Op-Ed: Habitat III Should Consider Food Systems

The UN's Habitat III conference will be held in October of this year. Thomas Forster argues that urban areas are being considered in isolation, without enough attention to rural areas and food systems.

1 minute read

April 29, 2016, 7:00 AM PDT

By Philip Rojc @PhilipRojc

Bhaji Bazaar

Meanest Indian / Flickr

During a time of rapid urbanization around the globe, it's easy to understand why cities might be considered on their own merits during the United Nations Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development (Habitat III), to be held in October 2016. But according to Thomas Forster, "compared to Habitat I and II, there is a marked overemphasis in the Habitat III preparations on the urban with inadequate reference to the rural."

The delivery systems by which food is produced, transported, bought, and consumed by city dwellers are fragile, but they are integral to urban living in the most basic sense. Forster writes, "These systems are not only poorly understood by local or regional governments, but often there is no policy mandate, jurisdiction or technical capacity by which to manage these systems — problems that affect both developing and developed nations."

Forster encourages an outcome from Habitat III that acknowledges how urban and rural areas interact to deliver food from country to town.

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