Lima 2035

”Our mission is to disrupt food deserts globally, starting with the most challenging: Lima, the driest megacity on earth.”  

“The most potent opportunity to transform Lima is latent in our culture – 5,000 yearagri-culture whose traditions are re-generative, bio-diverse, and healthy.” 

2035 will mark the 500th anniversary of Pizarro’s arrival in Lima and, by that year, Lima 2035 seeks to help the city reclaim its glorious past by reversing current desertification trends to create a re-generative oasis for sustainable and human-centered food systems that promote healthy diets and improved incomes. 

Lima 2035 is a public-private-people partnership led by the International Potato Center, a One CGIAR research center, in collaboration AgTech holding company Grupo Alimenta and a rapidly growing number of citizens. 

Lima 2035 was recently named Top Visionary in the Rockefeller Foundation’s Food System Vision Prize competition, one of 10 finalists selected from 1,300 submissions and the only representative from South America. 

The Challenge

Set in the northernmost tip of the Atacama Desert, Lima is the driest megacity on Earth – a photo-negative image of the New World Eden that thrived here 500 years ago. Restoring this past seems unthinkable – but it is possible.  

Among Lima’s ten million inhabitants, two million lack access to running water, a number that continues to grow as climate change advances. Four million people live in Lima’s pueblos jóvenes, or slums, living a grinding daily struggle to pay bills and provide nourishing food for their families.  

Lima’s slums were established after mass migration from the Andes region to Lima began in the 1940s. Life in these areas is characterized by a prevalence of disease and malnutrition well above national averages. While 35% of children in Lima are anemic and 66% of adults are overweight or obese, these figures are much higher in the slums. 

Without access to clean water for drinking, preparing food, or for personal hygiene, no food system can be healthy. The people of Lima are in desperate need of climate-resilient solutions to support water access and healthy diets.  

The Solution

The greatest strength of the Vision of Lima 2035 is the country’s unparalleled 5,000-year agricultural legacy. New Limenós are the children of two of the world’s original homelands of food production, the Andes and the Amazon. Our knowledge of the land is indigenous and ancient. It lives displaced, but not forgotten, within us in the city. And we are the stewards of a long-forgotten treasure that can be renewed and revitalized in these ideas.  

To recover Lima’s glorious emerald past of sustainable agriculture and equitable access, we identified the following actions needed to make this Vision reality:   

We will host a design competition (the SWAN project) for Latin American architects and urban designers to construct a model demonstration community that integrates three key innovations to bring the Lima 2035 Vision to life through inspiring human-centered design.   

Though Lima receives only one-fourth an inch of rain annually, the air is rich with water that drifts above the city in fog every day. Only ten kilometers inland, this dense fog rains to Earth in the foothills of the Andes, birthing a remarkable oasis: the loma. Lomas around Lima collect millions of liters of fog water, greening an area more than 40 times the size of New York’s Central Park.   

For years, communities have magically harvested this water from the air, up to 600 liters per day. Our first innovation builds upon this idea using an idea from award-winning Chilean designer, Alberto Fernandez, to create small farms of harvesting towers that can reclaim up to 10,000 liters of clean, fresh water per day out of thin air!  

The second innovation is a compact and efficient roof-top farming unit that unifies the cultivation of plants, animals, and living soil in a circular, regenerative nutrient loop. With this low-input, high-output system, your home becomes your farm. Families benefit from added vegetables in their diets and sell the surplus.  

Lost in time and scattered across the dense urban fabric are physical traces of ancient Lima. The Inca called them “Huacas,” or sacred places. Seen from above today, the abandoned archeological sites appear as black holes encircled by encroaching urbanization.  

The third innovation of the demonstration master plan will re-envision these Huacas as food hubs, community spaces where food education and culture meet in a productive dialogue to reinvigorate Peru’s ancient culinary traditions. Inspired by urban designer, Jean Pierre Crousse (a Lima 2035 member), these food hubs will function as a 21st century commons, offering an open and inclusive space for exchanging ideas about food, nutrition, and peri-urban farming.   

The winning master plan of the SWAN project will be constructed at Pomacocha, a peri-urban slum in southwestern Lima whose 218 families struggle every day to meet basic food and water needs. Pomacocha has two distinct advantages: it is located next to a loma and the community is populated by farmers from the original Pomacocha in the Andes Mountains, Peru’s first official region for in-situ conservation of biodiversity, making them the perfect stewards to embrace these innovations.  

Other features of the Lima 2035 Vision include a range of long-term interventions to restore the city’s green past: 

  • Progressive water pricing to discourage wasteful use and generate municipal revenue to bring running water to Lima’s most marginal settlements  
  • Wastewater reclamation to replace the one billion liters of potable water currently used per month to keep Lima’s parks green  
  • The promotion of Andean guinea pig (“cuy”) farming and anchovy consumption to improve protein intake at low cost 
  • The establishment of a new municipal park with a 10-km aerial cable car connected to the metro system, slashing commute times for tens of thousands of people.  
  • A revival in the consumption of, and creation of markets for, Peru’s highly nutritious “lost foods” or “orphan crops,” such as cuy, yacon and Peruvian groundcherry, that can also fetch premium prices in foreign markets.  

Taken together, these far-reaching interventions will offer a model of system transformation that blends the best of cultural knowledge with modern innovation to promote inclusive food citizenship based on improved water access.  

The result will be a living model of the Lima 2035 vision: key innovations that draw upon Peru’s cultural knowledge and traditions to bridge the city’s water access and nutritious food gaps and create a positive first step in returning the city to its verdant, re-generative past!  

Resources
Contact

Soroush Parsa,
Lead Innovation Scientist, 
s.parsa@cgiar.org 

Media Enquires

James Stapleton,
Head of Communications 
j.stapleton@cgiar.org 

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