The Bartlett Development Planning Unit


DPU contributions to international policy and thinking on Urban Agriculture

7 October 2013

The DPU has been very active in research around Urban Agriculture, which is one of the key identified themes of our Environmental Justice, Urbanisation and Resilience research cluster.

UA in Burkina Faso

Prof. Yves Cabannes, recently contributed to the development of a “Scoping paper feeding into the development of UNEP’s position on urban and peri-urban agriculture” prepared by Marielle Dubbeling, Director of RUAF Foundation. The document will form the basis to the UNEP’s future policy on Urban Agriculture and it has benefitting from Prof. Cabannes experience at Developing Planning Unit. The document specifically make explicit reference to DPU as a front runner in terms of international training on Urban Agriculture and food security.

The report states: “ Notwithstanding the increasing number of courses and student thesis on urban agriculture, urban agriculture is – except in very few cases – not taught at master level in universities, with the international Masters course on urban agriculture taught by the DPU/University College London –  part of the Environmental Sustainable Development Master –  probably being the frontrunner. Demand for such masters level courses is high and largely unsaturated. The number of people trained on the various dimensions of urban agriculture is low and needs to be increased if growing government demand is to be well addressed. In addition inclusion of urban and peri-urban agriculture in the agenda of training and extension institutes is still often lacking".

Prof. Cabannes has also produced a report for the FAO entitled Pro-poor Legal and Institutional Frameworks for Urban and Peri-urban Agriculture, which was published last year. The book marks a turning point for the FAO, towards considering the importance of cities in making the rights of all citizens to secure and nutritious food a reality. The book acknowledges the inputs from a range of DPU students and alumni who produced contributions to the publication.

As a thematic focus of the teaching in the Environment and Sustainable Development (ESD) MSc programme DPU staff and Masters students have been investigating urban agriculture and related issues in Accra, Ghana. This has been part of a four year engagement (2008 to 2012) working to coproduce research with local NGOs, the International Water Management Institute (IWMI) and People’s Dialogue on Human Settlements and community groups. The objective has been to explore the actual and potential contributions of farming in the city and of urban farmland to the sustainable development of Accra. Outputs resulting from this research include a series of student reports, which can be downloaded from the ESD section of this website, a short film called Trajectories of Change: Land, Urbanisation and Urban Agriculture, produced by Etienne von Bertrab, and a recent journal article published by Adriana Allen and Alex Frediani in City entitled ‘Farmers, not Gardeners: The Making of Environmentally Just Spaces in Accra’.

DPU staff also have forthcoming publications on the subject: a chapter in a book by IWMI by Adriana Allen, Alex Frediani and Matthew Wood-Hill (2014) entitled ‘Land and Planning for Urban Agriculture in Accra: Sustained Urban Agriculture or Sustainable Urbanisation?’ relating to the fieldwork conducted in Accra, and a chapter by Robert Biel (2013) on ‘The Future of Food’ in Imagining the Future City: London 2062, a UCL publication.