…ensure sustainable food production systems and implement resilient agricultural practices that increase productivity and production, that help maintain ecosystems, that strengthen capacity for adaptation to climate change, extreme weather, drought, flooding and other disasters, and that progressively improve land and soil quality.

Sustainable Development Goal 2.4


Agriculture is the foundation of civilisation, and it remains a way of life for much of the world’s population. For the 70 percent of the world’s poor who live in rural areas, agriculture is the main source of income and employment.  By contrast, only 5% of Europeans are farmers.

During the past 50 years the mechanisation of agriculture, the use of chemicals, and advances in biotechnology, have made food production much less labour-intensive while keeping yields ahead of population growth. Yet these developments have come at the cost of environmental problems  such as soil erosion, nutrient pollution, the loss of genetic diversity and pesticide contamination. Moreover, agriculture is one of the primary sources of greenhouse gases.

With the world population projected to increase by up to 50% by 2050, and with water and arable land becoming increasingly limited, the challenge will be to develop sustainable agricultural practices that can nourish the world without costing the Earth.

More than any other sector, agriculture is the common thread which holds the 17 Sustainable Development Goals together.

See also Food and water, Climate change and Animal welfare.