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Urban agriculture forum launched to make cities green and sustainable

The United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) and Yale Center for Ecosystems + Architecture (Yale CEA) today launched an open digital forum aimed at accelerating urban agriculture in cities and delivering huge benefits on everything from food security to climate change.

“Beyond Urban Agriculture,” launched at the UN Food Systems Summit, is attending to spark a discussion between practitioners of urban agriculture, other green infrastructure, and emerging science and technology, alongside an exhibition of a living green wall.

“Integrated urban agriculture offers our cities solutions to address the triple planetary crisis of climate change, nature loss, and pollution while increasing the health of their people and resilience of infrastructure,” said Martina Otto, Head of Cities at UNEP. “It is transformative in its ability to reconnect cities and urban communities with nature, a move that we sorely need.”

The vulnerability of complex value chains, which became more apparent during the COVID-19 pandemic, is now driving cities to test new ways of facilitating access to fresh and healthy food. Since 80 percent of food will be consumed in cities by 2050, cities can significantly influence the way that food is grown, particularly by bringing food production closer to urban centers and promoting shorter circuits of food.

Climate resilience
As urban food consumption is one of the largest sources of urban material flows, urban carbon, and land footprints, cities can leverage changes in their food systems to address their sustainability and resilience challenges.

The forum will give voices to practitioners and academics who are investigating and developing urban agricultural methods, from informal rooftop gardens to indoor vertical farming that may have the potential to transform food security and access to health and nutrition for millions in growing urban centers.

The forum will also explore the wide range of potential of social and environmental benefits: the reduction of urban heat island effects and related energy needs, improvements in air quality and livability, the potential for filtering and better managing water, bolstering urban biodiversity, and leading people towards more sustainable food consumption habits by creating a stronger connection with the food they eat.

“We are pleased to host these panel discussions and to provide this digital forum to feature a range of diverse voices contributing to the nascent but burgeoning field of urban agriculture, focusing on practice, research, industry, policy, and design,” said Anna Dyson, Founding-Director of Yale CEA. “Presentations and discussions will focus on opportunities and challenges of building-integrated vegetation for food production and the potential for synergistic ecosystems benefits.”

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