Urban regions are an important site for sustainable intensification of agriculture to increase food production, improve social sustainability, enhance resources utilization and improve societal robustness and resilience. JUST GROW will center justice in urban agriculture through transnational, interdisciplinary research across six urban regions: Rhine-Ruhr area (Germany), Providence area (USA), Randstad, Rotterdam-Amsterdam- The Hague area (Netherlands), Keihanshin-area (Kyoto-Osaka-Kobe), (Japan), Trondheim and Trøndelag region (Norway) and Greater Stockholm region (Sweden).
In order to help different city regions holistically design just and equitable food system policy and governance structures, we will collaboratively co-define key equity and justice indicators for urban agriculture intensification with community and governance stakeholders in each study area, focusing on five dimensions critical to just sustainability: 1) land, 2) labour conditions, 3) food security, 4) environmental consequences, and 5) cultural sustainability.
Equity indicators are necessary but insufficient to direct urban agricultural intensification toward just sustainable systems of consumption and production of food. Indicators will only lead to greater equity and justice if they actively inform decision-making within the governance networks that have the power to transform them. We will therefore create pathways with a goal to inspire action. City regions can use these indicators to evaluate equity effects of specific plans, but more importanly, to transition towards sustainable urban agricultural intensification.
Through practical tools, city regions will be able to plan and monitor efforts to enhance the resilience of urban agricultural systems, increase entry into and access to urban agriculture for all, grow the availability of dignified and viable urban agricultural livelihoods, and sustain diverse cultural foodways and heritage tied to food production.
City regions are a major proposed site for sustainably intensifying agricultural production to meet global food needs in the 21st century. Localizing city region food systems—combining food production in cities and their peri-urban landscapes—promises to improve socio-ecological sustainability and resilience. Sustainable urban agricultural intensification (UAI) likely requires investment in technologies that decouple food production from environmental constraints including seasonal climates and available land base. Proposed technological systems range from capital-intensive approaches such as vertical farms to more knowledge-intensive approaches such as urban agroecology. Researchers have begun to question the relative resource requirements, environmental footprints, and productivity of these technological production systems, yet a major gap remains largely unacknowledged: comparatively evaluating the equity and justice implications of different pathways toward sustainable city-region food systems. For the first time, JUST GROW will center equity and justice of UAI within transnational, transdisciplinary research across 6 city regions: the Rhine-Ruhr Metropolitan Area (Germany), the Greater Providence Metropolitan Area (USA), the Randstad, Rotterdam-Amsterdam-The Hague Metropolitan Area (Netherlands), Keihanshin (Kyoto-Osaka-Kobe) Metropolitan Area (Japan), Trondheim-Trøndelag Region (Norway), and Greater Stockholm Region (Sweden). To help diverse city regions holistically design justice and equity into food system policy and governance structures, we will produce (1) Concise sets of credible and legitimate indicators that city regions can use to evaluate the equity impacts of specific UAI plans as a transition toward SSCP of food; and (2) Recommendations for transformative, justice-centric policy innovations and principles that city region governance networks should adopt to steer UAI towards equitable SSCP of food.