New publication/Nueva publicación: Sustainability Assessment of Urban Agriculture


Feola, G., Sahakian, M. Binder, C. R. 2020. Sustainability Assessment of Urban Agriculture. In: Binder, C.R., Wyss, R., and Massaro, E. (Eds.) Sustainability Assessment of Urban Systems. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. 417-437.

The pre-print version of this book chapter is freely available here.

Abstract. This chapter engages with the existing literature on urban agriculture and with concrete case studies to examine current challenges and ways forward for the sustainability assessment of urban agriculture. The chapter identifies current conceptualizations of urban agriculture, and sustainability assessment methods, and discusses them in the light of normative, systemic, and procedural dimensions of sustainability assessment. The chapter addresses the following questions:

  • How can urban agriculture be conceptualized? In particular, are there important conceptual differences between urban agriculture in the Global North and South, or between distinct forms of urban agriculture?
  • How can the sustainability of urban agriculture be assessed? What methodological differences, if any, should be taken into consideration in assessing different forms of urban agriculture in distinct urban contexts?
  • What are the current challenges and what are the opportunities for improving the sustainability assessment of urban agriculture?

The study finds that there is a paucity of assessment methods that have been developed specifically for urban agriculture and are flexible enough to be immediately applicable for different forms of urban agriculture in different contexts. This chapter suggests some opportunities to move the practice of sustainability assessment of urban agriculture forward. These include the adoption of inter- and transdisciplinary research strategies, and a critical approach to urban agriculture practices, power relations, social norms, and institutional conditions that have developed over time in specific contexts. A reflexive research approach and “dedicated investigation strategies” may also go a long way in supporting the sustainability assessment of urban agriculture.