CE03 - Interactions Humains-Environnement

Assessing the environmental sustainability of urban food supply through a lifecycle perspective – URBALIM

URBALIM

ASSESSING THE ENVIRONMENTAL SUSTAINABILITY OF URBAN FOOD SUPPLY THROUGH A LIFECYCLE PERSPECTIVE

Objectives

Feeding city in a sustainable way is one of the major challenges facing humanity. In order to meet growing environmental challenges, and societal demand for more environmentally friendly food products, emerging urban food supply schemes are praised. Based on profound changes in upstream (e.g. development of organic farming) and downstream (e.g. short-circuit marketing) practices, these schemes also reveal a strong interest in bringing together places of production and consumption to secure food supply. However, quantitative assessment methods are needed to provide objective information on the environmental performance of these new schemes and their ability to fully meet the food needs of cities.<br /><br />The URBALIM project aims to build an original methodological framework for assessing the environmental sustainability of urban food supply in order to i) provide an exhaustive baseline of the system to identify the main drivers for improving environmental performance while avoiding pollution transfers, ii) characterise in a lifecycle perspective the system vulnerability to environmental or socio-economic perturbations, and iii) compare the eco-efficiency of different urban food supply strategies.

This innovative framework will be based on the standard Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) methodology. URBALIM will specifically address four main scientific and technical barriers:

1. propose a conceptual framework integrating both the environmental performance of urban food supply in a perspective of «absolute« sustainability and the vulnerability of the system to global changes.

2. Compute eco-efficiency indicators that take into account the multifunctionality of supply chains.

3. provide operational guidelines for modelling urban food supply and using robust LCA data.

4. develop metrics quantifying in a lifecycle perspective the vulnerability of food supply to different disturbances (e.g., resource depletion, climate change, economic crises, pandemics).

Methodological developments will be implemented to assess the environmental sustainability of the food supply of the metropole of Montpellier in collaboration with local managers. This pilot study will be a proof of concept of the proposed framework and will provide feedbacks to generalize the approach.

Feeding city in a sustainable way is one of the major challenges facing humanity. This issue is all the more critical in a context of crisis such as the current Covid-19 pandemic. In order to meet growing environmental challenges, and societal demand for more environmentally friendly food products, emerging urban food supply (UFS) schemes, based on profound changes in upstream (e.g. development of organic farming) and downstream (e.g. short-circuit marketing) practices, are praised. They also reveal a strong interest in bringing together places of production and consumption to increase food proximity and secure food supply. However, quantitative assessment methods are needed to provide objective information on the environmental performance of these new schemes and their ability to fully meet the food needs of cities in a context of global change. The URBALIM project aims to build an original methodological framework for assessing the environmental sustainability of UFS in order to i) provide an exhaustive baseline of the system to identify the main drivers for improving environmental performance while avoiding pollution transfers, ii) characterise in a lifecycle perspective the system vulnerability to environmental or socio-economic perturbations, and iii) compare the eco-efficiency of different UFS strategies.

The innovative framework will be based on the standard Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) methodology. URBALIM will specifically address four main scientific and technical barriers:
i) proposing an integrative conceptual framework to address both UFS environmental performance in a context of absolute sustainability and UFS vulnerability to global change in cohesion with the approaches of territorial LCA, planetary boundaries, resources criticality, supply risks and system vulnerability.
ii) computing eco-efficiency indicators that consider UFS multifunctionality
iii) providing operational guidelines to model UFS and collect consistent data in a lifecycle perspective
iv) developing metrics to quantify from a life cycle perspective UFS vulnerability to extreme events such as environmental crises (e.g. climate change, geological depletion) or socio-economic events (e.g. land use competitions, epidemics, strikes).

Methodological developments will be implemented to assess the environmental sustainability of the food supply of the metropole of Montpellier in collaboration with local managers. This pilot study will be a proof of concept of the proposed framework and will provide feedbacks to generalize the approach.

The project is scheduled over 42 months and relies on the expertise of the coordinator in environmental assessment at territorial scales. The project also benefits from the knowledge of four multidisciplinary research teams in France and the European Commission's Joint Research Centre (JRC) in the following areas: environmental sciences, food process engineering, agronomy, nutrition, economics, sociology and applied mathematics. The project will enable a wide scientific production through publication and communication activities. However, the target audience of the "URBALIM" project remains city stakeholders, decision-makers, but also LCA practitioners. Particular attention will be paid with the support of the ELSA-PACT Chair in LCA and the UNESCO Chair on World Food Systems to ensure that the project deliverables are adapted to this audience in form and content to guarantee their use.

Project coordinator

Madame ELEONORE LOISEAU (INFORMATION TECHNOLOGIES ANALYSE ENVIRONNEMENTALE PROCEDES AGRICOLES)

The author of this summary is the project coordinator, who is responsible for the content of this summary. The ANR declines any responsibility as for its contents.

Partner

ITAP INFORMATION TECHNOLOGIES ANALYSE ENVIRONNEMENTALE PROCEDES AGRICOLES

Help of the ANR 166,802 euros
Beginning and duration of the scientific project: March 2021 - 42 Months

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