Expert Panel 4

Managing city region food systems – Enhancing strength and resilience against pandemics and climate change

Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) / RUAF Global Partnership on Sustainable Urban Agriculture and Food Systems

Time: Tuesday, 19. January 2021, 8:00 a.m. – 9:00 a.m. (CET), subsequent deep dive 09:00 a.m. – 09:30 a.m.

Languages: English, German

The panel discussion provided a forum for urban and national representatives to share experiences and review how the City-Region Food Systems approach has helped them deal with multiple risks such as climate shocks and stresses and the COVID-19 pandemic.
The discussion shared experiences among different institutions and actors involved in local food systems in managing multiple risks and building resilience across urban and rural areas.

The speaker from Antananarivo emphasized that the CRFS approach has helped the city region in dealing with the impacts of COVID-19 on the food system by, e.g., aligning climate risk management and COVID-19 response mechanisms to build up a multi-risk governance system.
Quito stressed the importance of understanding the city region food system and its boundaries from production to consumption for multi-risk management and the importance of urban agriculture allowing vulnerable people to have access to fresh food during the pandemic.

Melbourne, being in a region affected strongly by climate change, explained that one of the main actions taken by the local government to build a resilient food system is the protection of farmland from urban development through stronger regulations. One of the key learnings: the need to prepare for the compound impacts of multiple shocks and stresses.


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Guido Santini is Officer at FAO and leads programmes and projects related to sustainable and resilient city region food systems and urban and periurban agriculture. In particular, he provides assistance to national and local governments in understanding and planning local food systems more resilient to shocks and to promote interventions to reinforce them by strengthening rural-urban linkages.
Guido has an MSc degree in tropical and subtropical agriculture that obtained in Italy (University of Florence) and Portugal (Technical University of Lisbon). His work experience includes more than 15 years of experience in the field of international development cooperation within the United Nations system (FAO and UNDP) and research institutions. This encompasses a range of programme/project design and management, policy support and research activities in the area of natural resources management (land and water), agricultural, rural and urban development and food security with experience in countries in Europe Sub-Saharan Africa, Asia and Latin America.

Introductory statement

Dr. Schlaack holds a university degree in political science, history and art history, M.A. She studied at the Rheinische-Friedrich-Wilhelms University in Bonn and Fribourg, Switzerland. As a scholar of the German Historical Institute in Washington D.C. she spent an in depth research semester at Yale University and finished her doctoral studies with her Ph.D. in political science at Bonn university. Her Ph.D. thesis is entitled: “Walter Lippmann and Germany”. It was published 2004.

She has a broad working experience in international politics as well as German-American and French-German relations. As a program assistant to the Armonk Institute in New York City she was responsible for deepening German-American relations. At the German Bundestag, Dr. Schlaack held several positions as executive and scientific officer for foreign, defence and development policy issues as well as European policy. She intensely worked on the “European Constitutional Treaty” as a political adviser. For two years, she was the personal assistant and office director to Dr. Gerd Müller, now Minister of development policy, before she started to work at the Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Consumer Protection in 2006.

Within the Ministry of Agriculture, Dr. Schlaack was responsible in different positions. As Head of the Division of Policy Issues and Strategies she shaped a new agenda of rural policy in Germany. As Head of the Policy Planning Unit she was engaged in national food policy issues and national agriculture policy. From 2009 until 2013 she was Agricultural Attaché at the German Embassy in France (Paris) and dealt with bilateral French-German agricultural policies. From 2013 until summer 2016 she was Head of Division 625 – Eastern Europe, Central and East Asia, Enlargement as well as the Global Forum for Food and Agriculture (GFFA) – and responsible for bilateral relations to many countries, including Russia, Ukraine, China, Japan and the Balkans. In addition she was Head of the GFFA Team that is responsible for preparing, organizing and shaping the GFFA – an international conference that focuses on central questions concerning the future of the global agri-food industry. It is held every year in January during International Green Week (IGW) in Berlin. At numerous events the three-day forum offers representatives from the worlds of politics, business, science and civil society an opportunity to share ideas and agree on a different key topic of agricultural policy each year.

Currently, Dr. Schlaack is Head of Division 622 – World Food Affairs, International Food and Agriculture Organizations, Causes of forced migration.

She has published several articles on Agriculture, Food Policy and international policy issues.

She is interested in art history, classical dance as well as opera and engaged in Yoga practices.

Panel guests

Dr Alison Blay-Palmer is the UNESCO Chair in Food, Biodiversity and Sustainability Studies and a Professor in Geography and Environmental Studies at Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo, Canada. She has played an active role in the FAO-RUAF City Region Food System since its inception. Her work focuses on fostering food systems that contribute to people’s health and livelihoods, the environment and biodiversity. Alison collaborates with academics and practitioners in Canada, Brazil, France, Germany, Italy, Kenya, Mexico, South Africa, and the United States. She was inducted into the Royal Society of Canada, College of New Scholars, Artists and Scientists in 2016.

Volatiana is an agricultural engineer by training. She is a graduate of the Center for Diplomatic and Strategic Studies (CEDS). Currently she is preparing a master’s in political science on gender and the rôle of women in politics in Madagascar. Since April 2019, she holds a position as Regional Director of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries in the Analamanga Region. Since 2020, she is the focal point for the CRFS project within the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries, supporting actions to reinforce the Regional Food System resilience to climate change and the global pandemic crisis.

Carmen is a landscape architect and urban planner with more than 10 years of technical experience in territorial analysis focused on sustainable development. She has worked in several countries in Africa, Latin America and Europe. Her experience includes urban resilience and climate change adaptation projects with deep knowledge on risk management strategies. She has been working in Madagascar since 2014, where she has collaborated in several projects led by the Malagasy authorities related to Food systems and Food policymaking. Carmen has gained a valuable experience in guiding local multi-stakeholder participatory decision-making processes for the development of territorial planning strategies. She is the CRFS project coordinator within the FAO Madagascar office.

David Jácome Polit serves as Director in the Metropolitan Directorate of Resilience at the Municipality of Quito, and as Chief Resilience Officer where he leads city-wide resiliency efforts, including those found in the Resilience Strategy of Quito, and as part of the Resilient Cities Network pioneered by the Rockefeller Foundation. David has 18 years of policy, planning, and project management experience in the public, private, and nonprofit sectors where he worked with interdisciplinary teams to find creative solutions to complex problems. Currently, one of the main actions is the Resilience Strategy for the Agrifood System of the City of Quito.

Dr Rachel Carey is a Lecturer in Food Systems at the University of Melbourne (Australia), where her teaching and research focuses on the governance of sustainable and resilient food systems. Rachel leads the Foodprint Melbourne project, which is assessing the resilience of Melbourne’s city region food system to shocks and stresses related to climate change and pandemic. Rachel is a member of the Melbourne Food Alliance and worked on the development of the City of Melbourne’s food policy. She has a PhD from the University of Manchester (UK) and an MSc in Food Policy from City University, London.


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