Why does your city mayor care about what you eat?

Published August 9, 2016

Mark Watts, Executive Director of the C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group at EAT Stockholm Food Forum.

See the interview with Mark Watts, Executive Director of the C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group, where he talks about the changing roles of city mayors and the decisive choices they face over the next years.

While the traditional concerns of a city mayor has not been with what food we put on our dinner plates, Mark Watts says that while we might think mayors are more concerned with waste collection and buses, ‘actually a growing number of them are interested in what they can do to help people both have healthier diets and lower carbon diets.’ Making the right food choices is highly relevant in the fight to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions: almost 1/3 of the emissions stem from food production and consumption.

The C40 Cities network is an infrastructure of the world´s megacities, collaborating to drive measureable and meaningful action on climate change. And as of the launch at the EAT Stockholm Food Forum in June this year, 25 of these cities are part of a new EAT – C40 Food Systems Network. Watts explains a couple of reasons why food needs to be in focus, also for cities. Firstly, he says, mayors need to understand the procurement powers of their cities – including schools, hospitals, care homes and the kitchens that feed city employees ever day. Secondly, Watts explains that if city mayors around the world make the wrong decisions in just the coming four years until 2020, ‘they could consume up to 1/3 of the remaining safe carbon budget that we have to spend for this century’.

But if mayors make the right choices, they join a growing group of cities around the globe that see greenhouse gas emissions take a lasting hit, while economies and standards of living are going up.

Mark Watts


  • Watts is a member of the Yale Climate Dialogue, and the Advisory Group at WRI´s Ross Center for Sustainable Cities.
  • He was the climate change and sustainable advisor to the Mayor of London, where he led London´s Climate Change Action Plan.
  • The C40 Cities Network is a network of the world’s megacities committed to addressing climate change, and the C40 cities are having meaningful global impact in reducing both greenhouse gas emissions and climate risks.