Eur-Agri-SSPs – Summaries

The major aim of the Eur-Agri-SSPs is to describe worlds in which socio-economic, geo-biophysical and technological drivers of agricultural change result in making mitigation of or adaptation to climate change in agriculture as well as tackling other sustainability issues harder or easier. These drivers have been identified in a participatory process and form the basis for the storylines, i.e. storyline elements. They are clustered in five topics – Population and urbanization, Economy, Policies and institutions, Technology, and Environment and natural resources.

The following summaries are drawn from:

Mitter, H., Techen, A.-K., Sinabell, F., Helming, K., Schmid, E., Bodirsky, B.L., Holman, I., Kok, K., Lehtonen, H., Leip, A., Le Mouël, C., Mathijs, E., Mehdi, B., Mittenzwei, K., Mora, O., Øistad, K., Øygarden, L., Priess, J.A., Reidsma, P., Schaldach, R., Schönhart, M., 2020. Shared Socio-economic Pathways for European agriculture and food systems: The Eur-Agri-SSPs. Global Environmental Change 65, 102159.

Eur-Agri-SSP1 – Agriculture on sustainable paths

In Europe, social and environmental awareness increase steadily
and significantly and are reflected by increasingly effective cooperation
between public and private sectors and civil society. This is accompanied
by tightened pro-environmental policies; abolished income
support for farmers; rising public payments for the provision of regulation
and cultural services; taxes on environmental damages; decreasing
resource depletion; and technology developments towards low
emissions, resource use efficiency and chemical pesticide-free agriculture.
European domestic demand shifts towards plant-based diets and bio-based materials, whereas food waste and per capita demand for
livestock-based products decrease gradually. Markets are globally
connected and trade agreements are strengthened. International trade
decreases because short and transparent agricultural supply chains are
preferred by consumers and external costs, e.g., for transportation, are
internalized in agricultural commodity prices. Challenges to climate
change mitigation are low in the agriculture and food systems because
of a decreasing demand for livestock-based products and technology
development with a focus on reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
Challenges to climate change adaptation are also low because of increasing
institutional effectiveness focusing on support for sustainable
farming, public investments in infrastructure development, and cooperation
along the agricultural supply chain.

Eur-Agri-SSP2 – Agriculture on established paths

European development follows historical patterns resulting in slow
but steady social, environmental and technological progress.
Cooperation between public and private sectors remains challenging
with little progress in implementing further environmental standards
and policy instruments. European agricultural policy is characterized
by multiple support schemes to increase international competitiveness,
productivity and efficiency, and improve environmental status.
National policies complement the European policy framework.
Agricultural commodities are mostly traded within Europe even though
global market integration advances. Demand for locally produced food,
bio-based materials, regulation services and landscape amenities increases
slowly, whereas per capita meat demand remains high.
Depletion of natural resources increases because of continuous growth
of the agriculture and food economy, and pro-environmental regulations
and resource-efficient technologies are only developed at a moderate
pace. Challenges to climate change mitigation are moderate because agriculture and food systems partly remain dependent on fossil
energy sources, resource-efficient technology development is advancing
gradually but is not expedited, and pro-environmental policy instruments
remain inefficient. Challenges to climate change adaptation in
agriculture are moderate because of slow and insufficient development
of European agricultural policy, and reduced investments in infrastructure
in rural areas.

Eur-Agri-SSP3 – Agriculture on separated paths

Mutual distrust and regional rivalry result in less efficient cooperation
between national and European entities, more severe
European and international trade restrictions, the emergence of national
agricultural policies, and relaxed environmental standards.
Increased self-sufficiency concerns of individual countries influence
demand patterns for food, feed and agro-fuels. Public payments aim to
maintain the national production potential, whereas demand for environmental
services declines. Access to international markets decreases,
whereas neo-colonialism and land grabbing gain in importance.
Market concentration increases within countries and national
governments keep agricultural production standards low. Technology
development and diffusion suffer from declining public and private
investments and weak cooperation between governments and actors in
the agricultural supply chains. Challenges to climate change mitigation
are high because of a lack of cooperation between the public and private
sectors, decreasing environmental awareness, reduced public
payments for environmental services, and slow technological progress
that focuses on productivity instead of greenhouse gas emission reduction
targets. Challenges to climate change adaptation are high due
to a combination of decreasing institutional effectiveness, reduced diffusion
of new technologies between nations, tighter budget constraints,
a dominance of national agricultural policies, and decreasing investments
in infrastructure in urban and rural areas.

Eur-Agri-SSP4 – Agriculture on unequal paths

Increasing social disparities between and within rural and urban
areas lead to social segregation. A business-oriented, wealthy upper
class dominates European institutions, sets the policy agenda, controls
agricultural supply chains, and stimulates technological uptake of energy
efficient and renewable energy technologies, whereas the lower
class majority are poorly represented in European institutions and
agricultural supply chains. European agricultural policies increasingly
support economic growth and technology development, from which the
large, industrialized farms benefit the most and the interests of a large
proportion of society are mostly ignored. Agricultural markets are increasingly
globally connected and demand for European agro-food
products is increasingly diverse, with a stagnation in domestic demand for feed and non-food commodities. Environmental standards decrease
except for selected, scenic, hot spot regions. Natural resources are increasingly
overused. Challenges to climate change mitigation are low in
the agriculture and food systems because of effective European institutions,
progress in technology development (towards low emissions
and nitrogen efficiency), and rising public payments for technology
penetration. Challenges to climate change adaptation are high because
of growing inequalities in access to institutions and production-related
support, to globally connected markets, and to education.

Eur-Agri-SSP5 – Agriculture on high-tech paths

European residents share a growing faith in technology, materialintensive
lifestyles and trade liberalization, which is reflected by improved
international trade agreements, globally connected agricultural
supply chains, accelerated technological progress and diffusion in the
agriculture and food systems, and expedited structural change.
Individuals’ affinity for technological innovation also affects increasing
global demands for European agricultural products, particularly for biobased
industrial raw materials as well as bio-based and innovative
products. Increased private investments in technological know-how and
the education of employees in the agriculture and food systems boost
economic growth, which is largely dependent on fossil energy sources.
Public payments to the agriculture and food systems are drastically
reduced to conform with liberalized and integrated markets.
Environmental standards are considerably lowered, which results in
overexploitation of natural resources in Europe and abroad. Challenges
to climate change mitigation are high in the agriculture and food systems
mostly because of decreasing environmental awareness, massively
reduced payments for environmental services, and a growing reliance
on fossil energy sources and other fossil-based inputs. Challenges to
climate change adaptation are low because of increasing investments in
social and technical infrastructure, higher economic growth rates and
professionalization in the agriculture and food systems.