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Sustainable intensification revisited

Sustainable intensification is receiving growing attention as a way to address the challenge of feeding an increasingly populous and resource-constrained world. But are we asking too much of it? Nearly 20 years after the concept was developed, this paper revisits the term and proposes what sustainable intensification is — a useful guiding framework for raising agricultural productivity on existing arable land in a sustainable manner; and what it is not — a paradigm for achieving food security overall. The paper summarises the history of and controversy surrounding the term, its main assumptions and risks, as well as its value for the future. We call for a re-rooting of sustainable intensification as one key element of a sustainable food system situated within a green economy.

Publication information

  • IIED code: 14651IIED
  • Published: Mar 2015 - IIED
  • Theme: Food and agriculture
  • ISBN: 978-1-78431-185-8
  • Language: English

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It is a huge challenge to achieve food security for all in a way that is sustainable environmentally, economically, socially and politically. And there are different views on what dimension of sustainability should have priority when trying to produce 'more with less'.

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