Representatives of over 100 cities from around the world, among them numerous metropolitan mayors and members of UCLG, gathered in Milan to sign the Urban Food Policy was signed by the Mayor of Milan, Giuliano Pisapia, along with his counterparts from cities worldwide, including Belo Horizonte, Barcelona, Dakar, and Moscow, during the Mayors Summit on 15 October.
A key focus area for the implementation of the pact, public food markets continue to hold a strategic place in the UCLG community. Following UCLG’s partnership with the city of Barcelona during the international food markets conference earlier this year, the relevance of public markets in metropolitan cities has gained prominence and the UCLG learning strategy has allowed particular attention to be paid to this key local policy in intermediary cities.
Ada Colau, Mayor of Barcelona, which is considered a “market city”, spoke about her city’s good practices during the Summit in Milan: “We put effort into fighting food inequality. Municipalities can approve policies that guarantee access to food for all their citizens. We are proud of our 39 covered markets: they are ecological places, where people can buy their groceries. They have become an important part of our city’s economy.”
Sergey Sobyanin, Mayor of Moscow, also stressed that “cities have to guarantee access to quality food at adequate prices, as well as put in place enabling conditions for the production and distribution of food”.
Food and agricultural policies are also being increasingly developed by our regional members and by intermediary cities, as mentioned during the Third World Forum on Local Economic Development, which took place in Turin on the same day. Antonio Bonfatti, Governor of Santa Fe, underlined that "we need to mitigate the loss of agricultural jobs by regional and local policies, through the creation of clusters and chains around the production of food, and around the diversification and complementation of small-scale initiatives like urban gardening”. Mohamed Sefiani, Mayor of Chefchaouen and Chair of the UCLG Working Group on Intermediary Cities, highlighted "the importance of intermediary cities to work in proximity and enlarge services to farmers that struggle with marginalization and poverty, making them an active part of the economy of proximity”.
This adds the dimension of food security and poverty to the international understanding of markets that was summarized in the declaration on public markets in March 2015:
As critical public spaces that enable daily exchange between local buyers and producers, public markets have important cultural and historical legacies that we must strive to protect, strengthen, and expand. Unlike other forms of commercial enterprise, public markets are operated by and for the public, and add great value to the economic, social, physical, and environmental health of the communities they serve.
Today, despite their long history and numerous benefits, public markets face serious challenges due to insufficient recognition in policy, research, and funding. Many cities do not have appropriate policies or resources to invest in basic maintenance and sanitation, to expand or create new markets, or to manage public spaces effectively to integrate market activity.
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