Opportunities and Challenges for Developing High- tech Urban Agriculture in Sweden: A case study in Stockholm
Abstract: Food system is complex and encompasses stakeholders from local, regional, and global level. The activities and outcomes of the food system are associated with environmental, economic, and social impacts. Due to the growing population, and urbanization, along with the fact that global food system contributes up to 30% of anthropogenic GHG emission, one of the main contributors to climate change, a sustainable food system that could meet the food demand in the urban areas is in need. Therefore, high-tech urban agriculture (HTUA) that uses advanced technologies and enables food production in a controlled environment is seen as a promising solution, which remains niche in Sweden. This study adopted the sustainable food system approach and used the theory of multi-level perspective (MLP) on sustainability transitions to explore this technology-driven transition and identify the challenges and opportunities in developing HTUA in Sweden. Through the analysis of five Swedish policy documents and interviews with four HTUA initiatives in Stockholm, three main aspects are identified: 1) external context; 2) policy environment; and 3) communication and influence, which are independent but also interconnected. According to the findings, the global environment and Swedish context, such as climatic condition and Swedish consumption, provide HTUA an opportunity to develop. The findings also suggest that though the characteristics of HTUA initiatives and the priorities within the Swedish policy environment have overlapping traits, the policies are not effectively translated into practice and thus making it challengeable to develop HTUA in the long run. Implementing more strict restrictions and regulations on the external price, providing an easier access to urban space, simplifying the procedure for the financial support, raising public awareness towards HTUA, and bridging the knowledge gap among all stakeholders through collaborations and partnerships are suggested to reduce the risk of initiating HTUA. However, further research is still required to understand the potential of HTUA in the transformation towards a sustainable food system.
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