Urbanization and achieving sustainable agriculture are both major societal challenges. By reducing food miles and connecting people with nature, food cultivation in cities has several major advantages. However, due to further urban development (peri-) urban agriculture (UPA) is under threat. To strengthen UPA, we argue for considering UPA as a nature-based solution (NbS) supporting systemic approaches for societal challenges. However, academic knowledge on UPA’s contribution to various societal challenges of urbanization is still fragmented. This study addresses the gap by conducting a systemic literature review, incorporating 166 academic articles focusing on the global north. The results of the review show that UPA contributes to ten key societal challenges of urbanization: climate change, food security, biodiversity and ecosystem services, agricultural intensification, resource efficiency, urban renewal and regeneration, land management, public health, social cohesion, and economic growth. The value of UPA is its multifunctionality in providing social, economic and environmental co-benefits and ecosystem services. When implementing UPA, social, institutional, economic, technical, geographical, and ecological drivers and constraints need to be considered. To upscale UPA successfully, the study develops an integrative assessment framework for evaluating the implementation and impact efficiency of UPA. This framework should be tested based on the example of edible cities.
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