Methodological Challenges and General Criteria for Assessing and Designing Local Sustainable Agri-Food Systems: A Socio-Ecological Approach at Landscape Level

Part of the Human-Environment Interactions book series (HUEN, volume 7)


Agri-food systems are sustainable when they can meet human needs while maintaining the basic funds and ecosystem services of agoecosystems and cultural landscapes in both a reproducible way and a healthy ecological state, at local, regional and global scales. This axiological definition involves a large research agenda to explore the operative criteria and indicators needed to know how to achieve this goal. It has to be a transdisciplinary research, capable of linking some of the already existing methodologies, like Life-Cycle Analysis (LCA), Material and Energy Flow Accounting of Social Metabolism (MEFA), Multi-Scale Integrated Analysis of Societal and Ecosystem Metabolism (MuSIASEM), Agroecology, Landscape Ecology, Political Ecology and valuation of site-specific Biocultural Heritages of Peasant Knowledge. We will examine these approaches and the accounting methods, highlighting their strengths and weaknesses, so as to combine them in innovative ways within a common framework focused on the interactive relations among societal and ecological metabolisms. To do so in a non-eclectic manner requires an agroecological perspective when accounting energy and material flows of farm systems, linking them with landscape ecology patterns and processes which sustain farm-associated biodiversity and derived ecosystem services, and adopting at all times an environmental history standpoint.


Agri-food systems Sustainability Social metabolism Agroecology Life-cycle analysis MuSIASEM Energy-landscape integrated analysis Peasant knowledge 


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© Springer International Publishing AG 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Economic History, Faculty of Economics and BusinessInstitutions, Policy and World Economy, University of BarcelonaBarcelonaSpain
  2. 2.Agro-Ecosystems History LaboratoryPablo de Olavide UniveristySevilleSpain

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