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Normative, systemic and procedural aspects: a review of indicator-based sustainability assessments in agriculture

posted 27 Oct 2012, 09:14 by Giuseppe Feola   [ updated 18 Jan 2014, 13:48 ]

Binder, C.R., Feola, G. 2012. Normative, systemic and procedural aspects: a review of indicator-based sustainability assessments in agriculture. In: Marta-Costa A.A., Silva E. (Eds.), Methods and Procedures for Building Sustainable Farming Systems. Springer, pp. 33-46.

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Abstract

Methods for assessing the sustainability of agricultural systems do often not fully (i) take into account the multifunctionality of agriculture, (ii) include multidimensionality, (iii) utilize and implement the assessment knowledge and (iv) identify conflicting goals and trade-offs. This chapter reviews seven recently developed multidisciplinary indicator-based assessment methods with respect to their contribution to these shortcomings. All approaches include (1) normative aspects such as goal setting, (2) systemic aspects such as a specification of scale of analysis and (3) a reproducible structure of the approach. The approaches can be categorized into three typologies: first, top-down farm assessments, which focus on field or farm assessment; second, top-down regional assessments, which assess the on-farm and the regional effects; and third, bottom-up, integrated participatory or transdisciplinary approaches, which focus on a regional scale. Our analysis shows that the bottom-up, integrated participatory or transdisciplinary approaches seem to better overcome the four shortcomings mentioned above.