Project deliverable Open Access

Participatory Analysis of Market and Policy Instruments for Agro-ecological Transition

Linares Quero, Alba; Gava, Oriana; Povellato, Andrea; Schwarz, Gerald; Iragui Yoldi, Uxue; Astrain Massa, Carlos; Galioto, Francesco; Vanni, Francesco

This Deliverable is part of the governance and policy assessment of the UNISECO project. The objective of this report is twofold: (i) to create a database of existing market and policy instruments (MPIs) that support Agro-ecological Farming Systems (AEFS) in Europe; (ii) to summarise the analytical review of MPIs to identify and understand the key policy factors that enhance or limit agro-ecological transition in the 15 UNISECO case studies. For that purpose, and building on the theoretical framework of the UNISECO project, the objectives are pursued through comparative case study research, based on a participatory approach.

A stepwise qualitative research design was developed to understand complex and context-specific issues associated with the agro-ecological transition in 15 case studies across Europe. These case studies cover key farming systems (arable, perennial, livestock, mixed), at different geographical levels (national, sub-national local) and the stage in the transition pathway (conventional, input substitution, redesign). In each case study, UNISECO partners carried out participatory activities with the stakeholders in the local Multi-Actor Platform (MAP), following common guidelines. The guidelines provided a common operationalisation of the research method while enabling flexibility to overcome difficulties found in local contexts of the case studies.

The data collection process led to the identification of 289 MPIs (policy, market and mixed instruments), covering 14 different types of instruments and implemented at the farming system, value chain and territorial levels. Most of the MPIs are policy instruments, but private initiatives also provide important market opportunities for agro-ecological products and networking and peer-to-peer learning for farmers, which are important for stimulating and promoting Agro-ecological Farming Systems.

The findings of the comparative case study analysis show that the instruments of CAP Pillar I policy have weaker links with the agro-ecological transition than Pillar II instruments. Among the latter, the instruments assessed by the case studies to be most effective were Agro-environmental measures, Organic farming, Farm Modernization and Investment, and Advice, information and training. The EU regulations and directives for farming practices were also assessed as having positive roles in the agro-ecological transition. Within Food Policies, the public procurement of organic products for public canteens, and the National food strategies scored highly for aiding the agro-ecological transition. Amongst market instruments, Certification Schemes were assessed positively overall, but opinions varied, and at times they were diverging.

A more detailed analysis of the key MPIs in each case study has enabled an understanding of the main positive and negative factors related to the success of instruments to support agro-ecological transitions. Research findings highlighted that the existing MPIs such as agri-environmental schemes and support for advisory services have positive effects on the decisions of farmers to adopt more ecological practices and motivate farmers to initiate or continue the transition. Key positive factors identified were: the provision of economic stability and technical and financial support to farmers willing to experiment with new sustainable practices; promotion of collective actions and understanding amongst local actors; production and spread of new knowledge; design od tools and activities that highlight the roles of agriculture in the environment.

UNISECO is a European research project aiming to develop innovative approaches to enhance the understanding of socio-economic and policy drivers and barriers for further development and implementation of agro-ecological practices in EU farming systems. Learn more about the project: https://uniseco-project.eu/

This project has received funding from the European Union's H2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 773901.

This publication reflects only the authors' view and the European Commission is not responsible for any use that may be made of the information it contains.

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