The Potential of SEA in Fostering European Agriculture Policy and Strategies—Challenges and Opportunities
3. Setting the Policy Mix: The New EU Policy Context and the CAP
3.1. The European Green Deal, the Farm to Fork Strategy, and the Biodiversity Strategy for 2030: Environmental Objectives and Links with Agriculture
- To reduce the overall use and risk of chemical pesticides by 50% and the use of more hazardous pesticides by 50%.
- To reduce nutrient losses by at least 50% while ensuring no deterioration in soil fertility. Achieving this is also estimated to reduce the use of fertilizers by at least 20%.
- To reach 25% of the cropped area under organic farming.
3.2. The Current and Future Common Agricultural Policy: The Green Architecture and the New Delivery Model
- The establishment of the ‘no backsliding’ principle: the Member States must demonstrate an increased ambition regarding the environmental and climate objectives in their national CAP SP, compared with their present commitments;
- In pillar I, 25% of the direct payments will be devoted to the new eco schemes.
- In pillar II, at least 35% of the budget will be allocated to measures supporting climate, environment, biodiversity, and animal welfare;
- On farms with arable land, at least 3% of the latter will be dedicated to nonproductive elements supporting biodiversity, with an incentive to reach 7% through eco schemes
4. Results of Literature and Policy Analysis
4.1. Eliciting the Implicit Links between the F2F, the BDS2030 and Key Elements of SEA: Results from Policy Review and Analysis
4.2. SEA and Agricultural Policies in Europe: Results from the Literature Review
4.3. Reflecting on the Role of SEA for the Next CAP; Drawing on Experts’ Views
- SEA should be closely interlinked with the ex ante evaluation. Such connection should be established through ad hoc contractual arrangements and frequent interactions between the two teams (if distinct).
- SEA should provide an independent environmental assessment of the CSP.
- SEA should provide iterative feedback throughout the different phases of the CAP SP elaboration
- SEA should start as early as possible, possibly simultaneously with the Plan’s design
5.1. SEA as a Driver of Transformational Change
- A detailed scale of analysis is used, which forces plans and programmes to formulate detailed actions, such as intended projects, to reach the tangibility need for an EIA-type assessment, and consequently
- The strategic dimension of SEA is lost or misused, while plans and programmes also miss a strategic dimension.
5.2. How Can SEA Address the Current Challenges and Opportunities for Agriculture and Rural Development in Europe?
- How can this F2F policy unfold in the CAP SP, setting strategies to reach the policy objectives and targets?
- What would be the obstacles and enablers to adopting such strategies in the CAP SP?
- The optimization strategy, by reducing quantities of pesticides and fertilizers being used, contributes to reducing the risk without significantly changing the current farming system.
- The integrated pest management strategy, in the case of pesticides, combines a more tactical use of pesticides and inorganic fertilizers with other ecological farming practices such as natural pest control and crops diversification to increase resilience. This strategy often entails more significant changes to the existing farming system at the farm scale.
- The agroecological strategy, which mostly relies on ecological farming practices to control pests and provide nutrients, including crop–livestock integration, green manuring, compost, use of leguminosae, natural and mechanical pest/weed control etc., but also new forms of collaborative practices, comanagement at community/territorial level, above the farm scale. This strategy will probably entail a profound reorganization and redesign of the farming systems [39,40,41].
- Expertise and new knowledge increase capacities through training and experimentation.
- Technology availability and access to innovative technologies
- Learning with good practices and exchanging experiences enables them to trust the proposed change.
- Knowledge—including assessment criteria as access to technology, farmers’ capacity-building through training, and consumers’ awareness and behavior, all supporting knowledge as a CDF;
- Industry—as key players and part of the solution, including assessment criteria such as the creation of new markets, marketing approaches (through labelling and other), and increased transparency;
- Governance—concerning the normative dimension, to revise and streamline rules and regulations, reduce obstacles to change, and be relevant for the engagement of stakeholders, including the industry, in advisory boards.
Conflicts of Interest
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|Extracts from F2F and BDS2030||Link to SEA Elements as Provided by Directive 2001/42/EC|
|BDS2030, Section 3.3.3|
Biodiversity considerations need to be better integrated into public and business decision making at all levels.
F2F Section 2.1
[The Commission] will also strictly assess any proposal for coupled support in Strategic Plans from the perspective of the need for overall sustainability.
|The objective of Directive 2001/42 is to provide for a high level of protection of the environment and to contribute to the integration of environmental considerations into the preparation and adoption of plans/programs at different levels with a view of promoting sustainable development|
|BDS 2030 Section 2.2.2|
The Commission will ensure that the CAP Strategic plans are assessed against robust climate and environmental criteria.
F2F, Section 2
[…] ensuring that the food chain, covering food production, transport, distribution, marketing and consumption, has a neutral or positive environmental impact, preserving and restoring the land, freshwater and sea-based resources […]; helping to mitigate climate change […]; protecting land, soil, water, air, plant and animal health and welfare; and reversing the loss of biodiversity (p. 4)
F2f, Section 2.1
The new ‘eco-schemes’ will offer a major stream of funding to boost sustainable practices, […] MS and the EC will have to ensure that they are appropriately resourced and implemented in the Strategic Plans (p. 9)
|SEA identifies and assesses the environmental impacts of proposed plans/programmes, including inter alia land, soil, water, biodiversity, climatic factors. It provides suggestions or define criteria for the implementation phase of assessed plans/projects.|
|F2F, Section 2 and Section 5|
The transition to sustainable food systems requires a collective approach involving public authorities at all levels of governance […] private-sector actors […], non-governmental organisations, social partners, academics and citizens. The Commission invites all citizens and stakeholders to engage in a broad debate to formulate a sustainable food policy
BDS2030, Section 4.1
There should be an inclusive approach with participation of all stakeholders, including women, youth, civil society, local authorities, the private sector, academia and scientific institutions.
BDS 2030 Section 5
The implementation of these commitments […] will require a sense of responsibility and strong joint efforts from the EU, its Member States, stakeholders, and citizens.
|SEA promotes the engagement of different stakeholders, including environmental and sectoral authorities. SEA legal provisions for public consultation and participation can be extended with good practice to offer well-established windows of opportunity to create spaces of involvement for stakeholders and citizens in public debate during the CAP SP elaboration process.|
|F2F, Section 2.1|
Farmers should […] reduce methane emissions from livestock by developing the production of renewable energy […] Farm houses and barns are often perfect for placing solar panels, and such investments should be prioritised in the future CAP Strategic Plans. The Commission will take action to speed-up market adoption of these […] solutions […] as long as these investments are carried out in a sustainable manner and without compromising food security or biodiversity
|SEA sets the frame at the plan/program level for subsequent projects with potential environmental effects and identifies potential trade-offs and environmental criteria to guide the realization of such projects.|
|F2F Section 2.1|
[…] Agricultural practices that reduce the use of pesticides through the CAP will be of paramount importance, and the Strategic Plans should reflect this transition and promote access to advice
[The Commission] will […] promote greater use of safe alternative ways of protecting harvests from pests and diseases.
|SEA is specifically tasked to identify and assess reasonable alternatives taking into account the aims and the geographical scope of the plan, and can therefore assess different options on how to achieve the intended objectives|
|F2F Section 2.1|
The Commission will also make recommendations to each Member State on the nine specific objectives of the CAP, before they formally submit the draft Strategic Plans. The Commission will pay particular attention to addressing the Green Deal targets, and those stemming from this strategy and the Biodiversity Strategy for 2030. (p. 9)
The excess of nutrients (especially nitrogen and phosphorus) in the environment, […] is another major source of […] pollution and climate impacts. […] The Commission will develop with Member States an integrated nutrient management action plan to address nutrient pollution […] (p. 7)
|SEA assesses the consistency of proposed plans with high level environmental objectives contained in other plans/programs and policies. The SEA process can support MS in ensuring that proposed measures in the CAP SP explicitly contribute to GD and BS2030 targets and to align them with the work of the EIP-AGRI.|
|The Commission will propose legislation to convert its Farm Accountancy Data Network into the Farm Sustainability Data Network with a view to also collect data on the Farm to Fork and Biodiversity Strategies’ targets and other sustainability indicators.||SEA is tasked with baseline data collection and establishment of indicators for monitoring, so it can both contribute to and benefit from this stated objective.|
|Moving to the rural areas was elected as an “opportunity”, namely by young people||COVID stimulus to move out of the city may be only temporary|
Conditions to fix people must be created
Minimum services are needed concerning the availability of digital connectivity and the provision of public services.
The lasting effects of the pandemics can lead to an increase in state prices and second homes
|COVID pandemics speeded up the movement of rediscovering rural areas, leading people to move out of the city.|
|Allowing multiple land uses and functions may foster land protection and therefore contribute to agricultural and food production||The urban–rural divide in energy production vs. agriculture production and the land use; conflict may arise|
Overcoming the unbalance of energy in cities (green energy in cities) leaves a footprint in rural landscapes (while it is an income for rural).
Threats on biophysical aspects: climate change, water quality, land abandonment, inadequate plantations (e.g., rapid growth olive trees in Portugal, quinoa in Peru)
|Ecosystem services approach and mapping in SEA have a strong potential to enhance value in rural areas in different spectrums recreation, protection etc.|
|SEA has the potential to deal with transboundary issues, including “telecoupled impacts.”||Dependence on private transports also comes as a constraint in comparison with urban areas where people have public transport|
|Recommendations from the overall Conference|
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Rega, C.; Partidario, M.d.R.; Martins, R.; Baldizzone, G. The Potential of SEA in Fostering European Agriculture Policy and Strategies—Challenges and Opportunities. Land 2022, 11, 168. https://doi.org/10.3390/land11020168
Rega C, Partidario MdR, Martins R, Baldizzone G. The Potential of SEA in Fostering European Agriculture Policy and Strategies—Challenges and Opportunities. Land. 2022; 11(2):168. https://doi.org/10.3390/land11020168Chicago/Turabian Style
Rega, Carlo, Maria do Rosario Partidario, Rute Martins, and Giorgio Baldizzone. 2022. "The Potential of SEA in Fostering European Agriculture Policy and Strategies—Challenges and Opportunities" Land 11, no. 2: 168. https://doi.org/10.3390/land11020168