- A big push in a rapidly urbanizing continent kicked off today as the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) launched the Green Cities Regional Action Programme for Africa.
- The Programme aims to apply innovative solutions and turn urbanization into an opportunity for cities to become more sustainable, more resilient, provide access to healthy foods and ensure a better life for everyone.
The initiative aims to scale-up fast-action measures for large, medium and small cities to be more resilient, food and nutrition secure, with pleasant natural environments, more integrated nutritious food production-and-distribution systems benefiting residents and farmers alike.
Letters of intent were signed with six African cities: Praia in Cabo Verde, Kisumu and Nairobi in Kenya, Antananarivo in Madagascar, Quelimane in Mozambique and Kigali in Rwanda. The six cities will be embarking on the pilot phase of a programme designed to involve 1 000 cities worldwide by 2030.
“We can redesign our cities,” said FAO Director-General QU Dongyu in keynote remarks at the launch. He explained: “With affordable healthy and sustainable food, with accessible green spaces, with green lifestyles, and with new jobs which our citizens need.”
He noted that the vast majority of Africa’s cities have fewer than 300 000 inhabitants. “With the right policies and planning, combined with innovative solutions, local administrations and communities can build resilience and improve the wellbeing of urban and peri-urban dwellers,” he said.
Salifou Ouederaogo, Minister of Agriculture, Hydro-Agricultural Development and Mechanization for Burkina Faso, hailed the initiative as timely for his country, where the share of the population living in cities is expected to double by 2050. FAO’s programme is “a real opportunity to consolidate and scale up pilot actions that are already underway at the national level and above all to include the Green Cities Initiative action plans to develop toolkits for developing the rural sector in our country,” he said.
Several African cities have already signed letters of intent with the FAO to participate in its Green Cities Programme of Action. These are Praia in Cape Verde, Kisumu and Nairobi in Kenya, Tananarive in Madagascar, Quelimane in Mozambique and Kigali in Rwanda. These cities will begin the pilot phase of the programme, which is intended to involve 1,000 cities worldwide by 2030.
FAO’s Director-General called upon committed cities and mayors to engage local innovators, entrepreneurs and young people, to propose new solutions, digital technologies, climate-smart practices and strategies to create green jobs and enrich the connections between urban settlements and their rural surroundings. He invited authorities to engage youth, especially in places where urbanization is in an early phase and growing fast. “We need to enable young people so they can define their own future city,” he said.
Author: Bryan Groenendaal