This paper develops a methodology for individual cities to use to analyze the in- and trans-boundary water, greenhouse gas (GHG), and land impacts of city-scale food system actions. Applied to Delhi, India, the analysis demonstrates that city-scale action can rival typical food policy interventions that occur at larger scales, although no single city-scale action can rival in all three environmental impacts. In particular, improved food-waste management within the city (7% system-wide GHG reduction) matches the GHG impact of preconsumer trans-boundary food waste reduction. The systems approach is particularly useful in illustrating key trade-offs and co-benefits. For instance, multiple diet shifts that can reduce GHG emissions have trade-offs that increase water and land impacts. Vertical farming technology (VFT) with current applications for fruits and vegetables can provide modest system-wide water (4%) and land reductions (3%), although implementation within the city itself may raise questions of constraints in water-stressed cities, with such a shift in Delhi increasing community-wide direct water use by 16%. Improving the nutrition status for the bottom 50% of the population to the median diet is accompanied by proportionally smaller increases of water, GHG, and land impacts (4%, 9%, and 8%, systemwide): increases that can be offset through simultaneous city-scale actions, e.g., improved food-waste management and VFT.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This work was supported by the National Science Foundation: (Partnership in International Research and Education Award no. PIRE-1243525 and Sustainability Research Network Award no. SRN-1444745).
© 2017 American Chemical Society.