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The sustainable food production project by the municipality of Rosario has won the grand prize in the WRI Ross Centre for Sustainable Cities 2020-2021 Prize for Cities.
The municipality of Rosario, Argentina, has been awarded the 2020-2021 Prize for Cities for improving climate resilience and equity through an urban agriculture programme.
Sustainable Food Production for a Resilient Rosario evolved from a response to economic crisis into a cornerstone of climate adaptation and social inclusion.
The urban agriculture programme has sparked a citywide movement to convert vacant land for sustainable and healthy food production, while increasing resilience to flooding and extreme heat events.
Rosario was selected to receive a grand prize of $250,000 from a pool of 262 submissions from 54 countries on the theme of “inclusive cities for a changing climate”.
The four runners-up – from Ahmedabad, India; London, UK; Monterrey, Mexico; and Nairobi, Kenya – each received $25,000.
“At its core, the prize honours innovative programmes that address the complex problems our cities face, and serves as a model for sharing thoughtful solutions across communities around the world,” said Stephen Ross, chairman and founder of Related Companies and a member of the World Resources Institute (WRI) global board of directors.
“We commend each of the finalists for their exemplary projects that demonstrate how existing policies and practices can evolve to be more sustainable and inclusive while responding to new global realities.”
In the wake of the 2001 Argentinian economic crisis, which left a quarter of Rosario’s population unemployed and more than half of residents below the poverty line, the city launched an urban and peri-urban agriculture programme to supply residents with tools, seeds and training to grow food locally and sustainably.
“Its approach to urban agriculture has improved food security and social inclusion, generated jobs, increased climate resilience and shrunk carbon emissions”
Across the city, the project repurposed underutilised land into agricultural plots and vegetable gardens, and set up permanent markets to establish urban farming as a new source of livelihoods. The municipality also used the programme to foster a deeper culture around food production and carry out social programmes, including for education and youth development.
After record-shattering rainfall forced evacuations in 2007, the riverside city also began to use the programme to build climate resilience. Repurposing abandoned land for agriculture has improved the soil’s ability to absorb water, making it less prone to flooding, and helped to lower air temperatures.
“What really struck the jury was the extensive impact of the programme across the city of Rosario and on people’s lives,” said Ani Dasgupta, global director of WRI Ross Centre for Sustainable Cities.
“Its approach to urban agriculture has improved food security and social inclusion, generated jobs, increased climate resilience and shrunk carbon emissions. Rosario and all four finalists show that cities can be more sustainable and more productive for more residents through inclusive and empowering climate actions. These types of innovations are more important than ever as cities start to recover from the Covid-19 pandemic.”
Across Rosario, 75 hectares of land are now dedicated to agroecological production and urban gardens, with another 800 hectares preserved for agriculture in the peri-urban area. This prevents urban sprawl and provides jobs and food to hundreds of residents.
“Sustainable food production not only generates employment opportunities, but social cohesion, an improved environment and better health for our residents”
More than 2,400 families have started their own gardens, and seven new permanent market spaces have been created. Shorter, localised food supply chains help the city reduce carbon emissions by producing 2,500 tons of fruits and vegetables each year. Compared to imports, local food production has been shown to reduce emissions by 95 per cent.
“We are thrilled and honoured to receive this prize – and to be counted among this fantastic group of finalists,” said Pablo Javkin, mayor of the City of Rosario.
“Sustaining food production spaces within urban and peri-urban areas is a key strategy in our climate action plan. Sustainable food production not only generates employment opportunities, but social cohesion, an improved environment and better health for our residents – all while we are conserving the environment and making us more resilient to climate change.”
The additional finalists for the 2020-2021 Prize for Cities were:
DisritoTec, Monterrey, Mexico
Born out of a period of violence and social strife, DistritoTec is helping to bring Monterrey back together again through a new approach to district-level urban design and governance that encourages compact, liveable growth for a low-emissions future.
Kibera Public Space Project, Nairobi, Kenya
In one of the world’s largest slums, the Kibera Public Space Project is co-creating innovative, multi-use public spaces with residents that not only reduce flood risk but provide essential services, like water and sanitation, and new ways for communities to thrive.
Ultra Low Emission Zone, London, UK
Combined with complimentary policies on public transport and sustainable mobility, London’s Ultra Low Emission Zone is helping to shift residents towards low-emissions travel and address longstanding inequities in exposure to toxic air pollution.
Women’s Action Towards Climate Resilience for the Urban Poor, Ahmedabad, India
A longstanding development partner in Ahmedabad’s slums, the Mahila Housing Trust is empowering women with tools and training to become climate leaders and not only address their communities’ unique climate risks but build a more resilient city.
Through the Prize for Cities, WRI seeks to inspire urban change-makers across the globe by elevating trailblazing initiatives and telling impactful stories of sustainable urban transformation. The prize is supported by business leader and philanthropist Stephen Ross.
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