Framework will help nations gauge progress and pitfalls
For the first time, scientists have assembled a quantitative assessment for agriculture sustainability for countries around the world based not only on environmental impacts, but economic and social impacts, as well. The Sustainable Agriculture Matrix, or SAM, provides independent and transparent measurements of agricultural sustainability at a national level that can help governments and organizations to evaluate progress, encourage accountability, identify priorities for improvement, and inform national policies and actions towards sustainable agriculture around the globe.
“This Sustainable Agriculture Matrix is an effort to promote accountability for nations’ commitments towards sustainable agriculture,” said project leader Xin Zhang of the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science. “We hope this can serve as a tool to bring the stakeholders together. Agriculture production is not only about farmers. It’s about everyone.”
Agriculture is fundamental to sustainability. However, the definition of “sustainable agriculture” and the ability to measure it have been difficult to quantify. The project to create the Sustainable Agriculture Matrix began in 2017 by bringing together about 30 stakeholders and experts from around the world—including Oxfam, the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis, the International Food Policy Research Institute, and the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, as well as academic partners such as University College London, University of Queensland, University of California Berkeley and the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science—to assess the impacts of agricultural production on a national scale around a diverse range of environmental, economic, and social dimensions of sustainability.
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