Digital Theses Archive


Tesi etd-12202016-101216

Type of thesis
Contractual and Governance Arrangements in Result-based Agri-environmental Scheme in Europe: A Law and Economics Perspective
Scientific disciplinary sector
SCIENZE POLITICHE - Politics, Human Rights and Sustainability
Presidente Prof.ssa HENRY, BARBARA
Membro Prof.ssa TRAPE', ILARIA
Membro Prof. BODIGUEL, LUC
  • agri-environmental measure
  • agriculture
  • Ecosystem services
  • results-based scheme
Exam session start date
Academic scholarship on the value of benefits we receive from nature traces its origin back for several decades. Beyond the economic debate that still dominates the literature, legal scholarship is increasingly exploring the concept of ecosystem services. This follows a general shift in considering the concept from an original ecological and pedagogical perspective to an inclusion of economic, legal and institutional aspects in its relevance for public policy. The production of ecosystem services from agricultural land has been understood through the concept of multifunctional agriculture. Within this background, the paradigm of social-ecological systems has been recently placed with a focus on the close interdependencies between natural and man-made factors. The multifunctional role of the agriculture - i.e. producing both market goods (e.g. food and timber) and goods and services of public interest (i.e. ecosystem services) - was substantially promoted by the European Union, denoting the so-called European model of agriculture. The European Union has widely relied on agri-environmental measures to promote ecosystem services delivery. Existing measures tend to reward farmers for performing certain activity-based standards which are expected to deliver additional environmental benefits. The contractual mechanism is relatively remained unchanged over time and continues to dominate agri-environmental measures in Europe. While farmer acceptance and uptake are generally considered indicators of the success of agri-environmental schemes in Europe, a number of issues are leading academia and the EU to explore further alternative ways to promote ecosystem benefits. A solution that is attracting an increasing attention is the implementation of results-based schemes, where farmers are not rewarded for performing activity-based standards, but for achieving set environmental outcomes. While a significant gap exists in literature, the experimentation of the results-based approach is fast developing with an increasing number of results-based schemes that are being implemented in Europe. <br><br>The overarching aim of this thesis is to recognise the value of results-based contracting for the legal research, by contributing to shed light on its relevance and the number of implications that arise from its design and further implementation. More specifically, the work will discuss contractual and governance arrangements that are emerging along the fast development of such an approach. In doing this, the discussion will perform both a descriptive and a normative purpose. It will not only describe and analyse the status quo, but it will make the best effort in attempting to identify, argument and maintain further arrangements that may contribute in building an enabling environment for results-based contracting.<br><br>A number of research questions have been raised: What is the legal understanding that emerges from the results-based schemes currently implemented? What is the contracting mechanism that underlies results-based approach? And, what are the legal implications involved? The importance of payment levels is of clear relevance in ensuring high results orientation; thus, to what extent is it possible to affirm that it is in compliance with the World Trade Organisation law on national supporting measures in agricultural sector? How to deal with risk, uncertainty and change persistently involved in results-based contracting? Taking into account that regulators are using contractual mechanisms in pursuing regulatory goals, is there a call for contract governance that makes it happen for agri-environmental contract to be responsive to unpredicted contingencies and mid-term changes associated with ecosystem services as well as the relating risk for farmers?<br><br>The structure of the thesis is threefold. The first chapter will analyse the current state of art in the field. Such a literature review will build a semantic, conceptual and theoretical foundation that will allow the work to progress in the second and third chapter. This will facilitate an appreciation of the innovative contribution of the work against the existing scholarship. The literature review will be structured in a thematic manner without any consideration of the chronological order of the published works. The first part will investigate the scholarly understating regarding the legal interventions in governing ecosystem services and its relationship with the framework of multifunctional agriculture. The second part will explore the concept of Payment for Ecosystem Services (PES) and – as the review will turn to the implication for the EU policy - the implementation of agri-environmental (climate) schemes under the EU Common Agricultural Policy. The third part will discuss the current trends and established aspects around results-based contracts in Europe. <br><br>The second chapter is devoted to discuss the contractual arrangements associated with a results-based approach. While a definition has not been provided in literature, the chapter will recognise its crucial role in building a first semantic understanding of such a contracting mechanism, by focusing on its essential attributes. After having clarified how the defining process has been carried out, the chapter will suggest a working definition that, however, is not intended to be exhaustive. In particular, it will refrain to exhibit a precision that the contractual mechanism has not already achieved in the real world. Each implication involved in the definition will be discussed in details. A specific attention will be paid to the analysis of the compliance of results-based contracts with the World Trade Organisation and the Common Agricultural Policy requirements. The final part of the chapter aims at exploring a contractual strategy that will help in managing the uncertainty involved in results-based contracting in terms of unpredictable and mid-term changes as well as the increased risk for farmers. <br><br>The third chapter is dedicated to investigate the governance arrangements that emerge in dealing with results based agri-environmental contract in so far as regulators are using such a contractual mechanism in order to pursuing regulatory goals. The chapter will set the contours of the emerging contract governance. Given the inherent uncertainty and risk associated with results-based contracting, the chapter will address questions of meta-governance that are focused on how the contract governance should be configured in itself. By embracing the concept of responsiveness in governance and regulatory design, the chapter will attempt to identify two features: an adaptive approach in accommodating uncertainty and changes and a reflexive approach in facilitating a good fit between regulatory framework and contract governance.