Europe’s contribution to the SDGs via Sustainable Agriculture

30 August 2019
Sustainable Development Goals
Agenda 2030
Sustainable Agriculture
Spillover effects
Societal metabolism


Title: Europe’s contribution to the SDGs via Sustainable Agriculture: The need to better account for ‘spillover’ effects in other countries

Authors: Kerry A. Waylen, Kirsty L. Blackstock, Keith B. Matthews, Alba Juarez-Bourke (The James Hutton Institute)

Date: 30 August 2019




The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) set an ambitious programme for the world to achieve by 2030. The European Union presents itself as a forerunner in achieving these, but the adequacy of current EU responses and appraisal of progress has been questioned. In this briefing we highlight how actions designed to support the SDGs within the EU may have detrimental consequences outside Europe. We illustrate this through the example of sustainable agriculture, which contributes to several SDGs. The Societal Metabolism Analysis at the heart of the MAGIC approach highlights that different agricultural practices vary in their impacts beyond the EU: these impacts should be considered when defining and deciding how to achieve sustainable agriculture. To better understand – and plan – Europe’s contributions to the UN Agenda 2030, we must better account for such effects.