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Over 100 cities commit to make food systems in urban areas more sustainable

by Marzia De Giuli

MILAN, Italy, Oct. 15 (Xinhua) -- More than 100 cities from around the world on Thursday committed to make food systems in urban areas more equitable and sustainable at a mayors' summit held in Italy's Milan.

By signing the Milan Urban Food Policy Pact, as many as 113 cities adhered to the principles of guaranteeing healthy food for all, promoting sustainability in the food system, educating the public about healthy eating and reducing waste.

The agreement, launched by Milan and developed with other cities, international organizations and experts, formed part of the initiatives linked to the Expo Milano 2015. The world exhibition, held in Milan until Oct. 31, has as its theme Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life.

"In 2050, our planet is going to host nine billion people, 70 percent of whom will live in cities," Milan Mayor Giuliano Pisapia said addressing the summit. "This is why today Milan and many other metropolises from all continents have decided to launch a loud call for action," he stressed.

Pisapia said the agreement will be one of the greatest legacies of Expo Milano 2015. On Friday, the World Food Day, it will be delivered to Secretary-General of the United Nations Ban Ki-moon, who is expected to interact with young people working to end hunger at the Expo site.

Beijing, Buenos Aires, Brussels, Chicago, Chongqing, Dubai, Guangzhou, Johannesburg, Kyoto, London, Mexico City, Miami, Moscow, New York, Paris, Rome, Rotterdam, San Francisco, Sao Paulo, Seoul, Shanghai, Tel Aviv, Valencia and Vancouver were among the signer cities.

"Cities have a key role to play in ending hunger and improving nutrition," United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) Director-General Jose Graziano da Silva said addressing the summit. Rome-based FAO provided technical assistance to the agreement's development.

Da Silva said urban centers will be key actors in achieving the globally-agreed Sustainable Development Goals, including the eradication of hunger by 2030.

"Many cities cannot ensure regular and stable access to adequate food and water for all, nevertheless food security and nutrition remains overlooked in urban planning and development," da Silva noted.

The FAO Director-General also referred to the need to address unhealthy or wasteful practices. "Obesity grows at alarming rates, particularly in urban areas of middle and upper income countries," he said, noting how food waste in cities is increasingly higher at the same time.

The Milan Urban Food Policy Pact underlines the importance of an inclusive approach that brings together governments, private sector and civil society. It underscores the need to explore regulatory and voluntary instruments and to encourage joint action by health and food sectors.

The agreement envisages innovative solutions such as the increase in small-scale urban and peri-urban agriculture that can produce food which helps to diversify and foster healthier diets of families and households living in cities.

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