Mainstreaming ecosystem services for improved agricultural and environmental policy integration: Lessons from a review

Gerald Schwarz 1, Andis Zilans 2 and Kristina Veidemane 2

 

1Thuenen Institute of Farm Economics, Braunschweig, Germany

2University of Latvia, Riga, Latvia

 

The major source of eutrophication of the Baltic Sea is nutrient enrichment from the agricultural sector. It is thought that a more systematic use of the ecosystem services approach in agricultural and environmental policies can assist in facilitating greater integration and combination of different policy objectives and deliver an integrated policy framework to more effectively and efficiently address eutrophication and flooding in the Baltic Sea Region and provide multiple ecosystem benefits.

This paper aims to develop of a conceptual framework of the strengths and weaknesses of the ecosystem services approach to promote greater policy integration and innovation in relevant sectoral policies with an emphasis on agricultural and environmental policies. The development of the conceptual framework is informed by an examination of the extent to which current EU agricultural and environmental policies have considered aspects of the ecosystems services approach and what has hindered the implementation of a more integrated approach. A review is undertaken of the current discussion of the strengths and weaknesses of mainstreaming an ecosystem services approach in agricultural and environmental policies and related instruments to deliver greater integration or win-win situations between environmental and agricultural objectives and interests.

The undertaken literature review and policy document analysis seek to develop a better understanding of: 1) The extent to which current agricultural and environmental policies consider and apply an ecosystems services approach and what ecosystem services are targeted and indirectly promoted; 2) The main challenges in implementing a more integrated approach and how mainstreaming of an ecosystems services approach can improve the integration of sectoral policies and their objectives; 3) The main strengths and weaknesses and key policy instruments to mainstreaming the ecosystems services approach in agricultural and environmental policies currently discussed in the scientific literature.