Institute of Law, Politics and Development


Agricultural - AgriFood - AgriEnvironmental Law (AgLAW)

Agricultural Law affects essential human needs and values, such as food security, food safety and a healthy environment. 

The ‘Agricultural - AgriFood - AgriEnvironmental Law’ (AgLAW) research group of the Institute of Law, Politics and Development of Scuola Sant’Anna deals with the complex and dynamic set of laws, regulations, policies, and principles established under multilevel authorities (international, EU and national level), both public and private, governing the agricultural system and its intersection with food and environmental systems. 


Our current research interests revolve around two key areas that investigate the sustainability of agriculture in a context of climate vulnerability and the role of key enabling technologies in achieving food security, increasing sustainable productivity and strengthening inclusive rural development.


National and regional governments, multilevel policy makers, farmers and businesses face complex and multiple challenges in achieving sustainable agriculture in a context of climate change. This range from the rational use of technical inputs (such as pesticides, fertilizers, etc.), reducing C02 emissions and developing climate-smart practices to prevent soil degradation and to establish animal management methods. 

We investigate the role of law in sustaining agricultural adaptation to climate change and the extent to which social equity issues, environmental sustainability and the empowerment of farmers are taken into consideration in the multilevel policy of agriculture. The research focuses on the regulatory and policy framework of inclusive and climate- smart agriculture with the aim of tackling climate change and ensuring food security by enhancing resilience, increasing sustainable productivity, reducing inequality and promoting shared prosperity.


Key emerging technologies could enable a transformative and disruptive change in every part of the agrifood value chain. Agricultural technology provides new opportunities for smart farming that can affect the behaviour of farmers and the way that input providers, processing businesses and retail companies market, price and sell their products. Such a digital transformation is expected over the next decade. The desired outcome are systems of higher and sustainable productivity, which are safe and adapted to the consequences of climate change, to offer greater food security and social inclusiveness.

Although the benefits of smart farming and the adoption of agricultural technology are convincing, a number of challenges need to be addressed in this process of transformational digitalization. We investigate how key enabling technologies (with a focus on artificial intelligence, distributed ledgers technology and big data) can help achieve food security and rural development in a context of climate variability, and be an impetus for meeting the SDGs in a framework of regulatory technology.


MULTI-ACTOR APPROACH: our research involves different actors and stakeholders by means of R&D partnership, participatory case-studies and open innovation activities. We have found that tremendous value can be gained by combining theory and practice, from both internal and external perspectives when addressing complex and dynamic processes.

ACTION-ORIENTED: our research is challenged-based and oriented to problem solving in a process that aims to improve strategies, practices and knowledge and strengthen the way issues and problems are addressed within a people-to-people cooperation in the agricultural system. 

SYSTEM PERSPECTIVE: our research considers interconnections, synergies or trade-offs between different aspects or patterns that directly or indirectly affect agriculture, agri-environment and rural communities on a system level. This perspective allows us to address the nexus between agriculture, climate change, enabling technologies and the inclusivity of rural communities. 

Faculty members:

Mariagrazia Alabrese Assistant professor

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Eloisa Cristiani Associate professor

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