WEBINAR: Urban Food Systems Community of Practice

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Expanding the Boundaries of Urban Systems Research: Insights from a Global Spatial Delineation of City-regions 

May 8, 2024 | 9:00 – 10:00 a.m. EST | Virtual (Teams) 

To RSVP as non-World Bank Staff, or for information about this event, please email urbanfood@worldbank.org


Description: Urban centres are pivotal in shaping societies, yet a systematic global analysis of how countries are organized around multiple urban centres is lacking. We enhance understanding by delineating city–regions worldwide, classifying over 30,000 urban centres into four tiers—town, small, intermediate, and large city—based on population size and mapping their catchment areas based on travel time, differentiating between primary and secondary city–regions. Employing a 3-hour travel time cutoff, we identify 1,403 primary city–regions, increasing to 4,210 with a 1-hour cutoff, more indicative of commuting times. Our findings reveal significant interconnectedness among urban centres and with their surrounding areas, with 3.2 billion people having physical access to multiple tiers within an hour, and 4.7 billion within three hours. Notably, among people living in or closest to towns or small cities, twice as many have easier access to intermediate than to large cities, underscoring intermediate cities’ crucial role in connecting surrounding populations. This systematic identification of city–regions globally, uncovers diverse organisational patterns across urban tiers, influenced by geography, level of development and infrastructure, offering a valuable spatial dataset for regional planning, economic development, and resource management. The presentation will outline the approach taken to delineate city-regions and how the information in the dataset could be combined with socio-economic data for research applications in economics, regional planning, natural resource management, and city–regions food systems.


Chair: Catalina Marulanda, Practice Manager, Urban, Resilience and Land


Presenter: Dr. Andrea Cattaneo, Senior Economist, FAO


Presenter Bio:

Dr. Andrea Cattaneo is a Senior Economist at FAO, leading the team that produces The State of Food and Agriculture, which is FAO’s flagship publication.  He has over 25 years of experience in examining economic issues relating to development, food security, and climate change.  In recent years his focus has been on the true cost of food, resilience of food systems, and the role of rural-urban linkages in rural transformation. He previously held positions at the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), and the Woodwell Climate Research Center.  Dr. Cattaneo has an extensive publication record in peer-reviewed journals spanning a range of topics. He has analyzed the welfare impacts of free trade agreements, written on issues of food security and barriers to innovation, designed innovative economic mechanisms for environmental programs, and studied the role of risk and uncertainty under climate change. His current research is focused on two main areas: (i) developing a suite of indicators to measure resilience of food systems, and (ii) providing a global geo-spatial representation of city-regions to support territorial development efforts.









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