Back to All Articles
May 19, 2023
3 Minute Read

Why Cities Should Embrace Vertical Farming

As global food insecurity worsens & urban areas continue to be overpopulated, city policymakers need to look at how they can produce more of their own food

Originally posted on

As global food insecurity worsens, the cost of living skyrockets, and urban areas continue to be overpopulated, city policymakers need to urgently find ways to make supplies sustainable, including by producing more of their own food, according to a new report released on May 4th by the Tony Blair Institute for Global Change (TBI).

High and low-tech solutions that can support cities to grow 30% of their fruits and vegetables by 2030 are available, with more tech innovations in the pipeline, but few places are utilizing them as part of their resilience planning.

How Cities Can Feed Themselves: A Ten-Point Plan looks across the globe at the issues facing a range of cities and provides a guide that different geographies can adapt to their own context.

From landlocked capitals in large countries to regions with labor shortages and aging populations, the report finds that by leveraging current innovations, city leaders can diversify their food sources, dramatically minimize the use of pesticides and take up much less land than required by conventional agricultural methods.  

A ten-point plan to boost food resilience in cities

  1. Grow 30 percent of produce by 2030.
  2. Treat urban space as an agricultural asset.
  3. Update land use and permit regulations.
  4. Incentivize crop growing in new and existing commercial buildings.
  5. Attract commercial investment by sharing capital risk.
  6. Support research and development to optimize technology and bring down costs.
  7. Educate the next generation of urban-agriculture tech entrepreneurs.
  8. Update labeling requirements.
  9. Ensure controlled-environment agriculture lives up to its environmental promise by establishing appropriate benchmarking and addressing the energy-intensity problem.
  10. Preserve existing urban produce.

Hermione Dace, TBI Senior Policy Analyst and one of the paper’s authors, said: “The UK imports around half its food, including 45 percent of its fresh vegetables and 84 percent of its fresh fruit, despite the fact that more than 70 percent of its land is used for agriculture. 

“This leaves our food system heavily dependent and highlight vulnerable. As we have seen over the past few difficult months, the assumption that food production will remain stable is unfounded and dangerous.  

“There are already some encouraging examples in Europe – Brussels has set a goal to grow 30 percent of fruit and vegetables locally by 2035, and Paris has made a commitment to grow 25 percent of its own food by 2050. City leaders across the UK can take small steps today to harness the power of the tech-enabled solutions that already exist and build essential resilience into their food systems.”

By 2050, two-thirds of the world’s population will live in cities and will consume 80 percent of all food produced.

Rather than relying on unreliable traditional growing cycles, soil health, or weather conditions to grow crops, urban centers should turn to a range of tech-based solutions such as vertical farms and precision greenhouses to bolster their food supplies while supporting and expanding community gardens and urban food forests.

For more information:
Tony Blair Institute for Global Change

Get in touch

Contact Commercial Lighting today to get a free quote for your next project.

Recent posts