Orient Magazine Issue 84 - October 2021 - Page 40

THE LOVE FOR LEARNING

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SPECIAL FEATURE: SUSTAINABILITY 30 BY 30: ACHIEVING URBAN FOOD SECURITY IN A CLIMATE CRISIS ERA 30 by 30: Achieving Urban Food Security in a Climate Crisis Era Education on food production and consumption will be key to success Chintan Raveshia Cities Business Leader, Southeast Asia Arup In this article Chintan shares how Arup's multi-stakeholder approach with food producers, distributors, start-ups, government and academia, coalesced in the world’s first Urban Food Masterplan Framework for Singapore in 2019, and how it may help the city-state meet its ambitious ’30 by 30’ food security goals. Arup’s findings: • Singapore’s small, highly populated footprint provides an excellent testbed and benchmark to explore new approaches to urban food production. • Achieving long-term urban food security requires circular design principles across systems of energy use, water, waste, industry, and employment. • From high-tech production to community gardening, changes in cultural and social behaviour will be required as new food production processes come to fruition. Creating a local and resilient food supply chain Singapore is a small and highly urbanised state that imports 90% of its food. This reliance on imports makes it particularly vulnerable to shocks and stressors such as the Covid-19 pandemic and climate change. However, this challenge is not faced by Singapore alone. With 68% of the world’s population projected to live in urban areas by 2050, Singapore is already dealing with problems many other cities will face in the next 50 years. How can cities match food requirements with zero-carbon goals? “On top of that, agriculture uses 70% of the world’s fresh water. In a climate emergency, we must start managing food more sustainably,” said Chintan Raveshia, Arup’s Cities Business Leader in Southeast Asia. To address the issue, Singapore, in 2018 introduced a target to produce 30% of its nutritional needs locally by 2030. Helping to make this ambition a reality, Arup has been working with stakeholders such as food start- ups, financing entities and venture capitalists, and government agencies such as Singapore Food Agency and Centre for Liveable Cities to understand the changes needed. The results were collated in the Urban Food Production Masterplan Framework Arup released in 2019. Arup set out with an objective to understand the link between resilience and food. There is a need to match resource requirements around space, water, electricity, and transport with goals around food security, city resilience, zero-carbon and the circular economy. To help decision makers and city planners make the transitions needed, the team developed a framework that included a series of design interventions, planning guidelines and policy advice that is economically, socially, and environmentally feasible. “The masterplan is ambitious,” says Chintan. “It addresses the problem from a country-wide perspective, looking at food supply across the spectrum: from large-scale production to community farms. But beyond that, it is a framework designed to be a practical manual for implementation.” Using Singapore as a benchmark, the report highlights how resilience and food security are deeply entangled globally. This is where a country with a strong start-up environment, like Singapore, can bring agricultural tech, water and energy specialists together to solve these problems and contribute to changing our food culture and social expectations. Advanced tools can also be used to help streamline and strengthen processes in the supply chain. Digital tools for instance could link up farms and business to better track shelf life and strengthen supply chain efficiency. Using advanced monitoring devices, urban vertical farms use 70% less water than conventional farming. Importantly, the framework identified that to achieve success, all stakeholders from high-tech, conventional and community farmers, distributors, financing entities, government, and academia, would need to be part of the same conversation. It recognised their requirements, needs and purpose, and emphasised for all stakeholders to collaborate. The success of food resilience in Singapore does not only depend on local food production and the introduction of novel foods, but also on the sustained consumption of those products. Novel foods including plant- based and cultured meats that seek to replace environmentally intensive foods like beef could bring huge benefits for the planet and its ecosystems. Complementing local agriculture, these novel foods have the potential to optimise land use, reduced greenhouse gas emissions, and have a guilt-free appeal for the ethically minded. These cultured meats do, however, require a lot of water to produce at this juncture. But social acceptance of local produce and novel foods still has some ways to go in the Singapore food story. There are reservations about new sources of protein or fibre, as well as the price and quality of local produce. Fostering a deeper understanding of what is required to grow food can help with making the transition. “There is work to be done to enable people to take these changes on board,” Chintan says. “People will be more willing to give up year-round access to a seasonal fruit like apples if they have a better understanding of the broader context.” 41 Click on the image to watch the replay of our webinar But social acceptance of local produce and novel foods still has some ways to go in the Singapore food story. There are reservations about new sources of protein or fibre, as well as the price and quality of local produce. Fostering a deeper understanding of what is required to grow food can help with making the transition. “There is work to be done to enable people to take these changes on board,” Chintan says. “People will be more willing to give up year-round access to a seasonal fruit like apples if they have a better understanding of the broader context.” On this front, the framework looks at the importance of enriching people’s immediate relationship with food production. It suggests that community involvement, such as having children help to water and weed a community garden alongside their grandparents could help build an understanding of food production, while giving social connection and community spirit a big boost. It also addresses a global problem by offering local solutions and in doing so, helps the city-state meet selected United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDG). This includes SDG 2: Zero Hunger via sustainable food production systems and resilient agriculture, and SDG 12: Responsible consumption and production, to reduce food losses along production and supply chains, including post-harvest losses. Singapore can set the benchmark for other countries looking at food security Following testing in Singapore, Arup is already working to bring the framework to other cities such as the new capital of Indonesia. With climate change and population growth likely to catalyse global change in land use and food production, the team ensured that the framework can also be applied in less dense countries with more direct access to land. Vast countries including Australia, already experiencing a change in arable land availability, are expressing interest. If action is taken now, high-tech, conventional and community farmers, distributors, financing entities, government and academia can help improve policies and social perspectives to enable urban food production before cities reach a crisis point. Working together as a collective, there are opportunities to implement new ways of providing food security, and in doing so, increase resilience through a more integrated and circular approach to water, electricity, and transport connections. ABOUT THE AUTHOR ABOUT THE COMPANY An architect and urban designer, Chintan has worked with govern- ments to shape and implement national, regional and precinct-lev- el urban planning and design strategies, and deepened his local understanding and knowledge across many geographies. In 19 years, he collaborated on and led some of the most iconic projects around the world including the Indonesia new capital city, UK's High-Speed 2 and Smart Urban Habitat Masterplan in Singapore. Passionate about climate action, Chintan is undertaking research that galvanises the built environment against climate risks while exploring opportunities in food resilience and active mobility. He is also a World Cities Sum- mit Young Leader, and a visiting lecturer at the National University of Singapore. Arup is an independent firm of 15,000 designers, planners, engineers, architects, consultants and technical specialists, working on projects across every aspect of the built environment in more than 140 coun- tries worldwide. With over 50 years of city-shaping excellence in Sin- gapore, Arup has earned a reputation for our pioneering innovations and fresh approaches to complex challenges. Our pursuit of quality is reflected in our award-winning portfolio comprising of the Singapore Sports Hub, Marina Bay Sands, Downtown Line, Thomson-East Coast Line, The Helix, and Singapore Flyer. Arup’s success in Singapore is founded on our delivery of global and local expertise, and we now have over 400 staff offering a suite of specialist services – helping our clients to realise exciting ideas as we strive together to shape a better world. Visit www.arup.com for more.