Millingerwaard floodplain nature reserve in Kekerdom, The Netherlands. Photo: Kaj Granholm.
Agricultural and environmental stakeholders in the Baltic Sea Region consider that mutual cross-sector dialogue has improved in recent years and expect nationally adapted measures to reduce nutrient losses to waters. This is one general conclusion to be drawn from a survey conducted in spring 2015 among a targeted group of stakeholders on the future of agri-environment cooperation in the Baltic Sea Region by SLU's (Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences) Baltic Sea team. The survey ”Future agri-environment cooperation in the Baltic Sea Region” was based on the outcome of the recent years’ territorial cooperation projects and was sent to 217 stakeholders which resulted in 84 responses. The results are now available and summarized here and in the attachment below.
Respondents came from Baltic Sea Region countries apart from Lithuania as well as a few from outside the region, most from Sweden, Finland and Estonia. Professionally, the respondents represented a variety of backgrounds, most working in research, the public sector and NGO’s with a majority of them splitting time evenly between work in the national and international contexts.
The results reveal that majority of the respondents consider that the overall dialogue between the agriculture and environment sectors has improved and contributed to increased mutual understanding over the recent years. When asked about the most critical and significant challenges in the respondents’ own countries, a clear majority (73%) prioritized the need to reduce nutrient losses to waters. The opinion of the researchers was even more unanimous on this priority as 81% percent of the researchers prioritized this challenge over the others. Of the other challenges proposed, improving soil quality, climate change mitigation and biodiversity were ranked in this order but without significant differences between the three. A clear majority did not consider mitigation of impact of floods as a priority in their country.
In the question about areas to address on the Baltic Sea Region level to set agriculture on a sustainable course, the answers were scattered possibly because of difficulties to make a clear distinction between the alternatives. A majority of respondents (56%, and 65% of the ‘public sector officials’) ranked ‘Smarter policies and better coordination in implementation of policies on national level’ as a first or second priority. This translates to a great extent into the need to look at the national implementation of the EU Common Agricultural Policy which was selected by most respondents (45%) as the most important platform to influence change in agri-environmental aspects in the Baltic Sea Region (48% of the respondents who work mainly in the national context also prioritize EU CAP as the main tool). The EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region is also considered to have a key role in advancing agri-environmental sustainability as 44% ranked it as first or second priority.
When asked about opinion on the Greener Agriculture for a Bluer Baltic Sea (GABBS) Conference and its future, a clear majority of the respondents (68%) indicated to be in favor to sustain the GABBS Conference as an annual agri-environmental stakeholder forum. As good news, this year’s GABBS is already announced to be held on 5-6 November in Stralsund, Germany, with WWF and German Federal Environment Agency UBA as the main co-organizers. Further information about the conference will also be posted on this website and on www.gabbs.eu.
Download the summary of the overall results of the survey here.