28 July 2022
Thirty cities today signed the Birmingham Food Justice Pledge, a formal commitment ensuring all citizens – irrespective of status – are entitled to safe, nutritious, and sustainable food.
The document aims to put political weight into the voices of cities by emphasising the need for local, national, and international policies to create and support an affordable, nutritious and sustainable food system for all.
It comes as leaders from around world acknowledge the need to collaborate to address the global challenges of food insecurity worsened by the Covid-19 pandemic, the war in Ukraine and the combined crises of climate change, population displacement and soaring costs of food and fuel.
The signatories committing to action included top officials from cities in India, Bangladesh, Namibia, Malawi, Kenya and South Africa.
The pledge states: “As city mayors, we are committed to addressing food justice by acknowledging that all our citizens irrespective of status are entitled to safe and nutritious food at all times.
“We recognise the benefits of a collaborative partnership to address the global challenge of food insecurity exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, climate crisis, and disaster displacement.”
City leaders signed the pledge as part of a Commonwealth Food Futures 2022 event staged at The Birmingham Repertory Theatre as part of a growing collaboration with city leaders across the globe to secure food justice, which means access to nutritious affordable food for everyone.
Cllr Ian Ward, Leader of Birmingham City Council, said: “Whether you are a city that is saturated by fast food or a city in a food desert, food security is now an issue for every citizen across the world.
“That’s why this pledge is so important. Whether you live in a rich or a poor country, food justice is a growing issue and we have an absolute duty to work together.”
Cllr Mariam Khan, Cabinet Member for Health and Social Care at Birmingham City Council said: “Food is how we celebrate, how we commiserate together and it is a vital part of our culture and heritage.
“Not being able to feed yourself and your family is something that every parent fears and in today’s society it is not acceptable that parents every day in every city across the world face this anxiety.
“As politicians and as parents we need to stand together to challenge this and to change it.”
Dr Justin Varney, Director of Public Health at Birmingham City Council, said: “Food is a public health issue. Food directly impacts on our physical and mental health.
“Our food system drives a large employment sector where too few jobs meet the threshold of good employment, and food is a major contributor to the climate challenge.
“To address the health inequalities in our society we have to talk about the food inequalities. Covid shone a harsh light on the fragility of our food systems, a light which is even harsher with the Ukraine conflict, we need to look into this light now and take action.”
Anna Taylor, Executive Director of The Food Foundation, said: “This pledge represents a major step forward in the recognition of a worsening global problem. We are delighted to see so many cities involved.”