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PEGASUS key messages and recommendations

By amarechal.
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Using the evidence gathered over 3 years of research, this article presents a summary of the key messages and recommendations about ways to enhance the provision of environmental and social benefits by EU agriculture and forestry in the future.

· Current regulations and CAP funded incentives provide an essential foundation for the provision of environmental and social benefits by agriculture and forestry in the EU. However, they have not be used so far in a way that delivers the wide-ranging, long-lasting changes that are required to meet EU objectives and the growing societal demand for a more sustainable approach.

·  There is a need for a step change in policy to deliver more environmental and social benefits. The new approach should bring the social dimension – people – to the centre stage. Incentive schemes need to minimise the use of a narrow, mainly transactional, approach to the provision of environmental and social benefits and put greater emphasis on working with the interests and motivations of the people best placed to take action.

·  There is therefore a strong need to better understand the structure and dynamics of related local social processes, as they are critical for securing increased and more widespread provision of environmentally and socially positive outcomes. Policies offering incentives and support are only effective if people can respond to them.

·  Multi-actor approaches were found to have a lot of potential in terms of consolidating these social processes and building a greater commitment by key actors (e.g. better identification of synergies and trade-offs locally, greater sense of ownership, etc.). They can also increase the scale of impact. Policies should seek to encourage the engagement of more and a more diversified range of actors so that individual efforts are less isolated, but more often are part of a concerted effort at territorial level and/or between business partners along a supply chain.

·  As part of a multi-actor approach, strengthening the links with the supply chain was found to have significant potential in many conditions. It can lead to potentially more sustained actions and more robust business models, while more environmental and social benefits can be provided if they are internalised within the value chain.

·  Institutions responsible for agricultural and broader rural land management need to build trust, by embedding dialogue with stakeholders at all stages of the policy cycle, and creating a safe environment in which local actors feel empowered to take action collectively.

·  More innovative and locally tailored policy mixes could produce better results.  One aspect of this is more flexibility, less constraints imposed by complex EU rules that can inhibit a real focus on results rather than compliance. The aim should be for different measures to be used more easily together – matching diverse needs on the ground more readily.

· More vigorous and larger scale action on the ground with more group involvement needs to be married to publicly determined priorities, at different levels - from the local to the EU. More precise data and associated maps can help in this respect. Under the project, new maps of agricultural and forestry systems and patterns of ecosystem services provision have been produced at a sufficient resolution to establish patterns and potential associations at EU and Member State levels. These could be developed further with the benefit of more detailed datasets, that are often available at regional/local levels.

·  Support for facilitation and capacity building should play a more central role in policies aiming at better environmental and social outcomes in rural areas. This implies that more funding is allocated to measures such as knowledge exchange, training, demonstration projects, and in particular facilitation and advice to farmers and foresters on the ground to assist the development and operation of multi-actor initiatives, innovative and pilot projects, results-based schemes, etc. This is relevant today and will be even more relevant if the CAP is to become more flexible and more based on performance in the future, as the European Commission is currently proposing. 

The PEGASUS policy recommendations in summary …. 

Ø  Bring people to the centre stage, building on their interests and motivations.

Ø  Promote cooperative ways of working (i.e. through more multi-actor groups, or ‘collective’ action) to increase engagement and commitment of farmers and foresters.

Ø  Build trust with local actors by embedding dialogue with stakeholders at all stages of the policy cycle.

Ø  Allow for a more flexible and joined up use of the policy mix, better adapted to local needs.

Ø  Make more of market related opportunities, including greater interaction between public and private initiatives.

Ø  Mainstream the combined use of facilitation and capacity building with other measures so that it becomes the norm rather than the exception.

 

 For more information about the PEGASUS project:

Briefings on the project’s key messages in relation to the case study lessons, social and local processes, mapping and policy recommendations are available  here.

For more news and information about the project, including our Final Conference, click here

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Highlights from the Final Conference

By amarechal.
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On 7 February, more than 120 people representing national authorities, EU institutions, the agricultural and forestry sectors, academics as well as NGOs and think tanks, gathered in Brussels to contribute to an evolving policy debate in Europe through discussions around the key lessons and messages of the PEGASUS project.

 

Setting the scene, Tassos Haniotis, Director of Strategy, simplification and policy analysis at DG AGRI, presented the direction of travel for the future of the CAP as set out in the Communication published in November 2017, especially its proposed delivery model based on simpler and more flexible rules post-2020. He explained that budget negotiations and the implications of Brexit are likely to be the main issues shaping the future of the policy. The CAP reform provides an opportunity to think fundamentally about the purpose of the CAP, answering the questions: why, for whom, how and how much? Amongst the changes proposed, the current architecture of the Pillar 1 green payments will be modified, as one of the lessons to date is that the one size fits all approach has its limitations. The new model for delivery of the funding available under the CAP as a whole will be based on greater subsidiarity. He stated that the European Commission should have the courage of recognising that farmers can take their environmental decisions responsibly. The approach will require a shift of mind set, moving away from compliance towards a focus on performance. A key question in this process is how to do this – what can be done better at EC level and what can be done better in the Member States. The European Commission is also working on updating relevant indicators for measuring performance and these will be presented in a common monitoring framework report in March/April 2018.

 

Tassos Haniotis concluded his intervention explaining how climate change issues could become a catalyst for policy reform. The European Union is developing its satellite technology which provides climate-relevant information for free. The CAP needs to find a way to use this information to help with the process of modernisation and simplification. Farm Advisory Systems will have a key role to play in supporting the use of technology by actors on the ground, and assisting the EU farming sector to move towards greater sustainability.

 

In a series of presentations, different members of the PEGASUS team took the participants through an introduction to the project, a summary of the results of a selection of case studies and the key messages from the project. All presentations are available at: http://pegasus.ieep.eu/resources-list#presentations.

 

A summary of the key findings and recommendations of the project is provided below:

· Current regulations and CAP funded incentives provide an essential foundation for the provision of environmental and social benefits by agriculture and forestry in the EU. However, they have not be used so far in a way that delivers the wide-ranging, long-lasting changes that are required to meet EU objectives and the growing societal demand for a more sustainable approach.

· There is a need for a step change in policy to deliver more environmental and social benefits. The new approach should bring the social dimension – people – to the centre stage. Incentive schemes need to minimise the use of a narrow, mainly transactional approach to the provision of environmental and social benefits and put greater emphasis on working with the interests and motivations of the people best placed to take action.

· There is therefore a strong need to better understand the structure and dynamics of related local social processes, as they are critical for securing increased and more widespread provision of environmental and social positive outcomes. Policies are only effective if people can respond to them.

· Multi-actor approaches were found to have a lot of potential in terms of consolidating these social processes and building a greater commitment by key actors (e.g. better identification of synergies and trade-offs locally, greater sense of ownership, etc.). They can also increase the scale of impact. Policies should seek to encourage the engagement of more and a more diversified range of actors so that individual efforts are less isolated, but more often part of a concerted effort at territorial level and/or between business partners along a supply chain.

· As part of a multi-actor approach, strengthening the links with the supply chain was found to have significant potential in many conditions. It can lead to potentially more sustained actions and more robust business models, while more environmental and social benefits can be provided if they are internalised within the value chain.

· Institutions responsible for agricultural and broader rural land management need to build trust, by embedding dialogue with stakeholders at all stages of the policy cycle, and creating a safe environment in which local actors feel empowered to take action collectively.

· More innovative and locally tailored policy mixes could produce better results. One aspect of this is more flexibility, less constraints imposed by complex EU rules that can inhibit a real focus on results rather than compliance. The aim should be for different measures to be used more easily together – matching diverse needs on the ground more readily.

· More vigorous and larger scale action on the ground with more group involvement needs to be married to publicly determined priorities, at different levels - from local to EU levels. More precise data and associated maps can help in this respect. Under the project, new maps of agricultural and forestry systems and patterns of ecosystem services provision have been produced at a sufficient resolution to establish patterns at EU and Member State levels. These could be developed further with the benefit of more detailed datasets often available at regional/local levels.

· Support for facilitation and capacity building should play a more central role in policies aiming at better environmental and social outcomes in rural areas. This implies that more funding is allocated to i.e. knowledge exchange, training, demonstration projects, and in particular facilitation and advice to farmers and foresters on the ground to assist the development and operation of multi-actor initiatives, innovative and pilot projects, results-based schemes, etc. This is relevant today and will be even more relevant if the CAP is to become more flexible and more based on performance in the future, as the European Commission is currently proposing.

 

Discussants at the event, Frank Jésus, Head of Natural Resources Policy Division Trade and Agriculture Directorate at the OECD and Andrea Vettori, Deputy Head of Unit D1 at DG ENV highlighted the potential of the mapping exercise carried out and the importance of social processes and local communities in the way policies are implemented.

 

On the mapping work, Franck Jésus explained that targeting through maps is likely to become more relevant if EU agri-environment policy moves towards more performance based approaches. He suggested that rather than focusing on production indicators, it could be interesting to have considered productivity indicators (ratio input-output) as often this is what is at stake for land managers and their businesses. Since PEGASUS has focused on the supply of ecosystem services, another approach would have been to include the demand aspects as well.

The results and recommendations regarding social processes links to the work recently started at the OECD on reform pathways. This also highlights that social processes, consultation and inclusion mechanisms are important throughout the policy cycle. The PEGASUS toolkit for practitioners seems promising because it looks at social processes in multi-actor initiatives from design to implementation. He flagged that involving not only farmers but also wider local communities in training and advisory services can have a very effective impact on policy implementation. Collective actions can be useful when used in conjunction with other policy tools, but they may be difficult to use in all policy areas or in all contexts. The new performance approach proposed by the EC should contribute to make the design and use of collective action simpler.

 

Andrea Vettori from DG ENV highlighted that the move towards a focus on results in the Commission’s CAP proposals could have multiple benefits, and could promote collective actions.

The budget for rural development currently accounts for only a quarter of the whole CAP budget. In the future discussions should focus on how the bulk of the payments can support the transition towards more environmental and socially friendly agriculture and how it can be targeted to those who provide public goods. To do this, one needs to make explicit the scale of the ecosystem services being provided and the work undertaken under the Mapping and Assessment of Ecosystems and their Services (MAES) and The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity (TEEB) projects have played a major role in this respect. Pollination is one such ecosystem service, and in view of the decline in pollinators, the EC planned a specific EU Pollinators Initiative for 2018. The PEGASUS messages substantiate one lesson of the fitness check of the Birds and Habitat directives which is that stakeholder engagement is very important, to seek commitment of those people taking action on the ground.

 

Later on during the panel discussion, the speakers overall expressed their support for the lessons in PEGASUS, relating these to their different experiences and areas of expertise. The discussions covered the following key points:

- Trying to enhance the provision of environmental and social benefits from farming and forestry is a complex issue. While there is a need for a simpler policy, we need to recognise that no simple measure is going to achieve results everywhere.

- Although very diverse, the case studies in PEGASUS have clear similarities. They started with a challenge or a crisis, i.e. a long-term sustainability challenge, which triggered action. It is important to look at market and policy mechanisms together and to simplify the policy framework to allow more flexibility to respond to different situations. This framework has to allow for a more flexible support, to which the farming community will respond.

- The Dutch experience with implementing collective agri-environment schemes showed how critical it is that farmers define what they want to achieve in their area. This can then be discussed with the government to provide the means to achieve these agreed objectives. The important element in this process is trust, between the actors as well as with and within government and institutions. Social capital should be seen as an investment in an asset; it has economic value too, e.g. in lowering the transaction costs of an action.

- PEGASUS is helpful in having raised awareness about how potential synergies between the three pillars of sustainability (economic, environmental and social) in the agriculture and forestry sectors can be achieved.

- The EC recognises the importance of working in partnership in the implementation of the ESI Funds – it adopted a Code of Conduct on partnership for the ESI funds in 2014. This implies close cooperation between public authorities and a range of stakeholders at national, regional and local levels throughout the whole programme cycle. The role of the Member States and regional authorities is already crucial, and will be even more so with the shift in responsibility announced with the new CAP delivery model.

- In terms of barriers, there can be trade-offs between food/timber production and environmental services but in many cases both outcomes can be delivered jointly, for example in forestry, demand for sustainably managed forestry and for intensive forest management for bioeconomy purposes usually compete with each other whereas in practice, many demonstration sites show that one can combine very productive forestry with very efficient conservation measures. What is needed now is to move away from the isolated success stories to upscale and convince people that you can do both.

- A big challenge to overcome will be the inertia that exists in institutions, especially at the national and regional levels, partly due to fear of failure of controls and having fines imposed.

- Seeking greater policy coherence is essential.

 

Gaëtan Dubois from DG AGRI (Unit B2) summarised the key messages from the day. He highlighted how the discussions had provided useful inputs of relevance to the ongoing development of the CAP as well as for managing authorities. In particular he stressed the following:

 

· The discussions showed how trust is a critical ingredient to successful policy implementation, especially in the new delivery model proposed by the CAP Communication. A positive approach based on engagement, commitment, responsibility, and trust will be needed.

· The project’s mapping work is particularly relevant as data monitoring, having good results indicators and transparency will need to underpin the performance-based approach.

· The role of advisors and facilitators was clearly underlined to fight inertia and lock-in of behaviour, including within institutions. Facilitators can help with simplifying actions for the actors on the ground and ensure that action is taken at different levels. Multi-actor and collective approaches are very important in this context. Many of the policy tools needed to support these are already in place but there is a learning curve in relation to their use.

· He suggested that the project could perhaps propose more concrete measures, e.g. on the mechanisms with which measures can encourage a collective uptake of action or other approaches such as the use of EIP operational groups. The discussions tended to focus on RDP measures but issues around the future of the green architecture (cross-compliance and the greening payment which may transform into e.g. entry level schemes) will also be central to the policy debate in the coming weeks.

· The topic of PEGASUS was very challenging, covering both agriculture and forestry, and the concepts of public goods and ecosystem services. In terms of next steps for research, different calls for research projects will cover agri-environment and multi-actor approaches as topics and they should contribute to helping farmers dealing with complexity. 

To find out more:

The results of the case studies are available here

You will find our policy briefings and the presentations from the conference here

The toolkit can be downloaded here

A short news article on the event can be found here

 

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Successful road-testing of the PEGASUS emerging findings in November!

By amarechal.
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The PEGASUS project organised a series of 3 regional workshops in different countries of the EU during the month of November 2017: in The Hague (Netherlands) on 16 November, Lisbon (Portugal) on 24 November, and Vienna (Austria) on 30 November. These events explored what the findings emerging from the project meant for future policy and for stakeholders on the ground. The intention is that these discussions feed into the debate on how national and EU policies, including the Common Agricultural Policy, might evolve after 2020. The third regional workshop was particularly timely in this context as it took place the day after the Communication on the “Future of Food & Farming” was released by the European Commission.

The three events aimed to share and discuss the emerging findings and outputs from the PEGASUS project. More specifically, the objectives of these seminars were to:

  • Share the findings of the project from the 34 case studies carried out in 10 Member States and present new EU maps showing the linkages between agriculture and forest management systems and the delivery of public goods and ecosystem services;
  • Present the lessons and recommendations for policy and practice;
  • Receive feedback from national policy makers and stakeholders from different countries.

Each workshop took a different angle to the PEGASUS findings, to be of most relevance to the EU meta-region in which these were discussed. 

In the Hague, the event focused on market-based mechanisms to deliver environmental and social benefits from agriculture and forestry. An innovative aspect of this event has been the presentation of key lessons from the recent implementation of the Dutch collective approach to agri-environmental and climate measures (AECM). The Dutch approach is rather progressive and several ideas were put forward to push the CAP in a more targeted and result-based direction.

In Lisbon, the spotlight was on the potential of collective action to help deliver environmental and social outcomes. The discussions there were more related to the need to simplify the current CAP and Rural Development measures supporting small farmers and producers’ organisations in particular.In Lisbon, the spotlight was on the potential of collective action to help deliver environmental and social outcomes. Examples of collective actions in different European countries, which lead to successful implementation of practices supporting environmental and social benefits, were discussed and lessons learned identified. The discussions were more related to the need to simplify the current CAP and Rural Development measures, so that the room is created for different mechanisms to support farmers’ collaborations and producers’ organisations in particular. 

 

Finally, in Vienna the seminar was centred on remote areas including mountain areas which have been an important topic in a number of the PEGASUS case studies (e.g. in Austria, Slovenia, Estonia, France, the UK, etc.). The presentations and the panel discussed measures supporting mountain ecosystem services. The discussions highlighted how mountain and other areas with specific constraints strongly depend on the value they can add to their natural resources through agriculture or forestry activities.

All the presentations of these events are available in the 'Resources' section of the website. 

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The need for providing public goods in remote and marginal areas

By amarechal.
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 by Thomas Dax, Federal Institute for Less-Favoured and Mountainous Areas

In the final stage of the PEGASUS project, three workshops aimed at testing our emerging findings by highlighting specific perspectives. The workshop in Vienna focused on exploring in more detail the potential for provision of environmental and social benefits through farming and forestry in remote and marginal areas, including mountains. It thus started from the conviction that “environmental and social beneficial outcomes” (or “ESBOs”), as we have termed in this project, are particularly important in mountain regions and relevant for (extensive) land management systems in these areas.

For the audience of almost 60 interested experts, administrators and stakeholders from various Western and Central European countries, the European scale of common challenges in mountains became visible in the presentation of the emerging findings of the project results and a series of case studies from selected mountain areas. The assessment of current trends of ESBO provision indicators reveals that, despite increasing acknowledgement and efforts, European regions are not on track to curve negative trends (e.g. biodiversity loss) and land management systems have not yet changed sufficiently to secure ESBO provision in the future. The PEGASUS project therefore intends to showcase the potential of positive examples, which often were found to be associated with the adoption of collective approaches, increased engagement by local and regional stakeholders and a supportive policy framework and institutional support mechanisms. A step change is needed to achieve the targeted outcomes, which in turn requires a real “cultural shift” in the way agricultural and forest land is currently managed.

The four case study examples presented at the workshop in Vienna showed useful local initiatives with both economic and ecological beneficial outcomes. The different contexts (case studies from Slovenia, Austria, Czech Republic and Italy) underscored the relevance of the spatial context, but also the importance of the institutional and policy framework and historical legacies. Core topics of the discussion included the wide range of drivers which can trigger the emergence of collective initiatives, the various types of ESBOs which can be addressed by such initiatives, the need to shape and nurture public appreciation, and the combined effects of private activities and public support.

As the workshop took place one day after the publication of the European Commission’s communication on “The Future of Food and Farming”, much of the policy discussion focused on the potential changes and linkages of future CAP developments to the provision of ESBOs, in particular in mountain areas. In contrast to the communication, which hardly mentions Areas of Natural Constraints or mountain regions, the discussions highlighted the crucial need to investigate new types of approaches which can deliver ESBOs in mountain areas and the policy implications of this. The Commission’s proposal for a “new delivery model” does not yet provide sufficient detail at this stage and it is therefore unclear to what extent it will take account of the need to deliver public goods. As land use changes have an outstanding long-term effect and decisively influence on ESBOs, forest management should also be considered in its implication for ESBO provision. While agricultural and forest management usually are treated separately, the debate at the workshop made clear that a more holistic view is needed to achieve more effective public goods delivery.

The workshop thus investigated in detail how ESBOs in a mountain context could be strengthened and which policy design could be most appropriate and useful in a future CAP. On a more long-term perspective and a more active note, the project results encourage to work towards changes that support collective actions and search for combined private-public solutions. Such a development will not happen without a clear and firm commitment on acknowledging the increasing search for public goods by the public and appreciation of the long-term needs of ESBOs. Future policies will need more and better trained facilitators and to evolve towards more cooperative approaches, creative initiatives and strategic assessment of diverse land management options. Such a policy focus might be even more relevant in mountain areas than elsewhere.

 

In the coming weeks, the PEGASUS team will continue to develop these ideas to draft more operational recommendations addressed to policy-makers and practitioners. 

 

 

December 2017

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PEGASUS Final Conference - Delivering environmental and social benefits from agriculture and forestry in a changing policy context

By amarechal.
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It is clear that current policy frameworks and their implementation have not been sufficient to counter the ongoing trends of environmental degradation and achieve the changes required to ensure the long-term, sustainable provision of public goods and ecosystem services from EU agriculture and forestry. To improve this situation, changes are required in policy design, in the commitment of Member States to taking action for a more sustainable future and in the actions of the millions of land managers across the EU. These changes will be especially relevant if the CAP is to evolve towards a new delivery approach based on performance and results.

These issues have been the focus of the 3 year PEGASUS project and will be centre stage at this final conference on 7 February 2018, in Brussels. The event will take you through a summary of the results of research, including 34 case studies, on concrete ways to enhance the provision of public goods and ecosystem services by agriculture and forestry, and what this means for policy and practice. The event will provide a number of opportunities to:

 

  • Debate a range of  findings and approaches, including the lessons for policy and for practice and the use of maps as a tool to explore links between farming and forestry systems and the provision of environmental and social benefits;
  • Contribute to an evolving policy debate in Europe;
  • Network with key stakeholders, researchers and other interested parties.

These discussions are intended to feed into the debate on how national and EU policies and governance models could evolve post 2020, including the Common Agricultural Policy.

 

Registration is now closed 

The agenda is available here

For any questions, please email pegasus.ieep.eu@gmail.com 

 

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Emerging findings from the PEGASUS project

By amarechal.
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by Anne Maréchal, IEEP

Reviewing the evidence gathered over almost 3 years of research in PEGASUS, this article presents a summary of the findings emerging from the project so far.

 PEGASUS, and therefore its findings, are drawn from a number of different strands of work:

  • an analysis of policy, market and institutional drivers in 10 countries;
  • the mapping work showing linkages between land management systems and the provision of public goods and ecosystem services; and,
  • the results of 34 case studies across the EU.

In the 34 PEGASUS case studies, ten PEGASUS teams investigated a variety of approaches taken by a range of stakeholders – such as farmers, environmental bodies, businesses, local, regional, national authorities, etc. – to incentivise the provision of public goods and ecosystem services in rural areas. For this, the teams have engaged in depth with the views and experiences of these different stakeholders. These “case study initiatives” provide a rich source of experience to inform thinking about how such actions can develop in the future, including within the Common Agricultural Policy.

Firstly, the initiatives and actions have generally sought to provide multiple benefits - economic, environmental and social benefits – in combination. These benefits can often be delivered more effectively when the approach and delivery mechanisms they rely on were chosen and designed in a collective effort from various key actors. Also, when these approaches are designed and implemented with a ‘territorial approach’ in mind (e.g. ensuring that actions are joined up over a geographic area) or when they are supported by different players along the same supply chain, then the initiatives are more likely to be effective and to deliver a more balanced set of outcomes.

We’ve also found in the case studies that a wide range of triggers (e.g. economic opportunities, environmental problems faced in a particular area / on a particular issue, etc.) can motivate the emergence of a collective initiative. However, in spite of very different origins, having good levels of trust, communication and cooperation between the actors of an initiative are critical ‘success factors’ for enabling the collective action to emerge and for it to be sustained and successful. Having strong local leaders is another critical success factor.

In PEGASUS, we have been interested in cases involving the private sector. In the case studies, we found that private-led initiatives can work well alongside publicly funded schemes in a mutually reinforcing way. For example, in Austria a group of mountain farmers produce organic ‘hay milk’. They receive policy support (income support as well as support for delivering specific environmental and social benefits) as well as a market premium for this quality product. However, there are also cases where private drivers conflict with policy objectives, sending conflicting signals to farmers and foresters. For example, in parts of Portugal, the olive grove production is highly intensively managed - an attempt to maximise economic returns in a competitive sector which comes at the expense of environmental and social considerations. A conclusion we draw from this is that it is important to identify and encourage cases where genuine synergies occur between commercial and societal objectives. This could involve running local surveys to examine potential market opportunities that would fit alongside national/regional environmental and social priorities. It may also involve the use of incentives for such joined up public-private to emerge, such as the use of positive selection criteria for funding.  

The way institutions are structured and operate also have a role to play in the emergence of initiatives aiming to enhance the provision of public goods and ecosystem services from agriculture and forestry. Adapting the institutional settings and governance to local conditions can play a leading role in building trust between stakeholders and with public authorities. For example this could be as much about rethinking the culture of controls and penalties as having the flexibility to adapt the way in which institutional support and engagement can be provided at the local scale. This appears to be especially important where market/economic factors do not provide a strong incentive for stakeholders to organise themselves to initiate action.

Public appreciation can be a powerful trigger for motivating action and cooperation. In some cases, it can be translated into economic or monetary terms, such as in the Estonian case study on a premium grass-fed beef label. In general, increasing the public’s appreciation of environmental and social goods and services from agriculture and forestry systems - and trying to transform this into an articulated demand - would help to increase their provision.

A hot topic in current policy debates is the issue of demonstrating that public funding is delivering its intended impact. It can be difficult to establish causal linkages between a management action on farms or in forests and the related environmental and social outcomes being delivered. This is particularly difficult when working over a short timescale. In the PEGASUS case studies and in our mapping work, we found this to be the case too. In this context, a shift towards more results-focussed schemes may simplify this issue to an extent. The search for appropriate indicators to assess whether or not the result is being achieved may not always be successful.

Finally, we have used a highly participatory approach to carry out the case study work. This has proven to generally be a useful method to capture some of the multiple interactions taking place between drivers, actors, practices and the outcomes delivered. It has nonetheless some limits, which are relevant more widely to many bottom-up, collective approaches – just like the case study initiatives we studied. Because participatory/collective approaches involve different people and dynamic relationships, they inevitably lead to a variety of methods being used and they focus on outputs attracting local support. Consequently, one limitation of the approach is the risk of important environmental or social needs being overlooked (especially when these are more difficult to address such as climate issues). For policy and practice, this could mean that using a bottom-up/collective approach in combination with some top-down guidance could be a successful way forward. 

In the coming weeks, the PEGASUS team will continue to develop these ideas to draft more operational recommendations addressed to policy-makers and practitioners. 

For more information, please read and cite: Maréchal A., Baldock D., Hart K., 2017. Key emerging findings from the PEGASUS project. Report published as part of the Horizon 2020 PEGASUS research project. Available at: http://pegasus.ieep.eu/

 

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Participatory research helps sustainable landscape management

By amarechal.
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By Marta Pérez-Soba & Janet Dwyer

Participatory research helps sustainable landscape management”. This was the overall conclusion of the Symposium on “Social-Ecological Systems and participatory methods for sustainable landscape management”, organised by PEGASUS at the IALE 2017 European Congress ‘From pattern and process to people and action’ in Ghent (Belgium) on 21 September 2017.

With two key notes, 18 presentations, one poster and a final panel discussion, our symposium provided a broad overview of the current research methods and tools that involve participatory approaches with stakeholders. Speakers focused upon the complex interplay of socio-economic/cultural and natural elements within a social-ecological systems framework, rather than only dealing with nature or socio-economics separately.

Whilst the presentations covered a broad range of landscapes, from urban and peri-urban to rural, including European, Brazilian and Japanese cases, they all confirmed the importance of using a range of methods and tools to effectively stimulate the creativity, awareness and active participation of local communities, in order to ensure the responsible planning and management of resources. It was noted that a combination of market-oriented, private initiative with public support measures seems more effective than isolated measures, and that legislative frameworks and audit rules do not always support innovation. Supporting local capacity building is also crucial to develop collaboration skills among the key actors, to make management fully effective and to foster resilience.  

New methods and tools can help to map landscape socio-biodiversity and help to reveal management priorities by identifying which ecosystem services matter to which people. Many of the cases, including the Satoyama initiative in Japan, Montes comunales in Galicia (NW Spain) and Montados in Portugal, showed that many of the connections between human beings and the landscape that existed in the past, have disappeared today. It is therefore important to restore the human-nature connectivity focusing on traditional landscape elements and citizens’ ownership. As cultural landscapes have been built over many years, it is logical to invest in long-term research that enables us to measure the impacts of improved management practices on the ecosystem.

In a society where citizens may valorise their own experience more than scientific or technical prescriptions, it seems crucial that research considers innovative ideas and proposes community-focused solutions to the landscape management challenges facing EU society today and into the future. Participatory methods and tools have a crucial role to play in achieving this.

 

Photo: Key-note speaker Katsue Fukamachi at the end of her presentation (left), with the organisers Janet Dwyer and Marta Pérez-Soba 

 

 

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What can we learn from the concept of the commons for collectively managing natural resources? Notes from PEGASUS’ participation in the IASC Congress 2017

By amarechal.
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by Anne Maréchal, IEEP

Several members of the PEGASUS team attended and presented papers at the 2017 congress of the International Association of the Study of the Commons (IASC), which took place from 10-14 July 2017 in Utrecht, Netherlands.

The theme of the 2017 IASC congress– ‘Practicing the Commons’ – put an emphasis on the role of practitioners, which strongly resonated with many of us in PEGASUS given our interest in how ‘common pool resources’ can be managed in a collective way and considering that the engagement with practitioners is at the core of the project, especially in the 34 PEGASUS case studies.

The IASC congress provided interesting examples of different types of commons - land or resources managed by a community - their governance and the issues they face in different parts of the world. Commons take various shapes and forms across the world, but their concept as a way of collectively managing natural resources is at threat. Part of this can be explained by the gradual introduction of private property rights which now dominate worldwide. These conflict with common property rights which usually do not define ownership clearly, but govern commoners’ rights (or obligations) to access, exploit or manage a common land or resource. In the EU, few commons are still actively managed by communities, but there are exceptions especially in mountainous and more remote areas (e.g. Scotland, Basque country, Romania, etc.).

What are referred to as ‘common pool resources’ overlap conceptually with the notions of public goods and ecosystem services. The governance of commons is highly relevant to PEGASUS as it reminds us of the ways in which local communities have collectively managed their natural resources in sustainable ways for centuries. Lessons can also be drawn on how the transition away from commons have been managed overtime – not always successfully.  Commons that remain have had to adapt to accommodate modern legal frameworks, for example to maintain the principles of collective action, commons’ governance has usually been formalised through the setting-up an association or a cooperative. Locating the IASC 2017 congress in the Netherlands was thus ideal and the field visits provided many examples of successful cooperatives. 

For instance, some of us went to visit a citizens’ cooperative with about 1,000 members whose objective is to achieve a 100% renewable and independent sourcing of energy. The cooperative’s members all invested a fixed amount which collectively enabled them to build 4 wind turbines, on a piece of land rented from the municipality on a long-term contract. The investment should break even after about a decade and start to provide dividends to the cooperative’s members, in addition to a free supply of electricity from a renewable source.

Although PEGASUS does not focus specifically on the management of commons, many of the lessons relating to the governance of commons resonate with some of the early findings from the PEGASUS research, such as the importance of local leaders in establishing collective initiatives or the role policies (in a broad sense) can play to empower rural actors. Other questions were raised such as the legitimacy of some collective actions, the issue of their durability in the long-term, or the trade-off between autonomy and support from local authorities. Many valuable thoughts which the PEGASUS team is eager to explore in the final steps of the project.  

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Balancing markets, traditions and innovations in initiatives where private sector, civil society and policy meet

By amarechal.
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by Karlheinz Knickel, IfLS Frankfurt/M.

 

Two years into the PEGASUS project, a set of 34 sectoral, multi-sectoral and territorial case studies in 10 Member States, focusing on the provision of a range of environmental and social benefits by agriculture and forestry has been completed. These 34 case studies provide a broad appraisal of the connections between farming and forestry systems and the provision of environmental and social benefits under different biophysical, socio-economic and cultural conditions. In 12 of these 34 case studies the analysis has been deepened to better capture the complexity of each single case and to identify and explore, together with practitioner partners and stakeholders, the factors that enable, or limit, an enhancement of the environmental and social impacts of farming and forestry. The approach taken in the case studies has been holistic and exploratory.

The 12 in-depth case studies illustrate the diversity of configurations and approaches taken by the initiatives reviewed in enhancing the provision of environmental and social outcomes in different contexts – and show that there is nothing simple or straightforward! In all cases, we found that there is an intricate, context and location-specific – and dynamic – interplay between different drivers, interests, motivations and mechanisms for delivering environmental and social benefits in different agricultural and forest settings. In some of our case studies, these interactions are mutually reinforcing and beneficial, in others they diverge and may send conflicting signals to practitioners. The PEGASUS case study teams framed their research around social-ecological systems which proved a useful analytical approach to capture this complexity.

 

In most case studies, if not all, civil society organisations and/or the private sector jointly agree on and work towards a common goal. Reconciling diverging interests and goals, markets, traditions and innovations play a role – sometimes reinforcing each other, and in other instances leading to tensions that require compromise. In all 12 case studies we examined, we could also identify multiple policy frameworks in action, sometimes enabling, and sometimes constraining actions or providing the wrong signals. For example, in the private Liivimaa Lihaveis initiative in Estonia - a label certifying beef fed on biodiversity-rich semi-natural grasslands - an important finding has been that policy support is important but not sufficient in itself to enable a sustained provision of environmental and/or social outcomes and that adding value to products and private sector engagement are equally important. In that case, public and private mechanisms have successfully reinforced each other in enabling collective action and the provision of environmental and social goods and services. In another case, focusing on the tomato supply chain in Emilia Romagna, Italy, the 40-year-long technical and innovation partnership between local stakeholders works on the premise that quality is the key determinant of the supply chain competitiveness. Over the years this has increasingly led to an emphasis on improving the environmental sustainability of tomato production. Governance arrangements and policies, working alongside private schemes are an integral part of the region’s competitiveness strategy.

This is only a very brief overview of the rich case study material PEGASUS has gathered. More information can be found in our synthesis of the case study findings (Deliverable 4.4). An in depth comparative analysis of these findings is now underway. It will deepen our understanding of the interplay of varied factors in delivering environmental and social alongside economic outcomes from agriculture and forestry. In the comparative analysis, we will try to identify where and when problems and conflicts arise when commercial, voluntary and public actors come together. We want to better understand how blockages can be resolved, in particular in regions where under-provision or under-appreciation of environmental and social benefits is observed or where future provision is at risk.  Based on this deeper understanding, especially of factors that are locally or context-dependent, we will be able to elaborate meaningful policy and practical tools and recommendations for decision makers and practitioners at European, national and regional levels.

A first more comprehensive discussion paper on the analysis of these real-life cases with lots of illustrations and references to all case studies is available here.

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How is current research on social-ecological systems and participatory methods helping to enhance the sustainable management of natural resources?

By amarechal.
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This is the question posed in the Symposium organised by PEGASUS at the upcoming IALE European Congress "From pattern and process to people and action" on 12-15 September in Ghent (Belgium).

In three sessions, international researchers will examine the potential of Social-Ecological Systems thinking to capture the complexity of interlinkages in sustainability challenges and to promote positive action by “linking people and nature, emphasising that humans must be seen as a part of, not apart from, nature” (Berkes and Folke, 1998).

A range of novel methods linked to spatial assessment and stakeholder engagement will be illustrated using more than 20 different case studies, operating in varied contexts. The symposium will include papers from the teams engaged in PEGASUS and other research projects, and a key paper on Japanese experience from the Satoyama Initiative, which aims to promote resilience in high-value cultural landscape management through local action.  Participants will seek to identify common challenges and new and improved ideas for effective action through co-learning by researchers, stakeholders and policy makers, in a closing panel discussion.

For more information, please visit the conference's website or contact Janet Dwyer (jdwyer@glos.ac.uk) or Marta Pérez-Soba (marta.perezsoba@wur.nl).

 

 

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