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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Integrating Food Systems into Regional Climate Action Plans: a food security, climate resiliency and adaptation strategy for San Diego, California

The data associated with this publication are within the manuscript.

The global food system must address food insecurity and malnutrition in a way that aligns with the urgent need to decarbonize and mitigate the release of short-lived climate pollutants. Mitigation of emission sources, supporting CO2 sinks, and increasing access to resilient crop yields, especially among disadvantaged communities, must be prioritized. San Diego County is uniquely positioned to multi-solve this dynamic problem at hand and serve as a model for building an equitable, climate resilient food system that actively mitigates and sequesters CO2 while alleviating food insecurity on a large scale.

This paper assesses the food security and carbon sequestration potential of converting publicly owned open space to regenerative agricultural sites among San Diego County’s 15 municipalities routinely evaluated by the Climate Action Campaign’s Annual Report Card, including Carlsbad, the City of San Diego, Chula Vista, Coronado, Del Mar, Encinitas, Escondido, Imperial Beach, La Mesa, Lemon Grove, National City, Oceanside, San Marcos, Solana Beach, and Vista. To conduct this analysis, a modifiable, replicable, geospatial model was built in ArcGIS Pro to identify eligible open space with key criteria to prioritize equity and suitable environmental features. As identified by this model, if 5,652 acres of eligible open space were converted to productive regenerative agricultural sites across the aforementioned 15 municipalities, an estimated annual 182.75 million pounds of crops could directly provide 152.29 million meals, closing San Diego County’s meal gap by 94%, while sequestering approximately 4,060 MTCO2 each year. This paper offers scaled-down food security and carbon sequestration benefits by municipality and concludes with project implementation strategy recommendations.

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