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Just Growing Cities? Examining how sustainability and wellbeing implications of urban agriculture are distributed in the Global South 
Chandni Singh (Indian Institute for Human Settlements)
Sheetal Patil (Azim Premji University)
Nitya Rao (University of East Anglia)
Rural & agrarian spaces Urbanisation
Friday 8 July, 11:50-12:30 (UTC+1)

Short Abstract:

This panel invites empirical papers examining differential outcomes of urban agriculture on sustainability and human wellbeing, with a focus on Southern cities. The panel will examine how 'just' urban agriculture is and for whom, linking to debates on the effectiveness of nature-based solutions.

Long Abstract

We are in the urban age. Currently, 56% of the global population lives in cities (UNDESA 2019) and they are engines of growth and employment, producing more than 80% of the global GDP (McKinsey 2019). Alongside this urbanisation, there has been a “geographical decoupling” (Langemeyer et al. 2021:2) of cities from sources of food supply, with urban and peri-urban land use being reoriented for higher-value uses. This reorientation of land use, growing urban populations, and new risks such as climate change and disease outbreaks, has concentrated risks in cities. However, these risks are not experienced uniformly: as cities expand and sustainability solutions are implemented, low-income settlements or particular genders/ethnicities are marginalised in complex and often unclear ways, leading to certain groups being excluded or certain vulnerabilities being exacerbated.

In this context of exacerbating and differential risk, calls for nature-based solutions, identified as vehicles to achieve the triple goals of sustainable development, human well-being, and climate action, have increased (Langemeyer et al. 2021). This panel focusses on urban agriculture (UA) as a key nature-based solution lauded for its potential benefits such as improved dietary diversity, contribution to ecosystem services, improved quality of life, better social cohesion and community empowerment, enabling bottom-up innovation and local solutions to urban sustainability (Maxwell et al. 1999; Ackerman et al. 2014; Padgham et al. 2015; Mntambo 2017; Soga et al. 2017; Azunre et al. 2019; Mancebo & Certoma, 2019; Wendelboe-Nelson et al. 2019; Chalmin-Pui et al. 2021). However, critics also caution against potential trade-offs such as negative health impacts (Patil et al., 2018), exacerbated inequalities along gender or race (Horst et al. 2017; Mancebo & Certoma, 2019), or increased green gentrification and marginalisation of certain activities or peoples (Caruso et al. 2016).

This panel invites papers that critically examine the differential outcomes of urban agriculture in cities of the Global South, with an eye on how different visions of urban agriculture can privilege certain types of sustainability paradigms, or silence particular livelihoods or ways of human-nature interactions in Southern cities. It urges contributors to consider intersectional experiences/outcomes of UA; subjective and relational wellbeing outcomes of UA, and beyond-urban tradeoffs.

Methodology: Panellists will upload pre-recorded presentations of 10 minutes each. Convenors will ask panellists to watch other people’s presentations in advance of the synchronous discussion session(s). The convenors will also share in advance key questions emerging from the recorded presentations which will be prompts for the synchronous discussion. The convenors will start the synchronous session outlining these questions. Then, each presenter will give a 2-minute pitch summarising their key argument and another 2 minutes in which they address one of the key questions from the convenors. After this, the discussion (20 minutes) will be open to the audience with convenors’ moderation.

Accepted papers: