Chapter 8: Regional resourcefulness for food systems: the case of phosphorus in the metropolitan region of Amsterdam

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This chapter focuses on the issue of regional resourcefulness for food systems. It considers urban areas to be vital linkages for food production systems that need to close the loop in order to prevent the depletion of natural resources. Urban areas generate large ‘sources’ of residual material and waste flows that contain nutrients and organic matter that currently only partly return to the food system. These flows thus offer perspectives on ‘circular valorisation’, either recycling or replacing other (partly fossil) resources. Urban areas therefore represent attractive starting points in a transition towards circularity and to connect rural and urban flows. In this chapter we look at the transition needed in the use of phosphorus (P), essential for life and an integral part of our food system. P is a finite resource, obtained by mining. Reserves are limited; estimates of global reserves vary between 100 and several hundred years. This chapter discusses two case studies and focuses on urban-rural flows of P. The first case explores the potential of a circular food system at the regional scale of Almere. Almere is a Dutch city, part of the Metropolitan Region of Amsterdam (MRA). It was selected because of its location adjacent to a large agricultural hinterland, the Flevo Polder. The central question of this case study is: what does a circular City Region Food System with regional food production look like from the perspective of P-flows? How much land is needed to feed the urban area and to what extent can the urban P-flow be recirculated to agriculture? The second case study explores an actual urban P-flow: what are the actual quantities of the P-flows and to what degree is the P-loop already closed? These questions are addressed in a study that encompassed the entire MRA region. The chapter concludes that a circular City Region Food System is technically feasible. However, a fundamental shift is required in how the food and waste systems are organised: from farm to fork and from disposal to dung. Hence, it ends with recommendations on how to enhance circular urban food production that does not deplete but preserves P.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe symbiotic city
Subtitle of host publicationVoices of nature in urban transformations
EditorsMarian Stuiver
PublisherWageningen Academic Publishers
ISBN (Electronic)9789086869350
ISBN (Print)9789086863839
Publication statusPublished - 13 Jun 2022


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