The U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) recently introduced its ‘Green Cities Initiative’ with the aim of encouraging governments to start large-scale programs to improve food security, nutrition, and the well-being of people in and around municipalities.
“The Green Cities Initiative aims to galvanize local governments, not just for sustainably produced healthy food, but also to contribute to the ecological management of water resources, sustainable land use and the expansion of green spaces – including urban forestry – in considering economic, social and ecological gains comprehensively,” FAO director-general, Qu Dongyu, said.
FAO aims to achieve these sustainable goals by supporting cities in their efforts in two main areas:
- increasing the availability of products and services provided by green spaces; and,
- decreasing the deforestation which has led to decreased biodiversity and watershed degradation.
“Actions and FAO support will focus on innovation and green technologies for food systems and green infrastructure, improved food distribution systems and food environments, improved food and water waste management and how to bring this all together through improved urban planning and rural urban linkages,” the FAO states.
The urban forestry arm of the program will include helping to develop tools to establish criteria for selecting appropriate tree species, enhancing local capacity for nursery and seed management, and the development of vertical forests, pocket parks, green walls and rooftops.
The FAO hopes to bring a holistic view of the green infrastructure and food systems and to help coordinate needed actions.
“Urban and rural interactions are key for greener cities, so in this context for urbanization it becomes imperative to protect more green public space that includes ecosystem functions of peri-urban and rural areas,” Maimunah Mohd Sharif, executive director of U.N. Habitat, said. “We need a new way of thinking to plan and design our cities to be cleaner, greener, safer and healthier — and happier cities — through vertical and horizontal integration of space in cities and rural areas linkages.”