The puzzle of (in-)action
MetadataShow full item record
The intensive character of the Dutch agricultural system puts heavy pressure on biodiversity and ecosystem functioning. Nature-inclusive farming is an extensive approach that can offer farmers a perspective for the future whilst maintaining the value from ecosystems. However, in the dairy sector nature-inclusive farming has a relatively low uptake due to 5 key issues. These are: the lack of a uniform and shared vision (1), missing structural rewards for societal services (2), limited financial action-perspective for farmers (3), narrow knowledge transfer (4) and resistance from the current system (5). Stakeholders can mitigate these barriers by performing key actions. This research investigates the motivation behind stakeholder (in-)action in performing the key actions necessary for promoting nature-inclusive governance systems. In total 13 interviews were conducted with stakeholders ranging from government, market and civil society. The research finds only 2 cases of action opposed to 12 cases of inaction. The first key action that was taken is: creating specific indicators for nature-inclusive farming. Here key performance indicators were implemented on a provincial-level which offer a foundation for formulating concrete goals and aid in quantifying the value of societal services derived from nature-inclusive farming thus increasing farmer’s ability to capture this value in their business models. This therefore helped tackle key issues 1, 2 and 3. The second key action that was taken is: showing the viability of alternative business models by experimentation in practice. Here a project from Urgenda offers farmers discounted prices on nature-inclusive practices (herb-rich grassland) and provides the necessary knowledge to engage with this, therefore stimulating practical cultural change. This thus contributed to tackling key issues 3, 4 and 5. This research concludes that the reasons for inaction are varied but that the existing institutional setting is the most prominent driver of inaction. As the existing institutional setting is reflective of embedded practices from the system, it can be concluded that the agricultural system promotes inaction and thereby reinforces itself. Additionally, there is a pattern in which stakeholders explain their inaction by ascribing it to systemic barriers (key issues) rather than reflect on their own internal motivation or capabilities. This framing reduces the need for individual stakeholders to perform key actions by shifting the focus from individual stakeholders’ responsibility to a more abstract sense of collective responsibility in facilitating systems change.