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25 February 2013

Urban agriculture – a solution to food security?

Photo by :Qtea via Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

The Urban Agriculture Summit 2013

“We need to change the way people think about cities and urban environment. It is not only a place for practical solutions; it is not only a place for practical functions. It is also a place where people actually live their whole life, that means that city planning needs to see humans, not the market, not the industries, nor the transports as the central points in city planning” (Maria Wetterstrand, keynote speaker).

The Urban Agriculture Summit this year was held in Linköping 29th -31st of January and was a key in advancing the discussions around the transformation to greener and more sustainable urban environments in the future. The summit was solution-driven; about turning challenges into opportunities. Many delegates were also interested in Plantagon’s (one of the main organizers) way of structuring its enterprise; what they call a ‘companization’ which is “…a hybrid between a company and a non-profit organization, one for profit and one non-profit, with joint profitable and value based driving forces in one organization.

“The city is not the problem; it is the solution” (A quote, presented by Ulf Ranhagen, SWECO, by Jamie Lerner, urban architect/planner and former mayor in Brazil).

SIANI participated on the second day when politics and market were themes. Circular economy, waste, and trans- disciplinary synergies were key topics that were discussed during the day. Synergies were discussed in relation to the newly developed concept of SymbioCity; “…the integration of two or more organisms in a mutually beneficial union.” It is an approach where you discover and utilize synergies between urban systems, hence saving natural resources. Read more about SymbioCity here…

“Waste is not the end point; it is the starting point” (Delegate during round table discussion on market solutions to sustainable urbanization).

As part of the politics theme, Dr. Anthony Socci, from USAs Environmental Protection Agency, was a keynote speaker talking about climatic and demographic drivers of urban transformation. The moderator asked him ‘if the political will and necessary governance were sufficient for solving the sustainability challenges we face?’ Dr. Socci emphasized that since politics often are short-term (political parties and politicians will continuously come and go in the government context), it is essential to create a common vision that every form of governance can be enclosed by and continuously push forward and keep on track even though politics change. And to enable this common vision to persist we need governance which is informing but most of all engaging the public.

The Urban Agriculture Summit 2013