Vision & Mission
Development of urban agriculture: our vision
Increasingly people live in cities. In 2020, more than half of the population of Africa, Asia and Latin America will live in urban areas, and the number of mega-cities in the developing world is growing. With this growing number of people that seek a livelihood in cities, urban poverty is increasing as a consequence. The World Bank (2000) estimates that approximately 50% of the poor now live in urban areas (as compared to 25% in 1988).
Most cities in developing countries are not able to generate sufficient (formal or informal) income opportunities for the quickly growing population. Economic crisis and structural adjustment policies introduced in developing countries have had a disproportionate impact on the urban poor, especially women.
Food production in the city is a response of the urban poor to inadequate, unreliable and irregular access to food and lack of purchasing power. Growing food, herbs, medicinal plants, and raising animals in backyards, along riversides and railways, on office grounds, and plots in peri-urban areas, as well as the processing and commercialisation thereof, provide people with fresh food, savings on food expenditures and income from the sale of production.
The use of composted urban organic waste and recycled wastewater in urban and peri-urban agriculture production also improve the environmental conditions of cities.
In western countries the role of urban and peri-urban agriculture for urban greening, the maintenance of the (peri-)urban landscape, water storage, recreation, revitalization of degenerated areas, etcetera is receiving more and more attention (multi functional land use) whereas the agricultural production function itself is given less weight than before and new policies and projects related to these "multi-functional landscapes" are being formulated and implemented.
It is our vision that in the coming years:
- urban agriculture is made an integral part of sustainable urban management and mutually sound urban-rural linkages in developing countries as well as in the countries of Western and Eastern Europe.
- More and more local authorities, governmental and private organisations will recognise the value of urban agriculture as an integral part of effective and sustainable urban management.
- Urban agriculture will be accepted as a legal urban land use category and urban agriculture will be integrated in the city development and land use plans.
- National and local authorities will formulate and implement adequate policies and action plans on urban agriculture in close cooperation with other local stakeholders. Urban and peri-urban agriculture will be integrated in policies and programmes that aim at poverty alleviation, improving nutrition and food security of the urban poor, recycling of urban wastes, social inclusion of disadvantaged groups, urban greening, management of the peri-urban landscape and creation of recreational services for the urban citizens, a/o.
- Urban men and women that are or want to be engaged in urban agriculture to grow food and to generate income will be given access to land and water and are assisted with adequate training, technical, credit and marketing services.
- Related micro- and small enterprises (in input supply, production, processing and marketing of food and non-food agro-products) will be supported and strengthened.
- Urban agricultural producers will become well organised and well able to express their priority needs and development perspectives and equipped to participate in the formulation, implementation and evaluation of local policies and actions plans on urban agriculture.
- To be more resource efficient and to improve urban sanitation, urban organic wastes and wastewater will be recycled and reused to fertilize and irrigate crops.
- Urban and peri-urban farmers will play a role in maintaining green spaces in/around the cities, to improve the urban micro climate, to manage the cultural landscape and biodiversity and to provide recreational, social and educational services to urban citizens.
- More self reliant and resilient local food systems will be in place and food and nutrition of marginalized urban dwellers (e.g. female headed households, aids affected households, jobless youth, pensioners, recent immigrants, a/o) will be secured.
- Effective and participatory mechanisms for dialogue and joint action planning between policymakers, urban and peri-urban farmers, community based organisations, consumer groups, health organisations, city planners, and other stakeholders in urban and peri-urban agriculture will have been established and support structures are put in place.
In support of the vision mentioned above, we encourage partnerships between interested local authorities, government agencies, NGO's, community based organisations, research organisations and donor organisations. We also encourage city to city exchanges (South - South and South - North) and the development of active networks on urban agriculture at regional, national and local level.
ETC-UA provides research, training, information and technical support to local authorities and other organisations in cities and countries in the South as well as in Europe, in order to facilitate multi-stakeholder policy development on urban agriculture and to assist in the participatory design, implementation and evaluation of effective action programmes on urban agriculture.
We document and compare municipal practices and policies, issue guidelines, and stimulate identification and research on unresolved issues, focused at integration of urban agriculture in urban policies related to food security, alleviation of poverty and gender inequality, waste(water) management, greening of the city and multi-functional land use.
We support capacity development of our partners by seeking to build on and complement their existing local knowledge and capacities and by development of training materials, "training of trainers" and the organisation of training courses for different stakeholder groups.
We facilitate that local stakeholders in urban agriculture receive the information they need to play their role in the local development of sustainable urban and peri-urban agriculture. To that effect, ETC-UA operates a resource centre on urban agriculture, produces policy briefs and fact sheets, issues guidelines and other targeted working materials, publishes the Urban Agriculture Magazine and maintains a website and databases.