The browser you are using is not supported by this website. All versions of Internet Explorer are no longer supported, either by us or Microsoft (read more here:

Please use a modern browser to fully experience our website, such as the newest versions of Edge, Chrome, Firefox or Safari etc.

Kimberly Nicholas

Kimberly Nicholas

Senior Lecturer, Docent

Kimberly Nicholas

European agricultural policy requires a stronger performance framework to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals


  • Murray W. Scown
  • Kimberly A. Nicholas

Summary, in English

Non-technical summary Agriculture provides many benefits to people, such as producing food and creating jobs in rural areas, but it can also have negative impacts on the environment. We analysed existing monitoring indicators for the European Union’s Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) to evaluate whether the CAP is effectively achieving multiple social and environmental goals. We found that the current CAP monitoring system is unable to balance many potentially competing goals because its indicators are biased towards a few objectives. We suggest the European Union and its Member States adopt a broader set of indicators covering clear targets when the policy is reformed after 2020. Technical summary Agriculture is crucial to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), but the ambitious claims for the sector’s contribution have not been sufficiently scrutinized. We use existing measurable policy indicators for the European Union’s Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) to systematically align the policy with the SDGs. We find that current CAP indicators focus on three goals: zero hunger (SDG 2), decent work (SDG 8) and life on land (SDG 15). Important SDGs are entirely missing from the agricultural indicators, including health (SDG 3), gender equality (SDG 5), oceans (SDG 14) and institutions (SDG 16), contradicting recent reports proclaiming agriculture’s contribution to all SDGs globally. We analyse the alignment of CAP indicators across policy stages and between CAP Pillars, finding that the SDGs are best covered by CAP Target, Result and Impact indicator sets, and in Pillar II of the CAP supporting rural development. More transparent and objective assessment by the European Union and its Member States using measurable indicators is needed in order to ensure evidence-based policy supports agriculture and other sectors to achieve their widely touted potential to contribute to the SDGs. Social media summary The EU’s Common Agriculture Policy indicators are not well aligned to deliver the Sustainable Development Goals.


  • LUCSUS (Lund University Centre for Sustainability Studies)
  • BECC: Biodiversity and Ecosystem services in a Changing Climate

Publishing year





Global Sustainability



Document type

Journal article


Cambridge University Press


  • Economics


  • Common Agricultural Policy
  • EU Member States
  • Monitoring and evaluation
  • Policy coherence
  • Science policy
  • SDGs
  • Trade-offs




  • ISSN: 2059-4798