shiftN initiates a collaborative ‘think-and-do’ lab to explore the future of Urban Agriculture

Nov 01

shiftN is preparing the ground for a new, ambitious collaborative futures project. In the past, shifN has initiated other multistakeholder projects (in collaboration with our partners at Bio-Sense and Giract): Nutrition & Health 2020 (2005), a Nutrition & Health Open Innovation Lab (in collaboration with Philips Design, 2006-7) and 2025 Fields for Food or Fuel? (2008). All of these projects have been carried out by a multistakeholder consortium, assembled from the ground up, and financed by a mix of private companies and foundations (King Baudouin Foundation, United Nations Foundation). Now we are turning our attention to the future of Urban Agriculture.

By now it is clear that the 21st century will be an urban future. By 2050 roughly 70% of our species will live in cities. We also know that in the coming decades humanity has to mobilise an unprecedented level of political will and ingenuity to surmount three key challenges: by 2030 demand for energy and for food will increase by 50%, and we will need access to 30% more drinkable water to support a population of 9 billion. John Beddington, Chief Scientist of the UK Government (and our client in the Foresight UK projects we have been doing over the last couple of years) refers to this future scenario as ‘the Perfect Storm’. Against this background it is important to understand what contribution we might expect of urban agriculture. With this new project we want to understand what urban agriculture might look like in 30 years, both in the developing world (where it is an ancient practice) and in the developed world (where the boundary between the urban and the rural is increasingly being blurred).

A presentation that explains the basic logic underlying this project is available here:
Urban Agriculture Futures
This is a discussion document that is currently being used in a broad consultation round and will lead to a more formal project proposal early in 2010. The project is scheduled to start in the latter half of 2010

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