Empowering women to tackle energy poverty in the Mediterranean

An international project led by the ICTA-UAB, Engineers without Borders Catalonia (ESF), and the Catalonia Energy Research Institute (IREC) contributes to address energy supply problems in 1,500 households in the Barcelona Metropolitan Area.

Global fisheries could alleviate a global food emergency in extreme situations

A new international study argues that, if managed sustainably in advance, global fisheries could alleviate food shortages even after a nuclear war.

Tackling shocking decline in nature needs a ‘safety net’ of multiple and ambitious goals

Researchers from the BC3, ICTA-UAB and the University of La Laguna evaluate the criteria of the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD).

Restoring 30% of the World’s Ecosystems in Priority Areas Could Stave Off More than 70% of Projected Extinctions

A new report in Nature involving ICTA-UAB demonstrates that this measure would allow the absorption of nearly half of the carbon built up in the atmosphere since the industrial revolution.

Diet of pre-Columbian Societies in the Brazilian Amazon Reconstructed

A new study shows that hunting and agroforestry management, and not fishing, were the foundations of subsistence economy for pre-Columbian societies in the Amazon coast of Brazil.

Wildlife conservation undermines the rights of indigenous people and local communities in India

A new EJAtlas map launched by the ICTA-UAB denounces that the current model puts growth and gains before human lives and the nature it is intended to protect.

Ocean Warming and Acidification Effects on Calcareous Phytoplankton Communities

A new study led by researchers from the Institute of Environmental Science and Technology of the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (ICTA-UAB) warns that the negative effects of rapid ocean warming on planktonic communities will be exacerbated by ocean acidification.

ICTA-UAB economist Joan Martínez Alier wins the Balzan Prize for Environmental Challenges

Economist Joan Martínez Alier from the Institute of Environmental Science and Technology  of the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (ICTA-UAB) is one of the winners of the 2020 Balzan Prize in the category of "Environmental Challenges: Responses from the Social Sciences and Humanities".

Indigenous People Essential to Understanding Environmental Change

An international research involving ICTA-UAB scientists shows how local and indigenous knowledge can help manage ecosystems and wildlife.

New publication in the MAGIC project takes a critical look at circular economy

With the world’s attention focussed on COVID-19, issues that were in the forefront of public concern just a few months ago seem to have magically disappeared.

Economic Benefits of Protecting 30% of Planet’s Land and Ocean Outweigh the Costs at Least 5-to-1

First-of-its-kind report involving ICTA-UAB researcher shows the global economy is better off with more nature protected.

ICTA-UAB awarded the "María de Maeztu” Unit of Excellence Award for the second consecutive time

The Institute of Environmental Science and Technology of the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (ICTA-UAB) has been accredited a Maria de Maeztu Unit of Excellence Award for the second consecutive time by the Spanish Ministry of Science and Innovation.

Proyecto experimental de agricultura urbana, local y tradicional en Sabadell

El ICTA-UAB y el Ayuntamiento de Sabadell constituyen la comunidad FoodE, que reúne a todos los actores implicados en el sistema de producción alimentaria de la ciudad y en esta iniciativa.

What do we breathe when in the forest?

For the first time, a study characterizes the forest chemistry of the air under the canopy of a Mediterranean holm oak forest and detects maximum concentrations in July and August.

Catalonia's Scientific Contributions to Fighting Covid-19

Sixty ICREA researchers, including Isabelle Anguelovski of the ICTA-UAB, lead more than a hundred research activities on Covid-19.

Academia in the Time of COVID-19: Towards an Ethics of Care


Computer Platform Gives Visibility to Catalonia's Small Villages

A research team from the UAB, in collaboration with the Association of Microvillages of Catalonia, has created a Geographic Information System (GIS) for Active and Sustainable Hamlets (GISASH), which gathers information on the state of and services offered by the more than 330 municipalities in Catalonia with fewer than 500 inhabitants.

Environmental justice defenders victims of violence and murder

Grassroots movements halt environmental degradation in up to 27% of environmental conflicts worldwide, according to a study by the ICTA-UAB.

Technological changes and new low-carbon lifestyles, key to mitigating climate change impacts

In order to mitigate climate change impacts and achieve a more sustainable society, it is necessary to transform the current energy system based on fossil fuels into a model based on renewable energies.

Exploring climate change impacts through popular proverbs

Members of an irrigation community doing maintenance work in an acequia de careo (irrigation canal built at the top of the mountain) to improve the circulation of water for irrigation and human consumption.

Neolithic vessels reveal dairy consumption in Europe 7,000 years ago

Pottery from the site located in Verson (Francia) analysed during the research (Picture by Annabelle Cocollos, Conseil départemental du Calvados ou CD14 publicada en Germain-Vallée et al.

Economic growth is incompatible with biodiversity conservation

A study involving more than 20 specialists in conservation ecology and ecological economics highlights the contradiction between economic growth and biodiversity conservation.

Power struggles hinder urban adaptation policies to climate change

Transformative actions implemented by cities to address and mitigate the impacts of climate change may be hindered by political struggles for municipal power.

Analysis of tropical fire soot deposited in the ocean will help predict future global climate changes

The ICTA-UAB begins a scientific expedition in the Atlantic Ocean to collect dust and smoke samples from the fires of tropical Africa deposited in marine sediments.

Red coral effectively recovers in Mediterranean protected areas after decades of overexploitation

Protection measures of the Marine Protected Areas have enable red coral colonies (Corallium rubrum) to recover partially in the Mediterranean Sea, reaching health levels similar to those of the 1980s in Catalonia and of the 1960s in the Ligurian Sea (Northwestern Italy).

Sub-national “climate clubs” could offer key to combating climate change

‘Climate clubs’ offering membership for sub-national states, in addition to just countries, could speed up progress towards a globally-harmonised climate change policy, which in turn offers a way to achieve stronger climate policies in all countries.
Urban Agriculture on Rooftops Provides Healthy, Fresh and Sustainable Food

Date: 2019-03-29

​The implementation of urban gardens on building rooftops could produce fresh, healthy and sustainable agricultural food and guarantee the food sovereignty of cities, which are becoming increasingly populated. This is clear from the research on urban agriculture developed by the Institute of Environmental Science and Technology of the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (ICTA-UAB), within the framework of the FertileCity project, the results of which were presented in front of a hundred people attending from public and private institutions and associations.

It is estimated that by 2050, 66% of the world population will reside in urban centers and the demand for food will increase by 30%. In this context, urban agriculture is proliferating not only as a sustainable system of local production and consumption of food, but as a tool to improve air quality and temperature, reduce the environmental impact of freight transport, support local economies and provide social services in areas such as education, health, social inclusion or leisure.

The FertileCity project, which also involves researchers from the Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya (UPC), has analysed the implementation of urban agriculture on building rooftops with the aim of taking advantage of these empty spaces by installing greenhouses. Among the limiting factors for the urban agriculture development, the fear that air pollution in cities might affect the healthiness of cultivated agricultural foods stands out. The results show that the vegetables produced both in the ICTA-UAB greenhouse (located on the UAB campus next to the AP-7) and in other gardens located in high traffic density areas in Barcelona are not contaminated by heavy metals, and that the levels of nickel, arsenic, cadmium and lead are well below the limits allowed by food legislation. The study analysed the soilless production of vegetables, using perlite as a substrate and providing the plant with the necessary nutrients together with irrigation water from rain. Thus, the contamination of heavy metals through the substrate, a usual source, was ruled out as well.

The study determines that only one square meter of crop is needed to produce up to 17 kilograms of tomatoes, an amount higher than the average annual consumption of tomatoes per person, estimated at 16.1 kg. In addition, in order to collect enough rainwater to maintain the crop, an additional square meter is needed. According to the researchers of the project, the weather conditions inside the greenhouse provide the right environment to produce tomatoes in summer in an extended cycle (planting at the beginning of January). Fruit crops, such as tomatoes, have a lower environmental impact and better economic results than leaf crops (such as lettuce) because productivities are higher. "During the winter we take advantage of the greenhouse to produce other foods that are less demanding than the tomato," explains Dr. Xavier Gabarrell, project researcher and director of ICTA-UAB, who says that the "FertileCity project demonstrates that green beans, chard, spinach, rocket and lettuce are viable in winter thanks to the thermal inertia of the building and the greenhouse that provides a suitable temperature for these crops".

Consumers have a positive perception of the foods produced by urban agriculture on rooftop greenhouses, for both their quality and production system. Consumers consider them fresh (93%), tasty (80.5%) and having a lower environmental impact (68.5%). The assessment is even more positive among respondents who had prior knowledge of urban agriculture projects on rooftop greenhouses than among those who were not aware of this production model. For Gabarrell, "the results of the surveys indicate that 81.5% would like to buy these products if they had the option to do so" and points out that "urban agriculture on building rooftops has great potential to increase the current production and local consumption of food with a lower environmental impact and economic cost than conventional products imported from other regions".

The presentation of results included a visit to the urban agriculture laboratories located in the ICTA-UAB’s rooftop greenhouse, as well as a tasting of agricultural products collected the previous day such as green beans cooked with soybeans, chard quiches and salads, among other dishes.


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