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Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/1942/13240

Title: Measuring sustainability at a supra-farm level: Evaluation of methods
Authors: Wustenberghs, H.
Wauters, E.
Van Passel, S.
Issue Date: 2009
Citation: Integrated Assessment of Agriculture and Sustainable Development Conference, Egmond aan Zee, The Netherlands, March 10-12, 2009
Abstract: Since the Brundtland report (WCED, 1987) put sustainable development on the policy agenda, many attempts have been made to put the theoretical concept into practice. This also entailed the need to monitor progress towards sustainability and hence to ‘measure’ it. So, over the last 20 years a wide range of sustainability monitoring tools have been developed. The majority of these efforts focussed on the national level. Well known examples are the ecological footprint (Wackernagel & Rees, 1995), integrated environmental and economic (‘green’) national accounts (UN, 2003) or the index of sustainable economic welfare (Daly & Cobb, 1989). Some efforts focussed on the firm level, such as some eco-efficiency measures or the sustainable value added (Figge & Hahn, 2004). Maybe even more than in other sectors, sustainable production is of vital importance in agriculture, as farming, unlike most other economic activities, forms a part of the ecosystem rather than being external to it. Sustainability assessments for agriculture at national level have (partially) been made by drawing up economic and environmental accounts (Atkinson et al., 2004, Wustenberghs et al., 2004). At the farm level, sustainability can be assessed by a balanced set of indicators that might be visually integrated (Rigby et al., 2001; Meul et al., 2008) or by an adjusted sustainable value added (Van Passel et al., 2007). However, recently, the need has emerged for more regionalized policies that no longer focus on nationwide measures but on ‘tailor-made’ solutions for relatively small regions or for (sub)sectors. The Water Framework Directive is a good example of such a policy: while having common goals for the whole of Europe, catchment basin specific measurements are encouraged. Another example can be found in rural development policies, where regional identity has become an important issue. Thus the need for sustainability assessment at an intermediate level pushes forward. The goal of this study is to evaluate existing methods for sustainability measurement for their possibilities of application at the supra-farm level and, if necessary, to formulate suggestions for the construction of a specifically adapted sustainability monitoring tool.
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/1942/13240
Category: C2
Type: Conference Material
Appears in Collections: Research publications

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