Skip to navigation Skip to content

Understanding and improving the sustainability of agro-ecological farming systems in the EU

Understanding and improving agro-ecological farming systems
Front page of UNISECO UK case Study StoryMap
UNISECO aims to develop innovative approaches for the development and implementation of agro-ecological practices in EU farming systems

UNISECO aims to develop innovative approaches to enhance the understanding of socio-economic and policy drivers and barriers for further development and implementation of agro-ecological practices in EU farming systems.UNISECO is a Horizon 2020 European Commission project (Grant Agreement No 773901) which runs from April 2018 to March 2022. The project Coordinator is the Johann Heinrich vonThuenen-Institute.

Project Objectives

The overall objective is to strengthen the sustainability of European farming systems through co-constructing improved and practice-validated strategies for the promotion of improved agro-ecological approaches.  

Specific objectives are to:

  • enhance the understanding of socio-economic and policy drivers and barriers for further development and implementation of agro-ecological approaches in EU farming systems to identify and facilitate more effective management strategies for European agriculture.
  • operationalise a socio-ecological systems framework that integrates external settings into a sustainability assessment of farming systems, paying particular attention to the role of different types of actors and their roles in sub-systems.
  • provide a methodological toolkit to assess the environmental, economic and social impacts of innovative strategies and incentives for agro-ecological approaches in EU farming systems at farm and territorial levels.


A transdisciplinary approach is used within the 15 partner countries, and at a European level. 

Expected impacts:

  • improved methodological capacity to assess the sustainability of agro-ecological approaches
  • enhanced integrated capacity and knowledge sharing to develop viable long term strategies for traditional and small-scale AEFS
  • co-constructed novel and effective market mechanisms and policy instruments for delivering public goods through economically viable AEFS
  • improved knowledge base of agro-ecological farming in the EU for use by policy-makers with at EU, national and regional levels, advisors, farmers, value chain actors and consumers
  • inform the reform process of the CAP after 2020, revisions to environmental policies and policy efforts to support rural job creation

United Kingdom Case Study

The case studies in the UNISECO project are of different farming systems in 15 countries across Europe. The case study in the United Kingdom focuses on Mixed Farming with Livestock and General Cropping in north-east Scotland. An introduction to the topic of the case study, some examples of agro-ecological approaches, and provisional outputs from an assessment of sustanabliity are provided in a Storymap, which can be accessed here.

This case study is being run by the James Hutton Institute and University of Aberdeen.

Further Details

The Consortium consists of 18 partners, including 11 public bodies (7 universities and 4 research institutes), 3 non-profit organizations, 3 SMEs and 1 international organization. The combinati0on of partners provides leading scientific expertise, education, knowledge exchange and dissemination and business. 

UNISECO is active on Social Media platforms. Please follow us on:  TwitterLinkedIn

Staff Involved

EU Cordis WWW entry

UNISECO entry on Cordis 

UNISECO WWW pages of project partners

Key Contact

David Miller

Project Information
Project Type: 
Active Project
SEFARI – Scottish Environment, Food and Agriculture Research InstitutesSEFARI is the collective of six Scottish world-leading Research Institutes working across the spectrum of environment, land, food, agriculture and communities – all topics which affect how we live our lives, in Scotland and beyond.


Areas of Interest

Printed from /research/projects/understanding-and-improving-sustainability-agro-ecological-farming-systems-eu on 26/02/24 01:14:52 AM

The James Hutton Research Institute is the result of the merger in April 2011 of MLURI and SCRI. This merger formed a new powerhouse for research into food, land use, and climate change.