Thursday, April 30, 2009

NYC Hosts Commission on Sustainable Development

As some of you know, I have been working on marketing and events for a working group that I co-lead that is showcasing New York City's food systems to UN delegates and representatives who will be in town beginning on Sunday for two weeks. The  NYC CSD-17 Host Committee has been busy. 

Much of our work supports the "regions feeding cities" and locavore ideals from policy to practice -- all touting a food distribution infrastructure that promotes consumption of more regionally grown foods be it in New York or Nairobi, a city in Eastern Europe or South America.  

I've had a great time working with Thomas Forster, Tom Peyton and Linda Elswick, folks from the State Department, USDA, Heifer and many wonderful volunteers -- all food advocates and "lighthearted locavores".  

I want to share the first of two press releases that started going out today. 


Contact:  Alexa Van de Walle, NYC Host Committee/CSD-17,, 917-692-9651

New York City Will Host the UN’s 17th Commission on Sustainable Development, an International Symposium to Address Global Crises, and Share Best Practices on Regions Feeding Cities, May 4-15, 2009

"Innovative Solutions for Challenging Times"

New York, NY Now, as the converging food, finance, energy and climate crises push governments and citizens to consider new and more effective ways to manage for current and future challenges, New York City promises to provide a fertile working space for the collaboration of global leaders and New York food advocates and showcase its diverse and complex regional food systems.

In the face of these crises, the 17th session of the Commission on Sustainable Development (May 4-15) opens its doors to a wide range of international civil society leaders and government delegates working on solutions for the enormous challenges facing the future of food and agriculture.

In preparation, New Yorkers have come together to collaborate with UN delegates and representatives via the New York City Host Committee to CSD-17. They’ve formed a working group comprised of local agencies and nonprofits, including Council on the Environment NYC’s Greenmarket, New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets, Department of Education’s Office of School Food, the Food Systems Network NYC, Just Food, World Hunger Year, Cornell University Cooperative Extension, the USDA and many others.

For two years, this committee set off in search of ways to best showcase the strong public-private partnerships, urban-rural linkages and leadership by local authorities and schools in New York which are all instrumental in improving access to food for vulnerable children and families, and fostering economic development in the local and regional food system.

The US Government delegation, led by the State Department (with support from USDA program leaders) praises New York’s leadership and will be participating in a City-Farm Showcase and workshops during the two-week session. During the intergovernmental meetings in preparation for CSD held earlier this year, John M. Matuszak, Division Chief, Sustainable Development and Multilateral Affairs, Office of Environmental Policy, Bureau of Oceans, Environment and Science, U.S. Department of State said before the Commission with regard to connecting rural countrysides with communities, “Indeed within the New York City region, we are increasingly aware of these links and how they can promote a focus on sustainable development of our farms while increasing the nutritional quality and variety of food within our cities. We acknowledge and support the innovations that are underway, and hope that others will join us in promoting this important work.”

Delegates and representatives from all over the world will be invited to visit working farms and community gardens growing food in the City, as well as wholesale and retail farmers markets, and an emergency food facility. Many will also tour a NYC Public School cafeteria and dine on locally produced food. All are expected to collaborate with sustainable development leaders at workshops and seminars inside the UN, several of which have been organized by the Host Committee to showcase New York programs and supply chain infrastructure. 

Conversations are expected to address themes common to the developed and developing worlds alike, such as the need for new investment in agriculture and rural development. The convergence of climate change, food and finance challenges has brought about new interest in topics such as:

  • regions feeding cities,
  • linkages between rural countrysides and communities,
  • new innovations in supply chain infrastructure,
  • capacity building to support regional food systems,
  • the role of local authority leadership and policy,
  • public-private partnerships,
  • community empowerment and youth engagement,
  • direct-to-consumer, wholesale, retail and institutional sales of rurally-grown food including procurement issues surrounding homegrown school feeding programs,
  • urban agriculture,
  • emergency food and social protection systems,
  • health and nutrition,
  • and agro-ecological practices which deliver ecological services
    • water and soil conservation,
    • composting
    • land preservation,
    • climate change and global warming
    • and, other sustainable development topics.

 Reporters can find a story around the collaboration between local and global food and sustainable development advocates ranging from local interest to global policy debates.

Visit the New York City Host Committee’s website at  for a calendar of events. 

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