Evaluation of Agri-Environmental Measures in the Venice Lagoon Watershed. Expert Knowledge Elicitation and Multi-Criteria Analysis
AbstractVarious tools and approaches have been experimented worldwide to address the externalities arising from agricultural activities, among which the design of agri-environmental policies and the introduction of specific measures to cope with the environmental impacts of agricultural origin. The mechanisms adopted within the Common Agricultural Policy with such aim fall within the category of Agri-Environmental Schemes (AESs), which are market-based policy schemes aimed at providing farmers with the right incentives to adopt farming practices yielding positive environmental externalities and are based on voluntary participation. Given the intrinsic complexity of agro-ecosystems and the effects of farmers’ behaviour, the assessment of the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of AESs is always challenging, and often both the environmental and economic effectiveness of AESs are questionable. The main objective of this paper is to present a framework for assessing the effectiveness of AESs in promoting social and environmental sustainability in Europe, based on experts’ knowledge. Experts’ knowledge, acquired through adequate elicitation strategies and managed with robust and transparent methodologies, can help building a system of information that can then be used to infer the effectiveness of agri-environmental measures, at least in comparative terms, if not in terms of quantitative absolute estimations. In the present study, the NetSyMoD framework approach has been adopted. First, a short introduction of the policy evaluation framework, the role of monitoring and performance indicators and of experts’ opinion is provided. Subsequently the methodology used to identify experts and to elicit their assessment on the effectiveness of AES schemes is presented. Finally, the paper provides a concrete example in which experts’ opinions have been used for the assessment exercise, and presents a framework for collecting, managing and integrating different opinions in a coherent framework and with quantitative indicators.
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