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Evaluating Agri-environmental Policies

Design, Practice and Results

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These conference proceedings present a series of evaluations of agri-environmental policies in OECD countries.  They examine how effective the policies have been in achieving objectives and what policy makers have learned about the design and implementation of their policies. 

These proceedings show that different methods of policy evaluation are complementary. Most countries focus on evaluating the environmental effectiveness rather than the economic efficiency of policies, using physical indicators rather than monetary values. Many policies are achieving their environmental objectives, but are taking longer than originally anticipated. The initiative being taken in many countries to incorporate monitoring and data collection into programme design and implementation is a positive development.  But a number of steps need to be taken to improve the quality of evaluations, including the better articulation of policy goals and objectives, improving data quality and establishing baselines for comparison.

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Evaluation of Agri-environmental Measures in Flanders, Belgium

Agri-environmental measures (AEM) in Belgium are implemented through Rural Development Plans (RDP) established under the Rural Development Regulation of the Second Pillar of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) of the European Union (EU).2 There is a separate RDP for the country’s two regions: Flanders and Wallonia. Flanders was late in implementing AEM: Regulation 2078/92 was never implemented. With its RDP 2000-06, Flanders has tried to catch up with other EU countries which use AEM. Despite little experience, twelve AEM have been implemented. In 2003, a mid-term evaluation by an independent evaluator reviewed the implementation of the RDP over 2000-02.3 The evaluation was done in the framework of the EU common monitoring and evaluation approach. For this purpose, the European Commission (EC) had defined common evaluation questions, criteria and indicators to be used by RDP evaluators.4 Most of the evaluation approach went to fulfilling the EC demands, which aimed mostly at assessing the environmental effects of the AEM. The evaluator was assisted full-time by a staff member from the Division for Agricultural Policy Analysis. This set-up proved to be very successful. While the evaluation took place too early to measure results and impacts, some useful recommendations for RDP management were made. The importance of an integrated monitoring and evaluation framework was shown. A survey of farmers delivered useful information about what’s happening on the field.

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