The director of the project observer "Local Action Group of the Langhe Roero Leader region" got interviewed and talks about main challenges of applying the Ecosystem Services approach and more.
- What do you see as the most critical challenges of applying the ES approach at different levels of decision making?
The main challenges are presented by the following points:
1. Complexity of this theme, currently dominated mainly by the scientific and academic fields and the multiplicity of factors (including territorial contexts) that influence the evaluation, with the need for further studies and the creation of specific skills required to implement the ES concept;
2. Need for up-to-date datasets on which to base the analysis and evaluations, whose finding of data sets is often expensive; Possibility of structuring, at regional or national level, a dataset storage system (eg. in environmental and forestry practices, etc.) that may be useful for the application of the ES approach;
3. Possibility of wrong evaluations (pro for some aspects and con for others) or instrumental use of the ES concept in relation to the objective that we are aiming for;
4. Difficulty in transferring concepts to potential users (administrators and technicians), which makes it essential for HIGH EFFECTIVE INVESTMENT IN COMMUNICATION with the use of different tools and thinking of different target groups;
5. Mid-term time horizon for the evaluation of the effects of the ES approach, generally not compatible with the concrete utility of this evaluation:
- a political-administrative mandate and the consensus goal that sometimes governs the decisions of the Directors,
- an entrepreneurial approach based on maximizing profit;
6. Need to achieve a balanced ES assessment (in a non-exclusive economic sense), warding down the risk that the ES approach may only be merely "economic", especially in the case of common environmental and landscape assets of great importance for the public good and infinite nature;
7. Possible resistance from economic operators to implement an approach that reduces their margin of choice and, possibly, income.
- What do you see as key actions for bridging the gap between the ES concept in theory and its actual applicability?
The following key actions would be necessary to bring the ES conceptual concept closer to its practical applicability:
1. MORE FOCUS ON COMMUNICATION OF THE ES APPROACH, through the creation of communication, education, information and training solutions differentiated both at the level of tools (animated video and graphics, brochures, seminars and conferences also with the award of training credits) and for different target groups:
- Administrators - exemplifying the potential of using the ES concept, with an experiential approach and the development of the cascade process: identifying a concrete problem and choices to be made, context analysis and factors related to choices, construction of future scenarios in relation to possible choices, introduction of the ES concept, comparison of future scenarios highlighting the consequences of the various possible choices,
- Technicians and Professionals – technical and professional contents, aimed at providing in-depth knowledge of the methodology and tools in order to enable them to be applied,
- Students - at all levels, focussed education for children so that they can develop an awareness of these themes, more technical and in-depth for the university level;
2. Further deepen the approach also through the application in concrete situations that will enable people to have a greater range of experiences from which to draw inspiration;
3. Software development / sophisticated programmes in order to simplify the complexity of the ES approach and analysis in a more operational way, facilitating the use and thus distribution of the ES concept;
4. To guide through an ever closer link between the provision of public funding in the environmental field and the application of the concept of ES by the beneficiaries.
- In your opinion, what would be the added value of the ES-concept implementation concerning regional environmental governance?
I believe that the added value of the ES concept in environmental governance could be:
1. Dissemination of a homogeneous approach to the implementation of large-scale environmental policies (national, regional, spatial, etc.);
2. Provision of "top rank" reasons to address and support the Administrators' choices, with consequent subtraction of decisions (at national, regional and local level) to short-term logic linked to political consensus or maximization of profit the impact on the territories and the consequent well-being of those who live there or, even better, of those who will live in the future;
3. mitigation of the impacts on the environment and the landscape of choices linked to legitimate economic-productive needs, both in urban areas and especially in often marginal areas, low anthropization and tourist vocation, the strength of which is precisely the naturalness of the territories and valuable landscapes as elements in support of tourism policies linked to a "slow" fruitions.