Author(s): Laura Vang Rasmussen
Published in: Nature Sustainability (June, 2018)
Social-ecological outcomes of agricultural intensification
Sustainable intensification of agriculture is seen by many in science and policy as a flagship strategy for helping to meet global social and ecological commitments – such as ending hunger and protecting biodiversity – as laid out in the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and Paris climate agreement. However, there is limited evidence on the conditions that support positive social and ecological outcomes. In an attempt to address this knowledge gap, we bring together current knowledge on how agricultural intensification affects both the environment and human wellbeing in low and middle-income countries. Overall, we find that agricultural intensification – broadly defined as activities intended to increase either the productivity or profitability of a given tract of agricultural land – rarely leads to simultaneous positive results for ecosystem services and human wellbeing.