The effects of climate change are leading to food shortages across the globe - a problem gravely exacerbated by the COVID-19 crisis. In fact, the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) estimates that more than 820 million people are going hungry globally, according to a pre-pandemic report.
In a fast-growing city like Pasig, Philippines, producing enough food for a booming population becomes an even bigger challenge. The Climathon team behind Ecopolis developed an innovative strategy aimed at tackling food insecurity in their hometown which received international recognition at the 2020 Global Climathon Awards.
“The common question across Southeast Asia was ‘Will there be enough food?’”
Ecopolis is a holistic food security solution with two components: A mobile application (EcoLink) and a physical component (Floating Farms). The EcoLink mobile app aims to conveniently connect people to nearby compost sites and urban farms. This is considered the primary solution to address food insecurity, making fresh food locally available to Pasig communities. The Floating Farms utilise the city’s rivers to compensate for the lack of available land and offer more space to grow edible crops and to compost food waste.
The team composed of Marie Sapuay, Rene Francis Dimalanta, Jaymee Ann Manguerra Alon, Gianina R. Custodio, and Joni Galeste first met at Climathon Pasig 2020 where participants answered the question: How can we make food sustainable and accessible for all Pasigueños?
The solution’s application component aims to reduce food waste while increasing crop yield and health in order to sequester carbon emissions in the soil. Floating Farms along Pasig River double as an educational tool to teach riverbank dwellers how to manage an urban farm and gain a livelihood from it. The farms can also accommodate organic waste that can be used as organic compost for the urban farms within the city.
“With 99% of the land already used, what if we turned to Pasig’s river to set up floating farms?”
Ecopolis went as far as drawing the attention of CNN Philippines and earned a small grant as well as support from the Pasig local government. The team now plans to turn their vision into reality by the end of 2021 with the construction of the first floating farm and important updates to the EcoLink app. And while food security remains at the heart of their idea, the team hopes this innovative system will create jobs and reduce pollution all across Southeast Asia.
“We refined our idea to include information campaigns and training sessions. Through this effort, we believe that Ecopolis will become a truly holistic solution to help Pasig City and the Philippines get closer to achieving food security,” said Marie Sapuay.