From the United Nations Policy Brief 105 'Circular Agriculture for Sustainable Rural Development
May 18, 2021

Key messages

  • The environmental, social and economic costs of the 'linear' nature of the modern food production system are significant: Food related CO2 emissions could double by 2050 without changes in the current unsustainable food systems and consumption patters.

  • Circular agriculture is a way to farm sustainably, while making use of scientific advances, innovations, and new technologies. Mixed crop-livestock and organic farming, agroforestry, and water recycling and wastewater reuse are key elements of circular agriculture.

  • The adoption of circular agricultural practices is particularly suited for labor intensive smallholder farming and contributes to more inclusive and gender-sensitive economic development in rural areas.

  • The strengthening of institutions and incentives such as water user  associations and secure water and tenure rights, along with enhanced international cooperation, can spur greater application of circular approaches in agriculture.