Agricultural sustainability and the Sustainable Development Goals


Agriculture is at the center of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Production and consumption patterns, as well as their interlinkages with food security, climate change and economic development have a direct impact on every country’s ability to achieve SDG-related targets. “Towards Sustainable and Resilient Agriculture” (TSARA) is a research project under the EU Joint Programming Initiative on Agriculture, Food Security and Climate Change that seeks to support the identification and development of transformation pathways towards sustainable agricultural food systems, ultimately contributing to the delivery of the SDGs in The Netherlands, France and the United Kingdom (

TSARA consists of five scientific Work Packages (WPs) related to (i) the generation of a farm systems typology, (ii) the proposal of specific indicators for agriculture-relevant SDGs, (iii) quantitative modeling, (iv) the analysis of trade-offs and challenges involved in the pursue of the proposed SDG targets, and (iv) engagement with stakeholders to ensure buy-in of TSARA outputs – particularly advice on strategies to enhance sustainability of EU agricultural practices. 

Students may focus on one or more of the outlined WPs depending on their interest and familiarity with quantitative and qualitative analytical methods, as well as the specific project demands.

Type of work

At the early stage of the project, focus will be placed on the elaboration of a farm systems typology, for which data collection and analysis using both statistical and mapping tools are crucial. Besides biophysical data, the typology will largely rely on information contained in the FADN/Eurostat databases (including degree of specialization, land use, management intensity, size, among other parameters). In addition, specific indicators need to be defined for agriculture-relevant SDGs, together with stakeholders. At a later stage, the focus will change to quantitative modelling of transformation pathways.


TSARA is coordinated by Rothamsted Research (UK) and involves partner institutions from three other countries: Institute for Sustainable Development and International Relations (FR), Wageningen University (NL) and AgResearch (NZ). The student will be based in The Netherlands, but trips for workshops and scientific meetings may be needed.


Students with good communication skills, interested in interdisciplinary work and experienced with statistical and mapping techniques for farm systems analysis are strongly encouraged to apply. Familiarity with the software packages R/Stata and ArcGIS is desired, but prerequisites also depend on the specific topic that is selected. Completion of the course PPS-30306 QUALUS. 

Time/ Location          

Plant Production Systems Group, WUR


Pytrik Reidsma                                   0317-485578