Resilient Cities


By 2050, more than two in three people will live in an urban environment, including over 5.5 billion in low- and middle-income countries. The agrifood sector will play a central role in humanity’s transition to an urban world over the next generation. Local and global agrifood systems need to step up and adapt to feed and nourish expanding urban populations, reduce human and environmental health risks and secure economic opportunities for the urban poor.  

Countries and cities in CGIAR target regions are struggling to keep pace with the implications of rapid urbanization and are demanding technically sound, equitable and scalable solutions in the agrifood sector. Key challenges for agrifood action in urban and peri-urban environments include unhealthy diets and limited access to nutritious food by the urban poor, food safety and food waste reduction, pollution, environmental degradation and climate change impacts, and low visibility and support within the urban policy, governance and investment context.


This Initiative aims to provide research support to strengthen the vibrant, largely informal urban and peri-urban agrifood sector, to help improve sustainability, equity and opportunity growth and to mitigate risks to human and environmental health.


This objective will be achieved through:

  • Enabling sustainable production of nutritious foods in (peri-)urban zones by identifying, piloting and scaling innovations with local partners and in collaboration with local governments. 
  • Building inclusive and sustainable food markets and safeguarding supply chains to protect and improve consumers’ diets, by helping strengthen micro, small and medium enterprises in this sector, with a focus on opportunities for women and youth, and by safeguarding food supplies against losses and waste. 
  • Strengthening the circular bio-economy, food safety and the urban environment by turning the burden of waste into an opportunity through resource recovery, reducing the risk of contamination and fostering demand for innovation by connecting stakeholders to technology and institutional change options. 
  • Strengthening consumer demand and access to healthier diets by exploring ways to improve food environments and nutrition knowledge in collaboration with consumer initiatives and stakeholders such as schools and women’s groups. The evidence will inform the design of policymaking toolkits.  
  • Strengthening the evidence base and research and innovation capacities for urban agrifood system growth through improved research and monitoring tools and processes, and innovation hubs targeting young urban entrepreneurs.   


    This Initiative will work in the following countries as a priority: Bangladesh, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Peru and the Philippines. Lessons of global relevance will be documented and shared with other countries. 


    Proposed 3-year outcomes include:

    1. At least 10,000 small-scale producers in (peri-)urban zones can access and utilize improved technologies, skills, know-how and management tools for safer, more sustainable and more efficient vegetable, livestock and fish production. 
    2. At least 10,000 local micro, small- and medium-sized enterprises in food processing, marketing and agrifood service sectors can access and utilize business development toolkits, improved technologies, knowledge and skills, with strong participation by women and youth.  
    3. At least 500,000 consumers benefit from nutrition programs in the public, civil society and private sectors that use evidence-based (peri-)urban food environment and consumption toolkits, including approaches to increase women’s decision-making power and to improve diet quality and nutritional status. 
    4. Urban planners and stakeholders participating in global networks of more than 200 cities representing over 400 million consumers use, promote and improve research and innovation tools and approaches developed by research and training institutions and civil society groups to accelerate (peri-)urban agrifood systems. 
    5. Municipal authorities and their public and private sector partners in at least six countries adopt evidence-based approaches, tools and business models for planning, implementing and monitoring investments in a circular bioeconomy and/or strategies to mitigate human or environmental health risks.


            Projected impacts and benefits include:



            Investments supported by the Initiative will generate increased employment and incomes and will help improve availability and affordability of nutritious foods among low-income (peri-)urban consumers, benefiting 4 million people. 


            The Initiative will work to make food chains that feed urban areas more efficient and shorter, thus reducing food safety risks and food losses and leading to healthier food environments to ensure the urban poor have increased access to safe and nutritious diets. This will avert a projected 2 million cases of communicable and non-communicable disease among urban dwellers and ensure 1.53 million people meet their micronutrient requirements. 


            Addressing some of the critical issues women and youth face through food system-based approaches will help improve their health and nutrition, increase their access to decent employment and empower them to have greater agency in their own lives, reaching 3.6 million women and youth. 


            Shortening of food value chains, changes in food environments, improved urban planning and residents and investment of around US$100 million in better urban organic waste management and circular bi-economies will help reduce the environmental footprint and greenhouse gas emissions from the agrifood system. 


            The reliance of agriculture in (peri-)urban systems on agro-chemicals, and its potential to contribute to the spread of zoonotic diseases, have been incorporated into the Initiative’s research. The impact of urban pollution and waste in these systems is also being addressed and will see improved management over at least 6 million hectares of land. 


            Projected benefits are a way to illustrate reasonable orders of magnitude for impacts which could arise as a result of the impact pathways set out in the Initiative’s theories of change. In line with the 2030 Research and Innovation Strategy, Initiatives contribute to these impact pathways, along with other partners and stakeholders. CGIAR does not deliver impact alone. These projections therefore estimate plausible levels of impact to which CGIAR, with partners, contribute. They do not estimate CGIAR’s attributable share of the different impact pathways.


            Header photo: Fatou Diouf is a fish seller at the Grand Yoff market in Dakar, Senegal. She specializes in shrimp, fish and squid. She sells her product every day for the last 15 years using bags of ice to keep her daily product fresh. She often attends online webinars to improve her business acumen and has gained the title as an “Agent Technique des Peche et de l’Aquaculture” from the “Centre National de Formation des Techniciens de Peche et de l’Aquaculture.” Photo by M. Cooperman/IFPRI.