Keywords: Sustainable agriculture, Conservation, Ecological economics, Environmental accounts, Rio Conference.
The UN Conference on Environment and Development held in Rio de Janeiro in 1992 produced an action plan for sustainable development, known as Agenda 21. To steer this plan the Rio Conference also created a UN Commission on Sustainable Development with the purpose of receiving and reviewing national strategies for sustainable development. Along with industry, agriculture has a special place in this process. In addition, the Fifth Environmental Action Plan of the European Community requires that sustainable growth be incorporated into all sector policies. The agriculture-environment package that has recently emerged from the Community is a small step in the transition of modern agriculture into a sustainable mode.
This paper examines how the notion of sustainability can be applied to agriculture, what are the implications for science and economics of this objective, and how far current agricultural policies are evolving into sustaining agriculture in both a social and ecological manner. If this transition is to prove successful, science will have to direct its attention to better indicators of ecological health, to improved means of ecological and economic accounting, and to a greater interdisciplinarity of effort. Likewise policy changes to assist the changing socio-economic transition will require a fresh approach to land-use designation and whole landscape planning, and greater use of imaginative means to select landscape and settlement features.
T O’Riordan, Centre for Social and Economic Research on the Global Environment, University of East Anglia, Norwich NR4 7TJ, UK.
20 pages, 1 table, 8 references.