Sustainable agricultural intensification appears in the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as a key strategy for ending hunger (SDG2) and achieving sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems (SDG15). Yet, it is not clear whether such twin benefits - for both human wellbeing and ecosystems - are actually achieved, especially in low and middle-income countries. The bulk of research on agricultural intensification has a relatively narrow focus on specific subcomponents of either human wellbeing (e.g. income) or ecosystem services (e.g. biodiversity). Only recently has there been a growth in literature exploring outcomes for both well-being and ecosystems. We have synthesised this literature in order to learn from the emerging findings and develop a research and policy agenda to help define and support sustainable intensification
In the version of this Review originally published, the top heading in the first column of Fig. 2 was mistakenly written ‘Food poisoning’; it should have read ‘Food provisioning’. This has now been corrected.
Land-use intensification in agrarian landscapes is seen as a key strategy to simultaneously feed humanity and use ecosystems sustainably, but the conditions that support positive social-ecological outcomes remain poorly documented. We address this knowledge gap by synthesizing research that analyses how agricultural intensification affects both ecosystem services and human well-being in low- and middle-income countries. Overall, we find that agricultural intensification is rarely found to lead to simultaneous positive ecosystem service and well-being outcomes. This is particularly the case when ecosystem services other than food provisioning are taken into consideration.