Urban Agriculture’s Contribution to the Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations

In 2015, the United Nations adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, a blueprint showing the path towards universal peace and prosperity for both people and the planet. As part of this statement, 17 Sustainable Development Goals were developed to promote the progress regarding urgent issues such as poverty, hunger, climate change and inequalities. They serve as a guidance for governments, organizations and enterprises all over the world to orient their activities towards the achievement of these specific goals.

Urban agriculture walks on rhythm with these initiatives by acting as a driver of progress vis-à-vis several goals.

Goal 2: Zero Hunger – End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture.

Urban agriculture promotes food security by contributing to the development of local and resilient food supply chains. Transforming unused urban spaces in nutritive vegetable gardens allows an improved accessibility to healthy food by local communities, and thus contribute to better nutrition habits.

Goal 3: Good health and well-being – Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages

Bringing pieces of nature to urban environments improves the quality of life of its inhabitants. Regardless of their type, plants contribute to better ambient air quality and, in certain stressful contexts, can promote peace of mind to the individuals around. Urban agriculture connects urban citizens to nature and encourages healthier living habits, as much for the mind as for the body.

Goal 11: Sustainable cities and communities – Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable

Urban agriculture fosters community relationships and better accessibility to green spaces. Programs such as collective or corporate gardens participate in reinforcing a sense of community within neighborhoods or workplaces, uniting individuals from all cultures and of any age around a shared interest. It also favors greater social inclusion by providing local employment opportunities. 

Goal 12: Responsible consumption and production – Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns

Urban agriculture allows to produce food closer to the place of their consumption and thus reduces the carbon footprint of aliments. Through practices such as community gardens and urban agriculture workshops, in which people are fully realizing the time and efforts lying behind each grown vegetable, communities become more aware of the energy put into growing food and thus, the importance of limiting food waste

Goal 13: Climate action – take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts

By greening urban spaces, urban agriculture sequesters carbon at a small scale. However, it does much more for climate action by promoting a new food supply model more sustainable in the long run, through shorter supply chains and a more efficient use of resources and spaces.

Goal 15: Life on land – Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, and halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss.

In metropolitan areas, biodiversity is very limited by the intense presence of built-up areas. In addition, urban green spaces usually pursue decoration purposes through low-diversity vegetation such as lawns. Urban agriculture contributes to biodiversity through ecosystem services provided by a larger variety of plant species, procuring enriched habitats for other organisms.