Integrated sustainability assessment of social and technological innovations towards urban food systems

NEW PAPER on innovation in urban agriculture

New paper of Susturbanfoods published in Sustainability.

ABSTRACT: Compared to rural agriculture, urban agriculture (UA) has some distinct features (e.g., the limited land access, alternative growing media, unique legal environments or the non-production-related missions) that encourage the development of new practices, i.e., “novelties” or “innovations”. This paper aims to (1) identify the “triggers” for novelty production in UA; (2) characterize the different kinds of novelties applied in UA; (3) evaluate the “innovativeness” of those social, environmental and economic novelties; and, (4) estimate the links between novelties and sustainability. The study was based on the evaluation of 11 case studies in four Western European countries (Italy, Germany, France and Spain). The results show that the trigger and origin of new activities can often be traced back to specific problems that initiators were intended to address or solve. In total, we found 147 novelties produced in the 11 case studies. More novelties are produced in the environmental and social dimensions of sustainability than in the economic. In most cases, external stakeholders played an important role in supporting the projects. The analysis further suggests that innovativeness enhances the overall sustainability in urban agriculture projects.

Keywords: urban food systems; innovation; sustainability; city farming; rooftop farming; urban horticulture

Link to the publication here.

The results of this paper are linked to all case studies of Susturbanfoods.


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