Sustainability implies the capacity to endure, diversify and maintain efficiency for an indefinite period of time, in relation to the three core elements – environment, society and economy. The latest published Environment for Europeans magazine, in March 2017, tackles the concept of a sustainable future in the long-term. At the regional level, sustainability needs to be considered as a global vision, as highlighted in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, adopted by world leaders in the 70th UN General Assembly in 2015. The environment has to be seen hand-in-hand with themes related to agriculture, education, health, social protection, climate change, etc… Despite the policy level, additional actions and stakeholder engagement are necessary for the full implementation of policies.
Sustainable agriculture is part of the focus of the second goal of the 2030 Agenda, which can only be tackled through the sustainable management of natural resources. The EU Commission’s communication also identifies that “Agriculture plays a substantial role in the 2030 Agenda and in any sustainable future as it is intrinsically linked to issues such as jobs, food, air, climate change, water, soil and biodiversity.”  Agriculture is sustainable when it becomes an integrated system of production lasting in the long term, whilst satisfying needs related to human consumption, economic viability, protection of natural resources and adaptation to climate change.
One way by which agriculture may be sustainable is if it is based on small-scale food producers, who are also locals. Sustainable food production with increased productivity may also be possible if agricultural practices are resilient. The EU’s “Sustainable agriculture for the future we want” specifies that the EU is making its utmost for a greener agriculture. Sustainable management is also considered in the proposed core objectives for the EU’s CAP 2014-2020. One of the identified challenges for which the CAP reform was made, is related to the importance of enhancing the sustainable management of natural resources including water, air, soil and biodiversity, and to consider the increasing pressure brought by ongoing climatic changes.
In the local scenario, sustainable agriculture is important for several environmental benefits – ranging from protection of water quality and soil functionality, preservation of biodiversity and ecosystem services, reduction in greenhouse gas emissions and reduction of pollution:
Hence, the conservation of natural resources means effective soil management and water conservation, and this may be seen in relation to adapting to climate change. The fragmentation of land and land abandonment has continued to threaten agricultural land. Promoting agricultural production and land consolidation will deliver valuable ecosystem services including the retention of water and nutrients, soil conservation and carbon storage.
An important consideration is that rural development consists of three roles, related to production, wardens of the environment and conservation of biodiversity, and finally the embellishment of the countryside for visual purposes.
 European Commission, Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions, Next steps for a sustainable European future – European action for sustainability, 22/11/2016.
 European Union, DG AGRI/DG Development and Cooperation (EuropeAid), Sustainable agriculture for the future we want, 2012, 8p.
 European Commission, Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions, The CAP towards 2020: Meeting the food, natural resources and territorial challenges of the future, 18/11/2010.