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Peri-urban food production promoting urban resilience and bridging urban and rural regions

Conference contribution
Authors Gunilla Almered Olsson
Published in ABSTRACTS 3rd International Conference on Urban Sustainbility and Resilience, 13-14 June 2017, University College, London
Publisher UCL Centre for Urban Sustainability and Resilience
Place of publication London
Publication year 2017
Published at School of Global Studies, Human Ecology
Language en
Keywords Peri-urban Food Production; Urban Food Security; Urban-rural Resilience, Multifunctional Food Production, Social Sustainability
Subject categories Social Sciences Interdisciplinary


Abstract The dimension of food provisioning is mostly overlooked in the discussion of urban resilience.The sustainable city is a frequently used vision but in the analysis of sustainable and resilient systems for housing, energy, waste, communication and security etc., the food security issue is most often absent. The food system in the industrial world is totally integrated in a global food system and directly linked to the globalized economic market. For efficient functioning of the global food system it is necessary to have uninterrupted and reliable access to natural resources, energy, efficient and undisturbed transportation along routes in land, water, cyber space and absence of accidents, sabotage, political and military conflicts. To the uncertainty of all those factors must be added the environmental uncertainty, e.g. climate warming, thus making food security endangered. The strong current interest in urban agriculture in many cities is partly a response to this situation although the food produced here cannot satisfy the need of the urban population. The peri-urban regions, on the other hand, often have a large potential for food production on its unexploited but currently unused agricultural land. The land here is under severe pressure for a number of different and contradicting uses. Such pressures include 1) Land for built up activities and infrastructure; 2) Natural and cultural values and protected areas; 3) Recreation (golf courses, horse activities etc); 4) Food production. The challenge for urban planning of resilient livelihoods is to find a balance between the four competing dimensions since they all include needs for human wellbeing. The aim of this paper is to address the peri-urban land use changes in relation to food production, and to discuss the potential of increasing resilience for urban-rural regions by enhancing food production as part of multifunctional land use in those areas. This talk will report from a case study addressing this aim in peri-urban Gothenburg, Sweden. This is a coastal city formerly dominated by heavy industries including wharfs, but today in transition to new economies. The city of Gothenburg has considerable cultural diversity, segregation problems and challenges for social sustainability but is surrounded by extant agricultural landscapes. Methods applied in the study are interviews of different groups of stakeholders including planners and mapping of historical, statistical, land use data and land use plans. Among the preliminary findings are: the unique situation in Gothenburg with a combination of considerable peri-urban land owned by the municipality and strong engagement and political will among city officials and local residents to preserve the peri-urban agricultural land and to increase the local food production. There is an increasing request for locally produced food among the urban citizens and current production is very far from the capacity of meeting this demand. Local food production activities can produce multiple values available for citizens in the urban and peri-urban regions. Multifunctionality in protected areas that were shaped by farming activities and belonging tothe agricultural landscape include meat production from grass-fed livestock – grazing is part of the biodiversity management – preservation of biocultural values, and simultaneously facilitating visitor access for recreation purposes. Local food production is creating new job opportunities; Food production activities can be seen as arena for knowledge sharing and cultural integration between different socio-ethnic-cultural groups; Combining the urban and peri-urban food production and including adjoining rural municipalities can revitalize the region, e.g. by ‘food charters’- different types of economic agreements on food production and cultivation between consumers and producers/farmers in the near and distant peri-urban-rural regions. This creates new jobs in the rural regions and contributes to a direct link between the city and its distant peri-urban-rural regions. Food production activities increasing social and environmental sustainability have a potential for increasing resilience of urban-rural regions. Several of the above mentioned issues are considered in the ongoing work in Gothenburg on a local food strategy that started Spring 2017. Some highlights from this work will be given

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