Urban food systems are ecosystems that influence livelihoods, environment, health and culture. Their spheres of influence affect geographical (e.g. nearby rural areas, urban planning), sectoral (e.g. agriculture, health, education, transport) and also other areas of concern (e.g. nutrition, food safety, food processing etc.). Urban food systems governance should thus bring together issues of human nutrition and health, food systems resilience, environmental sustainability, inclusiveness, job creation, and urban development, to name just a few, and it is evident that effective governance of urban food systems requires interventions to be implemented across many sectors.
Case studies highlight the tremendous value and power of participatory approaches and involvement of civil society and private sector actors in governance processes. Discussions between municipal government and informal food sector associations, for example, are an important first step for designing actions to improve livelihoods and jobs, reduce poverty and improve food security for a large segment of the urban population. Framing efforts using a food systems lens can illuminate areas of concern that require integrated management and coordinated cross-sector action.
NICE establishes and fosters food systems platforms in the selected cities for joint advocacy and collaboration on and within urban food systems in order that different stakeholders can raise their voices and actively engage within the food system of what they are part of.
In order for consumers in secondary cities to change their food consumption behavior, nutritious and agroecologically produced food need to be available, accessible, and affordable, but farming systems and value chains face many challenges at different levels (e.g. seed quality, soil erosion, irrigation, waste disposal, lack of technology, storage, market linkages, training etc.).
NICE addresses availability, accessibility and affordability of nutritious and agroecologically produced food through establishing and strengthening the farmers’ hubs model of Syngenta Foundation for Sustainable Agriculture. Project interventions are designed following the International Fund for Agriculture Development (IFAD)’s guide for project design in nutrition-sensitive value chains  and following a participatory process. City-specific value chains to focus on have been selected in consultation with key stakeholders based on 7 criteria (Government buy-in, Nutrition-improvement potential, Production feasibility, Market potential, Income generation, Agroecology potential, Consumers buy-in).
 Internal Fund for Agriculture. Nutrition-sensitive value chains – A guide for project design. de la Peña I, Garrett J, editors, 2018.
A starting point to increase the demand for nutritious and agroecologically produced food and nutritional literacy is to support evidence-based decision-making by local actors on food production and consumption behavior.
NICE fosters demand for nutritious and agroecologically produced food through social behavior change communication strategies in various sectors, including health and education sector, and the general public. Qualitative formative research focusing on food and nutrition practices and especially purchasing patterns is conducted in all cities to inform the development of the demand generation strategy promoted on various channels.
Data on urban population-specific food systems indicators are essential to guide city authorities’ decision-making and to monitor transformations achieved through the NICE project and many other projects and initiatives.
Robust monitoring and evaluation (M&E) of the whole NICE project is ensured and lessons learned are recorded and shared within and across countries. Collected data are also made publicly available in due time through local outreach documents such as case studies, good practices or technical briefs and (peer-reviewed) publications.