Volume 18, Issue 5 p. 1199-1205
Special Series: Integrating Science in Environmental Management Practices Inspired by UN SDGs

The sustainable agriculture imperative: A perspective on the need for an agrosystem approach to meet the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals by 2030

René S. Shahmohamadloo

Corresponding Author

René S. Shahmohamadloo

School of Environmental Sciences, University of Guelph, Guelph, Ontario, Canada

Department of Integrative Biology, University of Guelph, Guelph, Ontario, Canada

Correspondence René S. Shahmohamadloo, School of Environmental Sciences, University of Guelph, Guelph, ON, Canada.

Email: [email protected]

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Catherine M. Febria

Catherine M. Febria

Great Lakes Institute for Environmental Research, University of Windsor, Windsor, Ontario, Canada

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Evan D. G. Fraser

Evan D. G. Fraser

Department of Geography, Environment and Geometrics, University of Guelph, Guelph, Ontario, Canada

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Paul K. Sibley

Paul K. Sibley

School of Environmental Sciences, University of Guelph, Guelph, Ontario, Canada

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First published: 25 November 2021
Citations: 6

EDITOR'S NOTE:

The special series addressing UN Sustainable Development Goals highlights “Environmental Management Practices Inspired by SDGs” and aims to call attention to practices, ideas, and thought leaders contributing to sustainability in all facets of the global economy. The 2020s are a transformative decade for human interaction with the environment, largely inspired by the United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals. Scientific research and environmental management practices lead the way to sustainability, and several SDGs aim to reduce our environmental footprint and preserve, protect, and restore ecological health.

Abstract

The development of modern, industrial agriculture and its high input–high output carbon energy model is rendering agricultural landscapes less resilient. The expected continued increase in the frequency and intensity of extreme weather events, in conjunction with declining soil health and biodiversity losses, could make food more expensive to produce. The United Nations has called for global action by establishing 17 sustainable development goals (SDGs), four of which are linked to food production and security: declining biodiversity (SDG 15), loss of ecosystem services and agroecosystem stability caused by increasing stress from food production intensification and climate change (SDG 13), declining soil health caused by agricultural practices (SDGs 2 and 6), and dependence on synthetic fertilizers and pesticides to maintain high productivity (SDG 2). To achieve these SDGs, the agriculture sector must take a leading role in reversing the many negative environmental trends apparent in today's agricultural landscapes to ensure that they will adapt and be resilient to climate change in 2030 and beyond. This will demand fundamental changes in how we practice agriculture from an environmental standpoint. Here, we present a perspective focused on the implementation of an agrosystem approach, which we define to promote regenerative agriculture, an integrative approach that provides greater resilience to a changing climate, reverses biodiversity loss, and improves soil health; honors Indigenous ways of knowing and a holistic approach to living off and learning from the land; and supports the establishment of emerging circular economies and community well-being. Integr Environ Assess Manag 2022;18:1199–1205. © 2021 SETAC

CONFLICT OF INTEREST

The authors declare that there are no conflicts of interest.

DATA AVAILABILITY STATEMENT

No data and associated metadata and calculation tools are included with this manuscript.