Sustainable intensification revisited
This briefing by IIED revisits the term ‘sustainable intensification’. The paper makes a distinction in what it should be according to the authors — a useful guiding framework for raising agricultural productivity on existing arable land in a sustainable manner; and what it should not be — 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. The key recommendations when implementing sustainable intensification, aimed at decision makers, are: 1) provide incentives to drastically reduce the environmental impacts of crop and livestock production; 2) promote low-cost approaches that farmers can control; 3) Enable and invest in local innovation and adaptation using both local/traditional knowledge and science; 5) address the energy needs of smallholders while limiting fossil fuel intensity and reducing greenhouse gas emissions; and 6) strengthen the voice of smallholders.