Scaling Up Agriculture in City-Regions to Mitigate FEW System Impacts
With dramatic growth of urban areas and the majority of the world’s population now living in urban settings, cities have become dominant demand drivers in global food-energy-water (FEW) cycles. Globalization processes have intertwined cities with distant geographies through system interactions that include the exchange of food, energy, water, materials, capital, and the like. Through food consumption, city and ‘hinterland’ have become highly interconnected and interdependent across spatial, temporal, and jurisdictional scale. Growing awareness of the myriad environmental and socio-economic impacts associated with this food production-consumption nexus has sparked an urban agricultural renaissance. This white paper entitled, “Scaling Up Agriculture in City-Regions to Mitigate Food Energy Water Impacts,” is the result of a workshop sponsored by the National Science Foundation and held at the University of Michigan on October 5-6, 2015. The document summarizes current knowledge with respect to urban agriculture on: 1) food supply and security; 2) water quality and re-use; 3) energy use; 4) biodiversity and ecosystem health; 5) and equity and governance. Prior to the workshop, working groups prepared on these five issues regarding the state of knowledge, level of implementation, and interactions with other FEW systems. A sixth working group evaluated potential integrative frameworks and modeling approaches to assess urban FEW system interactions. This analysis is also included in this white paper. To uncover the linkages between physical, social, economic, and ecological systems, the project team and workshop participants included a multidisciplinary collection of geographers, engineers, ecologists, biologists, earth systems analysts, complexity modelers, planners, computer scientists, public health policy experts, and others. The white paper concludes by identifying fundamental research needs in order to transition urban food-energy-water systems so that they are more integrated, sustainable, resilient, and equitable.