Press Release


OTTAWA — Canada's McGill University and the International Development Research Centre (IDRC) today announced the launch of a new international research initiative that may have a major impact on how planners, architects, and municipal leaders map the city of the future. The announcement took place today at the World Urban Forum in Barcelona, Spain.

Making the Edible Landscape (see attached backgrounder), a three-year collaborative project, will demonstrate the value of including urban agriculture as a permanent feature in city planning and housing design. With support from IDRC, the Minimum Cost Housing Group of McGill University, and the Urban Management Program of the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UNHABITAT) coordinated research will be undertaken in three cities: Colombo, Sri Lanka; Kampala, Uganda; and Rosario, Argentina.

"Modern cities are seen as centres of food consumption and rural areas as places of production," says Professor Vikram Bhatt, director of the Minimum Cost Housing Group at McGill. "Designers and planners tend to create city landscapes for beauty, not utility. But many kinds of urban agriculture already exist around the world—from balcony gardens to poultry farms. What we learn from these three test sites will enrich city-scapes of the future, both North and South."

In each of the sites, city officials, architects, and urban planners will form a collaborative team, working closely with local communities. Researchers will test housing designs that include food-producing gardens to demonstrate the potential of urban agriculture. Sites were chosen by a competitive process to reflect global biodiversity as well as different ways of combining living, working, and growing food within the city.

As the world's population becomes increasingly urban, cities everywhere—but especially in developing countries--face a mounting challenge of ensuring clean water, sanitation, and food security for their people. This project will contribute to meeting the United Nations Millennium Development goals by improving housing, income, and food security for the poor.

The results of Making the Edible Landscape will be showcased at the 2006 UN-HABITAT World Urban Forum in Vancouver, Canada.

For more information, contact:

International Development Research Centre
In Ottawa, contact Jennifer Pepall, Senior Communications Strategist, at 613-236-6163 x 2157
Email: jpepall [at]
On-site in Barcelona until September 17, contact Pauline Dole, Corporate Communications Officer, at
011 34 6 90607548

McGill University
Professor Vikram Bhatt, Project Leader,
at 514-398-6700
Email: mchgump.arch [at]

Canada's International Development Research Centre (IDRC) is one of the world's leading institutions in the generation and application of new knowledge to meet the challenges of international development. For more than 30 years, IDRC has worked in close collaboration with researchers from the developing world in their search for the means to build healthier, more equitable, and more prosperous societies.

McGill University is Canada's leading research-intensive university and has earned an international reputation for scholarly achievement and scientific discovery. The University has 21 faculties and professional schools that offer more than 300 programs from the undergraduate to the doctoral level. McGill's two campuses are located in Montreal, Canada. The Minimum Cost Housing Group of the McGill University School of Architecture is an educational and research unit with an international orientation that focuses attention on the human settlement problems of poor nations.

IDRC logo.

Head Office
Email: jpepall [at]


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