Fifteen Eighty Four

Academic perspectives from Cambridge University Press


Resilient and Sustainable Farming Systems in Europe

Bárbara Soriano, Erik Mathijs, Julie Urquhart, Alisa Spiegel, Alberto Garrido, Peter H. Feindt, Miranda P.M. Meuwissen

What exactly is resilience and how can it be enhanced? Farming systems in Europe are rapidly evolving while being at the same time under threat, as seen by the disappearance of dozens of farms every day. Farming systems must become more resilient in response to growing economic, environmental, institutional, and social challenges facing Europe’s agriculture. Since the COVID-19 pandemic, the need for enhanced resilience has become even more apparent and continues to be an overarching guiding principle of EU policy making.

The aim of this book is to show an in-depth resilience assessment of European farming systems in response to economic, environmental, institutional, and social challenges that will determine the future and sustainability of farming systems in Europe. Four novelties explain the added value of this book: i)  It provides a unique insight into the resilience challenges of Europe’s diverse farming systems, consisting of eleven case studies; ii) It considers numerous stakeholders and their role in making farming more resilient, offering a more integrated and wider view; iii) It addresses components both separately and collectively to create an integrated synthesis; and iv) It provides policy and business recommendations to make farming systems more resilient.

The book builds on the SURE-Farm five-steps resilience assessment framework. This framework is designed to assess resilience to known and specific challenges (specific resilience) as well as a farming system’s capacity to deal with the unknown, uncertainty and surprise (general resilience). Due to the complex multifaceted nature of resilience, the framework suggests the following five analytical steps with guiding questions: (1) resilience of what? – characterization of the farming system; (2) resilience to what? – identification of challenges; (3) resilience for what purpose? – analysis of system functions; (4) what resilience capacities? – evaluation of system responses –;  and (5) what enhances resilience? – examination of resilience attributes.

Based on this framework, the book first presents findings on four key processes that affect the resilience of farming systems i.e., risk management, farm demographics, governance and agricultural practices. Findings are substantiated through a combination of methods and measurement approaches.  

The empirical centrepiece of the book are the eleven case study chapters (Belgium, Bulgaria, France, Germany, Great Britain, Italy, Netherlands, Poland, Romania, Spain and Sweden) that provide in-depth insights into the challenges and resilience capacities, and strategies of very different farming systems across Europe. In the final part of the book insights from the systematic assessments are synthesised regarding the assessments of farming systems, roadmaps for the enabling environment, lessons learned from the various co-creation methods and the SURE-Farm approach to assess the resilience of Europe’s diverse farming systems.

Resilient and Sustainable Farming Systems in Europe by Miranda P. M. Meuwissen, Peter H. Feindt, Alberto Garrido, Erik Mathijs, Bárbara Soriano, Julie Urquhart, Alisa Spiegel
Resilient and Sustainable Farming Systems in Europe by Miranda P. M. Meuwissen, Peter H. Feindt, Alberto Garrido, Erik Mathijs, Bárbara Soriano, Julie Urquhart, Alisa Spiegel

About The Authors

Bárbara Soriano

Dr. Bárbara Soriano is an Associate Professor in agricultural economics at the Universidad Politécnica de Madrid. Her research focuses on agricultural risk management and resilie...

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Erik Mathijs

Erik Mathijs is Professor of Agricultural and Resource Economics at KU Leuven. His research focuses on the practices, metrics and policies underpinning the transformation of the Eu...

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Julie Urquhart

Dr Julie Urquhart is an Associate Professor in Environmental Social Science at the Countryside & Com-munity Research Institute, University of Gloucestershire. She is an environment...

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Alisa Spiegel

Dr. Alisa Spiegel is researcher at Thuenen-Institut, Coordination Unit Climate. In her research, she focus-es on risks and resilience in agriculture, risk management at farm and in...

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Alberto Garrido

Professor of Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics and Vice-Rector of Quality and Efficiency at the Universidad Politécnica de Madrid (UPM). His research interests are risk ...

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Peter H. Feindt

Prof. Dr. Peter H. Feindt is head of the Agricultural and Food Policy Group at the Thaer-Institute for Agri-cultural and Horticultural Sciences, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Ge...

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Miranda P.M. Meuwissen

Miranda P.M. Meuwissen is professor of risk management and resilience in food supply chains at the Business Economics group of Wageningen University and Research, the Netherlands. ...

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