Urban Innovation Lab

The urban innovation research axis integrates the ecological principles of biodiversity and environmental conservation with the design and safeguarding of agro-ecological systems, rural heritage and its related customs, and human knowledge and practice. Aligning with the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) Globally Important Agricultural Heritage Systems (GIAHS) with specific regard to national designation systems, such as China’s Nationally Important Agricultural Heritage Systems, the urban innovation research axis seeks to advance a generalist and inductive research approach that brings together the ecological, human, and historical domains of agro-systems in the context of the UN SDGs.

This research axis aims to optimise and develop interactions between agricultural heritage systems, design, and innovation (AHSDI) to overcome administrative separation in the management of rural landscapes while considering sustainable consumption and production patterns, the value chain and its interdependencies, supply and demand, CO2 emissions, and agrarian and natural system waste.
Ultimately, the AHSDI seeks to address the manifold threats to biodiversity in agricultural contexts by developing measures to assess and optimise the ecological footprint of rural-urban environments in relation to human consumption, including food and tourism.

Considering the complexity of research on rural agro-ecologies and heritage preservation, UIL is developing a research platform where generalist researchers trained in a broad range of disciplines can collaboratively create operational frameworks for identifying research challenges and respond to emerging challenges with specialized knowledge.

AHSDI’s generalist/interdisciplinary approach recognizes the need to safeguard areas of urban-rural integration and hybrid rural-urban areas (desakota), conserve natural and local agricultural biodiversity, recover traditional crops, re-functionalize crops toward new uses, replant indigenous species, design permaculture, neutralize CO2, implement blue and green infrastructures, and engage in didactic and experimental work. Specialised disciplinary approaches involve applications in botany and ethno-botany, including building a repertoire of cultivated and spontaneous plants and studies of indigenous plant resources, cultivation, and seed activities.