Conclusions: Civil society, food and sustainable cities

The meeting “Civil Society, Nutrition and Sustainable Cities” held in Valencia on 14, 15 and 16 September 2017 brought together over 50 civil society organizations, more than 20 local authorities, 15 small and medium-sized enterprises as well as representatives of 10 academic institutions in order to strengthen the processes and tools of good food governance among the different actors of the food system in the territories.

During the three days of workshops and debates, tools were developed for food governance, and at the same time partnerships were strengthened and created around the Network of Cities for Agroecology.


The possibility of getting to know more than 20 experiences concerning km0 production channels, food waste, heritage recovery, local governance systems or examples of awareness raising encouraged a series of exchanges and learning from experience. Thus, the exchanges dealt with success factors, risks and difficulties inherent in any initiative that is carried out on local and agroecological food systems within the framework of the Milan Urban Food Policy Pact.

Finally, a debate on how to be put on the international agenda broadened the scope of the conference to the European level through a dialogue between different networks concerning the main challenges they experience today. Reasons and actions were set out for a clear focus on the main emerging challenges and opportunities with respect to local food policies.

One of the main objectives of this conference was to draft conclusions that could be presented to the local authorities participating in the III Annual Gathering and Mayors’ Summit of the Milan Pact (València, 19-21 October 2017). During the conference in September, the participants called for independent urban food policies, which, defined under a rights-based approach, rebalance the large asymmetries of power existing among the various actors involved in the global food chain. The key elements of these policies were summarized in the following Decalogue:


  1. Access to sustainable food is a basic right of the people that must prevail over the logic of capitalism.
  2. Agri-food activities generate social and ecological wealth and must be therefore considered a common good that sustains society.
  3. Agroecology and the feminist perspective are necessary approaches for the implementation of sustainable food systems.
  4. Food policies capable of rebalancing imbalances of power in the current global agri-food system should be fostered.
  5. Civil society has proven to be an experienced and competent agent in the promotion of spaces for food governance and must play a leading role together with the agrarian sector, academia and other actors in the food system.
  6. Alliances and coordination between all actors involved in the process, from production to consumption, including the role of public institutions and civil society organizations, are indispensable for good food governance.
  7. Urban food policies must be committed to the territory through sustainable land management plans and the right rural-urban links.
  8. Social Economy initiatives at the local level should be supported by promoting an economic activity that takes into account people, the environment and sustainable development over other interests.
  9. Specific awareness-raising programs should be implemented and the principles and values of agro-ecological food should be incorporated into educational plans for a critical and responsible citizenship.
  10. Local governments must commit in a concrete way to the promotion of sustainable food policies through the Milan Pact, generating sufficient mechanisms, tools and resources.