Why do we keep losing agricultural land to the city?

Urbanisation raises very salient questions for food security and agriculture next to the cities. What are the main factors explaining urban sprawl, and what can we do about it? In a paper published in Land Use Policy, researchers from France-based think-tank IDDRI and research centre CIRED review all the factors discussed in scientific literature.

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.

Urban soil contamination: managing the risks in food projects

Urban does not always mean pollution, and pollution does not always mean health hazards. However, risk analysis needs to be more systematically integrated into urban food policies.
This is why a recently published methodological guide takes stock of 10 years of research on the topic and highlights a few key points that any urban policy maker should keep in mind when developing an urban agriculture or a gardening policy.

The limits of a “copy and paste” approach to urban agriculture

With urban agriculture becoming fashionable in developed countries, a small number of iconic examples, from New York to Berlin, are now widely shared at the international level.
A paper published in Landscape and Urban Planning earlier this year by Autria-, UK- and Columbia-based scholars invites us to reflect upon the limits of such “ready-to-use” references when they are mobilised by policies or projects irrespective of the local contexts.

What do we know exactly about urban agriculture’s environmental impacts?

A team of researchers from the Technical University of Denmark and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology reviewed existing scientific evidence on the main forms of urban agriculture in northern climates. They found that given the great diversity of urban agriculture, scientific evidence about its environmental benefits remains patchy. It does, however, reveal that the method used to cultivate plants, the product and the location are the three components of the equation cities should take into account to develop environmentally sound urban agriculture policies.

Exploring urban regions’ food self-sufficiency

Is it feasible to source all the food a city needs from its surroundings? The quick answer is no. And two recent academic papers demonstrate it while setting out a methodology that any urban region can use to assess its existing level of food self-sufficiency and the way this would evolve under different policy options.

When urban agriculture meets food justice…

Urban agriculture is fashionable in developed countries and its boasts a rather positive image of community development. But how do these promises hold? In order to answer the question, researchers from Portland State University and the University of Michigan carried out a review of existing evidence in the United States and Canada.