Gerben van Straaten at the Sustainable Urban Delta Event

What is the Sustainable Urban Delta Event?

World of Walas founder, Gerben van Straaten, was invited as a key note speaker at the Sustainable Urban Delta Event, where he talked about livable cities, communities and food as a key component in creating sustainable ecosystems. The Sustainable Urban Delta Event marked the launch of its much anticipated documentary: “The City and the Green Belt“. Founded by Meiny Prins, who devoted much of her life to sustainability, innovation and internationalization, Sustainable Urban Delta focusses on creating lasting change within the food systems of our world. The initiative looks to confront the critical issues of our time and works to make urban areas livable.

The launch of the documentary was a worldwide event, for which different keynote speakers within their respective fields of work were invited to talk about healthy and fresh food, livable cities and the (eco)systems that exist within. The release of the documentary took place in May 2020 and can be watched here.

Gerben van Straaten talks about sustainable urban development and food as a key component

Specializing in sustainable urban development, Gerben van Straaten, CEO of World of Walas, was invited to talk about the company and Gerben’s view on livable cities. When asked about where the Walas-name comes from, Gerben explains our company name is a result of his collaboration with indigenous communities in Canada. He tells about the passion for cities but also why it is important to understand that cities are about its people.

For Gerben, his view on livable cities starts with Jane Jacobs: ‘Cities are ecosystems within the larger ecosystems of the earth’. He emphasizes we should not forget that cities are ecosystems as well. At Walas we really look at these systems. People are at the core of cities and because of that, food-systems are a key component. Access to healthy and fresh food is of utmost importance, yet we must also think about adjacent systems such as water and waste. Participation of communities and smart logistics are crucial as well. Gerben explains that in livable cities food should be locally grown and fresh food should be available in the shops. These places are the cities where a difference is being made.

What is a livable city?

Livable cities contribute to the physical, social and psychological well being of its people. Just like Gerben mentioned during his talk, cities start with the people. Healthy and sustainable urban growth can improve quality of life tremendously. Sustainable Urban Delta focusses on sustainable growth by integrating green belts where food is produced into urban areas. This will create a wide range of opportunities on a social, ecological and economic level, which can work to make a city more sustainable as well as livable.

Cities and food

Farming isn’t as viable as it used to be. There is a pressure for farmers to scale their businesses more than is responsible towards both the farmers and our earth. However, food is the greatest necessity for the human race. Gerben mentions this during the Sustainable Urban Delta event as well: Food is the most important cornerstone of the Maslow-pyramid of human needs. More people move to cities every day and because our world population is growing, it is crucial to find new ways of farming. The current food supply chain is inadequate when it comes to providing healthy, fresh food for the growing human population. It is through innovation and smart solutions that we believe the human race is capable of the change that is needed. Want to know more about solutions for urban farming? We recommend you check out Farm2Future, an applied research facility for food and agriculture systems by World of Walas.

Banner photo by: Sander van Velze