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Sustainable intensification of European agriculture

AUTHORS: Allan Buckwell – Andreas Nordang Uhre – Annabelle Williams – Jana Poláková – Winfried E H Blum – Jasmin Schiefer – Georg J Lair – Alois Heissenhuber – Peter Schieβl – Christine Krämer – Wolfgang Haber

The concept of sustainable intensification has come into prominence in the context of global food security. It argues in favour of improving the productivity of existing agricultural land but doing so with much higher environmental standards rather than expanding the area under cultivation.

This report teases out the meaning of the concept in the context of the European Union which already has highly intensive agriculture. It concludes that in the EU the emphasis has to be on the first word of the couplet: improving sustainability. There is considerable scope both to improve productivity and environmental performance. To achieve this requires both collective actions through more appropriate policy as well as actions on the part of individual land managers, and agribusiness. Motivating private action requires better information and benchmarking of individual farm environmental performance.

The report was led by IEEP’s Allan Buckwell and was commissioned at the initiative of the Public Utility Foundation for Rural Investment Support for Europe (RISE).

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