SAM Consortium

Image of SAM Consortium LogoProject Overview

We proposed to establish a SAM international consortium, a novel network of collaborators who work across the boundaries of disciplines, national borders, and sectors. This transdisciplinary network will address the complex societal problems of pursuing sustainable agriculture by bringing together knowledge from diverse disciplines and stakeholders, including partners from six countries/regions (i.e., USA, Austria, Brazil, Turkey, South Africa, Sub-Saharan Africa) at various stages of economic development and with different natural endowment for agricultural development, providing diverse experiences and challenges to enable co-learning among countries.  

Our proposed work is predicated on the theory of change that you cannot manage what you do not measure. Our consortium of country teams will synthesize the measurement data currently available, propose sustainability indicators at national and sub-national scales, and demonstrate how analysis and outreach regarding what has been measured can inform sustainable management going forward. The proposed work addresses both Topic 1 and Topic 2 of this Belmont call, and lays the foundation for a “truly integrated and comprehensive understanding of sustainable development pathways.” We will focus on the following three Work Themes (WT): Application, Analysis, and Dissemination. 



This project is embedded within research currently funded in the 11 consortium institutes, which in turn, provide diverse expertise, experience, and resources to this project.

UMCES and Oxfam are the two leading institutions on the development of the first edition of SAM, with initial funding secured from SESYNC and National Science Foundation (NSF). The development of SAM is embedded in the research programs at the Environmental Science and Policy lab led by Professor Zhang at UMCES, with additional existing NSF and NASA support on related sustainable agriculture topics. In addition, UMCES is the lead institution for the Belmont-funded COAST Card project (led by Dr. Dennison, a member of SAM consortium), an innovative and stakeholder-driven tool for coastal sustainability, which will be instrumental in engaging diverse stakeholders in the co-development of SAM. The databases, tools, and networks developed at UMCES will provide the foundation and solid support for this consortium.

Oxfam is a global organization working to end the injustice of poverty with over many years of experience working in Food systems and Agriculture related programs on improving livelihoods and ensuring that the marginalized producers, entrepreneurs and workers thrive and their rights are protected. Oxfam America will serve as a consortium member to this project and will support networking and dissemination efforts through its strong relationships and infrastructure between Oxfam country offices and partnerships around the world.

The International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA) is an international, scientific, non-governmental institute conducting policy-oriented research. Within the agricultural domain, recent projects include the Food, Agriculture, Biodiversity, Land use, Energy (FABLE) project, which develops pathways for sustainable agricultural development with country partners, and RESTORE+, which addresses pathways for land restoration in Indonesia and Brazil, integrating a wide range of stakeholders and scientific disciplines. Both are in synergy with this project.

The Austrian Institute for Economic Research (WIFO) is the leading institute for applied empirical economic research in Austria with a strong commitment at a European level. Recent research within the agricultural domain has addressed the development of sustainability indicators for Austria and the EU or macro-economic analyses and projections of rural development in Austria, which will feed into this project. Results of the SAM co-development project will provide further insights into indicator interactions, the potential to expand national and European analyses to a global scale, and a quantification of sustainability indicators in an international context.

The Centro de Energia Nuclear na Agricultura (CENA) and the Instituto Nacional de Pesquisas Espaciais (INPE) are research and education institutions in Brazil, which have strong backgrounds in investigations related to environmental and social consequences of land-use changes in Brazil, including agriculture production and environmental conservation in multiple functional landscapes. Both institutions have a long history on international collaboration and participated in projects developed in major Brazilians biomes in a variety of agricultural landscapes.

African Plant Nutrition Institute (APNI) is a not-for-profit research and development organization focusing on improving soil fertility and plant nutrition in Africa with the goal of enhancing the livelihoods of farmers and rural communities. With multiple regional offices spanning west and east Africa and an established Soil Health Consortia, APNI will bring collaborators from agronomy, environmental and policy research and development institutions, and the private sector in the region, facilitate an interdisciplinary process to develop country cases for Kenya and Tanzania, and Côte d’Ivoire, and contribute to a global evaluation of the SAM framework. APNI will also integrate the results of the SAM analyses generated by the project to develop tools for monitoring and evaluation of the impact of agricultural interventions in Africa.

University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN) established the Centre for Transformative Agricultural and Food Systems (CTAFS) at UKZN to contribute to building resilient and sustainable healthy food systems through transdisciplinary research. The SAM consortium project will be embedded within CTAFS’ climate resilient agricultural systems and sustainable food systems themes and within multiple existing projects. For example, the SAM consortium will enhance the on-going work on water-energy-food (WEF) nexus composite index to provide value-added assessment for the agriculture sector.

Sabanci University is relatively a young university in Turkey but with a vision for innovative and transdisciplinary research. The Molecular Biology, Genetics and Bioengineering program at Sabanci University has broad experience in nutrition and biofortification of crop plants; while Istanbul Policy Center has been fostering academic research in social sciences and its application to policy making. The true partnership between the programs provides SAM consortium valuable regional networks and essential expertise in developing a country case in Turkey.

Tekfen Agri, a corporate agricultural company providing rational solutions with high-tech studies, will contribute to the consortium by providing data with its farmer portfolio and agricultural production. Toros Agri, the largest fertilizer producer of Turkey, will contribute the data collected in the sustainability department to the project. Both companies will bring perspectives from the private sector during the co-development of SAM indicators and country case studies.

Photos of Team Members of SAM Consortium

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