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How can Urban Agriculture Play a Role in the City of the Future?

October 08, 2020

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By Rob Simm

When looking at the material balance, you need ask the question: “do modern cities really make sense”?

In a previous blog I talked about how humanity’s biggest problem will likely be an inability to feed ourselves in the not so distant future. The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted some of the vulnerabilities of modern society. In particular, our food system.

As our population continues to grow and our arable land availability shrinks, we are not only going to need to produce more food, we will need to produce food in a more sustainable manner.

In my new white paper, I examine this issue and some of the questions we need to ask to better set ourselves up for a more balanced future, such as:

  • How food security rankings are a way to explore the symptoms that can affect a society. How does North America compare to the global community?
  • How can exposure to climate risks affect a country’s overall food security? Is our current food system a major driver of climate change?
  • By 2070, the Earth’s population will swell by additional 2.8 billion people. To feed that many people we are going to need more land—about the size of Brazil—and that is just not available. Now what?
  • By 2050 approximately 80 percent of all food is expected to be consumed in cities, but only up to 15 percent of food production takes place there. What happens if there is another disruption to the food supply network like we have seen in 2020?
  • What does future innovation in urban agriculture practices look like? What kind of space will be needed to bring 100 percent of the food types currently grown outside into indoor farms?
  • And lastly, how can we combat the primary criticisms against urban agriculture, including competition for land, non-suitability to most food types, and challenges to becoming circular?

Learn more in my white paper—the first in a series on the City of the Future—as I take an in depth look at these questions and imagine what the world could look like with a sustained focus on urban agriculture.

  • Rob Simm

    Dr. Rob Simm leads the process engineering group for Stantec’s Water sector.

    Contact Rob
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