Value chain development in the context of cities

A glimpse of VECO’s approach and practice

How can we produce enough food within the ecological boundaries of our planet? How can food systems focusing on the urban context contribute to global sustainability? And which role can cities play in the transition towards sustainable production and consumption patterns?


The Sustainable Development Goals agenda, launched by the UN in December 2015, unites collective challenges of the global community to be realised by 2030.  One of these 17 goals focuses on the important role of cities in favour of sustainable development. Other objectives focus on sustainable food production, sustainable consumption and the development of global partnerships. Furthermore, the important role of cities in developing strategies towards sustainability was emphasised during the UN Habitat III conference in October 2016, linked to the New Urban Agenda. In this framework the debate on sustainable food provision for cities became very topical.  The concept of “Food Smart Cities” takes into account multiple realities on how we can sustain food systems in cities worldwide, which have to deal with population growth, effects of climate change and environmental deterioration and many complex social and economic issues.  Within this context 137 cities from over the world signed in 2015 the Urban Food Policy Pact in Milan.

VECO is an international NGO envisioning a world with sustainable production and consumption food systems that allow poverty and hunger to be eradicated, respecting the ecological boundaries of our planet. VECO enables and supports organized smallholder farmers to take up their role in rural poverty alleviation and to contribute to feeding a growing world population in a sustainable way.  VECO is strengthening sustainable value chain development in close collaboration with the different actors of the food chain.

Ultimately we see that there is coming up a very interesting new opportunity to create a more enabling environment for the development of these chains, through innovative policy making in cities. Attention to urban food security in intra- and peri-urban agriculture has increased markedly. Various cities in developed and in developing countries are designing and implementing innovative food and urban or peri-urban agriculture policies.

VECO has been recently involved in these overall dynamics. VECO Belgium supported the formulation of the food strategy of the city of Ghent. VECO Meso-America and VECO Vietnam are working on sustainable inclusive vegetable chains in close collaboration with producers, retailers and local governments. VECO Andino works together with Conquito, the operating agency of the municipality of Quito, supporting the coffee chain development, with emphasis on promoting local consumption and culture of coffee.

VECO aims to amplify and leverage the experiences and experiments by creating evidence on inclusive sustainable food chains aligned with urban food policies through:

  • facilitating the necessary synergies among the actors that intervene in the urban and peri-urban food system to trigger sustainable dynamics between producer organizations, private companies, local authorities, educational institutions, civil society organizations and research institutions
  • contributing to horizontal relations between platforms of food smart cities in the regions VECO is working, sharing knowledge on implementation of food strategies
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