Market Cities: How public markets — the original incubator — can pump life into regional food economies and forge social cohesion

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Nairobi, Kenya

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October 27th at 17:00 in your time zone

Free event

How public markets can pump life into regional food economies and forge social cohesion?

Why is Barcelona devoting millions to construct new public markets, whilst Nairobi bulldozes them? Or consider London Mayor Sadiq Khan. His administration has assembled the vast array of market leaders into a single London Markets Board in order to simplify regulations for this part of the informal economy and to leverage new resources to support innovation and build capacity. Barcelona and London are two high-profile cities whose public market successes represent an emerging ecosystems approach called Market Cities, championed by the Project for Public Spaces, HealthBridge Foundation, and Slow Food.

The concept is this: As municipalities become increasingly important for regional food systems to flourish, public markets are uniquely positioned to play positive roles if they are supported. Market watchers have identified seven key indicators of healthy market systems. A Market City is one that 1) recognizes its wide variety of public markets operate as one market system; 2) has diverse partners and stakeholders to take action together; 3) measures value and understand how markets function; 4) has regional distribution networks; 5) regularly invests in its markets; 6) helps diverse types of vendors start and grow their businesses; 7) recognizes that its markets are inclusive public spaces.

Unfortunately, regulatory authorities often deem these public assemblies of competing vendors as chaotic expressions of informality and ripe to be reigned in. Ancient mechanisms that champion biodiversity, traditional foods and regionalism, most public markets operate within hostile environments. They are also endangered by uninformed development, civil war, poor management and under-investment. And yet, the souqs, bazaars, farmers markets, street markets, market halls and the many names and shapes they come in somehow defy the odds and survive. We will explore not only how to ensure that these longoverlooked institutions thrive, but explore creative measures to bring public markets to the next level — as civic conveners to connect rural to urban, social life to commerce, and behavior change into everyday people’s lives. Amidst the COVID-19 lockdown, some markets fight to be recognized as essential services, whilst others perform remarkable heroics to relaunch as safe and social places (from Hanoi to Dhaka, Lima to New York).

Speakers include:

  • Furaha Abwe • Executive Director, Urban Planning for Community Change, Tanzania
  • Kristie Daniel • Program Director, Livable Cities, HealthBridge Foundation, Canada
  • Tran Thi Kieu Thanh Ha • Livable Cities Project Manager, HealthBridge, Vietnam
  • Richard McCarthy • Slow Food International, USA
  • Namata Serumaga-Musisi • Mmofra Foundation, Ghana
  • John Taylor • Chief Technical Officer, FAO Bangladesh, Bangladesh
  • Kelly Verel • Senior Director for Programs and Projects, Project for Public Spaces, USA

Moderator: Camilo A. Romero M., UN Habitat, Germany


  • Ana María Huaita Alfaro • Urban Markets, Food and Planning, Lima, Peru
  • Michael Hurwitz • GrowNYC GreenMarket Director, New York City, USA

Event upon registration. To register, click here. After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar.

Event organized by UN-Habitat and the Market Cities Initiative.

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Event languages: EN

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