A Roadmap for Sustainable Agriculture: The Agri Sustainability Compass and the Horizon Europe STEP UP Project

In the face of growing environmental challenges and the urgent need for sustainable agricultural practices, the European Commission has launched a new tool: the Agri Sustainability Compass. This online platform is set to transform how stakeholders across the European Union understand and manage agricultural sustainability. By integrating comprehensive data across economic, environmental, and social dimensions, the Agri Sustainability Compass aims to provide a clear roadmap towards a more sustainable and resilient agricultural future.

Understanding the Agri Sustainability Compass

The Agri Sustainability Compass is a user-friendly, data-driven tool designed to offer valuable insights into the sustainability of agricultural practices across the EU. Launched by the European Commission, this platform is part of a broader effort to support the EU’s Green Deal and Farm to Fork strategy, both of which emphasise the importance of sustainable food systems and climate neutrality by 2050.

Key Features of the Agri Sustainability Compass:

  • Comprehensive Data Integration: The tool consolidates data from multiple sources, covering 20 key indicators that reflect the economic, environmental, and social aspects of agriculture. This integration allows for a holistic view of agricultural sustainability, enabling stakeholders to make informed decisions based on a wide range of metrics.
  • User-Friendly Interface: Designed for ease of use, the Compass features an intuitive interface that simplifies the exploration of complex datasets. This accessibility ensures that farmers, policymakers, researchers, and educators can all benefit from the tool’s insights without requiring specialised technical skills.
  • Diverse Indicators: The 20 indicators included in the Compass provide a comprehensive overview of sustainability, covering areas such as greenhouse gas emissions, water use efficiency, farm income, rural employment, and more. Each indicator is crucial for understanding the multifaceted impacts of agricultural practices on the environment, economy, and society.

Economic Sustainability: Balancing Profitability and Resilience

Economic sustainability in agriculture is essential for ensuring that farming practices are not only profitable but also resilient to economic shocks and changes. The Agri Sustainability Compass includes several economic indicators that help measure and track the financial health and viability of agricultural practice:

  • Farm Income: This indicator measures the profitability of farms, providing insights into the economic sustainability of agricultural enterprises. By analysing trends in farm income, stakeholders can identify areas where financial support or policy changes may be needed to ensure the long-term viability of farming operations.
  • Farm Investment: Investment in sustainable practices and technologies is crucial for the future of agriculture. This indicator tracks investments in areas such as renewable energy, precision farming, and sustainable water management, highlighting the commitment of farms to adopting innovative and environmentally friendly practices.

Environmental Sustainability: Reducing the Ecological Footprint

A key feature of the Agri Sustainability Compass is its emphasis on environmental sustainability, highlighted by various indicators designed to measure and minimise the environmental footprint of agricultural practices. These indicators provide crucial data for understanding how farming activities affect natural resources and the climate:

  • Greenhouse Gas Emissions: Agriculture is a significant source of greenhouse gas emissions, particularly methane and nitrous oxide. This indicator measures emissions from various agricultural activities, helping to identify areas where emission reduction strategies can be implemented to mitigate climate change.
  • Water Use Efficiency: Efficient water use is essential for sustainable agriculture, particularly in regions facing water scarcity. This indicator assesses the effectiveness of water usage in farming, highlighting opportunities for improving water management practices and reducing water waste.
  • Soil Health: Healthy soil is fundamental for productive and sustainable agriculture. This indicator evaluates soil quality and its capacity to support crop growth, reduce erosion, and sequester carbon. Maintaining soil health is crucial for ensuring the long-term sustainability of farming practices.

In the text visual illustrating our blog post about Agri Sustainability Compass

Social Sustainability: Promoting Equity and Community Well-Being

Social sustainability in agriculture involves ensuring that farming practices benefit not only the environment and economy but also the people involved in and affected by these activities. The Agri Sustainability Compass includes indicators that reflect the social impacts of agricultural practices:

  • Rural Employment: This indicator measures job creation and stability in rural areas, highlighting the role of agriculture in supporting local economies and communities. Promoting rural employment is essential for ensuring the social sustainability of farming practices and preventing rural depopulation.
  • Training and Education: Access to training and education is crucial for developing the skills and knowledge needed to implement sustainable agricultural practices. This indicator tracks opportunities for farmer education, emphasising the importance of continuous learning and professional development in agriculture.

Access and Use of the Agri Sustainability Compass

The Agri Sustainability Compass is freely accessible online, providing a valuable resource for anyone interested in agricultural sustainability. To explore the tool and its features, you can visit the European Commission’s Agriculture and Rural Development website.

The tool’s user-friendly interface allows you to navigate through different indicators and explore data trends and insights. Whether you are a farmer looking to compare your practices against industry standards, a policymaker shaping sustainable agricultural policies, or a researcher seeking data for academic studies, the Compass offers comprehensive and accessible information to support your needs.

Relevance of The Agri Sustainability Compass for the STEP UP Project

For the Horizon Europe project STEP UP, which focuses on advancing sustainable livestock production systems, economic, environmental, and social indicators are invaluable. First of all, economic factors provide a clear picture of the financial dynamics of sustainable farming and can help identify investment opportunities that enhance the economic resilience of livestock operations. Furthermore, the environmental indicators in the Agri Sustainability Compass are directly relevant to the STEP UP project’s goals of enhancing the sustainability of livestock systems.

By providing data on emissions, water use, and soil health, the Compass helps identify areas where improvements can be made to reduce the environmental footprint of livestock production and promote more sustainable practices. Lastly, for the STEP UP project, which involves extensive stakeholder engagement, social indicators are crucial for understanding the broader impacts of livestock production on rural communities. By promoting social sustainability, the project can ensure that its efforts to enhance livestock systems also contribute to the well-being of local populations and foster community resilience.


The launch of the Agri Sustainability Compass represents a significant advancement in the EU’s efforts to promote sustainable agriculture. By providing detailed data across economic, environmental, and social dimensions, this tool empowers stakeholders to make informed decisions that support the transition to more sustainable farming practices.

The relevance of the Agri Sustainability Compass extends to projects like Horizon Europe’s STEP UP because by leveraging the tool’s insights, the project can continue to advance its mission of creating more resilient and eco-friendly livestock production systems across Europe.

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