Reos Partners and TransForum have recently launched the Metropolitan Agriculture Innoversity. Metropolitan agriculture is a framework for understanding the diverse ways in which agriculture can contribute to sustainable development in cities. The Innoversity is a new action-learning institution, dedicated to initiating the processes necessary to create meaningful change in the agricultural and food sectors. The Innoversity is being launched with a series of one-day Scenario Workshops in six cities—Amsterdam, Chennai, Detroit/Flint, Johannesburg, London, and São Paulo.
The first of these Scenario Workshops was held at the Gordon Institute of Business Science in Johannesburg on 13 November 2009. The Reos South Africa team facilitated a day-long process in which participants engaged in frank, open discussions about the difficult challenges related to food production, hunger, and development. Focusing on the relevance of the metropolitan agriculture approach to the question of food security, the group identified several themes as the most important areas for action, including education, market access, and the need for policy frameworks that connect food and sustainability. The participants grouped themselves around these issues, and brainstormed how they could best leverage their collective experience and begin to act. By the end of the day, the groups had outlined potential projects, such as initiating a cross-sectoral dialogue on the creation of a sustainable food policy for Johannesburg and approaching the Ministry of Education to gain support for school farms.
The second Scenario Workshop took place in São Paulo on 25 November 2009. It was held at the Parque da Agua Branca. This historic location served as the site of livestock sale for São Paulo and thus provided a deeply symbolic setting for discussion of the relationship between agriculture and the city. The workshop was opened by João Sampaio, Secretary of Agriculture for the State of São Paulo, who announced several major initiatives related to agriculture and urban development, and emphasized his belief that the workshop would provide a catalyst for innovative problem solving. The workshop participants brought a rich diversity of knowledge and skills, with representatives from major retailers and food distributors, community groups, farmers’ organisations, and several government bodies. The Reos Brasil team guided the one-day process, with a focus on the underlying principles of metropolitan agriculture and their application to the São Paulo context. Many participants expressed the need for a forum in which such a diverse range of stakeholders could engage with each other and start to build the relationships necessary to make meaningful change—a clear outcome of the workshop. The day closed with the participants sharing their dreams on the future of metropolitan agriculture in São Paulo, and confirming their interest in investing the time and energy needed to start making these dreams a reality.
The next two Scenario Workshops will take place in Chennai on 22 December 2009, and in London on 25 January 2010. The workshops will be followed by Innovation Labs, prototyping of initiatives, and a Global Summit in September 2010.