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Urban Food Systems

Food is necessary for all life, but it also takes a toll on our planet. WWF is using a systems-approach to tackle this challenge and to advance sustainable food systems in cities.  

Urban Food Systems 

Food systems should be sustainable, equitable and resilient. They have the power to reduce our global carbon footprint and to increase resiliency to pandemics, improve public health, preserve biodiversity, and be a lever for socio-economic mobility. WWF is working to influence local governments and food service organizations to create inclusive processes and policies that provide favorable conditions for a transition toward a sustainable food system.  

Reduce Consumption Emissions 

When city-dwellers consume goods and services, including food, the carbon emissions required to produce, transport and dispose of these products are allocated to the carbon footprint of cities. Emissions from food are estimated to be 13% of all consumption emissions in cities (C40). Unless we act now, these emissions from agriculture, processing, transportation and food waste could increase by 38% by 2050. 

Enhance Resiliency 

By strengthening urban food systems, governments and their partners can meet sustainability challenges both in cities and beyond. Food deserts and food supply disruptions burden low-income communities disproportionately.  Fortunately, creating policies and programs that ensure food accessibility and sustainability can increase resiliency in these communities. Urban food systems also rely on, and are connected to, the surrounding regions and ecosystems. More sustainable urban food choices can equally benefit the social and ecological resiliency of rural and regional areas while enhancing relationships with rural decision-makers, organization and companies.  

Act Together 

Interventions around diets and waste have the greatest impact in reducing emissions from food. Increasing the accessibility of sustainable, nutritious and context-specific diets in line with ambitious targets could contribute to a 60% reduction of emissions. Additionally, avoiding household and supply chain waste could reduce emissions by 10% and 5% respectively (C40). By working with all stakeholders in an urban food system - farmers, delivery services, restaurants, canteen cooks, businesses and grassroots organizations, local governments can take impactful action on food-related challenges.  


Carina Borgström-Hansson, Phd

Senior Advisor, WWF Cities


Barbara Evaeus

Global Communications Manager, WWF Cities