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Inventory of Market and Policy Incentives Supporting AEFS

Zilans, Andis; Vanni, Francesco; Povellato, Andrea

This report presents the results of the compilation of an up-to-date inventory of examples of market and policy incentives, implemented at different levels (EU, non-EU, national and local), that serve to support transition processes towards Agro-Ecological Farming Systems (AEFS). Policy support has been widely criticised for its failure to facilitate comprehensive, long-term and integrated approaches such as agro-ecology. Consequently, it is recognized that there is a need to improve and develop a policy and economic framework within agricultural policies that supports and enables farmers to implement agro-ecological practices and, more broadly, that facilitates the transition towards AEFS. In the context of this report, transition pathways are analysed by considering the continuum from conventional to agro-ecological (food) systems.
The market and policy incentives were identified by case area partners through a review of national agricultural policies and databases and consultations with stakeholders with knowledge of relevant national, regional and local market and policy incentives. The examples of market and policies tools included in the inventory were selected according two main criteria: (i) their “innovativeness” of the approach to stimulating the adoption of (more) sustainable practices at farm level; (ii) their potential for enabling a transformation of the entire food system, through their involvement of a broad range of rural and value chain actors in the design and implementation of the tools. The relevance and “innovativeness” of the tools, and their potential to stimulate transition, were assessed by the researchers and through semi-structured interviews with selected stakeholders both at the EU and national levels.
A total of 69 examples of policy and market incentives from European countries were included in the inventory. Of these, a similar number are policy instruments (30) and market instruments (27), and fewer mixed initiatives involving a joint participation of public and private sector institutions (12). These figures illustrate the role already played by the private sector in promoting agro-ecological initiatives, and the opportunity for greater cooperation between public and private sector institutions in supporting agro-ecology. The majority of initiatives are implemented at the national level (47, compared to 11 at the local level). Although in the EU, national and regional Rural Development Programmes (RDPs) are the major source of financing of agro-ecological measures, relatively few market and policy initiatives included in the inventory are funded by RDPs as the focus was not on RDPs as such, but the most innovative initiatives. Most instruments in the inventory are initiated by national or local government institutions or private or NGO sector organizations.

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