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More from land, dream or reality?


More benefits, more quality, more identity, more...

 

Land is a crucial resource for the European Union and especially in the delivery of its Europe 2020 agenda. Economists see it as one of the three factors of production – alongside labour and capital. Making the best use of it is essential in achieving sustainable development – economic progress that benefits all in society, while using resources wisely, and respecting global environmental limits. Yet the potential contribution land could make to prosperity and wellbeing is often not realised.

Until now, land management policies have generally operated in disjointed, reactive ways – with decisions generally taken individually, or without proper engagement with other policy delivery measures. But incremental, reactive approaches may well not lead to the best outcomes for future generations. The demands to land everywhere in the world are set to rise over the coming decades, given a global population increasing in number and wealth – and consuming more food and energy –, and looking for cleaner water and protection from environmental hazards. At the same time, the world will need to address the challenges of climate change and of protecting biodiversity. Achieving this set of demands will depend crucially on using land well. Governments as well as business and civil society representatives at all levels will need to take responsibility for incentivising sustainable development by putting in place improved, properly coordinated land management policies and ensuring that other policies do not create perverse incentives.

In short, globally, nationally and locally, there is a need to envision clear outcomes for land use in the future; and having done so, this will require the best set of measures to be identified for achieving the desired outcomes.

This is where the VOLANTE project comes in. The project is structured to provide European policymakers from a range of sectors relevant for land use with a new conceptual platform for making the very best of Europe’s precious land resource – in fact a new land management paradigm. It will enable policy makers to work with land managers and other stakeholders to establish clear outcome goals (which we call “Visions”); and then identify potential routes and measures needed to deliver them (“Robust Pathways”). These routes can be seen as alternative approaches on a roadmap. By examining the trade-offs associated with following each of the different route options, it allows to test the feasibility both of the desired outcomes and of the measures needed to achieve them.

The VOLANTE project has focussed on European land use, although we made an effort to provide general reference to international boundary conditions and effects as well. Also water management issues and climate mitigation were not a primary focus of VOLANTE. Still these effects are addressed in the interpretation of the results.

Arriving at the final stage of the VOLANTE project, we wish to acknowledge with gratitude the contribution of our large and committed VOLANTE stakeholder community to the project achievements. It has been a great pleasure to challenge each other to keep ‘thinking out of the box’; we hope this community will continue to do so, eventually evolving towards a dedicated EU think-tank for land use issues.

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