RUAF Urban Agriculture and Food Systems website

About Ruaf

A worker pulls radishes in one of Real Food Farm's hoophouses
Photo: Real Food Farm

A partnership to make urban food systems work better

The RUAF Global Partnership on Sustainable Urban Agriculture and Food Systems is a partnership of strategically selected cities, research institutes and civil society organisations with a recognised track record in urban and peri-urban agriculture and urban food systems.

RUAF is a powerful collaboration for action and advocacy to advance transformation of food systems in cities around the world. The partnership is a platform for learning and knowledge brokering between science, policy & practice. RUAF strongly believes in the benefits of interdisciplinary work and multi-stakeholder learning.

Our values

  • We aim to deliver practical and high-quality results in action, research and planning projects.
  • We apply a demand-driven and participatory, multi-stakeholder and gender-positive approach.
  • Our projects have a strong focus on learning (sharing, training, coaching) and empowerment to facilitate the development of local institutional capacities.
  • We seek to enhance both technical and organisational innovation.
  • We integrate monitoring and evaluation to ensure sustainability, efficiency and effectiveness of its activities.
  • We ensure broad dissemination of lessons learned on innovations realised and methods applied.

Who we work with

  • RUAF works strategically with organisations such as the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), ICLEI Local Governments for Sustainability, the CGIAR Research Program on Water, Land and Ecosystems (WLE), WASTE, and the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN) and Rikolto.
  • RUAF facilitates the ICLEI-RUAF CITYFOOD Network, and supports the Milan Urban Food Policy Pact(MUFPP). RUAF co-leads the CGIAR Water Land and Ecosystems Programme/Rural-Urban Linkages Flagship.

See a full list of our partners on our partners page.


RUAF has received funds from the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs (DGIS), the EU, IDRC (Canada), UN HABITAT, Ministry of Environment Norway, the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), CDKN (UK), the World Bank, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), OXFAM, CARE (Netherlands), Welthungerhilfe (Germany), the Daniel and Nina Carasso Foundation and the CGIAR, as well as from several local governments.


ETC Foundation initiated RUAF in response to the needs identified by a group of representatives from 28 international organisations, including UNDP, FAO, IDRC, GTZ and CIRAD. This group met in Ottawa (Canada) in 1994 and recognised the need to address the increasing “urbanisation of poverty” including growing urban food insecurity related to urban-rural migration, lack of formal employment, rising food prices, growing dependence on food imports, increasing dominance of supermarkets and fast food chains, and challenges posed by climate change.

Since the start in 1999, RUAF has engaged with local and international partner organisations in over 100 cities in 50 countries around the world. While over many years the RUAF activities and international networks were managed by the independent RUAF Foundation, first led by Henk de Zeeuw, followed by the late Marielle Dubbeling, the RUAF Secretariat is hosted since May 2019 by RUAF partner Hivos.