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Collective action as a tool for agri-environmental policy implementation. The case of diffuse pollution control in European rural areas

Abstract : In the European Union (EU) context, regulatory instruments and incentive schemes targeting individual farms remain the main policy instruments implemented to control diffuse pollution from agriculture. Yet, collective approaches to policy implementation have been recently developing. This article aims at assessing the potential for hybrid policy instruments relying on collective action among farmers to limit diffuse nitrate pollution from agriculture. Transaction cost economics are used to assess the potential advantages of collective action as a complement to regulatory and incentive policy tools. The conditions under which such hybrid forms of governance may be successful are identified using the Social-Ecological System (SES) framework. A review of empirical studies documenting cases of collective action for policy implementation in the EU context serves as a basis for the identification of the factors likely to affect the potential of collective approaches for water quality management in agriculture. The analysis relies more particularly on two cases: the Environmental Cooperatives in the Netherlands and the “Ferti-Mieux” operations in France. The results suggest that collective action is a relevant tool to consider for improving the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of policies targeting diffuse pollution from agriculture. In particular, relying on farmers’ cooperation for policy implementation may be associated with advantages in terms of transaction costs. However, such advantages will be effective under a number of conditions related to the characteristics of the water resource, the actors involved, the governance of cooperation and the broader economic and institutional contexts.
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https://hal.inrae.fr/hal-03095373
Contributor : Laurence Amblard <>
Submitted on : Monday, January 4, 2021 - 4:04:00 PM
Last modification on : Tuesday, June 15, 2021 - 2:57:36 PM

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Laurence Amblard. Collective action as a tool for agri-environmental policy implementation. The case of diffuse pollution control in European rural areas. Journal of Environmental Management, Elsevier, 2021, 280, pp.111845. ⟨10.1016/j.jenvman.2020.111845⟩. ⟨hal-03095373⟩

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