Sustainability in global agriculture driven by organic farming

Agricultural practices need to change to meet the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals by 2030. How to achieve the SDGs is heavily contested. Here we propose a policy framework that triggers the required transition. Organic agriculture, although not a silver bullet, is a useful component in such strategy.

Access options

Rent or Buy article

Get time limited or full article access on ReadCube.


All prices are NET prices.

Fig. 1


  1. 1.

    Willett, W. et al. Lancet. (2019).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  2. 2.

    Reganold, J. P. & Wachter, J. M. Nat. Plants 2, 15221 (2016).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  3. 3.

    Seufert, V. & Ramankutty, N. Sci. Adv. 3, e1602638 (2017).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  4. 4.

    Meemken, E.-M. & Qaim, M. Annu. Rev. Resour. Econ. 10, 39–63 (2018).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  5. 5.

    Searchinger, T. D. et al. Nature 564, 249–253 (2018).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  6. 6.

    Campbell, B. M. et al. Ecol. Soc. 22, 8 (2017).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  7. 7.

    Loos, J. et al. Front. Ecol. Environ. 12, 356–361 (2014).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  8. 8.

    From Uniformity to Diversity: A Paradigm Shift from Industrial Agriculture to Diversified Agroecological Systems (International Panel of Experts on Sustainable Food Systems, 2016).

  9. 9.

    Pretty, J. et al. Nat. Sustain. 1, 441–446 (2018).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  10. 10.

    Sanders, J., Stolze, M. & Padel, S. Use and Efficiency of Public Support Measures Addressing Organic Farming (Johann Heinrich von Thünen-Institut, 2011).

  11. 11.

    Sukhdev, P. Nature 558, 7 (2018).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  12. 12.

    Sandhu, H. S., Wratten, S. D., Cullen, R. & Case, B. Ecol. Econ. 64, 835–848 (2008).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  13. 13.

    FAO’s Work on Agroecology: A Pathway to Achieving the SDGs (FAO, 2018).

  14. 14.

    Arbenz, M., Gould, D. & Stopes, C. Org. Agr. 7, 199–207 (2017).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  15. 15.

    Desta, M. G. & McMaohn, J. A. J. World Trade 49, 699–734 (2015).

    Google Scholar 

  16. 16.

    Foley, J. A. et al. Nature 478, 337–342 (2011).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  17. 17.

    Muller, A. et al. Nat. Commun. 8, 13931 (2017).

    Article  Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information



Corresponding authors

Correspondence to Frank Eyhorn or Adrian Muller or John P. Reganold.

Ethics declarations

Competing interests

Frank Eyhorn serves as Vice-President of IFOAM — Organics International. The authors do not have any competing interests regarding the content of this article.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Eyhorn, F., Muller, A., Reganold, J.P. et al. Sustainability in global agriculture driven by organic farming. Nat Sustain 2, 253–255 (2019).

Download citation

Further reading


Nature Briefing

Sign up for the Nature Briefing newsletter — what matters in science, free to your inbox daily.

Get the most important science stories of the day, free in your inbox. Sign up for Nature Briefing