In recent years it has become apparent that our planet’s systems are under strain – the cracks now becoming obvious for all to see. Pressing global challenges, including world population growth, urbanisation, climate change, growing social inequalities and the loss of global biodiversity, have all made it necessary to reconsider how we integrate our human activities and lifestyles a diminishing natural resource base. This requires the need to seek smarter, more sustainable and more inclusive solutions as to how we reimagine our expanding cities and how urban centres interact with existing patterns of agriculture, food production and globalised markets. The emerging discipline of urban agriculture (UA) can help provide some answers to the challenges facing us, through delivering multiple social, economic and environmental benefits.
Although UA has recently become an important global topic, it has yet to fully integrate into the heart of European policy and practice. The European COST Action “Urban Agriculture Europe”, a research collaboration which ran from 2012-2016, was the starting point of this process. This Action brought together some 200 leading experts from across Europe to investigate themes relating to UA. Whilst the initiative made initial headway, there are still huge gaps in UA knowledge, awareness and best practice. Many localized initiatives have been established. However, these have not been part of a coordinated and networked vision for UA.
The need to foster and develop connections is therefore paramount; this includes the need to reach out to leading experts in UA in Asia, Africa, and Latin America. There is therefore an urgent and pressing need to widen the circle of participation and representation in UA to practitioners, researchers and engaged citizens across Europe. This is the key challenge and the primary purpose of EFUA