Sustainable Agriculture: developing Indicator 2.4.1

In September 2015, the UN General Assembly adopted the Sustainable Development Agenda, with 17 global goals at its core, and, associated with each of the goals, are targets and indicators that will help inform countries on their progress in achieving these goals over the next 15 years.

Indicator 2.4.1 – “The proportion of agricultural area under productive and sustainable agriculture” is one of the 20 important SDG indicators for which FAO is the custodian agency. Indicator 2.4.1 is tier 3, meaning there is no established methodology and time-series data that follow and internationally defined standards are not yet available.

The FAO Strategic Program on Sustainable Agriculture (SP2) and the Global Strategy to improve Agriculture and Rural Statistics (GSARS) are collaborating to design a concrete statistical methodology to develop indicator 2.4.1. across the four dimensions of sustainability (i.e. economic, social, environmental and resilience), ensure international comparability, as well as address statistical systems’ needs to implement the indicator, especially data collection at the country level.

Using a consultative approach, a series of knowledge sharing meetings with cross-functional teams of FAO were carried out to obtain a 360 degree perspective on sustainable agriculture. The next steps will be to discuss the proposed methodology for the indicator in expert meetings, involving National Statistical Services, international organizations and internationally recognized experts in the field of sustainable agriculture (planned for last quarter of 2016 in Rome). During the process, the methodology will be peer reviewed by the United Nations Inter-Agency Expert Group on Food Security, Agriculture and Rural Statistics (IAEG-AG) and finally submitted to the United Nations Inter-Agency Expert Group on Sustainable Development Goals (IAEG-SDG) by the end of 2016.

The methodology to assess sustainable agriculture will be piloted in selected countries in 2017 with support from the Global Strategy. Once tested, the methodology will be finalized and complemented by guidelines to help countries measure and monitor the degree of sustainable agriculture and start reporting on indicator 2.4.1.