Urban and peri-urban agriculture study

Urban agriculture in Jakarta, Indonesia. Photo credit: Didit O. Pribadi (https://journals.openedition.org/factsreports/5624)

Current impacts and future potential of urban agriculture in the Global South:  setting priorities for future investments

By 2050, it is projected that nearly 70% of the global population will live in urban areas, up from 55% today. In catering to this growth, how will towns and cities be fed in a sustainable manner?  And what does this urban growth mean for innovation priorities? 

The role of urban and peri-urban agriculture (UPA) in urban food systems is becoming better recognized; it makes a large contribution to local food and nutritional security, reduces the ecological footprint of cities, and helps increase the resilience of food systems against climate change and other shocks. In addition to this, UPA can have beneficial economic and social impacts including providing additional income opportunities for urban and peri-urban dwellers and contributing to women’s empowerment. However, there is limited evidence on UPA’s benefits in the Global South. This is compounded by uncertainty around UPA’s future potential in contexts of increased urbanization, climate change, and other global shifts. This knowledge gap and uncertainty reduces the extent to which policy actors and investors can support increased innovation and expansion of UPA, as a key component of more resilient urban food systems in the Global South.

At the request of CoSAI, the CGIAR Water Land and Ecosystems Research Program (WLE) commissioned a review that synthesizes macro evidence with city-level data. The review will use the assembled evidence to identify key innovations and make recommendations on which innovations should be prioritized to ensure increased urban resilience and more sustainable urban food systems. The review will prioritize innovations from both the public and private sectors and in relation to infrastructure, services, capacity development, and governance.

Purpose and scope

The review will:

  1. Identify and consolidate existing knowledge on agriculture in and around cities and towns (UPA).  This includes identifying how UPA contributes to urban food supply (within wider urban foodsheds and city regions), livelihoods, health and environment, urban resilience (including climate change mitigation and adaptation), and the liveability of towns and cities.  It will also investigate policy and governance aspects of UPA.
  2. Identify promising innovations suitable for UPA in multiple spheres, including:
  • Different types of production technologies, including crop adaptations, cultivation techniques and resource diversity management; and innovations in inputs, especially fertilization and biocontrol. 
  • The management of environmental health, including relating to soils, water, and solid and liquid waste.
  • Different market systems and food environments involving both inputs and outputs, for example, based on regulatory or financial drivers, consumption trends, disruptions such as pandemics, among others.
  • The development of new policy, institutional, regulatory, and financial options and approaches for UPA, including novel tenure arrangements and zoning, for supporting and scaling sustainable production, marketing and environmental health systems.

Urban agriculture in Brazil. Photo credit: Rioonwatch, 2017 (https://rioonwatch.org/?p=36826#prettyPhoto)



'WWF's Policy Plates and Planet' sets out specific actions for municipalities, national governments, international institutions, and urban practitioners to transform urban food systems. The actions are an example of a roadmap to change towards a more equitable and sustainable food system. See the side panel on the right-hand side of this page for a link to the paper.