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Lima 2035

By 2035, Lima will be a regenerative and nourishing food oasis, as green as the Lima discovered by Francisco Pizarro 500 years earlier.

Photo of Soroush Parsa, PhD

Written by

Lead Applicant Organization Name

International Potato Center (CIP, a One CGIAR Research Center)

Lead Applicant Organization Type

  • Large NGO (over 50 employees)

If part of a multi-stakeholder entity (i.e. team), provide the names of other organizations and types of stakeholders collaborating with you.

Lima 2035 was coordinated from CIP, a One CGIAR Research Center headquartered in Lima; with the local partnership of Grupo Alimenta, a Peruvian AgTech holding with the mission “to build a better world through food.” But its DNA is already that of a citizen's movement, appropriated by the residents of Lima.The refinement section of this vision will have a full list of individuals who lend their passion and talents to Lima 2035's evolution. Following are only the four individuals who served as its founding members: Soroush Parsa (SP, Lead Innovation Scientist, CIP), Vasco Masias (VM, President, Grupo Alimenta), Gonzalo Villarán (GV, Country Manager, Treasure8), and Da Sanchez (DS, Independent Designer).Together, this founding team embodies over 60 years of experience working as one or more of the following stakeholders: Scientists & Researchers (SP), Policy Makers (GV) Producers (VM), Innovators (VM, GV, SP), Processors (VM), Distributors, (VM) and Designers (DS, SP)

Website of Legally Registered Entity

How long have you / your team been working on this Vision?

  • Under 1 year

Lead Applicant: In what city or town are you located?


Lead Applicant: In what country are you located?


Your Selected Place: what’s the name of the Place you’re developing a Vision for?

Metropolitan Lima, covers an area of 2,819 km².

What country is your selected Place located in?


Describe your relationship to the place you’ve selected.

Escaping religious persecution in their native Iran, Soroush's family arrived in Peru as refugees when he was only three, settling in a desert city four hours south of Lima. As a life-long immigrant, he relates to the challenges faced by the millions of indigenous people who came to the Peruvian capital with dreams of a better life. 

Vasco’s family has lived in Lima for 17 generations, a claim reserved for only a handful of families in this vast megacity. He is one of Peru’s best known food innovators, and the country's foremost private-sector ambassador of the zero hunger SDG.

Gonzalo is a fourth generation Limeño. Growing up in Lima during the 80s, in the face of hyperinflation, electric outages, food and water scarcity motivated him to pursue a career in public policy. He’s recognized as one of the chief catalysts of Peru’s budding innovation ecosystem.

Also from Lima and the youngest among us is Daniela (“Da”), one of the most familiar faces in Lima’s creative community. She was the co-Founder of Domingo, a creative lab that transformed one of Lima’s most iconic movie theaters into a third place bringing people together through art and culture.

Describe the People and Place: Provide information that would be helpful for an outsider who has never been there and may have no context about this Place to better understand the area.

Set in the northernmost tip of the Atacama Desert, Lima is the driest megacity on Earth. With only 6.4 mm of annual rainfall, this coastal city is four times drier than Cairo. Human life in this otherwise inhospitable environment is made possible by three seasonal rivers born in the Andean highlands, more than 200 km away. The Rimac, the largest of these rivers, flows at a rate of 29 cubic meters per second, roughly 1% the flow of Cairo’s mighty Nile.

Despite its notorious dryness, Lima has been continuously occupied for over 7,000 years, and served as home to the first civilization of the Americas, the Norte Chico peoples. The unrivaled productivity of its marine ecosystem, much in contrast to the barrenness of its lands, provided the impetus for early settlements. The arrival of agriculture from nearby centers of domestication in the Andes and Amazon diversified and boosted food supplies, enabling the evolution of more complex societies. These pre-Columbian civilizations progressively transformed much of Lima’s desert into a fertile valley watered through a sophisticated system of irrigation channels. By the time of the Spanish conquest, Lima had become a human-made oasis with more than 23,000 hectares of irrigated farmland. Its 225,000 inhabitants thrived on an unparallel diversity of wild and domesticated food species from both the sea and the land. This highly-developed coastal metropolis captured the imagination of Francisco Pizarro, who founded the city of Lima on January of 1535, choosing it as his home. Lima was to become the jewel of the Spanish Empire, capital of its most extensive Viceroyalty.

For four centuries since its Spanish foundation, Lima’s population grew at a modest rate of less than 1,000 people per year. Beginning in the 1940s, the arrival of millions of indigenous farmers escaping rural poverty in the Andes multiplied Lima’s population 18 times over to reach 10 million people shortly after the turn of the century. Over this same time period, squatter settlements expanded Lima’s urban area by more than12-fold, covering over 50,000 hectares of land and claiming most of Lima’s millennial farmland, in addition to its hills. In less than a century, Lima’s famed green landscapes receded to give rise to an interminable horizon of desert slums which today house nearly 40% of its population. Tragically, Lima’s informal new settlers are no others than the cultural descendants of the most advanced indigenous society of the new world, the Incas.

The Lima of today is a place of startling inequality. Nearly 2 million of its residents lack access to running water. They depend on private water trucks that can charge them up to 20 times what affluent neighborhoods pay for their city water. At the same time, Lima’s wealthiest residents use a daily average of 448 liters of water per person, 4.5 times the maximum amount recommended by the World Health Organization, and 29 times the consumption of Lima’s poorest residents. A monumental symbol of Lima’s inequality is a 10 km “Wall of Shame,” a herculean barrier separating its wealthiest neighborhood from some of its poorest new settlers.

What is the approximate size of your Place, in square kilometers? (New question, not required)


What is the estimated population (current 2020) in your Place?


Challenges: Describe the current (2020) and the future (2050) challenges that your food system faces.

For millions of settlers of Lima’s desert slums their present environment in many ways resembles an image of a futuristic sci-fi dystopia. Studies of subjective wellbeing rank Peruvians as one of the unhappiest people in Latin America, mainly driven by the conditions of life of Lima’s urban poor. Distant from the city’s economic center, hampered by the third worst traffic congestion in the world, it is common for them to spend up to four hours a day in commute to derive their livelihood from Lima’s vast informal economy. A household from these settlements earns $600 per month at best. Food is its single largest expenditure, accounting for 50% of living costs. If delivered by truck, water will be its second largest bill, accounting for an additional 18% of expenditures. Under these fragile living circumstances, a health crisis for any of the household’s members will push the entire family further into poverty and nutritional insecurity. The implications are particularly serious for Lima’s children, 36% of whom suffer from iron deficiency anemia.

Given the millions of people living in its desert slums, it is hardly surprising that the quality of life in Lima ranks as one of the worse in the world. Two independent analyses of global city health placed Lima at the bottom of their rankings (on spots 92/100 and 78/89) based on a comprehensive suite of indicators that included life expectancy at birth, adult obesity, the quality of its air and water, and the availability of public green space. To elaborate on the last of these indicators, Lima has 3,100 hectares of green space, mostly concentrated in its wealthier neighborhoods. But even if evenly distributed, this area corresponds to roughly a third of the 9 square meters per person recommended by the World Health Organization. Still, municipal authorities deploy over one billion liters of potable water per month to keep Lima’s parks green, equivalent to the water used by its poorest 2 million residents over the same period. Given Lima’s notorious water deficit, access to green areas is a rare luxury aspired by the great majority of its residents, but most acutely by the poor.

Despite contributing only 0.4% of the world’s greenhouse gases, Peru is expected to be the third-worst affected country by climate change, after Honduras and Bangladesh. This extreme climate vulnerability is due to the concentration Peruvians along the desert coast; especially in Lima, home to a third of the county’s population. Human existence in this fragile ecosystem would be impossible without rain and glacier meltwater from the Andes. But Peru’s glaciers have already lost an average of 40% of their volume since the 1970s. Volume loss for the glacier at the Rimac’s headwaters is 65%. Once Andean glaciers disappear, dry-season streamflow to the Peruvian coast is expected to fall by 30%, a catastrophic outlook for millions of Peruvians.

Address the Challenges: Describe how your Vision will address the challenges described in the previous question.

Without universal access to clean water for drinking, for preparing food, and for personal hygiene to keep food safe; no food system can be healthy. Our vision for Lima’s fragile desert environment thus rests on a foundation of securing climate-resilient running water for all. But given their acute vulnerability, we emphasize the goal of bringing holistic wellbeing to the millions of people populating Lima's desert slums.

Making the price of water progressive: According to the WHO, a person needs 50 to 100 liters of water per day to meet all her basic needs. Lima’s average per capita consumption rate is 250 liters per day, but can reach up to 448 liters per day. We thus call for a policy establishing a premium charge for city water consumed in excess of basic needs, discouraging its wasteful use, and generating municipal revenue to bring running water to Lima’s most marginal settlements.

Harvesting water from lomas: The cold waters of the Humboldt Current create a thermal inversion trapping evaporated ocean water into a dense fog, with droplets too fine to form rain. This phenomenon explains why Lima is a desert. The fog travels inland until it reaches the foothills of the Andes, where droplets condense into drizzle and mist, giving rise to a unique ecosystem of fog oases, which we know as “lomas.” Informal settlers near these areas have demonstrated the feasibility to harvest water from fog using nets elevated into the air, each of which can yield up to 600 liters of water per day. Inspired by their frugal proof of concept, we call for a global prize competition to enable a technological breakthrough optimizing fog harvest from lomas. Despite significant urban-led deforestation, this ecosystem occupies 13,746 hectares of land today. If properly reengineered, lomas hold an extraordinary potential to make Lima both water-resilient and green.

Harnessing synergies between architecture and agriculture: At the heart of our vision is the design of an innovative housing model tailored to the needs and talents of Lima’s informal settlers. We envision houses that symbiotically integrate architecture and agriculture, unlocking synergistic benefits to its dwellers and the environment. This strategy brings into value the unique skills of Lima’s poorest newcomers, most of whom are self-builders and have a background in farming. It also leverages the talent of Lima’s architects, who are globally-recognized for their mastery of contemporary earthen architecture. Using digital modeling software, we demonstrated the potential of a desert house of 100 squared meters to yield abundant produce and animal protein for a family of six. An innovative element of its design is the integration of crop and animal agriculture in small spaces, afforded by the deployment of Andean guinea pigs. This livestock requires very little space and can upcycle yard trimmings, food scraps and food waste to yield a nutritious meat that is highly appreciated by Peruvians.

High Level Vision: With these challenges addressed, now provide a high level description of how the Place and the lives of its People will be different than they are now.

The year 2035 marks the 500 anniversary of Lima’s Spanish foundation. Given its cultural significance, we adopted it to set a goal nothing short of a moonshot: By 2035, Lima will be a regenerative, nourishing and inclusive food oasis, as green as the Lima discovered by Francisco Pizarro 500 years earlier. We were initially daunted by this grand challenge: how might we reach this vision in the face of unbounded urban sprawl, severe inequality, acute water insecurity, and extreme climate vulnerability, for a population 48 times larger than that of 1535? After no less than 400 hours of research and consultations, informed by over 150 stakeholder interviews, we are gaining confidence our vision falls within reach. 

By 2035, Lima will demolish the walls that today separate its richest and poorest children. The crumbling of the “Wall of Shame” will foreshadow the end of Lima’s water and food inequality. On top of the hill where the wall stands today will be the city’s crown jewel, an urban park spanning 1,350 hectares of restored lomas -four times the size of New York’s Central Park. At least ten hectares of land will be set aside for a community learning center, a living laboratory that connects people to food, the land, and each other. The center will feature community gardens and five model homes that exemplify a new standard of desert-living for Lima’s informal settlers, one that integrates earthen architecture and urban agriculture in beautiful harmony. Visitors of this community center will also learn about breakthrough technology spurred by a global competition to maximize water harvest from fog. With the help of this technology, lomas will become the second most important source of water for Lima, after the Rimac river. A 10-km aereal cablecar will bring the park within minutes reach from Lima’s metro system, offering the best panoramic view of the city’s growing rooftop farms, all while slashing commute times for tens of thousands of people living downhill.  

Full Vision: How do you describe your Vision for a regenerative and nourishing food future for your Place and People for 2050?

The future we envision for Lima is one of a regenerative, nourishing and inclusive food oasis, as green as the awesome indigenous metropolis discovered by Francisco Pizarro on 1535. The previous section described the most symbolic elements of our vision, with language that brings us to reflection, captures our imagination, and inspires our collective action. We believe the world needs no more walls separating its peoples; and in our city, food and water inequality are the greatest of these walls. In this section, we will expand upon how our vision might break through them, enabling the transformation of Lima’s food system. For practical purposes, we have chosen a “Questions and Answers” format, which equips us better to address the technical requirements of the Food Systems Vision Prize. Some of the questions were elicited via an informal peer-review of our vision by four local food system influencers.

How will your food system vision promote environmental regeneration?  

Our vision emphasizes rebalancing Lima’s hydrologic resources to increase water available for food while generating positive environmental spillovers. Charging more for water consumed in excess of human needs will incentivize a more rational use of this precious resource. This policy will yield a notable reduction in residential turfgrass, given its exorbitant water demand of 250,000 liters per hectare, which accounts for a large proportion of water bills in Lima. We thus envision the birth of a landscaping renaissance in our city, transforming residential gardens with desert-adapted flora, including native species of trees and cacti that have been displaced by urbanization. Native flora and fauna will benefit even more directly from restoring Lima’s lomas to enable water harvest from fog. Given their location on hillsides above urban development, loma-harvested water will have the added advantage of storing gravitational potential energy. These two measures alone could bring water-resilience to Lima’s 10.7 million inhabitants while protecting and regenerating the environment.

How will your food system vision promote human health?  

Without universal access to clean water for drinking, for preparing food, and for personal hygiene to keep food safe; no food system can be healthy. Our vision for Lima’s fragile desert environment thus had to rest on a foundation of securing climate-resilient running water for all. But given their notorious vulnerability within our food system, we placed a premium on addressing the unique challenges of the millions of people living in Lima’s desert slums. Deploying the Vision Prize Toolkit to that end helped us reveal an insightful leverage point: Lima’s slum dwellers embody more than one food system stakeholder. Indigenous to the Andes, they carry a millenary cultural legacy as food producers. But devoid of natural resources in their precarious new settlements, they become Lima’s poorest consumers, not able to properly meet their basic needs for housing and food. The vision of a culturally-appropriate housing model that symbiotically integrates food production into architectural design thus emerged as a Human-Centered (as opposed to food-centered) solution to their challenges. Given that food currently accounts for half of their expenditures, this holistic solution should yield disposable income to meet other needs, including better access to healthcare.

What’s the feasibility of the envisioned house satisfy household needs for food? 

To maximize productivity per unit area, while harnessing the synergy potential of integrating crop and animal agriculture, we digitally designed an elevated garden box that would enable Andean guinea pig production underneath a vegetable bed. Its dimensions are 2.4 by 0.6 meters, occupying a floor area of 1.44 square meters. This area matches the standard size of a raised bed under the Square Foot Garden method, which typically achieves a five fold productivity improvement relative to field horticulture. Water demands are minimal, given reliance on a soil mix with high organic matter and excellent water holding capacity. Square Foot Gardeners generally meet all their per capita requirements for vegetables with 2 of these beds, covering less than 3 square meters. Leveraging this popular gardening method, it would take 12 garden boxes covering an area of 18 square meters to provide sufficient vegetables for a family of six. Raised at the recommended density of 6 per square meter, these same garden boxes would simultaneously allow the production of 100 Andean guinea pigs, more than enough to address anemia in children, meet household protein needs, and even generate some supplementary income. Our digital model illustrates the potential of rooftop agriculture using these elevated garden boxes in a conceptual house the size of a typical informal dwelling in Lima (100-120 square meters). The house also features a rooftop pergola and an internal garden that could enable some production of vine and woody crops (e.g. passion fruits, grapes, blueberries,) while offering plenty of green leisure space for its dwellers. A design competition bringing together architects, agronomists and future residents of these houses should yield significant improvements to this conceptual prototype.

What’s the feasibility to make fog a meaningful source of water for Lima? 

Lima’s fog-covered lomas span an area of no less than 13,746 hectares. This area more than doubles every four years due to an El Niño–Southern Oscillation event. Therefore, there is a great potential to harvest water from this vast ecosystem. Makeshift fog harvesters yield water at a rate ranging from 9 to 19 liters per square meter of mesh per day. Despite very little research attention to fog harvesting, a 2018 Science Advances article reported a new material able to multiply this yield by a factor of 100. Specialized in brokering open innovation through prize competitions, the XPRIZE Foundation has recently completed a challenge resulting in a device that can harvest water from “thin air” at a rate of 2,000 liters per day. A global challenge to harvest water from “thick air” is thus highly likely to yield the breakthrough needed to turn lomas into Lima’s second source of water.

 How do food systems themes interact in your vision? 

The six themes of our food systems vision interact through numerous tradeoffs, but also synergies. Given all factorial combinations possible, the space provided can only allow for a discussion of the most salient of these interactions, nonetheless touching upon all six themes. Harvesting fog from lomas (technology) to provide water for people (diets), will impose a tradeoff on the full restoration potential of this ecosystem (environment). But given their current state of degradation, the net environmental effect of reengineering lomas will be positive and will spill over to provide much-needed public green space to boost people’s wellbeing (culture). On the other hand, imposing a premium cost for water above maximum human needs (policy) will synergistically result in revenue to bring water to Lima’s poorest consumers (economics, diets) and a reduction in water-thirsty residential gardens (environment). More expensive running water will also provide the economic incentive to make water use in urban agriculture as efficient as possible (environment, technology, economics), but not without elevating the cost of the food produced at home (economics). However, by symbiotically merging home and farm (culture, diets, environment, technology, economics) much of the water consumed domestically could be easily reclaimed for plants. For example, innovative cleaning products could be developed so that water used to wash dishes and clothes is safe –even beneficial– for vegetable gardening (technology, economics, diets). Finally, an important synergy unlocked by our systems approach is afforded by the upcycling potential of Andean guinea pigs, which can turn household organic residue (environment) into a highly-valued source of protein (culture, diets, economy). Lima generates over 10 million tons of solid waste per day, of which no less than 30% is organic material. A good proportion of it could be fed to Andean guinea pigs turning “trash into cash” while offsetting methane gas emissions from Lima’s landfills (environment).  

How will your vision account for the ocean as a source of food?

The seascape off the shores of Lima is one of the most productive in the world, and the most abundant fish in it is the Peruvian anchovy (Eugraulis ringens). In the late 1960s, Peru landed more of this single fish than the combined total of all other fished species, both marine and freshwater, landed by all other countries of North and South America together. Roughly 90% of anchovy catch is suitable for direct human consumption, offering a valuable source of protein rich in omega-3 fatty acids. But anchovies are notoriously absent from the Peruvian diet. Instead, they are processed into fishmeal and fish oil that are exported away from the country. A vision for Lima’s future food system will be incomplete without addressing this tragedy. For eight years in a row, beginning on 2012, the World Travel Awards recognized Peru as the Best Culinary Destination in the world. Transforming Peruvian anchovy into a delicious healthy meal falls well within the capacity of our world-renown chefs and home cooks. Our vision for the future of Lima’s food system thus calls for a gastronomic innovation that can drive a meaningful demand of Peruvian anchovies, not only in Lima, but all around the world.   

How did you hear about the Food System Vision Prize?

  • Website

Describe how your Vision developed over the course of the Refinement Phase.

Supporters of Lima 2035 will find a quantum leap forward in this refined version. Central to its evolution was the deployment of Steve Blank’s Customer Development method, the foundation of Lean Startup. The method requires innovators to talk to as many stakeholders as possible to test their hypotheses and invalidate risky assumptions quickly and cheaply. Insights from interviews drive iterations (small changes) and pivots (large changes), improving the idea rapidly over time.

For example, stakeholder interviews revealed our need to strengthen the architectural elements of our vision. And so we invited Architect and Urban Designer Marina Vella to join our team. Upon meeting Marina, we learned that a migrant squatter community had recently contacted her, looking for her support to design a Master Plan. This remarkable coincidence compelled us to join forces to serve this community, unlocking an impact opportunity we would have missed had we not followed Blank’s method.

Please provide the names of all organizations you meaningfully partnered with to develop this latest version of your Vision (they contributed at least 10 hours of time to the Vision development during the Refinement Phase).

Lima 2035 has evolved into a food citizen’s movement coordinated from the International Potato Center (a One CGIAR Research Lab), with the local partnership of Grupo Alimenta. The following individuals volunteered at least 10 hours to its refinement:

Soroush Parsa, Lead Innovation Scientist, International Potato Center (CIP)

Vasco Masias, President, Grupo Alimenta

Gonzalo Villaran, Country Manager, Treasure8

Daniela Sanchez, Independent Designer

Henry Juarez, Ph.D. Candidate, Universidad Nacional Agraria La Molina

Marina Vella, Architect & Urban Designer, Universidad de Lima

Chris Butler, Managing Editor, International Potato Center (CIP)

Moara Lins Filgueiras, Integrative Medicine Physician

Juan Manuel Bermudez, Founder, Marca Lima

Elizabeth Duarte, Design Strategist & Country Manager, Rrebrand

Marta Serrano, Design Strategist, Rrebrand

Louis Boddy, Plant Scientist 

Ena Andrade, Founder, LaClinika Desing Lab

Himi Saito, Independent Design Strategist 

Describe the specific steps you took during the Refinement phase to include different stakeholders to develop your Vision, including a description (age, profile, and total number) of the stakeholders engaged, and how you engaged with each.

We engaged 600+ stakeholders (ages 12-70, average 30) through the following mechanisms:

Team diversity: Our team includes Food Producers (VM), Researchers (SP, HJ, CB, LB), Innovators (VM, GV, SP) Investors (VM), Students (HJ), Processors (VM), Distributors (VM), Policy Makers (GV), Physicians (MLF), Designers (SP, DS, EA, HS, ED,MS), Architects (MV), and Influencers (JMB,ED).

Board of Experts: We established a board of 29 external experts across sectors, all of whom provided written reviews of our vision. The board includes representatives of the Ministry of Production, Ministry of Environment, Hipermercados Tottus, La Victoria Lab, the National Agrarian University, Newton College, the World Food Program, and many others.

Municipal Food Task Force: Invited by Lima’s Mayor, we presented our vision to the Municipal Task Force on Healthy Food Environments. The presentation earned us an invitation to join the task force, integrated by 35 other members including representatives from FAO, the Ministry of Agriculture, the Ministry of Health, the Association of Peruvian Nutritionists, and others.

Community Leaders: We also engaged three community leaders from Villa Maria del Triunfo, one of Lima’s poorest districts, born in squatter settlements to Andean migrants who arrived in 1961. Together, these leaders represent close to 500 families living in Lima’s desert slums.  

Public outreach: Efforts to engage the public at large are reflected by 540 comments to our vision through the OpenIdeo portal. Marca Lima, a social influence platform followed by over 40K Facebook users, hosted a virtual hackathon engaging 150 youth participants and 15 community organizers to help us identify and address key gaps in our vision. Media coverage includes feature articles in Red Agricola (Latin America’s top agriculture publication) and Revista Casas (Peru’s top architecture and urban design magazine), and a favorable commentary in the current events Podcast Comité de Lectura.

What signals and trends did you draw from to inform your Vision? Please provide data or examples that back up each signal or trend.

The year 2035 marks the 500th anniversary of Lima’s Spanish foundation. We adopted it to set a goal nothing short of a moonshot: by 2035, Lima will be a regenerative, nourishing and inclusive food oasis, as green as the Lima discovered by Francisco Pizarro 500 years earlier. Initially, we found this enormous challenge daunting. How might we reach this vision in the face of acute water insecurity, extreme climate vulnerability, unbounded urban sprawl, and severe inequality, for a population 48 times larger than it was in Pizarro’s time? But deep research and extensive dialogue with hundreds of city leaders, experts and stakeholders helped dispel our anxiety, revealing a wealth of signals whose disruptive potential turned our hope into the conviction that Lima 2035 could be a success story. The following are the three local signals we found most inspiring:

Farming water from fog: We talked to Abel Cruz, the founder of Movimiento Peruanos Sin Agua (Movement of Peruvians without Water), a non-profit organization teaching Lima’s desert communities how to harvest water from fog. Lima has close to 14,000 hectares of fog oases, a seasonally verdant ecosystem supported by fog water. With modern technology and adequate funding, Abel’s makeshift harvesters could evolve into Lima’s future water farms, enabling the scaled flow of ecosystem services from fog oases to society. 

Reclaiming urban black holes: After reviewing our vision, award-winning Peruvian architect Jean Pierre Crousse provided us with his book Urban Black Holes, in which he and his students from a 2015 urban planning workshop reimagined Lima’s neglected archeological sites as enmeshed productively into urban life. Lima has 377 of these pre-Columbian sites scattered across the city, occupying an area of close to 5,000 hectares. Calibrating Crousse’s vision towards Lima's food system transformation helped us imagine these sites turned into a network of food hubs, with projects like community gardens and farmer’s markets that bring us together while closing the city’s green space gap.

Upsetting the trend of unplanned settlements: Leocadio Ccaccya is a community leader for Defensores del Medio Ambiente de Pomacocha (Environmental Stewards of Pomacocha), an association of 218 immigrant families recently granted municipal rights to develop land near Lima’s fog oases, which they have occupied informally since 2010. Aspiring to protect the area from the unruliness and degradation characteristic of sprawling slums, Ccaccya sought the help of urban planner Marina Vella, just a week before she joined our team. As a result of this extraordinary coincidence, collaboration between Leocadio and Lima 2035 will result in a Master Plan poised to transform Pomacocha into Lima’s first regenerative and nourishing urban community. Ccaccya’s fictional daughter, ‘Sara,’ will guide you through the Lima of 2050 in the next section. 

Describe a “Day in the Life” of a key food system actor within your food system in 2050 (e.g., farmer, chef, supply chain actor, food policy actor, etc.).

An urban farmer and food activist, Sara Ccaccya became known in Lima for her ambitious childhood goal: to help transform 20% of the city’s rooftops into farms. She took her vision to social media when she was only 12, capturing the public’s imagination and cultivating a global community that grew to half a million followers before her 20th birthday. Her daily posts have demystified urban agriculture for people of all ages, making it seem easy, fun, delicious, and beautiful. At 23, Sara continues to inspire thousands to grow, eat and share more wholesome foods. Backed with a degree in agronomy and a recently-earned TED fellowship, she is confident that her childhood dream of a regenerative Lima that looks green from space will come to life.

Sara’s story is all the more remarkable when one considers her humble origins. Born to indigenous farmers fleeing rural poverty in Andahuaylas, a province in the heart of the Peruvian Andes, her father, Leocadio, led a group of 218 families who claimed 15 hectares of Lima's bare land as their new home. They defied every expectation, transforming this patch of unforgiving desert into a lush, sustainable oasis, unlike most informal settlements in Lima that eventually devolve into urban slums. Pomacocha became Lima 2035’s first demonstration community, a poster child for regenerative and healthy living in the world’s driest megacity.

Environment | How will your food system of 2050 adapt to climate change and remain resilient?

Sara’s vision of a Lima that looks lush and green from space may seem overly ambitious for the world’s most arid megacity. But if satellite images were available for 1535, the year Pizarro claimed Lima for Spain, they would likely reveal fertile cropland covering most of its landscape. Left to the will of nature, Lima could have never distinguished itself from the rest of the Atacama Desert. It was the ingenuity of an exceptional society that transformed it into a regenerative food oasis. Inspired by their legacy, and equipped with the advances of modern science and technology, we have no doubt that Lima can once again appear green from space. 

Lima’s food system will never rise to the glory of its pre-Hispanic past until everyone has access to clean running water for drinking, for preparing food, and for hand washing to keep food safe to eat.  But closing the city’s water access gap by 2050 would require meeting the demands of 4 million additional consumers in the face of a 30% reduction in dry-season streamflow from the Andes, as Lima’s population grows to 12 million and tropical glaciers are forever lost to climate change. The journey to build adaptation and resilience into Lima’s food system must begin with interventions to address its looming water crisis. Our research identified five ideas that could prove effective to that end.

Implementing progressive pricing for residential water: Lima’s per capita water consumption averages 250 liters per day, 2.5 times the maximum WHO recommendation. Water use also correlates strongly with household income, reaching up to 448 liters per day in affluent neighborhoods. At this rate, closing the city’s water access gap would critically strain its supply system, particularly in the face of population growth, rising incomes and climate change. To upset this trend, we propose establishing a premium rate for residential water consumed in excess of basic needs. Recommended as a water conservation measure by the UNEP, and advocated locally by the LiWa sustainable water management project, this policy could reduce excessive water consumption while boosting monetary resources to close the water access gap.

Scaling wastewater reclamation for urban greening and peri-urban agriculture: On an average day, Lima uses up to 30 million liters of water to irrigate its public parks, while also discharging 1.5 billion liters of wastewater into the ocean. Less than 10% of the wastewater is treated, only half of which is then reused for irrigation. According to a study conducted by SWITCH, a global research consortium focused on water management for city health, scaling up water reclamation could cover the full irrigation requirements of Lima’s public green space, and those of a large proportion of its peri-urban farms, which currently span 12,680 hectares of irrigated cropland.

Facilitating strategic inflows of water embedded in foods: An ingenious strategy to address national water deficits is through importation of water embedded in food. For example, the Middle East and North Africa import an amount of food that would otherwise require the entire Nile River to produce. We propose that Lima adopt a similar strategy to reduce stress on its limited freshwater supply. For example, the volume of water required to produce the daily rice intake of an average Limeño (130 g) could meet the daily water needs of a five-person household (500 liters). Water-intensive crops such as rice should therefore be imported from regions with abundant farm water. However, thirsty crops that thrive under rainfed agriculture in the Andes and Amazon, particularly those that command higher values, should be purchased domestically to support a thriving rural economy, containing further immigration into Lima. Urban and peri-urban agriculture should thus be limited to producing protective, nutrient-dense foods with low freshwater footprints.  

Harvesting water from fog: Due to an atmospheric phenomenon called thermal inversion, evaporated ocean water forms a dense fog that blankets Lima from April to November; perfectly overlapping with the Andean dry season. The fog travels inland until it reaches Lima’s hills, where it condenses, creating verdant fog oases that span 13,746 hectares of land in a regular year and more than twice that area during an El Niño event. Residents of the community of Villa Lourdes, a settlement near these hills, validated the potential of fog water to cover their basic needs by harvesting up to 600 liters per day using crude plastic nets stretched 4m apart by two wooden poles. Despite little research attention to fog harvesting, a 2018 Science Advances article reported a new material with potential to multiply this yield by a factor of 100. With the right technology in place, the data at hand strongly supports the potential of water farms in Lima’s fog oases to offset projected reductions in dry-season streamflow due to the loss of Andean glaciers.

Diets | How will your food system of 2050 address malnutrition in all its forms (undernutrition, micronutrient deficiency, metabolic disease) for the people living there?

If Sara were a child today, she would be counted among the 4 million people inhabiting Lima’s desert slums. There is a 50% chance she would not have access to running water, and she would almost certainly be iron deficient. Half of her household’s income would be spent on food and 18% on delivered water, leaving less than $200 to cover all other needs for one month. Cheap, non-perishable, satiating foods will dominate her plate. Rice would be king among them, followed by potatoes and bread. Only rarely will meals include fruit, vegetables, and protein in sufficient amounts to promote health. Despite living in poverty, or perhaps because of it, Sara would be on track to join the 66% of Limeños who are overweight or obese by the age of 15. But, along a different pathway, Sara could also be the perfect protagonist of Lima’s food system transformation.

Deploying the Vision Prize Toolkit helped us discern that Lima’s slum dwellers embody more than one food system stakeholder. Being indigenous to the Andes, they carry a millenary cultural legacy as regenerative food producers. It is only in the absence of natural resources in their precarious settlements that they become limited to the passive role of consumers.  Our visioning journey took a pivotal turn when we began to think of strategies to unlock their potential to serve as protagonists of Lima’s food system transformation, rather than the recipients. The vision of a culturally-appropriate housing model that integrates agriculture into its architectural design thus emerged as a Human-Centered response to their challenges and latent capacities. As food currently accounts for half of their expenditures, this holistic solution should result in healthier diets while also creating disposable income to meet other basic needs.

Using architecture design software, we demonstrated the potential of residential rooftop agriculture in Lima’s slum dwellings to yield abundant produce and animal protein for a family of six. A key innovative feature is the integration of crop and animal agriculture in small spaces afforded by Andean guinea pigs. This micro-livestock requires little space and can upcycle damaged crops, harvest residue, food waste and even yard trimmings to yield a nutritious meat appreciated by millions of Peruvians. In addition, its waste is a powerful fertilizer that can boost crop production organically.

To estimate rooftop farm productivity, we digitally-designed a modular system with cages that allow Andean guinea pig production underneath elevated vegetable beds. The module’s dimensions are 1.44 m2, thus occupying a floor area of less than 2% of the 100-120 m2 rooftop in a typical slum dwelling. They were designed to match the standard floor area of a Square Foot Gardening raised bed, a well-researched gardening method that typically achieves a 500% productivity improvement relative to field horticulture. Water demands are minimal, given reliance on a planting substrate with high organic matter and excellent water holding capacity. Square Foot Gardeners generally meet all their per capita requirements for vegetables with 2 of these beds, covering less than 3 m2. Leveraging this method, it would take 12 of our modules covering an area of only 18 m2 to provide abundant fresh produce for a family of 6. The same units would simultaneously allow the production of 100 Andean guinea pigs at the recommended density of 6 per m2, more than enough to address iron deficiency in children, meet household protein needs, and even generate some supplementary income.

Our research identified several participatory development initiatives that validate the desirability, feasibility, viability of urban farming as a dietary and health intervention in Lima’s desert slums. Particularly noteworthy is the award-winning Informal Urban Communities Initiative, led by an interdisciplinary team of designers and researchers from the University of Washington. During participatory workshops, residents of the community of Eliseo Collazos would often report that they were missing the greenery of their home landscapes in the Andes, ultimately identifying green space and food security as their top development priorities, and requesting the team’s assistance to implement home gardens. In a 2018 scientific article, the team reported significant improvements in the quality of life of project participants, across physical, psychological, social, and environmental dimensions of wellbeing, within only 12 months of home garden implementation. Their findings broadly corroborate those of a 2017 meta-analysis associating gardening with a range of health benefits, including reductions in body mass index, depression and anxiety, as well as increase in life satisfaction, quality of life, and sense of community. In this way, a system of rooftop gardens can not only improve health through ready access to more nutritious food, but also through other determinants of human wellbeing. 

Economics | Where and what will the jobs be that support living wages in your future food system of 2050, and how will these jobs impact gender equality?

Achieving Sara’s vision of a green Lima would require thousands of households to participate in urban agriculture. Most households would probably adopt it as a health-promoting lifestyle yielding only a small portion of their consumed foods. Achieving a 20% adoption of this lifestyle is not a distant dream. Even in the U.S., as many as one in three households already participate in food gardening, largely due to a spike in popularity among millennials. But can urban agriculture extend beyond a lifestyle to become a viable business?

Rooftop farmer Ms. Esther Flores proves that it can. A resident of one of the most populated informal settlements in Lima, she has been growing lettuce on her 130 m2 rooftop since 2005. Her system enables production of 2,000 lettuce plants per month, which she sells to a local supermarket at 40¢ each. Her monthly revenue averages $500, 65% above the Peruvian minimum wage. Ms. Flores’ story caught the attention of the World Food Program, who uses her example to inspire many other residents of Lima’s desert slums to adopt market gardens.

The income potential of rooftop farming could be multiplied with the integration of Andean guinea pigs. Each micro-farming module described in the previous section allows the production of 9 guinea pigs in addition to 64 lettuce plants. To match Ms. Flores’ lettuce output would require 31 modules, covering a total area of 43.3 m2 — a third of her rooftop.  But growing underneath her lettuce plants would be 279 guinea pigs, each of which retails for $5.50 three months after birth. This way, guinea pigs would boost Ms. Flores’ revenue by $1,535 every three months, doubling her average income. Given its potential to enhance diets and incomes, guinea pig husbandry is promoted by several humanitarian organizations in Peru, including Heifer International and World Neighbors.

Our economic goal is to develop an entrepreneurial urban farming ecosystem that is good for profit, people and planet. We believe women will be its key protagonists, as urban agriculture in Lima strongly favors female participation. But this goal cannot be met by interventions focused solely on spurring greater production of vegetables and guinea pigs. Without complementary demand side interventions to increase their consumption, the viability of urban farming as a business would be in question. We envision the demand pull for our ecosystem created by young food innovators. Only half of Peruvian students graduating with a degree in food and agriculture sciences secure jobs in the formal economy. With the right support, many could become founders of thriving AgTech startups. And here are some opportunities they could leverage to add value to urban farming, creating demand by building upon favorable consumption behaviors in Lima.

Increasing vegetable consumption: At 154 g daily, vegetable consumption in Peru falls 29% below the global average and 23% below the minimum recommended by health professionals. Simply put: Peruvians are not big on salad. We are, however, big on healthy beverages. Our native superfoods quinoa and maca are usually consumed as drink. In winter, a typical street drink is “emoliente,” an infusion of roasted barley, flax seed, and medicinal herbs, often boosted with the extract of alfalfa and dandelion. Harder to believe is the popularity of a green smoothie made by blending an entire frog, which many Limeños drink to fight anemia, treat colds, or boost fertility. These examples strongly suggest a viable path to increase vegetable consumption in Lima by promoting green smoothies for health benefits. For instance, startup founders might find an opportunity in producing health-boosting smoothies as freeze-dried powders ready for consumption when mixed with water. 

Increasing Andean guinea pig consumption: Despite its agreeable tastiness, often compared to the dark meat of chicken, mainstreaming guinea pig consumption is inhibited by an aversion to its appearance, which is impossible to overlook as served in regional Peruvian cuisine. Research by Dr. Paul Rozin, a psychologist at Pennsylvania University, suggests this impediment could be lifted by distancing the identity of the animal from the food derived from it. This is why, Rozin explains, we have developed the English words “beef” and “steak” to refer to the meat of cows. So transforming guinea pig meat into familiar products like hamburger patties or meat balls could be the key to boost its consumption. Such transformation has the advantage of rendering guinea pig meat compatible with fast food, a sector that has grown by 265% over the past decade in Peru. Our team can envision La Lucha, Lima’s fastest-growing sandwich chain, as the first restaurant to incorporate a guinea pig hamburger in their menu. With time, and given a matching rise in its supply, the sustainable hamburger option could also appear in local menus of Burger King and McDonald’s. 

Culture | How will your 2050 food system ensure that the cultural, spiritual and community traditions and/or practices in your Place flourish?

“My hope for the future of my community is that people get to build good houses, and that we are able to bring down that wall. You may be rich and I may be poor, but in the end we are all brothers and sisters. We can’t be separated.” –Esther Torres.

Snaking over the Andean hilltops as they descend into Lima’s valleys is a 10 km “Wall of Shame” enshrouding the rich from the poor. It separates luxurious mansions with pools and large gardens from makeshift homes without running water or electricity. Living in its shadow we meet Esther Torres, the community leader whose life story inspired our vision.

Torres was born to deaf parents in poverty-stricken Chanchamayo. At 14, she was forced to abandon her education and ventured alone to Lima in search of a job. Life in the city was unforgiving to the teenager, who would soon mother a child from an abusive partner. It would take years before Torres could muster the courage to leave him. Unable to pay rent anywhere, the single mother found hope joining an informal settlement, owning little more than a blanket to cover her child, and four mats of woven straw to improvise a tent that would serve as their new home. But no amount of hardship ever turned Torres into a victim. Instead, the next twenty years would mold her into a compassionate leader, whose greatest aspiration is to see her community united with those living on the other side of “The Wall.”  

The antithesis of the wall dividing the rich and poor in Lima is a concept that might hold the key to our cultural renaissance: the “third space.” Sociologist Ray Oldenburg coined the term in his 1989 book The Great Good Place, where he argued that inclusive hangouts that bring people together outside their homes (“first space”) and work (“second space”) are the backbone of community life and the breeding grounds for a functioning democracy. Third spaces are often thought of as a society’s “living room.” They include parks, churches, sports grounds, corner stores and coffee houses. According to Oldenburg, societies flourish with vibrant third spaces that welcome all people, fostering socioeconomic mixing, and cultivating trust and inclusion across community divides. And if there is one force capable of bringing Limeños together across any divide, it is food. The third space that will make Lima’s culture flourish won’t be our society’s “living room” but its “kitchen.”

Food is to Peruvians what soccer is to Brazilians. For eight years in a row, beginning on 2012, the World Travel Awards has recognized Peru as the Best Culinary Destination in the world. Lima alone has three of the World’s 50 Best Restaurants, placing it on a par with New York and London. Peru may be home to Machu Pichu, one of the Seven New Wonders of the World, but food is still our greatest achievement and source of pride. This gastronomic boom did not emerge in a vacuum. It was the work of visionary chefs led by Gaston Acurio who, in the mid-1990s, saw in Peruvian food a unique power that could heal us from the two decades of guerrilla violence that scarred our nation. It is that same power that our vision seeks to draw upon to bring down the walls that separate us. 

Lima 2035 envisions the creation of a distributed network of third spaces that connect people to food, to the land, and to each other. As our society’s “kitchens,” they will leverage our food system to create living laboratories for inclusive interaction, education and innovation. Their design might draw from elements like learning and demonstration centers, edible landscapes, community gardens, seed banks, farmers’ markets, and food stands. A special attraction might be Lima’s first climate-positive model house: a new standard of desert living that symbiotically integrates food production into its architectural design. This uniquely Limeño third space will serve as the breeding ground for a food citizenship that brings us together, yielding abundant dividends to society and nature. Exquisitely suited to host them are Lima’s 377 urban black holes.

Lost in time and scattered across the dense urban fabric, are physical traces of the Lima before Pizarro. The Quechua called them “Huacas,” or sacred places. Seen from above today, the abandoned archeological sites appear as black holes gravitationally attracting the encroaching urbanization. They occupy close to 5,000 hectares of public land threatened by formal and informal urban pressure. In his inspiring book Urban Black Holes, Peruvian architect Jean Pierre Crousse helps Limeños reimagine these sites woven into the fabric of community life with green projects that protect their legacy while closing our city’s green space deficit. In Crousse’s view, it will not be through fences and state coercion, but through community appropriation and a heightened sense of citizenship, that these sacred spaces will be protected for generations to enjoy. And what better way to breathe community life into them than through the unifying force of food?

Technology | What technological advances are needed to transform your food system into one that meets your goals and embodies the values of your Vision in 2050?

The debate on the future of food systems is deeply divided between two worldviews on technology. Some believe in humanity’s limitless capacity to solve problems with technological innovations. Science writer Charles Mann calls them “wizards.” On the other side are those concerned about our capacity to transgress nature’s boundaries, creating the very problems we have to solve later. Mann calls them “prophets.” Wizards imagine AI, CRISP-Cas9, metagenomics, and automation shaping the future of food. Prophets call for a return to natural systems, advocating for a greater adoption of organic farming, permaculture, and local plant-based diets. We wish a food system free from this ideological battle. Eliminating divides, including those separating wizards and prophets, is a guiding principle in our search of a better future. The following three examples will illustrate how both types of solutions – wizards and prophets – will be instrumental to create the future we envision for Lima:    

Spurring a breakthrough to harvest water from fog: From April to November, dense fog covers 13,746 hectares of fog oases in Lima, an area 30% larger than the entire city of Paris. Like an untapped airborne aquifer, we see this phenomenon as the best opportunity to bridge Lima’s projected water deficit. But realizing this potential to benefit all Limeños, as opposed to just a few hundred families, requires us to transcend frugal innovations and invest as a city in catalyzing a 21st century breakthrough in fog harvest. To illustrate their scope for improvement, makeshift harvesters in Lima deploy a generic mesh that yields 9 to 19 liters of water per square meter daily. This yield could be multiplied 100 times simply by switching to material scientifically designed for fog harvest. Specialized in brokering open innovation through prize competitions, the XPRIZE Foundation has recently completed a competition yielding in a device to harvest water from air at a rate of 2,000 liters per day. A global competition to harvest water from fog might similarly yield the breakthrough Lima needs to secure city water for all.

 Mainstreaming the Lost Crop of the Incas: At the time of the Spanish conquest, the Incas cultivated almost as many plant species as all the farmers in Asia or Europe. Among this prolific crop diversity, only potato and quinoa are known to the world today. In a 1989 report, the U.S. National Academy of Sciences called the lesser known species the “Lost Crop of the Incas,” advocating for their potential to bring health and restore strength to global food systems. These crops include dozens of underdeveloped roots, tubers, grains, legumes, vegetables, fruits and nuts that remain obscure today.

One example is Andean goldenberry, an antioxidant-rich fruit similar to cherry tomato, but mildly sweet and pleasantly tart in flavor. Highly compatible with urban agriculture, this fruit could be an excellent snack or ingredient in salads and juices globally. But research and development are needed to unlock its full potential, and that of other Peruvian orphan crops. We believe this imperative will be poorly served by the traditional “technology transfer” approach to R&D, where learning is concentrated in research laboratories and experiment stations away from farmers and consumers. Instead, we see these crops mainstreamed through our dynamic urban farming ecosystem that operates as a living laboratory to democratize learning, and leverage both “push” and “pull” mechanisms to accelerate food system diversification. Lima 2035 foresees itself playing the role of catalyst and virtual “third space” for this ecosystem, turning our city into the world’s foremost accelerator for orphan crop development.  

One-upping the "Impossible": It’s hard to think of a more contested food systems issue today than our search for sustainable protein. The concern is that growing populations, rising incomes and urbanization multiply demand for animal protein, whose modern production can emit as much as 250 times more greenhouse gases than plant protein. Silicon Valley’s Impossible Foods captured the world’s attention with a solution that confounded both wizards and prophets: a plant-based burger indistinguishable from real meat, but lab-designed, biotech-enabled, ultra-processed, and industrial in scale. Their real value proposition to burger lovers is little more than a release from environmental guilt. But what if there was a natural hamburger option that was regenerative, nourishing, and socially just? That is our vision for the future of Andean guinea pigs, yet another orphan species in the Inca’s forgotten food cornucopia. Their small space requirement, and their ability to close urban nutrient cycles yielding a healthy red meat, could make them keystone species in urban agriculture, and a compelling response to the global search for sustainable protein.

Policy | What types of policies are needed to enable your future food system?

Sara wraps her day on her favorite spot overlooking the sea from atop Lima’s hills. Below her, rooftop farms bring life to a mosaic urban landscape that merges gradually into the coast. This beautiful scene might challenge the imagination of most Limeños, who have grown too accustomed to life in a gray megacity, where smog is so thick it blots out the sun. But amid the coronavirus lockdown, the air has cleared and nature has rebounded, offering us glimpses of what a regenerative and nourishing Lima might look like.

In recent weeks, social media images circulate featuring our beaches lush with wildlife and distant Andean peaks visible for the first time in generations. Equally popular are posts of budding vegetable gardens, as the lockdown inspires hundreds to grow their own food. The opportunity has never been better for Sara’s vision to come to life. Policymakers are uniquely positioned to seize the moment, turning the tragedy of the pandemic into the birthing pain for a brighter future.   

The list of policy instruments to foster regenerative and nourishing cities is expanding rapidly. An invaluable source is the Milan Urban Food Policy Pact, which includes 209 city mayors committed to develop sustainable urban food systems. Lima is an active member of this community, and the recipient of the 2018 Milan Pact Award in the category of “Challenging Environment.” Embedded into Lima’s awarded program, in the context of the Pact, the following recommendations offer a springboard to accelerate our food system's transformation:

Implement climate-smart policies to close the water access gap: Discussed at length in the Environment section of this vision, top policies to consider include establishing progressive water pricing and scaling wastewater reclamation. Their implementation falls under the domain of Lima’s municipal water authority, SEDAPAL.

Develop municipal water farms and parks in fog oases: This measure will protect Lima’s fog oases from advancing urban sprawl by enabling the public to benefit from its valuable ecosystem services. Top among these services are the provision of water and green space, which are critically scarce in Lima. The initiative should bring Lima’s municipality in collaboration with the Ministry of Environment and the Ministry of Housing, Construction and Sanitation.

Transform urban black holes into urban food hubs: This measure will protect Lima’s heritage sites by transforming them into engines for community development and food citizenship. Two streams of expertise can contribute to their design. Architects are best suited to help the public reimagine these sites woven meaningfully into community life. A notable example is “The Mantle and the Plinth,” a 2019 architectural design project selected to transform Lima’s most beloved heritage site into a public park honoring Peru’s 200th Anniversary of Independence. Equally valuable is the experience of urban universities broadening public participation in local food systems. The University of the District of Columbia offers a prime example, with many programs worth emulating, including their Urban Food Hubs and their Master Gardener volunteer program. Implementing this recommendation should collaboratively engage Lima’s municipality, the Ministry of Culture, and the National Agrarian University.

Foster niche differentiation based on crop water footprint: Ecosystem diversity is often sustained by differences in resource use among coexisting species, a phenomenon ecologists call niche differentiation. Drawing lessons from nature, policymakers could diversify food systems by driving agricultural niche differentiation based on water use. For example, tariffs could be lifted for commodity crops with high water footprints, favoring their importation over domestic production. In turn, reclaimed water could be offered free of charge to peri-urban farmers willing to switch to high value tree crops. Finally, commercial urban farmers could be exempted from progressive water pricing to support their production of herbaceous fruits and vegetables. Designing and implementing these measures should bring Lima’s municipality in close collaboration with the Ministry of Agriculture and Irrigation.

Unleash the potential of agrifood science, technology and innovation: Over the past two decades, Peru has emerged as a top exporter of high value crops like avocados, blueberries and citrus. But this growth has not been matched by increased public spending in agricultural science, technology and innovation. Investments need to triple to match the UN-recommended target of 1% of agricultural GDP. Increased funding for scholarships, research programs, tech transfer offices, and startup incubators is warranted. Based in Lima, and with plans to launch an agricultural technology park by 2021, the National Agrarian University is well positioned to yield high returns to these investments. 

Describe how these 6 Themes connect with and influence one another in your food system.

Permaculture designers pursue the ideal to have each element of a food system perform as many separate functions as possible, following a principle they call “stacking functions.” Similarly, each element of our vision was designed to maximize functional benefits across food system themes.

The multifunctional benefits of urban agriculture, the central element of our vision, are widely appreciated. Urban agriculture impacts the environment by capturing carbon, providing habitat to wildlife, and reducing fossil fuel used to transport food. At the same time, it increases the local supply of fresh fruits and vegetables, thus enhancing urban diets. When practiced in community gardens, urban agriculture also creates a green space that actively brings people together, fostering a local food culture. Practiced instead in residential rooftops, it can be an important source of income and/or relaxation while cooling the home and helping reduce the urban heat island effect.

But even the bountifully-stacked functions of urban agriculture can be multiplied further by incorporating Andean guinea pigs. This single livestock species unlocks more benefits to (1) the environment, by upcycling organic waste back into the food system, offsetting landfill methane emissions, (2) diets, by offering a much-needed source of iron-rich protein to target childhood anemia, (3) the local economy, by doubling the income potential of commercial rooftop farms, (4) local culture, by scaling production of a food highly appreciated in traditional Peruvian gastronomy, (5) technology, by offering a regenerative source of animal protein, and (6) policy, by accelerating Peru’s journey to meet Sustainable Development Goals for poverty alleviation (SDG1), hunger eradication (SDG2), human health (SDG3), city health (SDG11), responsible consumption (SDG12), and climate action (SDG 13).

Finally, functional stacking is also evident in our approach to protect Lima’s natural ecosystems and cultural heritage sites from the threat of sprawling development. Transformed into multi-functional parks and food hubs, these areas would result in a six-fold increase in public green space, far exceeding WHO recommendations, and rendering Lima one of the greenest and healthiest megacities on Earth.  

Describe any trade-offs you may have to make within your system to attain your Vision by 2050.

Transforming any natural ecosystem to increase its provision of one service to society will inevitably diminish the provision of others. Trade-offs should be expected, therefore, from intervening Lima’s fog oases to retrieve city water. The envisioned water farms could diminish the recreational and spiritual value drawn from outdoor activities in fog oases. At the same time, they may impact this ecosystem’s capacity to sequester carbon and protect native biodiversity. But these trade-offs pale in comparison to the looming threat of losing Lima’s fog oases to uncontrolled development. Properly managed by decisive public intervention, ecosystem-level “pains” will be well compensated by the landscape-level “gains” unlocked to enable a regenerative and nourishing future for Lima’s food system.

3 Years | Describe 3 key milestones that you would need to achieve within the next three years for your Vision to be on track?

Capitalizing on the momentum created by the prize process, we will pursue the following early wins to rapidly expand our circle of influence:

Lima 2035 Demonstration Community Master Plan completed: We will collaborate with the community of Environmental Stewards of Pomacocha to co-design a Master Plan for their recently-legalized squatter settlement. As illustrated by Sara’s story, we recognize the unique opportunity for this community to become Lima’s first demonstration model for regenerative and nourishing living. We think of this project as the grassroots equivalent of the Millennium Villages led by the Earth Institute, or the Climate-Smart Villages led by CCAFS. 

Lima 2035 Forum completed and videos posted: Our vision for Lima, including the Master Plan resulting from the previous milestone, will be broadcast on a forum that brings together the most inspiring stakeholders in our food system. We will model the event after the highly-impactful EAT Forum, or the TEDxManhattan by Change Food, producing a legacy of informative videos that break through jargon and dismantle silos, inspiring all citizens to come together as protagonists of our food systems transformation.

AgTech Innovation Accelerator launched: Food innovators, including startup founders and social entrepreneurs, are critical to the success of Lima’s future urban farming ecosystem. Upstream innovators can be the source of new seeds, biological inputs and advisory services to improve production. In turn, downstream innovators can help with market linkages, traceability, and demand growth through value-added consumer products. Lima 2035 will create a lab-embedded accelerator program supporting food system innovators in their startup process, from pre-seed to product-market-fit. The lead designer of this vision is also the Lead Innovation Scientist at CIP, a CGIAR Research Center based in Lima, where the mission-driven accelerator will be established this year. 

10 Years | What progress will you need to make—by 2030—that would set your Vision up to become a reality by 2050?

The milestones discussed in the previous section are partly designed to strengthen the constituency for local food systems transformation, compelling policy makers to support the following system-level outcomes:

Water access gap fully closed: By 2030, not a single family in Lima will depend on cistern trucks for water delivery, in full compliance with SDG 6: "Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all."

Breakthrough fog harvester implemented: Collaboration between SEDAPAL (Lima's Drinking Water and Sewerage Service), CONCYTEC (National Council of Science and Technology), and the Peruvian Ministry of Environment will crystallize in a global prize competition yielding breakthrough technology to harvest water from Lima’s fog oases. The XPRIZE foundation might be an effective broker of this competition, drawing upon their 38-million registered solvers and their experience completing the Water Abundance XPRIZE.

At least 20 food hubs bridging producers and consumers: Collaboration between the Municipality of Lima, the Ministry of Culture, and the Ministry of Agriculture will result in the transformation of no less than 20 archeological sites into our envisioned network of food hubs. A valuable collaboration model to emulate is the 2019 international competition launched by Peru’s Bicentennial Projects Initiative, the Ministry of Culture and the Municipality of Lima, to design a public park in the Sanctuary of Pachacamac, the most beloved cultural heritage site in Lima.

SDG compliance accelerated by urban agriculture: We expect the ecosystem created by Lima 2035 to accelerate our local compliance with the first three SDGs: SDG1: No poverty; SDG2: Zero hunger; and SDG3: Good health and wellbeing. Ultimately, the globally-agreed upon targets of these SDGs will provide the definitive yardsticks for the impact of our vision by 2030. 

If awarded the $200,000 prize what would you do with it?

 If awarded, prize funds will be used to capitalize on the momentum of the prize process, to deliver compelling early wins launching our food system moonshot:  

1. Roughly 10% will support the development and implementation of a Master Plan benefiting the 218 families belonging to Environmental Stewards of Pomacocha, Lima 2035’s first demonstration community. The members of this association are self-builders, committed to the community implementation of the resulting project if provided with technical assistance.

2. Another 40% will be dedicated to produce one or more Lima 2035 Forums designed to build strategic stakeholder networks and activate a local food citizenship movement that brings depth and breadth of participation to our food system transformation.

3. The remaining funds will be dedicated to launch a lab-embedded innovation accelerator supporting food system change-makers. We expect the funds to benefit no fewer than 10 young food and agriculture scientists interested in pursuing mission-driven AgTech Startups supporting the vision from within the CGIAR system.

If you are chosen as a Top Visionary, The Rockefeller Foundation would like to share your Vision widely with a global audience. What would you like the world to learn from your Vision for 2050?

Lima 2035 is not a vision about food; food is only the canvas. Lima 2035 is a vision about unity, and the bounty to be discovered when we break down the walls that keep us apart, celebrating our diversity, and embracing our true identity as one human family.

Please share a visual that communicates the structure and operation of your food system in 2050. Describe the visual.

Please read through the sequence of nine captioned images describing the stakeholders and processes that will shape the future of Lima's food system. 

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Full Refined Vision_Lima2035.pdf

Mark Twain once wrote “I apologize for such a long letter - I didn't have time to write a short one.” Fortunately, we did find the time to produce a distilled version of Lima 2035.


Designed by Marina Vella, this model house improves upon our original prototype by demonstrating how rooftop agriculture is compatible with progressive vertical development, as its dwellers find the resources to build one additional floor at a time. The prototype was presented to an audience of 200 innovators during Lima 2035's virtual hackathon.


Join the conversation:

Photo of Jenny Tatiana ANGELES ANGELES

The main idea of the project is a good one and has so many good intentions. First of all, I’d like to talk about the Lomas as a source of water. I consider the main objective feasible as this process has already been implemented in other countries in Africa and South America, obtaining good results and a good quality of the water. So, if we add the significant amount of potential that Lomas has to give fog, the quality and amount of the water would be even higher as estimated. I consider this idea brilliant and think that should definitely proceed. However, it should surely be taken into account the capital that it will need the project to be released.
In addition to this system, it is important to talk about the additional fee for water above maximum human needs that this project aims to implement. At first sight this is a good idea to minimize the usage of water of people with high incomes that don’t manage it properly. For instance, this has been implemented in first world countries and has been successfully developed. However, I am not quite sure how this policy will benefit the people with low incomes into having water. The people that lack this resource are mainly the ones that live in areas where there are no drains as many of these people live in hills. This is the reason why many people obtain their water by truck. However, this can be changed if poorer people start to acquire special devices that work as a drainage system that can be implemented on any type of land. Knowing this current problems of the low-income citizens I think it’s important for the project to specify with many details how it will be stored the water obtained by fog and how it will be transported to the households of the people, specifying the roots and drains and other devices that the project will need in general, so that its feasibility could be more accurate.
Another topic I would like to discuss is the restoration of the ecosystem. This precise project would need to be established not only with the support of the citizens but with the municipalities as well, as the ones that restore and decide which kind of plant to buy and place it on the parks. This example of “forestation” is viewed by the people and replicated onto their houses. So, for obtaining a more arid-zone, the one that we used to have many years ago, it will be needed first to make this change with the municipalities first.
As the last topic I would like to talk about the creation of the Innovative Housing Model that integrates crop and animal agriculture. The food that this house would be able to produce is considerable, however I think that it would be better if the project could specify better the amount approximately of people that the architecture would be able to help. Also, due to the big amount of guinea pigs that the house has, I consider that it should use the waste of them (guano) in order to produce energy to the installation. This activity has already been released by two engineers in Lurin, Lima, known as “CasaBlanca”. This facility uses the residues of the guinea pigs (guano) and organic residues in order to produce bioenergy which will be later transformed into biogas and electricity. I think using these modalities will highlight the environmental aim that the house wants to have. Nevertheless, one of the problems that this project may have is the installation of this house on the Wall of Shame.

Photo of Jenny Tatiana ANGELES ANGELES

The wall of Shame was created a few years ago beneath the suburb of Valle Hermoso and the neighborhood Las Casuarinas. On the first one mentioned there are a big amount of people living in poverty without water or electricity in their small self-made-houses and in the second one mentioned, big mansions with pools can be found and many other advantages. At first glance people might believe that this wall was created to discriminate against one side of another, however that wall has one specific main purpose that not many media tend to talk about. That wall’s main purpose is to protect the people from Casuarinas of invaders and robbers, that’s the reason why it was built precisely on the hill, to stop people from building houses illegally on it. The people that live on that hill are mainly people with really low incomes and by living there, it eases them the need to pay taxes, that’s the main reason why most people there don’t have drains. That wall is necessary as well to prevent people from bad roots from committing crimes there. If Casuarinas wouldn’t have that wall, it would be an easy target for people to enter, because that wall is not only on one part of the border, that wall surrounds the entire neighbourhood of Casuarinas, in order to enter there you will need permission from the neighbours. In my opinion, I think that the idea of creating a food house is a good one but I don’t consider the place of installation feasible. In addition to this, I would like to add that for me, the most important service that people could have is education. Most poor people haven’t finished their education, then they have many kids and those children don’t end up finishing school either, finishing working as informal as their parents. The best solution to the core problem is to teach people about the opportunities that they would be able to have in the food house, encourage them not to quit school and to respect both nature and each other. These main principles will make a boost on the objectives of the project.

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