Urban food, energy and water: connecting the dots

If the food system needs water and energy, then food policy should pay attention to these resources. Research into the interconnections, and possible trade-offs, between the three basic resources for human activities has boomed over the last few years. Time to take stock and look at what lessons cities can draw out of them. A recent article published in Resources, Conservation and Recycling by a Beijing (China) and Michigan (USA)-based team, reviews existing literature on the topic.

The unintended consequences of successful urban food policies

In our current food system, plagued by both food poverty and food waste, food poverty alleviation can take the form of surplus food redistribution. But what if, tomorrow, we manage to curb food surplus and waste? How should food aid organisations anticipate such a situation? Recent research highlights the importance of adopting a food system approach to urban food policies.

How can food fit into urban planning?

For a long time, urban and regional planning was not much concerned with food. Since the 2000’s, however, food has become a topic planners discuss about. In a book called Integrating Food into Urban Planning, published in 2018, Yves Cabannes and Cecilia Marochinno gathered insights from various cities around the world about what planning can do to contribute to sustainable urban food systems.

Beyond supermarkets: food distribution in local food systems

Cities know little about wholesalers and retailers, and too often assimilate distribution with supermarkets. In an article published in the French-speaking Revue de l’Organisation Responsable, two researchers from VetAgro Sup Clermont and AgroParis Tech Clermont Ferrand (France) discuss how independent retailers and wholesalers should be integrated in local food strategies.

Is self-sufficiency the ideal goal for urban food policy?

Many scientific studies have looked into cities’ food self-sufficiency potential. An article published in the Journal of Cleaner Production reviews this literature and shows that, on the one hand, that it is very difficult to compare such studies, and, on the other, that cities should focus on circular and sustainable practices rather than sufficiency.

The three pillars of urban food resilience

Urban food resilience

Food, energy and water resources are closely interwoven. But what does it concretely mean for a city’s food system? And how does understanding these relationships help plan a more resilient food system? Researchers from New York University have developed a framework that helps cities map, and act upon, the links between food, energy, and water.

The A to Z of urban food analysis

urban food system analysis

FAO and RUAF have published a very comprehensive Toolkit called “Assessing and planning sustainable city region food systems”. This is the result of a 3 years journey with 7 cities to develop a methodology to analyse urban city food systems that any city around the world can apply.