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Capacity building and public awareness raising on Nitrates Directive in the countries aspiring to EU accession

Znaor, Darko and Karyotis, Theodore (2011) Capacity building and public awareness raising on Nitrates Directive in the countries aspiring to EU accession. In: Karyotis, T.; Gabriels, D. and Noulas, C. (Eds.) Proceedings of the 6th International Congress of the European Society for Soil Conservation “Innovative Strategies and Policies for Soil Conservation”, National Agricultural Research Foundation , Athens, pp. 172-173.

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The governments of the EU Member States have agreed to potentially enlarge the Union with seven South East European countries (Croatia, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Serbia, Kosovo under UN Security Council Resolution 1244) and Turkey. However, these countries will be granted full member status only when all political, legislative and administrative requirements for membership are fulfilled. Transposition, implementation and enforcement of the EU Nitrate Directive (91/676/EC) is one of these requirements.
Many policy makers, farmers and consumers from the EU accession countries perceive the Nitrate Directive as a very demanding piece of legislation with little relevance for their countries. Moreover, there is a widespread belief that the Nitrate Directive can potentially limit the competitiveness of their agricultural sector. Limited or partial information and misconceptions about the Nitrate Directive in these countries provokes fear (and sometimes anger), notably by farmers. Consequently, the adoption of the Nitrate Directive receives low political priority. In most countries aspiring to EU membership, there are no other driving forces besides EU accession pushing Governments to adopt the Nitrate Directive. Pressure exerted by health, consumer or environmental protection NGOs hardly exists. Training and education on the Nitrate Directive is poorly covered and addressed by the curricula at higher education organisations, as well as by NGO training programmes. Consequently experts from these countries do not have much opportunity to get acquainted with the Nitrate Directive. The problem persists when these people become governmental officials, extension officers, farm managers, etc., and are supposed to make policy decisions and administer the Nitrate Directive – or advise farmers and manage farms according to EU Nitrates Directive requirements.
In order to remedy this problem, several international projects, financed by the Global Environmental Facility fund (administered by the World Bank or the UN Development Programme), the European Commission, and the EU Member State Governments (notably the Netherlands) have been initiated recently. The experience from these projects shows that transfer of information - capacity building and public awareness raising programmes – play a vital role in understanding the rationale behind the Nitrate Directive and in accepting the farming practices it requires. Participatory training, demonstration of nutrient management planning software, on-farm water quality testing with mobile kits, experiments using piezometers/lysimeters and field trials involving various cover crops, buffer strips, etc. accompanied with Web pages, demonstration videos, posters, leaflets, etc. have been shown to be powerful tools to demonstrate the link between water quality and (adverse) agricultural practices. The valuation (“monetisation”) of ecosystem services and environmental costs generated by the fertiliser industry and farming is a newly emerging concept that seems to be a particularly promising tool for awareness raising on the Nitrate Directive. Emerging assessments from the accession countries suggest that hidden costs (public investments and environmental costs) associated with elevated content of nitrates in water can be substantial. Making policy makers and the public at large aware of these costs and of potential savings on them by practising water friendly farming methods (e.g. organic or pastoral farming) can foster the adoption of the EU Nitrate Directive in EU candidate counties and beyond.

EPrint Type:Conference paper, poster, etc.
Type of presentation:Paper
Keywords:Water friendly farming methods; Organic farming and Nitrate Directive; political priority; Training and education; valuation (monetisation) of ecosystem services and environmental costs; internalisation of agricultural externalities; nitrates in water;
Subjects: Soil > Nutrient turnover
Environmental aspects > Air and water emissions
Food systems > Policy environments and social economy
Knowledge management > Education, extension and communication
Environmental aspects
Research affiliation: Croatia
Deposited By: Znaor, Dr Darko
ID Code:26446
Deposited On:17 Jun 2014 15:00
Last Modified:12 Aug 2014 06:08
Document Language:English
Refereed:Peer-reviewed and accepted

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