Sustainable intensification in agriculture

Tara Garnett and H. Charles J. Godfray

This report is based on discussions held at a two day workshop held in January 2012, co-organised by the Food Climate Research Network and the Oxford Martin Programme on the Future of Food. The workshop was facilitated by Kath Dalmeny of Sustain and funded by the Foresight Programme and the Oxford Martin Programme on the Future of Food. The purpose of the workshop was to bring together key thinkers from the academic and policy community, and from diverse disciplines, to consider the meanings, issues and challenges around sustainable intensification in general, and particularly in relation to three areas of concern: environmental sustainability; animal welfare and human wellbeing (specifically nutrition). A list of workshop participants is provided on the next page.

This report draws upon these discussions and upon further analysis and exploration subsequent to the workshop. It was written by Tara Garnett and Charles Godfray with valuable input from all the workshop participants, most of whom provided comments on a draft version. However, it is emphasised that this report is by no means a consensus document. It should not be seen as representing the unanimous views of everyone present or endorsed by the organisations to which they belong. The role of this document, rather, is to map out some of the conceptual territory that was explored, to stimulate discussion, and to identify areas where further work is needed. 
The report is aimed at policy makers, both in the UK and elsewhere, working in areas relevant to food security. While clearly ‘food security’ is about far more 
than agricultural policy alone, our intention here is to take a small part of the food security puzzle – agricultural policy – and to consider how it intersects with 
environmental, animal welfare and health policies. Our argument is that agricultural policy, if it is to help rather than hinder the ultimate goal of food security, needs to operate in an integrated manner with these other policy areas. Ultimately, this report argues the case for a more ‘systems’ oriented approach to decision making. While it does not go so far as to define a research agenda or make policy recommendations – this would require more work than has been possible in 
the time available – it urges the need for a substantial programme of future activity in order to:
(a) deepen and extend understanding of systems interactions;
(b) consider and define what specific goals societies wish agricultural production to achieve;
(c) develop metrics that will enable societies to measure progress in achieving them; and
(d)implement successful policies.