Page 1

Urban Agriculture Futures a multistakeholder ‘think-and-do’ lab Philippe Vandenbroeck, shiftN October 2009

can we imagine a future in which ‌

... we will need to get our hands dirty to enjoy our daily meal ?

... cities will be regenerative systems, putting back what they have taken?

... our postindustrial societies might learn a survival trick or two from the world’s urban poor ?

... access to and ownership of urban space will be contested and a cause for social strife?

URBAN AGRICULTURE FUTURES an invitation to join a Collaborative think-do tank to collaboratively make sense of these questions and act on that understanding


1 2 3 4 5

Project Predicament Practice Prospects Promise


> a challenge Feeding a hungry world gets harder, even with all the tools ... International Herald Tribune, frontpage 23 October 2009

> a challenge

Frontpage International Herald Tribune 23 October 2009

Urban agriculture has been a much undervalued source of food, income, environmental and social benefits for the world’s rapidly growing urban population. It is time to think deeply about what urban agriculture might mean for us in the longer term future.

Photo: Benetton

Image: iStockphoto

> a project

> some figures 800 million 66%

estimated number of people engaged in agriculture in or near cities fraction of (sub)urban households in the developing world engaged in some sort of farming

2.7 million 600,000 80,000 14,000

farmers in Shangai

people in Beijing who work directly in agriculture

number of allotment gardens in use in Berlin

people on a waiting list for an allotment garden in Berlin

> focal question

What will urban agriculture look like in 2040? How will it function? What will it contribute? Where will we see it? Who will be involved?

> approach

a collaborative futures project with a global scope and a 30 years’ time horizon !

building the partnership

building the evidence base

a series of 3 learning labs

and an action lab

the project: elapsed time 24 months


> participants

• Public authorities • Civil society organisations

• Local, regional, national and transnational authorities • Grassroots organisations • Social innovators

• Businesses

• Developers • Environmental technology companies

• Planners and architects • Experts

• Urban infrastructure providers (utilities, waste, transport, housing) • Farmers organisations • Agrifood companies • Retail companies

> deliverables

New networks New insights

A new platform for joint action


> key drivers



Economic Growth




What does this mean for our life support systems?

Climate Change

> the Perfect Storm

Energy Increased demand 50% by 2030 (IEA)

Food Water

Increased demand 50% by 2030 (FOA)

Increased demand 30% by 2030 (IFPRI)

> an erosion of systemic resilience Decreasing Accessibility of stocks

Increasing Variability of supply



Economic growth




Increasing trade flows of commodities

Rising Prices of commodities

Climate Change

FRAGILITY is the name of the game for the next few decades

> Vulnerability in action – the “food crisis”

Population growth

Rising middle classes and dietary change

Oil price increase

Financial speculation

Declining food stockpiles

Declining agricultural productivity

Soil and water depletion

Import dependence

Trade regimes

Competition from other biomass uses

Crop shortfalls due to natural disasters

> the food crisis is here to stay

FAO, Crop Prospects and Food Situation Report, July 2009

Domestic food prices in developing countries remain high. 30 countries around the world are in crisis and require assistance as a result of natural disasters, conflict or insecurity, and economic problems.

FAO, Crop Prospects and Food Situation Report, July 2009

> urbanisation • The world is now half urban (3.3 billion people, 2008) • Globally, urbanisation levels will rise to 70% by 2050 (6.4 billion people). • Every second 2 new city dwellers are added to the world’s urban population. • In absolute numbers the growth of cities in the developing world is ten times that of cities in the North. UN-Habitat, State of World’s Cities, 2008

> urbanization: megacities Asia is a breeding ground for megacities

> (de)urbanisation • The urban population in the developed world is expected to remain stable through 2030. • 40% of cities in the developed world experienced population loss through the 1990s. UN-Habitat, State of World’s Cities, 2008

> footprint of cities

CITIES HAVE BECOME ENTROPIC BLACK HOLES drawing in matter and energy from all over the biosphere Rees and Wackernagel, [1996] 2008

> the complexity of the global food system

> trends in global food systems

Increasing energy density of diets

Global dominance of supermarkets

Expanding trade

> making cities more sustainable: 5 principles

1 Reduction of energy input 2 Avoiding or cyclization of flows 3 Protection of all abiotic stocks (air, water, soil) 4 Preservation of nature and urban spaces 5 Providing small-scale structure and rich differentiation R. Wittig et al., [1994] 2008

Urban agriculture contributes to all


Photo. T. Krupnik

> urban agriculture: a definition Urban agriculture is an industry located within (intraurban) or on the fringe (periurban) of a town, a city or a metropolis, which grows and raises, processes and distributes a diversity of food and nonfood products,

(re)using largely human and material resources, products and services found in and around that urban area. (Mougeot, 2000)

> urban agriculture in the developing world • Urban agriculture has always been vibrant in developing countries. • The practice of urban agriculture is: • Informal: part of the informal economy, very little in terms of supporting policy frameworks • Heterogeneous: significant demographic variety of practitioners; different ways of organising; different production patterns

Photo: China Daily

• Opportunistic: farming is a often secondary livelihood, opportunistic use of public land; unconventional farm types (partly mobile, partly without soil)

> urban agriculture in the developing world

East & South-East Asia > 7 million people

North Africa & Middle East > 6 million people

* Intensive production of perishable high-value commodities

* fruit, vegetables and poultry Latin America & Caribbean >x% of urban population * Horticulture, dairy, poultry

South Asia > 11 million people Sub-Saharan Africa > 10% of urban population

* livestock-based farming system


* Heterogeneous & dynamic * Fruit, vegetables, dairy, cattle, goats, poultry

FOA estimates, 2001 as reported by van Veenhuizen & Danso, 2007

> Key benefits of urban agriculture in the developing world • Food security: it is estimated that 200 million residents produce food for the urban market providing 15-20% if the world’s food. • Income generation: urban poor spend a sizeable fraction of their income (50-70%) on food. UA is an important source of surplus income. • Social integration of disadvantaged groups (female-headed households, elderly, jobless, HIV/AIDS affected). • Environmental benefits • improving waste management by turning into productive resources • improving urban microclimate by providing shade, dust reduction, wind breaks

> Risks associated to urban agriculture in the developing world Photo: Mujahid Safodien/Associated Press

Key risks: Health and environmental risks due to polluted water and soils unhygienic processing zoonosis pesticides

> urban agriculture in the developed world: something’s afoot The “Anastasia” hype > “Over 10 million copies sold with no advertisement” “Thousands quit their jobs” “Recession? These books show us another way!”

Michele Obama in the White House vegetable garden

The Transition Town movement

> urban agriculture: window sill gardens

We can start ... ... small

ERA Architects

Š K. Leidorf

> urban agriculture: allotments and home gardens

Gardening is enjoying an increasing popularity. Sales of vegetable seeds have increased with 30% in Europe and US in 2008-2009. Key drivers: better taste, lower cost, more community, lower environmental impact.


Permaculture is an approach to designing communities and agricultural systems that mimics the relationships found in natural ecologies. There is a rapidly expanding international permaculture community. Transition Towns are modelled along the lines of permaculture principles.

Photo: J. Thakara

ERA Architects

Š K. Leidorf

> urban agriculture: the permaculture wave

Sky Vegetables

> urban agriculture: green roofs

Green roof surface areas have been expanding across the US and Europe. The City of Toronto passed a new green roof by-law consisting of a green roof construction standard and a mandatory requirement for green roofs on all classes of new buildings. The city of Chicago installed a green roof on its city hall in 2001. The Ford Motor Company has installed a 10.4-acre green roof atop its assembly plant in Dearborn, Michigan.

> urban agriculture: total building concepts 1


1. “Pig City” MVRDV


2. “Dragonfly” Vincent Callebaut 3. “Agro Housing” Knafo Klimor Architects 4. “La Tour Vivante” SOA Architects 5. “Center for Urban Agriculture” Mithun 6. “Tower of Tomorrow” William McDonough + Partners




> urban agriculture: total building concepts

• Production of high value crops (greenhouse) meshed with residential and business functions or dedicated vertical livestock buildings • State-of-the-art environmental technology: recycling of wastewater, renewable energy, recyclable building materials • Production technology: hydroponics, aeroponics (soilless culture)

Kiss + Cathcart Architects

Design principles

• Civic Ecology: integrating energy, water, material and information flows at the scale of buildings or neighbourhoods • Cradle-to-cradle: beyond efficiency to coupling environmental benefits with material production and consumption

© Tim Smith, SERA

> closed cycle design

Many of the ‘Grand Paris’ proposals include urban agriculture as an integral element of the design

© Bureau Castro

© Antoine Grumbach & Associés

> metropolitan/regional concepts

> key drivers: urban agriculture in developed countries Environmental benefits • reduce cooling and heating needs

Local food production (fruit, vegetables)

• facilitate stormwater management

• provide access to fresh, quality food for all socioeconomic groups

• increase biodiversity

• reduce food miles

• filter pollutants and carbon dioxide out of the air

• provide new or more reliable sources of income for growers

• recycling of nutrients

Community building • building life skills • creating a sense of place • beautifying urban environments

> Urban agriculture: current typology


Commercial UPA


Multifunctional UPA

> urban agriculture: a typology


Commercial UPA

Food and non-food products Market-oriented production by familybased or entrepreneurial entreprises Income and employment generation


Multifunctional UPA

Organic and diverse agriculture in buffer zones and neighbourhoods Direct marketing of fresh products Combination with other functions (ecosystem services; urban greening)

Self-production of food and herbs Some processing and local selling/exchange Part of livelihood strategies of urban poor

> dimensions of a more differentiated typology [plapoebia] Purpose

what does the agricultural production contribute to?


where is agricultural production taking place?


who is involved in the agricultural production?


what (portfolio of) biomass-based products & services is produced?


who owns production factors (capital, land)?


what is the institutional, social, economic and geographic environment?


who benefits (or is a victim) from agricultural production?


what technical and built infrastructure is used to produce?


what are basic underlying assumptions about the relationship between nature and city, urban and rural, man and the land?


EasyBloom: a sensor that communicates a plant’s eye view

> new technologies Mainstreaming urban agriculture?

Eco-pod: algae bio-reactor Howeler & Yoon Architects

vaporNET: turning fog into fresh water

Urban Battery: off-grid power station, vertical greenhouse and billboard

ď›™ MOS

> new business models Low cost designs and the proximity of growing cycle and retail point creates new opportunities for small scale, urban farming.

> new business models

“Indeed, the entire roof is planted

with various fruits, vegetables, and other edibles for restaurant Blue Velvet. You can’t get more local.” Green Roof in LA provides vegetables for restaurant below Restaurant & Kwekerij “De Kas” Amsterdam

> new economic paradigms Social capital

Financial capital

The Monetary Economy Public Private Not-for-profit

Supply and Demand

The Social Economy

The Core Economy Households Communities

Obligation and Reciprocity

ď›™ hwang jin wook

> new faultlines Contesting spaces, policies and business models

Permablitz Eating the suburbs, One garden at a time

> new faultlines

Š Der Spiegel, 2008

> new discontinuities new valuation paradigms disruptive climate change

bioterrorist attack pandemics

Pakistan collapse demise of the dollar

technology breakthrough

oil price

beyond Copenhagen


> logic !

Groundwork Understanding Urban Agriculture TODAY What is Urban Agriculture?

Learning Lab I Learning from CASE STUDIES How do Urban Agriculture practices work ?

Learning Lab II Mapping FUTURE CONTEXTS How do key drivers of change interact to create different settings for urban agriculture ?

Learning Lab III Understanding Urban Agriculture POTENTIALS What might Urban Agriculture be in 2040 ?

Action Lab Maximising Urban Agriculture POTENTIALS What can we do today to help spread and initiate best practices and novel business propositions ?

> deliverables systemic insight + new capabilities + new partnerships enables purposeful change

> timeline 2009

• Develop project concept • Build consortium • Run project • Build evidence base • Learning Lab I • Learning Lab II • Learning Lab III • Action Lab • Dissemination



> project roles Systems Mapping 3D/Architectural Rendering Urbanism & Land Use Food Systems Social Innovation Systems Thinking Socio-technical Transitions

Sponsors Contact Points Up to 12 individuals representing funders’ interests


Visualization Experts

Project Team Initiators

Creative Multistakeholder Group Up to 40 individuals representing different stakeholders from different settings (developing-developed)

Process Experts

Futures Learning Labs Systems Analysis Innovation

Scientific Reflection Group 3-4 Urban Agriculture top experts from different discipinary and cultural backgrounds

> project roles Systems Mapping 3D/Architectural Rendering Urbanism & Land Use Food Systems Social Innovation Systems Thinking Socio-technical Transitions

Sponsors Contact Points Up to 12 individuals representing funders’ interests


Visualization Experts

Project Team Initiators

Creative Multistakeholder Group Up to 40 individuals representing different stakeholders from different settings (developing-developed)

Process Experts

Futures Learning Labs Systems Analysis Innovation

Scientific Reflection Group 3-4 Urban Agriculture top experts from different discipinary and cultural backgrounds

> The urban agriculture system

Š shiftN

> a linked-up approach is needed

public authorities activist groups producers farming organisations

waste mgt

developers agri-food transport

consumer organisations

architects planners

retailers utilities

utilities technology & infrastructure providers

Š shiftN

> initiators

Experts in Strategic future projects Multistakeholder dialogue Open Innovation processes Customised learning experiences



> previous CSMSPs collaborative strategic multistakeholder processes Nutrition & Health 2020 Scenarios for a health-conscious society

2003-2004 Key sponsors

Co-initiated with iStockphoto

> previous CSMSPs collaborative strategic multistakeholder processes Nutrition & Health Open Innovation Lab 2005-2006 Key sponsors

Co-initiated with iStockphoto

> previous CSMSPs collaborative strategic multistakeholder processes 2025 Fields for Food or Fuel Scenarios for a new biomass regime

2007-2008 Key sponsors

Co-organised with iStockphoto

> endorsements Prof. André Faaij, Copernicus Institute, Utrecht University “I was particularly impressed by the excellent understanding and use of the interactive scenario methodology that was deployed. I have been and am involved in many activities that target or include scenario analysis, but this process was particularly well done, really making the participants realize why it was done, what was done and allowing for building of insight and understanding. This was a unique experience for me and delivered useful lessons for the future.” Richard Perkins, World Wildlife Fund UK “Thanks for a fascinating meeting and for all the hard work that you and your colleagues put into making it work. One of the best facilitated processes that I have been involved in recent years, and I am quite fussy about these things.” Ron Steenblik, International Institute for Sustainable Development, Paris “It was a very rewarding experience, one from which I Iearned much – both in terms of the process by which participants’ views and knowledge were elicited, and the substance at the heart of the exercise. I appreciate very much the opportunity to have participated in it. I thought that you guys were great, by the way. And your graphs and charts, some of which were produced overnight, were incredible.”

> action

Thank you for your attention We hope to collaborate with you on this exciting project

Š Luc Schuyten

Urban Agriculture Futures Introduction  

A presentation that argues a case for a collaborative think-and-do futures lab on urban agriculture. This multistakeholder project is initia...