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Thomas Forster

Thomas Forster

Educational and technical support for territorial approaches to sustainable development

Brooklyn, New York

For nearly 40 years, the dynamic relationship of cities and towns to their rural hinterlands through the lens of the food system have been at the heart of my personal, professional and policy interests. Fom rural towns and small islands to major cities around the world I have worked to improve urban rural linkages through strengthening city region food systems.

I have had direct experience in smallholder farming and working with family farmers creating marketing cooperatives, access to land and credit, in nonprofit associations. Advocating for national policies supporting good practices including public procurement of from local and regional agriculture. For nearly 30 years I have been engaged in campaigns for international sustainable food and agriculture policy from the first Rio Earth Summit (1992) to the UN Food Systems Summit (2022).

From local to national and international levels, I work with and lead teams to realize more sustainable and resilient food systems to anchor communities, people, markets, investments and communication at the heart of the rural urban nexus. Good practice must be linked to and supported by coherent and enabling policy at local, national and international levels. Examples are the Milan Urban Food Policy Pact (2015) and Urban-Rural Principles: Guiding Principles and a Framework for Action to Advance Integrated Territorial Development.

A more urban, more crisis prone, but interconnected world in the 21st century, requires sharing the best tools and knowledge for upcoming generations to maintain the abundance of our natural world through ecosystem-based stewardship of food and natural systems from urban and rural gardens and farms and forests as essential contributions to the greening of cities. Territorial approaches to sustainable development begin with the landscapes our sisters, brothers and children protect, nurture and are provisioned by.


  • Adjunct Faculty (New School for Public Engagement, Food Studies Department)
  • International consultant, Urban-Rural Linkages: Guiding Principles and Framework for Action (UN-Habitat (United Nations Human Settlements Programme))
  • Lead Author (United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD))
  • Principal (Practice2Policy)
  • Expert Team Lead for Territorial Approaches to Sustainable Development: Stocktaking and Synthesis (Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH)


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