TURFS Consortium launched to transform urban-rural food systems with cities as entry points

10 December 2023 - 

The Transforming Urban Rural Food Systems (TURFS) Consortium launched its Strategy for Food Systems Transformation at COP28 on ‘Food, Agriculture and Water’ day. TURFS has a carefully developed strategy to empower and support cities to improve the way we produce and consume food in urban and rural areas. Prioritizing health, sustainability, resilience, and equity, the Consortium seeks to help cities lead a global shift in our food systems. By collaborating with cities and their surrounding rural areas, the consortium will share and implement best practices and innovative solutions to change food systems at local, national, and international scales.

Following the United Nations Food Systems Summit in 2021, CARE, C40 Cities, Club of Rome, EAT, Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN), International Centre for Climate Change and Development (ICCCAD) and World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) came together to form the action driven TURFS Consortium. This Consortium is committed to fostering a transformative agenda that will strengthen urban-rural food systems globally, ensuring they are healthy, resilient, sustainable and equitable.

The TURFS Consortium is our collective commitment to come strongly behind cities to rebalance the scales, focusing not just on regenerative food production, decent livelihoods for farmers and resilient supply chains but on transforming consumption patterns and create demand for Planetary Health Diets in urban centers to improve the health of people and planet.

Gunhild Stordalen, Founder and Executive Chair of EAT Foundation 

TURFS seeks to empower cities and local stakeholders to deliver a more healthy and sustainable  food systems transformation through a dynamic, multifaceted, and scalable intervention model. This model is attentive to local context, inclusive agency, and sustained effort and is designed to be amplified across cities through networks and sharing platforms.  TURFS members offer both global and local reach, proven track-records, expertise, evidence and a diverse range of multi-stakeholder relationships, while cities bring their  governance mandates, leadership and willingness to accelerate locally owned and inclusive food systems transformation. Central to this engagement is a people centric co-design ‘’win-win’’ solution approach.

The way we produce and consume food affects our health and our environment. Mayors know this, and are taking action. The TURFS consortium will help cities make it easier for people to access food that is good for them, our economy and the planet.

Mark Watts, Executive Director of C40 

Cities are home to more than half of the world’s population, are responsible for around 70% of greenhouse gas emissions and, by 2050, are expected to account for 80% of food consumption. Urban and peri-urban food systems are integral to achieving climate, nature and health goals. COP28 needs to deliver ambitious global actions, but impact depends on them being translated into implementable plans in cities. TURFS is committed to scaling and accelerating the work that many Mayors and local stakeholders are already doing – for the benefit of people and nature.

Joao Campari, Global Food Practice Leader, WWF

TURFS aims to support cities to:

  1. Use available evidence in decision-making and reference science-based targets;
  2. Create an enabling environment for regenerative food production and consumption;
  3. Increase public support and engagement for food system transformation, through broad campaigns and targeted engagement to improve consumption of healthy and sustainable foods;
  4. Engage businesses and promote private sector commitment of resources towards the healthier and more sustainable consumption patterns, including reduced food loss and waste;
  5. Enhance resilience and ensure ongoing food security during emergencies through robust early warning and comprehensive risk management mechanisms; and
  6. Lead other cities as well as national governments and international fora around the agenda of healthy, sustainable, and just food systems transformation at scale.

Urbanisation is a mega-trend that offers unique risks and opportunities to drive change in the food system. The launch of TURFS Strategy comes following the recent FAO report on State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World (SOFI) that shows how urbanization is shaping food systems, highlighting increased urbanisation as a “mega-trend” that affects how and what people eat. 

The dynamism of urban areas has the potential to drive cities and nations towards food systems that deliver healthier diets for all from more inclusive, sustainable, and regenerative practices in agriculture. TURFS supports and aims to accelerate this process. It brings together a strong group of partners with complementary skills and a proven track record of working together.

Lawrence Haddad, Executive Director of GAIN 

Cities are a leading force for action on transforming food systems. They are not waiting for the future—they are actively shaping it. Cities are championing changes in food procurement practices, promoting plant-rich diets, minimizing food loss and waste, and pioneering circular economies. Harnessing their potential for innovation, creativity, and policy reform, cities are proving that transformative change is not only possible but already in motion. 

Cities are at the vanguard of food systems transformation, not anticipating the future but actively forging it with innovative policy reforms and creative solutions. Through their practices, they are creating positive feedback loops that amplify systemic change and it is important that all stakeholders including governments recognize the pivotal role they play. TURFS stands ready to support the cities in their role as catalysts for demand-side action and for setting the stage for a sustainable and resilient food systems future.

Sandrine Dixson-Decleve, Co-President of Club of Rome 

TURFS Consortium will ensure that different stakeholders’ (farmers, SMEs, retailers/consumer facing food businesses, youth, women, mayors etc.) actions and voices in urban-rural food systems are recognized. It will also ensure that there is an open dialogue between all stakeholders involved in food systems to work towards common goals in hopes of providing awareness, inspirational and learning opportunities for all.

Food system transformation that does not address inequalities and specific vulnerabilities reinforce and deepen inequalities and undermine the resilience of food systems.

Christine Campeau, Global Policy Director for Food and Nutrition Systems at CARE

TURFS Strategy was launched today at 10:30 AM GST on December 10 in Connect Conference Centre of the Green Zone within COP28 in Dubai at the event, “Sustainable Consumption, Healthy Affordable Food for All and Reducing Food Waste”. The role of cities as key entry points to ignite national and global level food systems transformation was also showcased.

The formation of the TURFS Strategy has been supported by the seven independent organisations, in consultations with a group of civil society and intergovernmental organisations committed to helping food systems change. Laudes Foundation, ClimateWorks Foundation and the Willows Investments UK have supported the development of this strategy.

Additional information, quotes and interviews are available upon request. Please contact:

Mimansha Joshi                                                       





About the Transforming Urban Rural Food Systems (TURFS) Consortium

The TURFS Consortium aspires to build a global coalition of diverse stakeholders spanning the entire food system. The primary objective of TURFS Consortium is to catalyse an unstoppable wave of change, fostering an ambitious action agenda for transformative progress towards 2030. By harnessing the power of cities, the Consortium aims to deliver urban-rural food systems that promote health, resilience, sustainability, and equity, igniting a global transformation of our food systems. It comprises C40, Club of Rome, CARE, WWF, GAIN, EAT and ICCCAD. Laudes Foundation, ClimateWorks Foundation and Willows Investments UK have been early funding partners.