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Reframing the debate on urbanisation, rural transformation and food security

Cecilia Tacoli, Bill Vorley

IIED Briefing, 4 pages

More than half the world’s population live in urban areas. Growing numbers of people in rural areas buy more food than they sell. Our food security narratives are outdated: urban dwellers are not all ‘over consumers’; rural communities are
not exclusively producers. For effective policymaking, the production-based debate on food security must adapt to consider how consumption and urbanisation are transforming rural spaces and economies, food systems and food security. It must focus on access, affordability, safety and nutrition for both rural and urban low-income groups. Policy can be informed by innovations in trade networks and governance systems that span urban and rural contexts. We are working with partners in Africa and Asia on an ambitious change initiative that will support an evidence-based shift in global food security narratives.

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Urbanisation drives profound transformations in rural areas and in food systems, presenting both challenges and opportunities for poverty reduction, rural development and food security. Policies at the local, national, regional and global scales are of critical importance in shaping rural-urban linkages and the political economy of food systems.

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Urbanisation, rural-urban transformations and food systems

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