The Global South is urbanising at an unprecedented rate: by 2050, urban areas are expected to increase by 2.5-3 billion people, 90% of whom will be in Asia and Africa. The reality of this ‘urban century’ is twofold. On the one hand, it is marked by growing inequality, increasing demands for urban services, and spreading of ‘mega-city problems’ such as congestion, shrinking green spaces, a proliferation of informal settlements, and increasing greenhouse gas emissions. On the other hand, urban areas are hailed as sites of tremendous opportunity, to improve well-being and enable sustainable development, by leapfrogging unsustainable trajectories. Green infrastructure or nature-based solutions are identified as one of the key ways of achieving the triple goals of sustainable development, human well-being, and climate action through fostering biodiversity, maintaining air quality, regulating water resources, providing food and nutrition, improving public health, and building psychosocial values that improve non-material well-being.
Recognising the challenges of sustainable urbanisation and focussing on food growing as a key space to examine solutions, the Urban and peri-urban agriculture as green infrastructure (UP-AGrI) project, examines the implications of agriculture in and around cities on human well-being and urban sustainability.
UP-AGrI is divided into three work packages, across the three broad project objectives:
To examine the impacts of urban and peri-urban agriculture (UPA) on built infrastructure, ecosystem services, land and water use, using geospatial and forecasting techniques.
To explore how UPA is socially differentiated and privileges/marginalises certain people/groups with varied human well-being outcomes.
To co-develop and test strategies that allow UPA to contribute to urban sustainability with a focus on scaling.
UPAGrI’s research impact strategy leverages empirical evidence from four cities in India and Tanzania as well as multi-stakeholder engagement processes throughout the project to deliver impact on three levels - scaling up, scaling out, and scaling deep.
First, we aim to ‘scale out’. i.e. magnify impacts by horizontal scaling, thereby ‘reaching larger numbers’ of urban and peri-urban farmers in India and Tanzania.
Second, we undertake activities to ‘scale up’, which signifies pathways to change the “rules of the game” through institutions, law, and norms.
Third, and most critically, we work towards ‘scaling deep’ which signifies transformative, durable change can be achieved only when people’s hearts and minds, their values and cultural practices, and the quality of relationships they have are affected.