Background and issues

In September 2015, the UN Member States committed to achieving the set of 17 Sustainable Development Goals. Directly and indirectly, agriculture plays a central role in meeting the goals on poverty, food and nutrition security, health, and socio-economic development, as well as on biodiversity, water, energy and climate issues.

It is crucial that all countries, both developed and developing, now engage in the process of designing transformation pathways for their agricultural and food systems, that take the long term into account and are geared towards achieving national priorities.


IDDRI, in association with Rothamsted Research, coordinates an international initiative designed to support countries in developing national transformation pathways for the agricultural and food sectors, through a participatory “backcasting” approach.

This Initiative aims to:

  • Support a national public debate through participatory approaches to clarify the terms of the transformation;
  • Shape an international learning platform on practical means to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.

The Initiative is intended to be ongoing and is divided into two main phases. The first phase, which was conducted between 2014 and 2016 in China, Uruguay and the UK, has produced an initial series of “pilot” case studies. The goal of the Initiative is to encourage other countries to participate and exchange, as it progresses, in order to initiate a long-term process to support the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals.