A framework for assessing linkages between agricultural trade, investments, and sustainability

Andrea M. Bassi & Marco Guzzetti  | June 14, 2023

KnowlEdge Srl, as a partner to MATS, developed an analytical framework to enable a comprehensive and interconnected assessment of the impact of policies on behavior, using evidence-based methods supported by science. In MATS, the aim is to connect the local level to a global level while taking into account the complexities of the food system. The framework we developed consists of indicators, methods, models, enabling conditions, and transition pathways. Eventually, it will guide the assessment of sustainability of agricultural trade policies and trade-related measures.

Figure 1 illustrates the process and flow of the analytical framework.  The three main components (indicators, models, and methods for presenting results) are backed by a review of existing analytical frameworks for sustainability of agricultural trade. The selection of indicators enables the measurement and evaluation of the social, economic, environmental, and governance impacts of agricultural trade. These indicators are specifically chosen to conduct a comprehensive analysis of the relationship between trade policy and multidimensional sustainability outcomes. They serve as the foundation for a systemic approach and are thoroughly examined in the earlier phases of the MATS project.  The developed analytical framework provides the necessary structure for case study assessments (MATS has 15 case studies), as well as the analysis of institutional, regulatory, and legal frameworks. Furthermore, it forms the foundation for a multi-actor forecasting, foresight, and back-casting approach to explore transition pathways toward sustainable trade.

Figure 1: Process and flow of Task 2.4

The framework has been developed to facilitate diverse assessments pertaining to sustainability of agricultural trade, encompassing trade, investment, agricultural production, production outcomes, and governance indicators. In this regard, the framework has benefited from and is closely aligned with the EU Taxonomy, which serves as a “green classification system” translating the climate and environmental objectives of the European Union into criteria for investment in specific economic activities. Within this context, the framework establishes a set of indicators to characterize and define the sustainability of agricultural trade. By doing so, it aids in the identification of investments that align with the Platform on Sustainable Finance and promotes transparency by adopting a comprehensive and multi-dimensional approach to sustainability.

Andrea M. Bassi is the CEO of KnowlEdge. He has 20 years of experience working with more than 40 governments and international organizations on the development of customized models for the assessment of outcomes of policy and investment across social, economic and environmental indicators. Andrea holds a Ph.D. and M.Phil. in System Dynamics from the University of Bergen, Norway, a M.Sc. in Economics from LIUC, Italy and a post-graduate diploma on Modeling the Environment from the University of Catalunia, Spain. See his comprehensive list of publications, projects, activities, and much more here.

Marco Guzzetti is a Research Fellow supporting the integration of spatial analysis in the systems models developed by KE, and performs Cost Benefit Analysis for sustainable agriculture and land use projects. Marco worked at the United Nations ESCAP in Bangkok, the European Parliament in Brussels and the Lombardy Foundation for the Environment prior to joining KE. He holds an MSc in Environmental Management from University of Stirling, UK and a BSc in Biology from University of Milan, Italy.

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