The Role of Different Types of Actors In The Future of Sustainable Agriculture In a Dutch Peri-urban Area

Uptake of sustainable agricultural practices highly depends on the role of local actors and farm-level decision-making. Using a peri-urban case study in the Netherlands (Kromme Rijngebied), this article describes the impact of different groups of actors on the uptake of three measures linked to Sustainable Intensification (SI) and evaluated how uptake aligns with a stakeholder vision towards a sustainable future.

The prevalence and expected increase of areas with mixed urban and rural characteristics – so-called peri-urban areas- in Europe call for a transition towards more sustainable farming systems, that allow to accommodate the needs of different users. One of the proposed pathways towards more sustainable agriculture is Sustainable Intensification (SI), that aims at ensuring farm viability through levelling production, while also decreasing pressures on the environment and accommodating recreation. However, there is little insight into how the challenging governance setting inherent to peri-urban areas interacts with farm-level drivers for decision-making on adopting SI measures.

Small landscape elements and flower strips in the Kromme Rijn region, the Netherlands

Local actors play essential role in uptake of SI measures, but trade-offs between measures are difficult to avoid

Using results from interviews, surveys, workshops and a model representing the actor network and farm and farmer characteristics (Bayesian Belief Network), we found that the stakeholders preferred environmentally friendly and low-intensity agriculture that takes stock of the latest technologies and preferred a transition to a strong local supply chain. For the uptake of SI measures related to direct sales, efficiency increases, and small landscape elements on-the-ground commitment was essential, especially from non-formal actors. Also, we found that trade-offs between different SI measures were difficult to avoid due opposing positions of different groups of actors.


PBL Authors
Emma van der Zanden
Other authors
Catharina J. E. Schulp
Franziska Komossa
Laura Scherer
Marta Debolini
Annette Piorr


Publication title
The Role of Different Types of Actors In The Future of Sustainable Agriculture In a Dutch Peri-urban Area
Publication date
4 May 2022
Publication type
Page count
Publication language
Environmental Management
Product number