Systemic barriers to nitrogen reduction in the Dutch livestock sector: a mission-oriented innovation system approach
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Current Dutch nitrogen levels damage biodiversity Natura 2000 nature areas and are in breach with the EU Birds and Habitats Directive and Natura 2000 directive. In 2019, as a juridical failure of the previous nitrogen regulations, the Netherlands faced the nitrogen crisis. This immediately pressured the government to take action and explore how to decrease these emissions. To restore biodiversity in natural areas, the livestock sector should reduce its nitrogen emissions substantially, since it accounts for 58% of the total Dutch emissions. In addition, the government proposed a mission “In 2050 the system of agriculture and nature will be net climate neutral,” of which nitrogen reduction is a prerequisite. This research uses the currently introduced mission-oriented innovation system (MIS) framework to investigate the implicit mission of decreasing nitrogen emissions in the livestock sector. This research gained insight into the complexity of the problem and identify the systemic barriers for nitrogen reduction in the livestock sector. r. Most barriers are related to the ambiguity about future regulations and insecurity that they generate for farmers, making them more resistant to change. Future policies should account for more certainty and security, to increase the willingness to change among farmers, since they are the most important factor related to pursuing the mission. The isolated approach on nitrogen was both perceived as an advantage since it provided more detail and a limitation because many environmental problems are interrelated. The use of the MIS framework guided this research and provided insight into the complexity of the problem.