Contracts for effective and lasting delivery of agri-environmental public goods
The links between the richness of the natural environment and farming practices are complex. Many valuable habitats in Europe are maintained by extensive farming and forestry, but inappropriate agricultural practices and land uses have also had an adverse impact on natural resources, such as soil, water and air pollution, fragmentation of habitats and loss of native biodiversity in farmland landscapes, as well as on climate change adaptation and mitigation. Beyond providing food, fibre or biomass, farmers can provide environmental public goods through the land management activities necessary to grow crops and rear animals. Farmers often face trade-offs between sustainability and short-term profitability. Providing environmental public goods, in domains such as biodiversity, water, carbon sequestration and recreation can require collective actions for the necessary scale and scope of the action and its existence over time.
Proposals will look into effective ways of coupling public and/or private incentives to the delivery of one or more environmental goods at land and value chain levels. Proposals will review and investigate existing and new initiatives addressing the delivery by farmers of environmental public goods and services and their longevity. They will explore existing and design new approaches to improve cooperation between farmers as well as between farmers and other stakeholders (e.g. land owners, forestry sector, food industry, retailers, consumer associations, environmental NGOs, public bodies, water management authorities, protected areas, tourism services).
Activities will cover the three following issues in a combined or stand-alone way in each of the analysed approaches: (1) how land tenure systems can strengthen the longevity of both agricultural activities and environmental protection; (2) how result-based approaches, as compared to practice-based approaches, can be implemented effectively (considering the use of the most appropriate indicators); (3) how collective implementation of practices can be managed to enhance the delivery of ecosystem services at different scales. Proposals will take into account the diversity of European situations, e.g. with regard to legal and historical contexts or different categories of land ownership.
Proposals will analyse how duties and responsibilities are shared in arrangements between two or more parties, including as relevant, the distribution of the added value and the financial and/or production risks inherent to the agricultural sector and its complex links with the natural environment. Proposals will analyse the strengths and weaknesses of different approaches regarding their transaction costs, their relationship with market trends and their impacts on the ecosystem services over time. Proposals will fall under the concept of the 'multi-actor approach' and ensure appropriate involvement of the farming sector. They should also seek contributions from social and economic sciences to cover the broader economic, social, behavioural and environmental issues associated with the adoption of novel agri-environmental contracts.
The Commission considers that proposals requesting a contribution from the EU of up to EUR 5 million would allow this specific challenge to be addressed appropriately. Nonetheless, this does not preclude submission and selection of proposals requesting other amounts.
Funded activities will showcase cooperation models enabling the delivery of agri-environment-climate public goods and guaranteeing their longevity over time. In the short to medium term work will:
- Lead to the development of innovative agri-environment-climate contractual models based on the review of existing initiatives and the design of new ones;
- Unlock and improve economic viability of agri-environment-climate initiatives through a renovated and coherent agri-environment-climate contractual framework;
- Provide support to policy makers and stakeholders (set of incentives/legal/economic instruments) by sharing the good practices at national and regional level;
- Strengthen transdisciplinary research and integrated scientific support for consistent approaches between agricultural and environment-climate priorities and identify, when relevant, data management needs for the implementation of these approaches.
In the longer term funded activities will help to foster the necessary socio-economic contractual framework to enable farmers to reconcile agricultural production with the delivery of environmental public goods and services, including climate adaptation and mitigation benefits.
Socio-economic science and humanities