Alejandro is a student who participated in the Urban Greenhouse Challenge 2 with his Team Bagua. They wanted to be an inclusive, enjoyable and tolerant hub to exchange knowledge, education and further research on agriculture to tackle current and future food challenges and to bring agriculture back to the cities. And guess what? Team Bagua won! What’s life like for Alejandro after winning the Urban Greenhouse Challenge 2?
How did you experience the Challenge?
The challenges we face this century will be immense, perhaps some of the biggest challenges humanity has ever faced. To solve them, we will need to combine disciplines, ideas and people from across the globe. In the Urban Greenhouse Challenge 2, architects, engineers, business managers, scientists and even artists from all over the world worked together to solve a crucial sustainability issue. An excellent testcase scenario for the real challenges ahead.
What are your plans?
I’m now working at Groots, a vertical farming company in Barcelona. Because it’s a start-up, I can work in different areas. Even though my main focus is on finance, I’m also involved in the farm’s strategy and sustainability planning. Being a participant in the Urban Greenhouse Challenge 2 helped me to get my job here, and I’m still in touch with some of the judges and partners in the vertical farming sector.
How can we follow your next steps?
What is your goal?
We need to radically change our food system to create sustainable food production. Innovations such as vertical farming help to adapt our food systems to the effects of climate change. Although mitigating and reversing these effects constitutes an immense task, I want to focus on the adaptation of food systems to the damage we have already done. Most tropical countries (like my own) have less than a one percent impact on the total of GHG emissions, but they are likely to be the most vulnerable to these emissions, particularly on their food production systems.
Tropical countries are home to 1.5 billion people and 85% of the extreme poor, and they have the fastest urbanization growth rate in the world. I believe we must use this decade to prepare ourselves and our systems so we can apply the technologies and systemic changes needed to adapt our food systems to the impending effects of an increasingly hotter world.
What is your ultimate tip for other students?
I have some interesting articles for other students to read:
- Food in the Anthropocene: the EAT-Lancet Commission on healthy diets from sustainable food systems.
- Smart Plant Factory by T.Kozai
- Creating Urban Agricultural Systems by G. Proksch
- The Urban Farming Papers by Sanjuan-Delmas, Al-Kodmany and F.Kalantari
Who or what inspires you?
Carl Sagan’s Cosmos series has always been a great source of inspiration on the beauty of science, and his The Demon-Haunted World is a good ‘baloney-detection kit’. The Selfish Gene by Richard Dawkins, Pink Floyd from Meddle to The Final Cut, Stanley Kubrick’s 1968 Playboy interview and Douglas Adams’s The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy to realize that none of this makes sense and it doesn’t matter. So Don’t Panic!