Urban agriculture: launch of the UniBo SustUrbanFoods project to assess sustainability
Alma Mater University of Bologna has launced SustUrbanFoods, the project for the assessment of social and technological innovations in urban food systems. The project, developed in the context of the Marie Sklodowska-Curie Actions of Horizon 2020, aims to provide tools and data in support of urban green economies. In particular, the environmental, economic and social benefits associated with urban food systems will be evaluated.
Urban gardens, community gardens or small companies, the number of urban farming areas is growing quickly. But what are the environmental and social benefits that these initiatives can bring to cities? To answer this question and improve the sustainability of urban food systems, the Research Centre in Urban Environment for Agriculture and Biodiversity at Alma Mater University of Bologna has launched the study SustUrbanFoods, funded in the context of the Marie Sklodowska-Curie Actions of the EU Programme for Research and Innovation Horizon 2020.
“In cities such as Bologna, urban agriculture is blooming using vacant land in city centres, available areas in the suburbs or unused spaces on and between buildings. These urban food systems are commonly associated with environmental, social and economic benefits and SustUrbanFoods aims to develop an interdisciplinary methodological framework to assess their sustainability”, explained Esther Sanyé-Mengual, researcher at the University of Bologna, who follows the project. The final goal of the initiative is to provide tools and data for supporting policies and decisions towards local and green economies. In particular, SustUrbanFood aims to assess the sustainability of urban food systems with reference to the three dimensions: environment, society and economy.
To this end, twelve case studies in four European countries will be analysed, representing different types of social and technological innovation. In Bologna, the community rooftop garden in via Gandusio’s social housing, the Spazio Battirame in the Roveri area, and Cooperativa Arvaia will be analysed: all examples of the new urban food systems based on social innovations. The study will also focus on other types of solutions characterized by technological innovations, such as high technology greenhouses which use bioenergy or agricultural production systems developed inside buildings – the so-called indoor farming – with LED lights.
The project is developed in the context of the Marie Skłodowska-Curie (MSCA) actions of Horizon 2020, aimed at promoting the growth of human capital of excellence in Europe through grants in support of geographical, intersectoral and interdisciplinary mobility of researchers. SustUrbanFoods will support the improvement of knowledge and skills of participants using a methodological approach based on “learning by doing”, in particular through the exchange of knowledge and training experiences between guest institutions and partner companies.