In issue 25 of Urban Agriculture Magazine – RUAF 10 years, IDRC program officer and urban agriculture (UA) specialist Luc Mougeot traces the achievements of this young field and the challenges its practitioners face.
In the early 1990s development assistance organizations began placing UA on their agendas. Mougeot traces this growing attention to the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) in Rio de Janeiro. UNCED’s Agenda 21 plan encouraged local governments to become involved in managing city environments.
In the same year the United Nations Development Programme, as Mougeot puts it, “invited IDRC to take the lead on UA.” IDRC’s efforts accelerated to become a full program of work, highlighted by two phases of its ambitious Cities Feeding People research initiative carried out from 1996 to 2005.Bearing fruit
The field developed rapidly following a 1996 planning meeting, held at IDRC head office, of the international Support Group on Urban Agriculture (SGUA). Many initiatives to build recognition, outreach, and alliances were launched and they soon bore fruit.
---a number of marked shifts in the approach to doing policy research, for instance, from single city to multi-city projects;
---more research and policy aimed at solving specific problems rather than simply gathering information;
---a more inclusive strategy for achieving sustainability that goes beyond the earlier narrow focus on agriculture and poverty reduction.Measuring true value
How can UA be contained in modern urban buildings? Can we design high-rise structures so they will accommodate livestock?
Most importantly, how can we credibly measure the true economic value of UA — in terms of jobs, income, cost avoidance, the productive use of people, land, and resources, — and communicate all these benefits to policymakers?
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