Revisiting the Sustainability Concept of Urban Food Production from a Stakeholders’ Perspective


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A vacant lot garden behind a factory. Hoeing beets on the McKelvey school farm, Pittsburg. RedCross News, March 1920

The growing urban population and the environmental awareness of the globalized food system has led to the expansion of urban food production (UFP) through the reincorporation of agriculture in cities and the promotion of alternative supply-chains.

By Esther Sanyé-Mengual *Orcid, Francesco OrsiniOrcid and Giorgio GianquintoOrcid
Research Centre in Urban Environment for Agriculture and Biodiversity (ResCUE-AB), Department of Agricultural and Food Sciences (Distal), University of Bologna, 40127 Bologna, Italy
Sustainability 2018, 10(7),
Published: 26 June 2018


Urban Food Production (UFP) initiatives are expanding worldwide to enhance urban food production while contributing to the development of sustainable cities in a three-bottom perspective (environment, society, economy). Although the sustainability aspects of UFS have been addressed in the literature, there is a need to set a sustainability framework for UFP based on the concepts and the understanding of the stakeholders as a basis for quantifying their sustainability and for developing effective policy-making. This paper evaluates the concepts of the UFP sustainability from a stakeholders’ perspective through participatory methods and network analyses.

Two different workshops were organized in the city of Bologna (Italy), where mind-mapping exercises to define the environmental, economic and social sustainability elements of UFP were performed. This bottom-up approach unveiled a comprehensive and complex vision of sustainable UFP, the relevance of certain sustainability elements and key aspects to take into consideration for the development of UFP and effective policy-making. The existence of bidimensional and tridimensional concepts indicated priorities, synergies and trade-offs among the dimensions of sustainability. The multi-scalar nature of UFP suggested that specific policies can be supported by global schemes (e.g., Sustainable Development Goals) and that UFP can be a local tool for democracy and equity at lower scales.

Read the complete article here.

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