Territorial program+SOLO +VIDA
written by: Maria Helena Guimarães (Researcher at MED-Universidade de Évora)
Governance is not the same as government. As we face increasingly complex challenges that affect us all, governance alone is not enough. This is one of the reasons why governance is an important theme. The theme implies a reflection on how we organize ourselves around a specific problem. What changes are necessary to be able to find solutions and apply them into practice. Governance is a process of reorganisation of people and institutions that questions the current organization, but also the way of working and the decision-making. Governance presupposes that, in addition to the established institutions and governance structures, there is a need to dynamise new formats of collective work, to make procedures more flexible and to increase the capacity to experiment, innovate and change. Collective work in governance is structural. As such, thinking and acting in governance is a collective process.
MED-UEVORA partner entity in the implementation of a new governance model.
For the implementation of a model of local, collaborative and inclusive governance, +SOLO +VIDA has as partner entity the MED – Instituto Mediterrâneo para a Agricultura, Ambiente e Desenvolvimento da Universidade de Évora, represented by the researcher Maria Helena Guimarães who provides technical support in implementation and development.
This governance model proposes new participation methodologies and cooperation mechanisms for the replication of good practices in soil degradation control and restoration solutions, in closer consultancy with the competent entities and stakeholders. Complementary, this study will allow to make a diagnosis of the local agricultural sector, also aiming at promoting the debate and the dissemination of methodologies and solutions in terms of governance models, in order to encourage its application in more territories.
Examples of how we can promote collective processes:
1) Social meetings and talks around the Montado
“Tertúlias do Montado” is a platform for dialogue between all those interested in the Montado as the agro-silvo-pastoral system established in Alentejo region. The initiative began in 2016 and is still active. The objective of these meetings is to stimulate critical spirit through socialization between researchers, owners, managers, employees of several public institutions and to everyone that has a connection to Montado. In this socialization process there is something that emerges beyond knowledge: understanding and trust. And this trust is fundamental for a more critical look, especially at the present time, where information and misinformation coexist at the distance of a click.
In this approach, co-construction is promoted by sharing interpretations and ideas together. They aim to promote informed decisions and actions that can halt the current decline of the Montado as an agro-silvo-pastoral system. And how is this to be done? By designing these events so that all participants take with them new ideas, motivation and challenging them to think and rethink. Exploring scientific knowledge and living with the Montado as an interest that is not individual, but collective.
2) Programme “Montado” Produce and Preserve
Governance implies interactions at different decision levels. Ideally there is a relationship and communication in different scales, from the daily decision in the management of a farm to the decision at the level of agricultural policy. This is the aim to get results based on agriculture and environmental measures. There is a pilot project of these measures for the Montado in two pilot areas that encompass the Parque Natural do Vale do Guadiana. The implementation of these measures requires collective work and co-construction between the farmer, science and public administration.
In this pilot project, the first step was to create a working group with elements from each sector (cork oak producers and managers, researchers, public administration and non-governmental organizations). This group began working together in 2017, by defining the environmental results to be achieved in the Montado. Thereafter, the definition of some indicators allow us to monitor the Montado and to understand whether the results are being achieved. In parallel, we worked on a support service for farmers so that they can choose the management practices that allow them to achieve more and better environmental results. Through joint work with the portuguese institutions, we managed to have an agro-environmental measure based on results integrated in the Strategic Plan for the Common Agricultural Policy in Portugal. We eagerly await its implementation.
3) Strategic Plan for Extensive Livestock in Catalonia (Galicia)
A participatory model supported by structured debates around public policy has been applied in the elaboration of the Strategic Plan for Extensive Livestock Farming in Catalonia 2021-2030. Driven by the Department for Climate Action, Food and Rural Agenda, this collaborative initiative seeks to incorporate, where plausible, citizens’ voices into government decisions and to publicly explain the outcome of the decisions taken. Participation can be done online or in face-to-face sessions where other participants’ contributions are also made available for consultation.
This strategic planning process should involve all stakeholders involved in extensive livestock farming, especially the organized livestock sector (professional agricultural groups and organizations), the non-organised livestock sector (small territorial associations and identified individual stakeholders), technicians from the administrations involved and the scientific and research sector.