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SUGI meeting in Nantes, France

LEAP is currently involved in an international funded programme - Sustainable Urbanisation Global Initiative (SUGI), focused on the urban food-water-energy nexus. Within that, we are part of FEW Meter – a consortium of organisations from Poland, France, Germany, the US and the UK. FEW Meter will assess the environmental impact of urban agriculture using Life Cycle Analysis (LCA), monitoring more than 50 case studies over the next two years to feed a model of how widespread urban agriculture might affect the food- energy-water nexus of cities.


Nexus = a meeting or connection point.

As we move towards the predicted 9 billion global population for 2050 with an estimated two thirds living in cities, we need to manage our water, energy and food in smarter, more integrated ways, taking into account their complex interactions.

At the moment, the connection between these resources in cities is haphazard and the implications for better integrating them has not yet filtered through to policy recommendations. Despite this, there are a number of citizen-driven #initiatives that are intuitively putting the pieces together and organically growing towards more sustainable resource management. They are a valuable resource showing the direction of travel we need to take and what has been achieved so far, as well as flagging up blind alleys and road blocks.

100m2 urban farm in Nantes, France complete with restaurant, bar and shop.
100m2 urban farm in Nantes, France complete with restaurant, bar and shop.

There is very little data out there on #urban #agriculture, yet a lot of discussion about food miles and how growing locally is more sustainable. FEW Meter researchers describe LCA as an iterative process – an art rather than an exact method. Coca Cola started it as a cost saving exercise, which has now pivoted into the #environment field. It looks at resources going in – energy inputs, materials etc. and what is being emitted. The environmental footprint can then be calculated for different stages of a product/service, hotspots can be identified are and measures to reduce impacts can be formulated.

Running till May 2021, this SUGI project enables LEAP to move forwards in several areas:

  • Trialling #digestate to determine whether filtered or raw digestate has a better impact on soil health;

  • Developing and delivering training to spread knowledge and hands on practical skills around the closed loop cycle including micro AD and urban agriculture;

  • Developing and installing robust, low-cost control and monitoring systems across three sites with a linked online platform to capture and visualise system data in real time.

  • Developing AD technology to address issues around digestate, footprint and cost.

 FEW Meter site visit – pubic allotments in Nantes
FEW Meter site visit – pubic allotments in Nantes

Written by Rokiah Yaman

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