• Stephan Barthel
  • Christian Isendahl
  • Benjamin N. Vis
  • Axel Drescher
  • Daniel L. Evans
  • Arjan van Timmeren

Global urbanization and food production are in direct competition for land. This paper carries out a critical review of how displacing crop production from urban and peri-urban land to other areas – because of issues related to soil quality – will demand a substantially larger proportion of the Earth’s terrestrial land surface than the surface area lost to urban encroachment. Such relationships may trigger further distancing effects and unfair social-ecological teleconnections. It risks also setting in motion amplifying effects within the Earth System. In combination, such multiple stressors set the scene for food riots in cities of the Global South. Our review identifies viable leverage points on which to act in order to navigate urban expansion away from fertile croplands. We first elaborate on the political complexities in declaring urban and peri-urban lands with fertile soils as one global commons. We find that the combination of an advisory global policy aligned with regional policies enabling robust common properties rights for bottom-up actors and movements in urban and peri-urban agriculture (UPA) as multi-level leverage places to intervene. To substantiate the ability of aligning global advisory policy with regional planning, we review both past and contemporary examples where empowering local social-ecological UPA practices and circular economies have had a stimulating effect on urban resilience and helped preserve, restore, and maintain urban lands with healthy soils.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)71-97
Number of pages27
JournalAnthropocene Review
Issue number1-2
Publication statusPublished - 2019

    Research areas

  • cropland, economic globalization, food security, Global South, global sustainability, human resilience, social-ecological teleconnection, soil health, urban and peri-urban agriculture, urbanization

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