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Title: Evaluating agricultural trade-offs in the age of sustainable development

Abstract

Here, a vibrant, resilient and productive agricultural sector is fundamental to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. Bringing about such a transformation requires optimizing a range of agronomic, environmental and socioeconomic outcomes from agricultural systems – from crop yields, to biodiversity, to human nutrition. However, these outcomes are not independent of each other – they interact in both positive and negative ways, creating the potential for synergies and trade-offs. Consequently, transforming the agricultural sector for the age of sustainable development requires tracking these interactions, assessing if objectives are being achieved and allowing for adaptive management within the diverse agricultural systems that make up global agriculture. This paper reviews the field of agricultural trade-off analysis, which has emerged to better understand these interactions – from field to farm, region to continent. Taking a “cradle-to-grave” approach, we distill agricultural trade-off analysis into four steps: characterizing the decision setting and identifying the context-specific indicators needed to assess agricultural sustainability, selecting the methods for generating indicator values across different scales, deciding on the means of evaluating and communicating the trade-off options with stakeholders and decision-makers, and improving uptake of trade-off analysis outputs by decision-makers. Given the breadth of the Sustainable Development Goals and the importancemore » of agriculture to many of them, we assess notions of human well-being beyond income or direct health concerns (e.g. related to gender, equality, nutrition), as well as diverse environmental indicators ranging from soil health to biodiversity to climate forcing. Looking forward, areas of future work include integrating the four steps into a single modeling platform and connecting tools across scales and disciplines to facilitate trade-off analysis. Likewise, enhancing the policy relevance of agricultural trade-off analysis requires improving scientist-stakeholder engagement in the research process. Only then can this field proactively address trade-off issues that are integral to sustainably intensifying local and global agriculture – a critical step toward successfully implementing the Sustainable Development Goals.« less

Authors:
 [1];  [2];  [3];  [4];  [5];  [6]; ORCiD logo [7];  [8]; ORCiD logo [7];  [9];  [10];  [11];  [12]
  1. New York Univ. (NYU), New York, NY (United States); Columbia Univ., Lamont Campus, NY (United States)
  2. Columbia Univ., Lamont Campus, NY (United States)
  3. Columbia Univ., Lamont Campus, NY (United States); Bioversity International, Montpellier Cedex (France)
  4. Columbia Univ., Lamont Campus, NY (United States); Univ. of Florida, Gainesville, FL (United States)
  5. Oregon State Univ., Corvallis, OR (United States)
  6. Univ. Nacional Autonoma de Mexico, Morelia (Mexico)
  7. Oak Ridge National Lab. (ORNL), Oak Ridge, TN (United States)
  8. International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis, Laxenburg (Austria)
  9. Univ. of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg (South Africa)
  10. International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), Nairobi (Kenya)
  11. Instituto Nacional de Tecnologia Agropecuaria, Buenos Aires (Argentina); Wageningen Univ., Wageningen (The Netherlands)
  12. Conservation International, Arlington, VA (United States)
Publication Date:
Research Org.:
Oak Ridge National Lab. (ORNL), Oak Ridge, TN (United States)
Sponsoring Org.:
USDOE
OSTI Identifier:
1468290
Grant/Contract Number:  
AC05-00OR22725
Resource Type:
Accepted Manuscript
Journal Name:
Agricultural Systems
Additional Journal Information:
Journal Volume: 163; Journal Issue: C; Journal ID: ISSN 0308-521X
Publisher:
Elsevier
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
54 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES; Trade-off analysis; Agriculture; Sustainable development; Stakeholder engagement

Citation Formats

Kanter, David R., Musumba, Mark, Wood, Sylvia L. R., Palm, Cheryl, Antle, John, Balvanera, Patricia, Dale, Virginia H., Havlik, Petr, Kline, Keith L., Scholes, R. J., Thornton, Philip, Tittonell, Pablo, and Andelman, Sandy. Evaluating agricultural trade-offs in the age of sustainable development. United States: N. p., 2016. Web. doi:10.1016/j.agsy.2016.09.010.
Kanter, David R., Musumba, Mark, Wood, Sylvia L. R., Palm, Cheryl, Antle, John, Balvanera, Patricia, Dale, Virginia H., Havlik, Petr, Kline, Keith L., Scholes, R. J., Thornton, Philip, Tittonell, Pablo, & Andelman, Sandy. Evaluating agricultural trade-offs in the age of sustainable development. United States. doi:10.1016/j.agsy.2016.09.010.
Kanter, David R., Musumba, Mark, Wood, Sylvia L. R., Palm, Cheryl, Antle, John, Balvanera, Patricia, Dale, Virginia H., Havlik, Petr, Kline, Keith L., Scholes, R. J., Thornton, Philip, Tittonell, Pablo, and Andelman, Sandy. Sat . "Evaluating agricultural trade-offs in the age of sustainable development". United States. doi:10.1016/j.agsy.2016.09.010. https://www.osti.gov/servlets/purl/1468290.
@article{osti_1468290,
title = {Evaluating agricultural trade-offs in the age of sustainable development},
author = {Kanter, David R. and Musumba, Mark and Wood, Sylvia L. R. and Palm, Cheryl and Antle, John and Balvanera, Patricia and Dale, Virginia H. and Havlik, Petr and Kline, Keith L. and Scholes, R. J. and Thornton, Philip and Tittonell, Pablo and Andelman, Sandy},
abstractNote = {Here, a vibrant, resilient and productive agricultural sector is fundamental to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. Bringing about such a transformation requires optimizing a range of agronomic, environmental and socioeconomic outcomes from agricultural systems – from crop yields, to biodiversity, to human nutrition. However, these outcomes are not independent of each other – they interact in both positive and negative ways, creating the potential for synergies and trade-offs. Consequently, transforming the agricultural sector for the age of sustainable development requires tracking these interactions, assessing if objectives are being achieved and allowing for adaptive management within the diverse agricultural systems that make up global agriculture. This paper reviews the field of agricultural trade-off analysis, which has emerged to better understand these interactions – from field to farm, region to continent. Taking a “cradle-to-grave” approach, we distill agricultural trade-off analysis into four steps: characterizing the decision setting and identifying the context-specific indicators needed to assess agricultural sustainability, selecting the methods for generating indicator values across different scales, deciding on the means of evaluating and communicating the trade-off options with stakeholders and decision-makers, and improving uptake of trade-off analysis outputs by decision-makers. Given the breadth of the Sustainable Development Goals and the importance of agriculture to many of them, we assess notions of human well-being beyond income or direct health concerns (e.g. related to gender, equality, nutrition), as well as diverse environmental indicators ranging from soil health to biodiversity to climate forcing. Looking forward, areas of future work include integrating the four steps into a single modeling platform and connecting tools across scales and disciplines to facilitate trade-off analysis. Likewise, enhancing the policy relevance of agricultural trade-off analysis requires improving scientist-stakeholder engagement in the research process. Only then can this field proactively address trade-off issues that are integral to sustainably intensifying local and global agriculture – a critical step toward successfully implementing the Sustainable Development Goals.},
doi = {10.1016/j.agsy.2016.09.010},
journal = {Agricultural Systems},
number = C,
volume = 163,
place = {United States},
year = {2016},
month = {10}
}

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Works referencing / citing this record:

Representing agriculture in Earth System Models: Approaches and priorities for development: AGRICULTURE IN ESMS
journal, September 2017

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