Stakeholder Analysis for Sharing Agro-environment Issues Towards Concerted Action: A Case Study on Diffuse Nitrate Pollution
AbstractThere is increasing need for participatory approaches to support the development of sustainable farming systems, based on the active involvement of stakeholders in the definition of research objectives and priorities. This paper reports the experience of a team of agronomy researchers involved in the SLIM project (http://slim.open.ac.uk), around a case study of nitrate pollution. The agro-ecosystem analysis included biophysical processes at microcatchment scale and the stakeholders’ perceptions, interests and practices related to the nitrate issue (stakeholders analysis). The conceptual SLIM framework model supported new interactions among stakeholders, that were facilitated by researchers, using dialogical tools to enable them to use scientific data and to integrate their own knowledge on the farming system. The agro-environment policies, based on compulsory prescriptions, revealed weak assumptions and insufficient integration of scientific knowledge. The stakeholder analysis contributed to the identification of priorities both for scientific research and agro-environment policies. Researchers provided the site-specific scientific knowledge, in a way that enabled stakeholders to identify the relationships between agricultural practices, landscape values and the nitrate pollution issue and to elaborate shared strategies to develop concerted actions. New spaces for interaction between researchers and stakeholders should be created to face complex agro-environment issues at catchment scale, such as the nitrate pollution of groundwater. The implication for agronomy research is that the experiments should be designed to produce suitable results to facilitate participatory sessions and that it is worthwhile to invest in specific skills of communication science and group dynamics management within the agronomy researchers’ community, in order to integrate agronomy knowledge into high quality participatory processes.
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