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Belmont Forum Collaborative Research: The FEW-Meter model to measure and improve urban agriculture, shifting it towards circular urban metabolism


Principal Investigator(s): Dr. Lidia Ponizy, Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznan - Institute of Physical Geography and Environmental Planning, Poland

Partners: Dr. Jeanne Pourias, AgroParisTech, France
Dr. Liliane Jean-Soro, IRSTV FR CNRS 2488, France
Runrid Fox-Kämper, ILS - Research Institute for Regional and Urban Development Office Aachen, Germany
Werner Heidemann, Landesverband Westfalen und Lippe der Kleingärtner e. V., Germany
Guy Blanch, LEAP MICRO AD Ltd., United Kingdom
Dr. Leszek Bednorz, Poznan University of Life Sciences, Poland
Natalia Chyza, Miasto Gorzów Wielkopolski (City of Gorzow Wielkopolski), Poland
Piotr Wilms, Polski Zwiazek Dzialkowcow Okreg Gorzow Wlkp., Poland
Dr. Elizabeth Bartle, University of Portsmouth - School of Architecture, United Kingdom
Ian Egginton-Metters, Federation of City Farms and Community Gardens, United Kingdom
Joshua Newell, University of Michigan - School of Natural Resources and Development, United States
Nevin Cohen, City University of New York School of Public Health - CUNY Urban Food Policy Institute, United States


Many cities across the globe are facing difficult challenges managing their food, water and energy systems. The challenges stem from the fact that the issues of food, water and energy are often tightly connected with each other, not only locally but also globally. This is known as the Food-Water-Energy (FWE) nexus.  An effective solution to a local water problem may cause new local problems with food or energy, or cause new water problems at the global level. On a local scale, it is difficult to anticipate whether solutions to one issue in the nexus are sustainable across food, water and energy systems, both at the local and the global scale.  Innovative solutions that encompass the nexus are particularly important to enable cities to better manage their food, water and energy systems and understand the benefits and tradeoffs for different solutions. 

This award supports U.S. researchers participating in a project competitively selected by a 29-country initiative through the joint Belmont Forum- Joint Programming Initiative (JPI) Urban Europe.  The Sustainable Urbanization Global Initiative (SUGI)/Food-Water-Energy Nexus is a multilateral initiative designed to support research projects that bring together the fragmented research and expertise across the globe to find innovative solutions to the Food-Water-Energy Nexus challenge.  The call seeks to develop more resilient, applied urban solutions to benefit a much wider range of stakeholders. The rapid urbanization of the world's population underscores the importance of this focus. International partners were invited to develop solutions for this challenge.  The funds requested will be used to support U.S. participants to cooperate in consortia that consist of partners from at least three of the participating countries and that bring together natural scientists, social scientists and research users (e.g., civil society, NGOs, and industry).  Participants from other countries are funded through their national funding organizations.

This project seeks to investigate whether scaling up existing forms of urban agriculture could exacerbate pressures on food-energy-water systems (FEWs) by increasing water and energy consumption and contributing to air and water pollution.  The project will employ an urban metabolism framework to create a comprehensive system to evaluate how different urban agriculture systems and practices perform with respect to food production and energy and water use and opportunities for increased efficiency. Data on the resource flows and impacts of urban agriculture will be gathered and analyzed over three years from 45 case studies in four cities in Europe (Dortmund, Gorzow, London, and Nantes) and one city in the U.S. (New York). The project uses a combination of quantitative and qualitative methods, including the measurement of resource use, material flow analysis, life cycle assessment, practitioner surveys, and design methodologies.

National Science Foundation (NSF)
Research Areas
Urban Systems and Built Environment