Measuring the sustainability of agriculture
This policy paper reviews the sustainability literature, with a view to furthering research in the area of the sustainability of Irish agriculture. This is the first component of a larger project currently being undertaken by the authors to assess the effect of policy reform on the economic, social and environmental sustainability of farms in Ireland using Irish National Farm survey data. One of the main objectives of the project is to develop indicators including all three dimensions of sustainability. The literature reviewed here should prove useful in designing a template for suitable Irish farm level indicators. In the paper the issue of sustainability is examined, and how it is defined and measured outlined. Sustainability indicators are explained, as is the framework on which these are generally based – using the ‘Driving-Force-Pressure-State-Impact-Response’ (DPSIR) framework. Finally, a review of the general literature in both the European and Irish contexts is given, with a view to using a number of indicators as a blueprint for the Irish case. It is evident from the main literature that research in the area builds upon previous studies and the original work of the OECD and the EU Commission in particular. Country specific studies continue to use the established DPSIR framework for the design of indicator sets and indeed similar indicators are chosen in most cases subject to data availability.
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- Rigby, D. & Caceres, D., 2001. "Organic farming and the sustainability of agricultural systems," Agricultural Systems, Elsevier, vol. 68(1), pages 21-40, April.
- Alan Matthews, 2003. "Sustainable Development Research in Agriculture: Gaps and Opportunities for Ireland," Trinity Economics Papers 200313, Trinity College Dublin, Department of Economics.
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