Dr. Xin Zhang, PI of the Sustainable Agricultural Matrix Presented at the FAO Roundtable “Measuring Progress towards Sustainable Agriculture”


FAO in North America reported in its blog on June 21, 2019:


Xin Zhang, Assistant Professor at the University of Maryland’s Center for Environmental Science (UMCES), presented the Sustainable Agricultural Matrix (SAM). The matrix aims to help track a country’s performance on sustainable agriculture based on 20 indicators, which look at environmental, social, and economic dimensions with already available data. Professor Zhang noted that whether there are clear tradeoffs or synergies between the economic and environmental dimensions depends on the context, and that countries can learn from positive examples that create synergies between these three dimensions. Measuring the performance of sustainable agriculture at the farm and national level is important, especially with complex dynamics of markets, consumer behavior and policy, more resource efficient technology does not necessarily lead to a reduction of water depletion, nitrogen pollution and deforestation she stated. Professor Zhang emphasized that ‘No country has been able to move all its indicators into a safe sustainability zone, meaning that every country needs to improve aspects of sustainable agriculture.’