#1 Policy Brief - Improving Eco-Schemes in the Light Of Agroecology: Key Recommendations for the 2023-2027 Common Agricultural Policy
Improving Eco-Schemes in the Light Of Agroecology: Key Recommendations for the 2023-2027 Common Agricultural Policy discusses the new CAP structure, as well as its content, through recommendations gathered from previous work of partners and contemporary insights within the various work packages of AE4EU. One of principal changes within the new CAP has been the inclusion of Eco-schemes – voluntary programmes linked to the first pillar which will be available to farmers with the hope to incentivize more ecological and environmentally-friendly farming practices. While agroecology holds an eminent space within this list by being listed as one of the primary recommendations, it does so within a role of just another practice to achieve a more sustainable farming system. The recommendations concluded for the Eco-schemes were the following:
- Separate practices from production systems.
- Create basic premiums for all eco-friendly agricultural production systems.
- Create multi-dimensional Eco-schemes that encourage the implementation of multiple practices at once.
- Ensure proportionality between the level of payment and the expected environmental benefits.
- Maintain rigorous conditionality by not paying for what should be mandatory.
- Public money for public goods.
The work included an assessment on which countries have included agroecology in their plans, as well as which schemes seem promising or concerning for the advancement of agroecology. Assessments showed that only 19 % Eco-schemes are likely to deliver their environmental objectives, well designed schemes are underfunded, while their less demanding counterparts remain more financially attractive (BirdLife Europe et al., 2021). This is dangerous for true environmental benefits to biodiversity, soil health, and climate mitigation and adaptation. For more information download and read the full policy brief below.
#2 Policy Brief - 10 Steps to Achieve the European Green Deal
10 Steps to Achieve the European Green Deal takes the time to show that many of the targets found within the European Green Deal, including the Farm to Fork and Biodiversity Strategies, can be met by a transition to agroecology. It aims to provide such a map through 10 concrete steps that can be taken to achieve no net emissions of greenhouse gases within the agricultural sector.
- Strongly decrease synthetic pesticides and fertilisers
- Increase mixed crop-livestock systems
- Enhance animal health and extensively manage livestock
- Restore and enlarge permanent grasslands
- Return trees to agricultural landscapes
- Diversify the types and number of crops grown on a single farm
- Increase diversity of habitats
- Increase the adoption of organic farming
- Increase research on best practices at the local and regional scale for all aspects of the food system including for climate, soil, land management, and crop and animal diversity
- Promote participatory and multi-stakeholder approaches in knowledge generation
These steps aim to provide a framework to achieve the promised reduction of chemical pesticides, fertilisers, nutrient losses, and environmental and climate footprints; protection of EU’s protected areas; planting of 3 billion trees; restoration of high diversity landscape features; and expansion of organic farming. Download and read the full report below.
#3 Policy Brief - Fostering the transformative role of agroecological research in Europe
This policy brief aims to provide research-based policy recommendations for policy makers that are responsible for the design and funding of research programmes related to sustainable agriculture, as well as agroecology.
The research was undertaken as a desk-based activity in order to collect information on research projects and funding programmes which deal with agroecology in Europe, principally at the European (within the Horizon framework which is funded by the European Union) and transnational (codesigned and co-funded by Member States with the participation of European Union) levels.
Based on the research and three surveys that were conducted, the policy brief introduces science-based recommendations, with the aim to steer the actions of policy makers responsible for the design and funding of research programmes related to agroecology, in order to fortify its transformative role for the future of agriculture and sustainable food systems.
- Establish research programmes that consider the entire agri-food system and its actors, not only on the agronomic field and farming scales.
- Strengthen research cooperation and networks at the European scale by lowering the barriers that hinder the connection and participation of the currently less involved countries.
- Promote research programmes addressing, at least, level 3 (redesign) of Gliessman’s framework, and especially those that go beyond this and include the social and governance aspects of level 4 and 5 on the other hand, diminish research programmes addressing only level 1 (efficiency) and 2 (substitution).
- Design research programmes that strengthen transdisciplinary research, and explicitly demand the implementation of transdisciplinary designs and processes.
- Enhance the involvement of a greater number of actors from the entire agri-food system, in particular those who have been less represented thus far, such as upstream and downstream value chain actors, and the non-economic actors of the food system (i.e., citizens).
- Identify important elements and traits of agroecological Living Labs to truly guarantee the implementation of transdisciplinary approaches.
- Promote appropriate policies regarding scientific data to guarantee data sharing and reuse within the scientific community (i.e., rewards, mandatory data sharing agreements).
- Introduce institutional and procedural innovation to guarantee higher flexibility in the implementation of research projects, especially within budget and partnership management.
- Increase the duration of projects that are dealing with agroecology.
- Frame research programmes in a way that does not allow small projects whose results might be too simplified, as well as very large ones that cannot be efficiently managed