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close this bookFood and Energy - Strategies for Sustainable Development (UNU, 1990, 81 pages)
View the documentPreface
View the document1 Introduction
View the document2 Analytical Framework
View the document3 Integrated Food-Energy Systems
View the document4 Alternative Urban Development Strategies
View the document5 Urban Agriculture
View the document6 New Rural-Urban Configurations
View the document7 The Challenge of Biotechnology
View the document8 Sustainable Development
View the document9 Conclusion
View the documentAppendix I: FEN Programme Activities
View the documentAppendix II: FEN Publications
View the documentReferences

Appendix I: FEN Programme Activities

Integrated Food-Energy Systems

The first FEN activity in this field was a very successful study and conference tour in 1983 by four Brazilian special UNU fellows to Senegal, France, India, and China.

This six-week tour had a double purpose:

  • to visit research centres involved in the field of food and energy; and
  • to participate in seminars and workshops arranged for the occasion by the host institutions in collaboration with the UNU.

As part of the tour, seminars were held at ENDA, Dakar; CESTA, Paris; NISTADS, New Delhi; CRESSIDA, Calcutta; the Institute of Energy Conversion. Guangzhou; and the Biogas Research Institute, Chengdu, China.

There were also many visits to other research centres and government agencies in the cities mentioned as well as in Bombay, Madras, and Beijing.

The mission ended with a visit to UNU headquarters in Tokyo and a presentation to senior staff members.

This exchange of views between third world scientists proved very enriching. While the need for developing integrated food-energy systems was felt everywhere in the countries visited, it was noted that different socio-cultural mentalities affect in no small way the manner in which such systems can be implemented. Another essential finding was the need for emphasizing the fundamental importance of local participation in such projects and for ensuring that a wide range of technological configurations is considered for their development.

As a follow-up to this study tour, the Brazilian fellows hosted numerous counterparts from Senegal, India, and China as well as from several lusophone countries in Africa to a series of workshops, conferences, and field trips organized by various institutions in Brazil with the additional support of UNDP (United Nations Development Programme) and UNESCO. Several FEN researchers also participated in some of these events.

The first regular year of activity for FEN was highlighted by two international conferences. In September 1984, a seminar on "Ecosystems, Food and Energy" was held in Brasilia under the joint auspices of the UNU, UNESCO, and the following Brazilian institutions: FINEP (Brazilian Agency for Research Financing), CNPq, EMBRAPA (Brazilian Agency for Agricultural Research), and the University of Brasilia. It was attended by more than 80 researchers from throughout Latin America and leading experts from other continents.

The principal outcome of the conference, whose closing session was presided over by Dr. Kinhide Mushakoji, UNU Vice-Rector for Regional and Global Studies, was the identification of inputs for the elaboration, evaluation, and installation of integrated food-energy projects as well as the development of appropriate research programmes.

Proceedings of this conference were published in 1986 by UNESCO in three volumes in their original language (mostly Portuguese) in addition to a volume of summaries in English that also includes an analytical report on the conference prepared by Dr. Ben Wisner.

Interest in integrated food-energy systems subsequently progressed from the research to the development phase, where it received attention at the educational and policy level. This was particularly true in Brazil, where the FEN-inspired research programme made this country the major showcase for integrated food-energy systems. The major activity in this area was the "Agro-Energy Communities" programme in Brazil funded by FINEP. Involving numerous research and development organizations in Brazil, it was the most comprehensive application of FEN concepts in this field.

Many Brazilian universities and research institutions continue to be actively involved in the development of integrated food-energy systems, as reflected in the attention given to this subject by the 4th Brazilian Congress of Energy and seminars held with the participation of the FEN programme director in Campinas, Porto Alegre, Brasilia, and Itabuna.

The FEN methodology highlighted at the UNU Brasilia conference in 1984 also found its place in the teaching curricula of many educational centres, including the University of Campinas, the University of Sao Paulo, and other research centres. It was also adopted at the new Centre for Agricultural Sciences and Environment in Itabuna.

This momentum was reflected in the decision of CENDEC (a training centre for economic development that reports directly to the planning secretariat of the president of Brazil) to organize a seminar in August 1988 on "Resource Use Patterns, Employment and Development Training", and to ask the programme director to provide the background paper.

A major follow-up to the 1984 Brasilia conference was the "Food-Energy Nexus and Ecosystem" conference held in February 1986 in new Delhi. It was organized by the Indian Institute of Management (IIM) with the additional support of the Indian Department of Non-conventional Energy Sources (DNES) and UNESCO. It compared the design and operation of existing integrated food-energy production systems developed in different countries under diverse ecological and socio-economic conditions.

One of the resulting recommendations was the establishment of a permanent working group to study FEN and third world development strategies. DNES subsequently announced that it would provide logistical suport for this group to be based at the Global Energy Centre in New Delhi. A comprehensive report on this conference was prepared by Dr. Ben Wisner and published as part of FEN's research report series.

After the New Delhi conference, Drs. T.K. Moulik (JIM, India) and Emilio La Rovere (FINEP, Brazil) jointly prepared in June 1987 a feasibility report for "Establishing a Permanent International Network on Biomass-based Agro-Industrial-Energy Systems" designed to advance South-South co-operation on integrated food energy systems. This work will hopefully be undertaken with the support of the governments of both India (through the Global Energy Centre in New Delhi) and Brazil.

The third international conference on integrated food-energy systems was organized by CAST (Chinese Association for Science and Technology) on the basis of a comparative study of such systems in seven ecologically diverse regions of China. It took place in Changzhou in October with the participation of the programme director as well as FEN colleague, Dr. T.K. Moulik, of the IIM.

Preparatory work for a comparative study on "Ecosystems and Cultural Diversity" was done in collaboration with the Federal University of Alagoas in Brazil and the Marga Institute in Sri Lanka. It was designed to analyse resource-use patterns in order to identify how different cultures sharing similar ecological conditions have developed different methods of producing and using food and energy.

A consultant's mission to Managua in July 1985 analysed the feasibility of using organic wastes from that city's food markets for the production of animal fodder and concluded that there was considerable institutional support for using such wastes for this purpose as well as for the production of compost for use in kitchen gardens.

A mission to assess the potential of integrated food-energy systems to improver access to food and energy in Rwanda concluded that, apart from a few opportunities associated with commercial processing or institutional livestock operations, the improvement of composting methods at the family or "hill" level held the most promise in this field. Proposals to continue this work were submitted to the Government of Rwanda and IFAD (International Fund for Agricultural Development).

Another important development was the start in 1986 of collaboration with the Asian and Pacific Development Centre (APDC). Six country reports reviewing integrated food-energy systems in Southeast Asia previously prepared by the APDC were discussed during a workshop held in conjunction with the New Delhi conference described above, and plans for continued co-operation were made. The subsequent preparation by the APDC of six bibliographies on integrated food-energy systems in this region represented a total of over 2,000 pages of documentation and analysis that was edited by the APDC for joint publication.

A research proposal was also developed in conjunction with the Biotechnology Programme of the UNU Development Studies Division to assess the social impact of new or foreign food and energy technologies and to determine the potential of biotechnology in improving traditional techniques in this field. The conceptual framework prepared by J.-P. Peemans of the Université Catholique de Louvain was published as a FEN research report.

Alternative Urban Development Strategies

Several research projects in this field were started in 1984. In Brazil, the Center for Study and Documentation of Community Action (CEDAC) began studying the experience in Osasco with community kitchens designed to reduce nutritional problems through the provision of communal cooking facilities. Its final report describes the difficulties encountered in continuing the community kitchens that it established in this suburb of Sao Paulo.

In Bombay, the Tata Institute of Social Sciences identified two poor neighbourhoods to involve in an experiment on urban agriculture and social organization. The report of this "Action Research Project", which was published as an occasional paper, deals inter alia with the aspirational obstacles facing rural migrants in urban areas who came to the city to find a job, considering farming a demeaning activity that they had left behind.

In Buenos Aires, the Urban and Regional Studies Centre (CEUR) began a research project on strategies to improve access to food and energy in urban areas of Argentina. An interim report (in Spanish) on "Alternative Strategies for Improving Food and Energy Availability in Argentine Cities" was prepared in addition to a final report (also in Spanish) on urban agriculture in Buenos Aires that was co-published with UNESCO. It describes a dozen case studies located throughout greater Buenos Aires that were analysed and compared with similar activities in other countries, both developed and third world. While the emphasis was on the role of urban gardening, other means of access to food were also considered, including food subsidies and supplements.

The CEUR authors concluded that significant social, environmental, and nutritional advantages accrue to families that garden, notably providing up to 30 per cent of their food needs. It was pointed out, however, that in the already huge and burgeoning third world cities, the impact of kitchen gardens on the overall nutritional situation would remain low in the near- and medium-term. The results of this research were also presented at the October 1986 International Council Meeting in Paris of UNESCO's Man and the Biosphere (MAB) programme. A second publication resulting from the CEUR research in Buenos Aires, entitled "Commercial Agriculture in Greater Buenos Aires: Experience and Perspectives", addressing green belts for commercial food production, was published in January 1987.

In September 1984, the City of Sao Paulo joined with ECLAC and the UNU in organizing a symposium on "Latin American Cities Facing a Crisis". A striking feature of this event was the fertility of the discussions, a result of the widely varied background of the participants, including mayors from several Latin American cities, who agreed to establish a follow-up network.

An important conclusion was the confirmation of certain room for manoeuvering in which to develop alternative strategies for urban development that can exploit the untapped or wasted physical and human resources of urban ecosystems. The proceedings of this conference were published in 1986 in Portuguese by the Sao Paulo Municipal Planning Secretariat (SEMPLA).

As a follow-up, the Sao Paulo Municipal Administration Research and Study Centre (CEPAM) established a communications network on urban innovations, known as RECEM. It prepared a report for FEN on "Municipal Participation in Local Food Production and Distribution" based on its data bank of over 1,200 urban projects. With the support of the Federal Savings Bank, the scope of this project was extended to use this network as a basis for exchanging such information throughout the entire country, with plans to cover Latin America and eventually third world countries on other continents through a South-South network.

In August 1986, an international workshop on FEN in Latin American cities was convened in Sao Paulo in collaboration with the Faculty of Architecture and Urbanism of Sao Paulo University. It was timed to coincide with MAB UNESCO's conference of "Latin American Cities: Looking Forty Years Ahead". The FEN meeting brought together the leaders of FEN urban projects in Latin America in order to review the results to date of their research on alternative urban development strategies and to define ways of further co-operation, including the common publication of their research results.

A major meeting in this field was held in 1985 at the National Research Council in Washington, when the Board on Science and Technology in International Development (BOSTID) and FEN brought together international representatives of networks on urban alternatives to discuss innovative ways of improving the use of urban resources. One of the main conclusions was the identification of a large communication gap between the sources of technical knowledge in this field and the different people who need such information, particularly at the local level.

A workshop on "Improving Access to Food and Energy for the Urban Deprived" was organized by ENDA (with additional support from the European Economic Community) in December 1985 in Addis Ababa. It brought together researchers from 11 countries (mostly African) and was for many their first exposure to an interdisciplinary analysis of these problems in an African context. Among the recommendations made was that the first need was for more information dissemination, particularly South-South and between local people actually working in the field. A report of the conference was prepared by ENDA and is available in French and English. As a result of this workshop, follow-up research in African cities was done by ENDA and the results were published in FEN's series of research reports.

The concepts and ideas emphasized in FEN research found their way into a joint UNU/MAB-UNESCO proposal on "Urban Ecosystems: Resource Use Patterns and Employment Generation", involving a comparative analysis of Buenos Aires, Sao Paulo, and Santiago. The MAB/Sao Paulo project (in conjunction with CETESB and the Agency for Application of Energy), CEUR, and the Catholic University of Santiago assumed responsibility for local funding. The Federal Secretariat for Environment (SEMA) also expressed interest in seeing Recife used as a case study for Brazil.

The first phase of a project on urban self-reliance undertaken by IFDA (International Foundation for Development Alternatives) resulted in the publication in 1985 of directory of 150 institutions and projects working in this field. Work continued throughout 1986 on this project and, as a result, an updated and expanded version of this global directory on institutions and projects involved in urban self-reliance was published in 1987.

Several new projects were started in 1985. Among them were "Food and Energy in Urban Areas: the Case of Caracas" with CIEDA (energy, development, and environment research centre) in Venezuela, which was facilitated by a FEN mission to Caracas. The main goals of this research were to diagnose food and energy consumption in low-income households and to propose policies to help improve access to these basic needs through increased self-reliance. A final report, in Spanish, was submitted.

A companion project entitled "Food, Energy and Public Services Self-reliance in Mexico City" was undertaken by PROCALLI (Support to Mexican Housing). A final report entitled "Research Project on Food, Energy and Public Services Self-reliance in Mexico City Metropolitan Area" explores the interconnections between energy systems and local development dynamics in Mexico. A complementary report by CECODES was also produced.

A similar project on "Household Energy Redesign and Food Production in Marginal Areas of Santiago" was undertaken by PRIEN (energy research centre, University of Chile) with a final report in Spanish. An interim report entitled "Energy and Improvement of Urban Nutrition: A Methodology for Action-oriented Research in the Local Setting" was prepared in English.

Also started in 1985 was a project with ECLAC (UN Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean) on assessing innovative policies and strategies for alternative urban development styles in Latin America and the Caribbean. This study was an element of the work undertaken by the ECLAC/UNCHS (United Nations Centre for Human Settlements) Joint Unit on Human Settlements. It included training activities, technical cooperation, and research in the areas of metropolitan planning and management, design and management of plans and projects at the local level, community participation, and technologies for housing and for the provision of social services and infrastructure for the urban poor. A report entitled "Metropolization in Latin America and the Caribbean" was prepared.

Two case studies on "Equity, Efficiency and Sustainability in Urban Energy Development" were prepared by the Environmental Liaison Centre (ELC) in Nairobi for the cities of Nairobi and Ahmedabad respectively, and were presented at the joint ELC/IAS (Institute of Solar Architecture) international seminar held on this subject in La Plata, Argentina, which was supported by the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA).

A new project started in 1986 was "Everyday Structures and the Working of the Real Economy in the City: Going Beyond the Formal/Informal Dichotomy". Co-ordinated by the College of Mexico, it was designed to prepare critical interdisciplinary surveys of the situation in the following cities: Cairo, Mexico, New Delhi, Rio de Janeiro, Rome, Santiago, and New York. An international workshop for this project was held 17-19 June 1987 at the Maison des Sciences de l'Homme in Paris to review the surveys. As a result of this workshop, which brought together the authors and several reviewers, the papers were revised for publication in English, French, and Spanish. A more immediate spin-off was the publication of a special issue of the Latin American Planning Review, SIAP, dedicated to FEN urban research (see Sanchez 1988, Appendix ill.

Another major event in 1987 was designed to capitalize on the International Year of Shelter for the Homeless. FEN accepted a proposal from GRET (Technological Research and Exchange Group) for, inter alia, the organization of a seminar on communication and urban strategies and the development of tools designed to strengthen and build upon the alternative urban development networks that emerged during 1987. This project also included working sessions at regional NGO workshops that were held in Sao Paulo and Nairobi as well as a special workshop at the Habitat Forum in Berlin. Two reports of this seminar, which was held June 22-26 at the Fondation des Sciences Politiques in Paris, were prepared: an Exective Summary (in English) and "Communication and Urban Self-reliance Strategies" (in French).

A project entitled "Production of Food in Big Urban Agglomerations: Poland as a Case Study" was completed by a team of researchers based at the University of Warsaw.

The purpose of this study was to analyse and evaluate Polish experience in the field of small-scale food production in urban areas with a view towards their relevance in the formulation of research needs and policy decisions in other countries. The final report was edited and published in FEN's series of research reports.

The last "official" FEN activity was an international conference entitled: "Cities What For?", sponsored by the City of Rennes, the Fondation Diderot, the League for Education, and the Fondation de la Maison des Sciences de l'Homme. It was held 25-27 November 1987 in Rennes, France.

Training, Networking, and Publications

The FEN programme formally started on 1 January 1983 and during this first year of activity it advanced from initial planning work to action on several fronts. Substantial groundwork was laid in terms of basic organization, professional contacts, conceptual development, and institutional arrangements, including the establishment of an administrative core unit and resource centre in Paris.

The UNU Global Food-Energy Modelling Project, directed by Dr. John Robinson, held its final session in June 1983 under the auspices of FEN at the Maison des Sciences de l'Homme, Paris. The results of this project were presented to an international audience including representatives of the FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization), IIASA (International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis), UNESCO, OECD (Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development), UNEP (UN Environment Programme), and the lift as well as of universities in several countries. Following presentations by Professor Maurice Levy (who, as UNU programme director for energy studies, launched the study) and Alexander King, president of the Club of Rome, the project team described the results based on the use of three global models: SARUM, UNITAR, and UNITAD.

The first FEN newsletter was published in 1983 in conjunction with COPPE at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, FINER, and EMBRAPA. It included an introductory article by the programme director and analyses of two integrated food-energy systems in Brazil in addition to news of other FEN activities.

The second issue of the newsletter appeared in 1985 and apart from a conceptual article by the programme director, it included an annotated bibliography and reports on various FEN activities in addition to articles on the study tour of Brazilian researchers, the "Agro-Energy Community" project, and a research project by Bologna on the self-reliant city.

The third issue of the newsletter was published in 1986 and, for the first time, a Spanish edition appeared in the Boletin de medio ambiente y urbanizacion published by CLACSO (Latin American Council on Social Sciences) and distributed to researchers throughout Latin America. It included a feature article on self-sustaining rural communities in Brazil in addition to reports on other past and planned FEN activities.

Four publications were published in 1984 in collaboration with the International Research Centre on Environment and Development (CIRED) and the French Agency for Energy Management (AFME). Please refer to Appendix II for the complete list of FEN publications.

Throughout the programme, a graduate seminar on FEN issues was held at the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales in Paris. Some of the students who participated in this seminar wrote papers inspired by FEN and several theses were prepared. Doctoral dissertations already completed include: "Systèmes alimentaires et rapports sociaux: structures du quotidian et production alimentaire dans le Catatumbo (Colombie)" by Dr. F. Pinton; "L'alimentation et l'énergie dans l'économie paysanne andine" by Dr. N. Herrera; and "L'enégie dans les systèms de production" by Dr. S. Schilizzi.

Two UNU fellows arrived at the school in 1985. Discussions were also held with UNESCO and the Faculty of Architecture and Urbanism at Sao Paulo University to organize a workshop on teaching curricula and the role of universities in promoting self-reliant urban development strategies.

FEN urban research constituted a special issue of Economie et Humanisme (no. 282, mars-avril, 1985), was featured twice in Development Forum (February/March and July/ August 1985), was mentioned frequently in Ecodevelopment News, and was also covered by more popular media, both print and electronic.

A special issue of Development (no. 4 [1986]) was devoted to the urban self-reliance theme. Apart from the opening article by the programme director, entitled "Work, Food and Energy in Urban Development", it included contributions by the following FEN researchers: Pablo Gutman, Janice Perlman, Céline Sachs, and David Morris.

The October 1986 issue of the UNU newsletter, "Work in Progress, 10(1), was dedicated to FEN activities. Published in English, French, Spanish, and Japanese, it served as an excellent summary of the issues addressed by FEN and its widespread circulation resulted in numerous requests for FEN publications.

A special issue of the UNU Food and Nutrition Bulletin, 9(2) prepared by FEN and published in June 1987, included articles on urban agriculture by FEN consultants, including Pablo Gutman, Isabel Wade, Yeu-man Yeung, and Jerzy Kleer.

A total of 27 research reports and two occasional papers were published as part of FEN's publication programme. These covered both the rural and urban aspects of FEN in many countries around the world and proved to be a very cost-effective way of encouraging and disseminating the results of such research.

In conjunction with the recommendation of the African ministers of environment to establish 180 ecodevelopment projects to help ensure food and energy self-sufficiency, FEN was also contacted by UNEP to provide teaching and background material for this ambitious programme.

Finally, the Foundation for the Study of Environment and the Faculty of Architecture and Urbanism at the Sao Paulo University sought FEN collaboration in the establishment of a special course on the analysis and management of urban development to be partly based on teaching materials developed by FEN.