Adapting policy settings to promote multiple ecosystem benefits: Lessons learnt from case studies in the Baltic Sea Region

Andis Zilans 1, Gerald Schwarz 2, Kristina Veidemane 1, Maria Osbeck 3, Andrzej Tonderski 4 and Olle Olsson3


1University of Latvia, Riga, Latvia

2Thuenen Institute of Farm Economics, Braunschweig, Germany

3 Stockholm Environment Institute, Stockholm, Sweden

4 POMInnO Ltd., Gdynia, Poland


Greater mainstreaming of the ecosystem services approach in agricultural and environmental policies could support better policy integration, potentially refocusing agricultural policy objectives on win-win and trade-off considerations between agricultural and environmental interests. Scientific discussions of innovative policy instruments such as collaborative approaches and outcome-based payments for ecosystem services suggest potentials in addressing and involving new key stakeholders and creating new incentives for collective actions to produce multiple ecosystem benefits from reduced eutrophication and flood prevention.

This work examines how adaptations to the institutional settings and the governance of EU agricultural and environmental policies can increase the effectiveness of measures delivering multiple ecosystem benefits from reduced nutrient enrichment and flood management in the Baltic Sea Region. The work focusses on how specific institutional barriers and drivers affect the success of governance and policy innovations in four case areas in Selke (DE), Berze (LV), Reda (PL) and Helge (SE). Factors of success synthesized from existing examples of innovative agricultural and environmental policy instruments in the EU and further afield improve understanding of barriers and opportunities for the implementation of such policy innovations in different institutional settings across the Baltic Sea Region and inform the assessment of the required changes in existing governance.

Key factors of success include close and trusting cooperation in scheme development, utilization of intermediaries in trust building, an active role of civil society and private sector, spatial targeting and coordination of measures, exploring result-based and long-term approaches. The effectiveness of measures can be increased by adopting a less prescriptive approach to implementation, strengthening bottom-up participatory stakeholder learning processes, fostering cross-sectoral planning and funding initiatives, incentivizing local collaborative actions, developing cooperative nutrient management initiatives in the BSR, developing a more systematic and coordinated approach to pilot-testing of new concepts and measures.