:

  • Align food procurement policies to the “Planetary Health Diet” ideally sourced from organic agriculture.
  • Support an overall increase of healthy plant-based food consumption in our cities by shifting away from unsustainable, unhealthy diets.
  • Reduce food loss and waste by 50% from 2015 figures; and
  • Work with citizens, businesses, public institutions and other organisations to develop a joint strategy for implementing these measures and achieving these goals inclusively and equitably and incorporating this strategy into the city’s Climate Action Plan.
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The 14 signatory cities serve 500 million meals per year – in schools, hospitals, and other public buildings, and are improving availability and affordability of delicious, nutritious and sustainable food for their 64 million citizens.

The C40 Good Food Cities Declaration will therefore directly benefit millions of people and provide a clear signal to the market that there is great demand for healthy, delicious and sustainable food.  Cities are leading efforts to change the way food is produced and consumed.

The global food system is said to be a major driver of harmful greenhouse gas emissions, responsible for around a quarter of all emissions which are driving the global climate emergency. Without substantial changes to the ways in which food is produced, transported, consumed, and disposed of, C40’s research shows that emissions from the food sector are set to increase by nearly 40% by 2050.

As emissions grow from producing, consuming and disposing of food, the accelerating climate crisis threatens the ability to feed the world’s growing population. Currently, more than 820 million people around the world suffer from hunger.

At the same time, global diet trends also contribute to increased rates of heart disease, diabetes, and cancer; rising healthcare costs; and millions of premature deaths each year. The overconsumption of red meat, a major driver of greenhouse gas emissions, and ultra-processed foods heavy in sugar, fat, and salt are making our communities sicker and less productive.

As urbanisation brings more people to the world’s cities, 80% of all food produced globally is expected to be consumed in cities by 2050, and because food insecurity and rising obesity are increasingly urban problems, mayors acknowledge the imperative to act in the best interests of their citizens.

“The climate emergency is more urgent than ever, and our response must be commensurate with the challenge ahead of us,” said Mayor of Milan Giuseppe Sala. “We must look at how we can effect change in every and any sector, and food is one of the most important cultural and economic assets of urban communities. Cities have many powers that can deliver impact. By signing this declaration, we commit to work together with urgency and use our procurement powers to change the urban food environment.

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“We need to address the negative impacts of over consumption and unsustainable practices in our food systems, including food waste, in order to accelerate emissions reductions and enable all citizens to make healthier, more informed choices.”

Anne Hidalgo, Mayor of Paris and C40 Chair, declared: “Cities are central in shaping a virtuous circle from the farm to the table, from the seed to the plate. As we are facing a climate crisis, I am convinced rethinking our approach on food is crucial for a long-term and perennial ecological transition. In Paris, we are working hand in hand with citizens, making sustainable, local and organic food the easy choice, combating food waste and ensuring we nourish both our city and the planet. Let’s make this commitment one of our biggest priorities as food is the essence of humanity.”

“Delivering a Global Green New Deal means taking a real stand against food waste – so that we feed people, not landfills,” said Mayor of Los Angeles and C40 Chair-Elect Eric Garcetti. “We’re committing to do our part to make healthy food more accessible, reduce waste, and save our planet.”

Frank Jensen, Lord Mayor of Copenhagen and C40 Vice Chair, said, “Healthy, organic meals for kids, youth, and elderly have long been a top priority in Copenhagen. With our new food strategy in Copenhagen, we further improve our climate friendly food efforts; greener food, less meat and less waste. Copenhagen therefore supports the C40 Good Food Declaration.”

Mayor of Guadalajara, Ismael Del Toro Castro, said: “In Mexico, more than 20 million tons of food are wasted each year, which significantly generate greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to the environmental catastrophe of the planet; therefore, in Guadalajara we are aligned with the actions to strengthen a sustainable culture with the creation of urban gardens in the city and the promotion of sustainable food systems that favour new, healthier consumption habits.”

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Mayor of Stockholm, Anna König Jerlmyr, said: “In Stockholm more than 160 000 pupils are served meals in preschools and schools every day, and every year we buy more than 15 000 tonnes of food products. This gives us a great opportunity to set an example and influence the entire food system in Stockholm in a more sustainable direction. But it also means that we have a great responsibility to do so. We have already started this work by adopting the city’s first food strategy and we are determined to minimize the climate impact of food in our city.”

Yuriko Koike, Governor of Tokyo, said: “As a global megalopolis, Tokyo declared that it will seek to achieve the 1.5-degree goal and by 2050, become a ‘Zero Emission Tokyo’ that contributes to the world’s net-zero carbon emissions. Treating food with greater importance and respecting food culture, Tokyo is determined to work on countermeasures against food waste, approaching the issue in an ethical manner friendly to both people and the environment. As a vice-chair of C40, I will work hand in hand with cities of the world and stakeholders and advance the initiatives.”

Mayor of Toronto, John Tory, said: “Food plays a vital role in building healthy people, communities and cities. From our food and nutrition work to our procurement and waste reduction guidelines, Toronto has built a strong foundation in food policy and can help to play a leadership role in response to the global call for action on climate change and food systems transformation. The City of Toronto has made progress on reducing food waste and I’m confident that by sharing best practices between cities and working with our residents and businesses, we can do even more as we work together to address climate change.”

Shirley Rodrigues, London’s Deputy Mayor for Environment and Energy, said: “Tackling the climate emergency demands action at all levels – businesses, local authorities and other public sector bodies could increase the amount of sustainable food they provide. I look forward to working with other cities on our shared ambition to make the food system healthier for people and better for the planet.”

To celebrate the commitment of the “C40 Good Food Cities Declaration”, on Friday, October 11, local chefs and global C40 mayors will cook up fun, delicious and inexpensive plant-based meals while talking about how chefs and cities are responding to the challenge of transforming urban food systems.

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