How to boost sustainable and resilient agriculture?

September 11, 2018, Universidad Politécnica de Madrid
How to boost sustainable and resilient agriculture?
Farmers and members of Camposeven SAT. Credit: UPM

Researchers from the group of GESPLAN at Universidad Politécnica de Madrid have applied the Working with People methodology to rethink sustainability, resilience and rural development in Europe.

Agricultural policy has to be designed from farmers' local knowledge. It should be based on the identity and dynamism of rural areas by applying integrated strategies and a multisectoral approach to promote diversification, entrepreneurship, innovation, and employment in rural areas. These are the main conclusions of RETHINK, a project funded by the European Commission with the participation of a team of researchers from Universidad Politécnica de Madrid (UPM).

The aim of RETHINK project was to rethink the links among rural modernization, resilience and in a world of increasing demands and limited resources. A multidisciplinary consortium of 14 teams from 14 European countries was involved in this project.

Each team was responsible for a study case from its relationship between university and business considering a wide range of situations in order to study the case from diverse perspectives. The key questions included four main subjects: resilience in agriculture, prosperity in rural areas, governance and learning from farmers and other stakeholders.

The research group on Planning and Sustainable Management of Rural-Local Development (GESPLAN) at UPM worked with farmers from Camposeven, the Agrarian Society of Transformation (SAT) in the region of Murcia, created in 2007 and led by Adolfo García. Universidad Politécnica de Madrid collaborates with this organization through the Fundación Ingenio Chair.

According to GESPLAN researchers, "the European selection of Camposeven society was due to its innovative culture, pioneer of ecological and biodynamic products and its leadership of the food sector".

Researchers assessed the growing imbalances in prosperity and well-being of rural areas, their causes and potential solutions. They also analyzed how agricultural changes affect rural prosperity and whether there is a change of perspective from the efficiency point of view (production cost, productivity…) towards effectiveness (social goals, environmental goals, better quality of life).

The main conclusions of this project suggest a growing need to recognize the potential knowledge of local farmers and the successful experiences in , all this in order to provide innovative, inclusive and sustainable solutions for the current and future social challenges such as prosperity, food safety, climate change, of resources, social inclusion and integration of migrants.

The main results of the project have been published in a Special Issue of the scientific Journal of Rural Studies. This study was also published in the Land Use Policy Journal, Energies Journal, and Agrociencia Journal.

Explore further: Urban agriculture—Europe's untapped potential

More information: Sandra Šūmane et al. Local and farmers' knowledge matters! How integrating informal and formal knowledge enhances sustainable and resilient agriculture, Journal of Rural Studies (2017). DOI: 10.1016/j.jrurstud.2017.01.020

Related Stories

Urban agriculture—Europe's untapped potential

June 11, 2018

By 2050, two thirds of the world's population will live in urban areas, according to the United Nations. The shift away from rural living creates challenges for food security, the environment and people's well-being.

Planning sustainable energy at local scale

September 16, 2015

European forests have an important role in rural development as a source of raw material and food, as well as for their recreational value. Rural development focuses on the use of local resources to provide benefits to the ...

EU biofuel regulation is not sustainable long-term

June 1, 2018

EU biofuel regulation does not guarantee reduced climate impact—nor does it address the core issue of substantially reducing transport emissions, according to a new doctoral thesis from Lund University in Sweden.

Recommended for you

Coffee-based colloids for direct solar absorption

March 22, 2019

Solar energy is one of the most promising resources to help reduce fossil fuel consumption and mitigate greenhouse gas emissions to power a sustainable future. Devices presently in use to convert solar energy into thermal ...

EPA adviser is promoting harmful ideas, scientists say

March 22, 2019

The Trump administration's reliance on industry-funded environmental specialists is again coming under fire, this time by researchers who say that Louis Anthony "Tony" Cox Jr., who leads a key Environmental Protection Agency ...

The taming of the light screw

March 22, 2019

DESY and MPSD scientists have created high-order harmonics from solids with controlled polarization states, taking advantage of both crystal symmetry and attosecond electronic dynamics. The newly demonstrated technique might ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.