The Urban Agriculture Network's Mission and Values
Jac Smit, President
The Urban Agriculture Network, Inc.
January 1st, 2005
Please contact us by e-mail, or phone: 1 301 565 3131, for more information, and look for us at conferences and in publications. Jac, Joe, Kathy and Blanca
History and recent accomplishments
Every now and then, an organization emerges that crystallizes a need that no one else is meeting. Over a decade ago , the Urban Agricultural Network was founded to focus attention on food production, economic development and environmental enhancement in towns, cities and urban regions Ð areas previously neglected by both the urban and agricultural development agencies.
Today, UAN is an acknowledged worldwide leader in the field of urban agriculture [UA]. In the 1990s, UAN sent senior professionals to more than 30 countries providing advice to local, national, and international organizations. We published more than 20 articles, and authored the seminal, best-selling book, Urban Agriculture: Food, Jobs and Sustainable Cities.
Many development, planning and public administration agencies have adopted UA objectives since the founding of UAN. The following have adopted or expanded UA as a program or as an activity:
- United Nations agencies such as FAO in Rome, WHO in Copenhagen, UNDP in New York, Habitat in Nairobi;
- national development assistance programs in Canada, Germany, UK, France, Japan, Sweden, and the Netherlands;
- the global agriculture research and assistance organization CGIAR (Consultative Group for International Agricultural Research), with over 100 centers and sub-centers on four continents, which is managing a UA initiative.
Several developing countries (including Brazil, Argentina, Mexico, the Philippines, Indonesia, Mongolia, Jordan, Lebanon, Slovenia, Uganda, Somalia, Mali, South Africa and more) have adopted pro-UA policies and their cities, states and provinces are adopting enabling legislation. UAN has provided consultancies in 30 countries.
In 2004, two periodicals [Journal of Planning Education and Research and Progressive Planning] associated with professional associations [the Association of Collegiate Schools of Planning and the Planners Network] devoted entire issues to planning with food and agriculture in cities and urban regions, for which UAN professionals helped lay the ground. The primary website we support (www.cityfarmer.org) is receiving over five million hits a year [15,000 + a day].
UAN has played an important founding member role for several UA advocacy organizations, including networks in the Middle East and North Africa, Latin America, East and South Asia, the West Pacific, and East and West Africa. UAN was a catalyst in forming a global support group with a listserv [the Support Group on UA].
The American-based Community Food Security Coalition [CFSC] and the American Community Gardening Association [ACGA] have both added UA to their agenda and have gone global under our leadership. At 2004 conferences, we were active in merging the UA initiatives of the AGGA and CFSC, leading to the establishment of a Memorandum of Understanding between the two organizations.
UAN'S 2005 vision
Every year of the past ten [1995 to 2004], there has been an increase in the number of people; a) living in cities, b) individuals and families surviving with hunger and food insecurity, c) disaster and environmental refugees and displaced persons, and d) victims of civil and international wars. The UNFAO finds that UA produces ten to fifteen times as much per acre as rural agriculture. The UNILO finds that UA employs a greater share of women, the elderly and youth than any other industry. Agriculture in the city feeds the city, greens the city and contributes to a stable economic base.
At UAN, we are looking forward to the New Year. We are in the throes of planning 2005 Ð which means doing what is most needed rather than everything that needs to be done. The need for our professional capacity and leadership in the field is as great as ever and our experience and prestige contribute to making us more efficient and effective.
First let us express our key objectives. And second, tell you about our recent successes in those areas.
- We will produce a monthly Internet-based UA newsletter with partners in Australia, India, Canada, Peru and Kenya.
- We will publish the 2nd edition of our book Urban Agriculture: Food, Jobs and Sustainable Cities.
- We will increase the training capacity of UAN by a) conducting a training course in UA for the Middle East and North Africa, b) producing and administering a trial of a breakthrough emergency agriculture-training course in the service of long-term refugees for humanitarian organizations, c) developing a UA course for the Certificate in Food Security at Ryerson University.
- We will develop UAN's resources and communications capability by transferring our library [the world's largest on the topic] to Ryerson University's Centre for Studies in Food Security, a research institution with global links.
- We will produce and publish at least three journal articles; one on Urban Agriculture and Health [with partners] and one on Urban Agriculture and Community Development are in process.
- We will present UA at four significant conferences, one of them overseas.
Recent UAN achievements in these six areas:
- We have been contributing news items to www.cityfarmer.org twice a month and three times a year to the Urban Agriculture Magazine at www.ruaf.org [the latter is published in four languages].
- In 2004, we partnered in publishing a 400-page book in French on UA in the Middle East and North Africa, Interfaces: Agricultures et villes ˆ l'Est et au Sud de la MŽditerranŽe; Vice-President Joe Nasr was the lead editor. Translations are pending. We advanced the process of publishing the 2nd edition of our previous best seller.
- Over the years, we have: a) designed a two-week emergency agriculture-training course for private voluntary agencies in Sudan, b) administered a three-day training course on the subject for a major NGO, c) partnered agriculture programs in refugee camps in India and Bangladesh and d) advised similar programs for CARE, CRS, IRC and UNICEF.
- We have refined the organization of our library, including placing 4,000 items on the web; see www.ruaf.org.
- This year, President Jac Smit published an article on the ethics of UA on the Internet and wrote the preface to the book "Continuous Productive Urban Landscapes" [publication 2005]; Joe Nasr wrote two chapters in the Interfaces book, in addition to co-editing it.
- In the last decade, we have presented and keynoted at conferences in Brazil, Canada, Germany, UK, Cgte d'Ivoire, India, Cuba, Lebanon, Turkey, Indonesia and the USA. Last month, we led the establishment of a multi-university-based Working Group on Community Food Planning.
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