A framework for guiding sustainability assessment and on-farm strategic decision makingA framework for guiding sustainability assessment and on-farm strategic decision making
Faculty of Sciences. Biology
2016Boston, Mass., 2016
Environmental impact assessment review. - Boston, Mass.
60(2016), p. 16-23
University of Antwerp
Responding to future challenges and societal needs, various actions are taken in agriculture to evolve towards more sustainable farming practices. These actions imply strategic choices and suppose adequate sustainability assessments to identify, measure, evaluate and communicate sustainable development. However, literature is scarce on the link between strategic decision making and sustainability assessment. As questions emerge on how, what and when to measure, the objective of this paper is to construct a framework for guiding sustainability assessment and on-farm strategic decision making. Qualitative research on own experiences from the past and a recent project revealed four categories of actual needs farmers, advisors and experts have regarding sustainability assessment: context, flexibility, focus on farm and farmer and communication. These stakeholders' needs are then incorporated into a two-dimensional framework that marries the intrinsic complexity of sustainability assessment tools and the time frame of strategic decision making. The framework allows a farm-specific and flexible approach leading to harmonized actions towards sustainable farming. As this framework is mainly a procedural instrument to guide the use of sustainability assessment tools within strategic decision making, it fits to incorporate, even guide, future research on sustainability assessment tools themselves and on their adoption on farms. (C) 2016 Elsevier Inc All rights reserved.