2014 represents the sixth anniversary of the AESOP Sustainable Food Planning Conference, and for this the conference returns to the Netherlands where the first conference was hosted in 2009. In the intervening years the conference has been hosted in England, Wales, Germany and France, throughout this time providing a unique forum for cross disciplinary and interdisciplinary exchanges.
Agronomists speak to architects, Policy and public health specialists talk with town planners and community activists. Slowly a common language is emerging for discussing food planning that includes the long tradition of urban food production, and prevailing models for globalised, large-scale agriculture, located outside of the urban environments and connected through transport.
Today, this is changing, and the 6th Conference will pay particular attention to urban agriculture. Present attention given to localisation, neighbourhoods, sustainability, the lack of funds for maintenance of the public space, food security and health implications, often leads to practical and theoretical food production initiatives. The conference will retain its broad interest in food systems, while creating a special focus on two issues relevant to emerging initiatives in urban agriculture: (1) impacts on design and planning, and the spatial performance of how these initiatives manifest themselves and (2) how scale and context is often local and not embedded in the entire urban environment. This calls for a planners’ response.
The 6th AESOP conference aims to bring together scientists, practitioners, decision-makers and entrepreneurs to discuss and exchange current knowledge, practical projects and implementation of urban food production in relation to global food systems. Where and how can space be found to realise a sustainable food supply in cities? This is not only a pure spatial question. It requires also social innovation, new finance models, extraordinary concepts, and ‘a good reason’, which can be found in ecological, financial or health benefits. Also what are the innovations and challenges for conventional food systems planning that may work with or against urban agriculture? Finally, the way decisions are taken can make or break local initiatives and therefore deserves attention.
All these themes are part of the conference, which this year will be preceded by a limited number of visits to urban food project initiatives in the Netherlands. These initiatives will be selected on the basis of innovation and implementation potential, and will reviewed by an expert team of conference delegates aiming to advise and learn on how to realise potentials. The outcomes of these visits will play an important role during the rest of the conference.
Food Systems Planning and Urban Agriculture provide a broad theme. The following topics are part of the conference discussions:
Agriculture | Agronomy | Climate change | Climate adaptation | Social engineering | Social cohesion | Social innovation | Environmental flows | Economic Models | Renewable energy supply | Sustainable water management | Urban design | Landscape architecture | Generative design | Spatial planning | Health | Urban agriculture | Food security | Governance | Urban food systems | Ecology | Ecological food | Integrated project development | Art | Food security | Business Strategies | Realisation | Implementation | Material flows | Urban farming | Design innovation | Participative planning | Policy | Finance | Process management | Architecture | Planning
These topics are concentrated in nine tracks:
- Spatial design. Practical and innovative design examples, design theory applicable to productive landscapes in sustainable urban, peri-urban and rural environments
- Urban planning: track focusing on land use planning, socio-economic aspects of planning, planning urban functions, city lay-out, transport
- Governance; focus on the decision making process, reaching agreement with stakeholders, participative planning, planning as process
- Entrepreneurship; the entrepreneur as catalyst for food production in and/or with the city, successful implementation, ways to realise urban agriculture and financial models, business cases, business models
- Environmental flows/circular economy; flows of materials, energy, water, nutrients and waste, the metabolism of urban systems, resource management
- Health: benefits for people close to food production; possible impact local production on health, activity, school performance, sport, wellbeing of youth, adults and elderly. Clean, controllable and securing food supply
- Social innovation: new ways of public involvement, innovative coalitions, brokerage concepts, role of NGO’s, eco-innovators, new alliances
- Local initiatives; case studies of best practices, case description, the advantages and disadvantages, learnings and tips for starting projects, do’s and don’ts
- Extraordinary ideas and initiatives; proposals and projects in unexpectedly related fields such as art, performance, installations, other impossibilities, viewpoints outside current discourses, and everything else.