Can One Planet Feed Nine Billion People?

Two weeks ago, experts and scholars from nine countries gathered in Linköping, Sweden, for the second Urban Agriculture Summit. After three days of presentations and discussions, an Urban Agriculture Summit Statement emerged, focused on addressing food security issues in urban areas around the world.


By 2050, some nine billion people will inhabit the Earth with 80 percent of us living in cities like Auckland, New Zealand. Photo credit: Louis Tan. Used under Creative Commons license.

At the heart of the matter stood a declaration that food is both a basic human need and a fundamental human right. But with a world population on track to hit eight billion by 2025 and nine billion by 2050 -- 80 percent of whom live in urban areas -- that declaration is easier said than implemented.

With that in mind, the Summit Statement also noted that combating hunger by increasing food production is not an easy feat due to the global shortage of arable farmland and other necessary resources, including water and energy. Food production accounts for one-third of the world's energy while also producing one-fifth of the world's greenhouse gas emissions. What's worse, half of that energy goes into food that is lost or wasted after it leaves the farm -- a full third of all food produced is thrown away.


A third of all food produced is wasted. Photo credit: Nick Saltmarsh. Used under Creative Commons license.

As a result, the Summit's summation drilled down to offere three main focus areas: Educative and Transformative Solutions, Politics, and Market Solutions.

Educative & Transformative Solutions

  1. Urge the UN to set up a system for transformative innovative solutions, and that urban agriculture will be one amongst the selected innovative solutions.
  2. The first book on ’Urban agriculture and food production in cities’ with basic literature for common understanding of processes and benchmarks in this field of urban agriculture to be released at the 2014 summit under the auspices of the UN Charter.
  3. Establish a body of university heads / chancellors from global regions to create a network of education and research engagement group, with specific agenda focusing on urban agriculture and allied research.
  4. Launch the 'INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL FOR URBAN AGRICULTURE' on bi-annual basis to increase professional networking on the subject.
  5. Launch / initiate urban agriculture as a social community innovation involving an integrated approach to urban and peri-urban farming, on a global platform.
  6. Utilize the power of the triple helix - academics, private corporations coupled with public enterprises and government bodies to network collectively to educate and implement the innovative solutions in the urban agriculture arena.
  7. Initiate the process of involving the community to become part owners of urban agriculture projects increasing local involvement and thereby creating a new level of corporate empowered enterprise.

Politics

  1. Urban agriculture must be on the UN regular agenda, discussing food security and access to food as a basic fundamental human right.
  2. Urban agriculture must also be on the FAO regular agenda
  3. A global centre of excellence for urban agriculture to be established, and a chairman with a board of professionals to administer the functions of collective knowledge, with the aim to serve the UN group on urban agriculture.
  4. Urban agriculture must be on the World Economic Forum regular agenda.
  5. Urban agriculture must be positively backed by the multinational banks (World Bank, Asian Development Bank, International Monetary Fund, European Investment Bank etc.) regular agenda.
  6. Create a quarterly session to address the city mayors, governors, and heads of states in the area of urban agriculture on a city or regional level to generate tactical solutions using this global network of intelligence.
  7. Promote local food production to minimize logistics and add some aid / incentives within the state / city tax structure to promote urban agriculture.

Market Solutions

  1. Creation of international guidelines for urban agriculture, including clear frameworks for energy, fertilizers, water, land-use, technology, processes, audit etc.
  2. Best-fit structures for inclusive energy efficiency within the cities, e.g. water, energy, logistics related to urban agricultural solutions.
  3. Governments should have incentive systems for promotion of urban agriculture in many main stream policies.
  4. The SymbioCity Research Centre Sweden in Linköping shall act as the pivotal arm of the global centre of excellence in urban agriculture, aimed at promoting a platform for efficient and effective development in urban agriculture. The main responsibility lies on Plantagon Companization. The research network presented at this very summit will open the study of food consumption patterns and create better public awareness for a healthy lifestyle. A systematic approach to integrating the knowledge will then drive the urban agriculture model for effective global demonstration.
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