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2013/What resources to feed cities?

In 2050, over two thirds of the world’s population will live in cities. Urbanization will mainly take place through the expansion of large agglomerations (27 cities will have over 10 million inhabitants in 2025).

Given the consensus among the scientific community that shortages of non-renewable natural resources, linked notably to rapid urbanization, are a real future risk, a major challenge ahead will be to sustainably feed this urban population.

Numerous reports mention the limits of cultivation potential due to the depletion of certain resources (nitrogen, phosphate, water, arable land, energy) added to the major environmental ills (climate change, biodiversity loss, soil degradation, pollution, etc.). Beyond material resources, another source of tension will be the challenge of the rural exodus to agricultural employment.

To feed cities while respecting sustainable development goals, which include the right of all to a quality diet (balanced, nutritious and accessible), it probably will be necessary to invent a new way of producing our food. This will need to be more equitable, more respectful of natural resources, and a means of creating meaning and values, both for producers - and therefore for rural areas - and urban consumers.