Title of the project:

Civil-public-private-partnerships (cp³):

collaborative governance approaches for policy innovation to enhance biodiversity and ecosystem services delivery in agricultural landscapes


Global environmental change affects the dynamics of both, natural and social systems likewise. While natural and human-modified ecosystems provide important ecosystem services (ES) supporting biodiversity and human well-being, social systems establish the policies that govern these ecosystems. Established governance models, such as hierarchic command and control, markets-based or collaborative approaches, have impacts on the natural systems and in consequence, on ES provision. Hence, the big challenge arises from making the established governance models a good fit to the spatial and temporal scales of ES provision and ecosystem functioning.

This challenge also applies to agricultural landscapes which are predominant across Europe and deliver a multitude of ES essential to sustain biodiversity and human life. However, as of yet, in many cases there is still a mismatch between the established governance approaches including the institutional structures created for governance implementation, and the spatial and temporal processes that are relevant for effective ES provision and biodiversity protection.


Also, current governance approaches mostly include hierarchical command and control type arrangements valid for different administrative units (e.g. Natura 2000 network, Water Framework Directive). This is supplemented by incentive and market-based approaches for individual farmers, such as agri-environmental schemes as part of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP). However, these approaches are often not sufficiently effective, because they are too short-term, are scattered across the landscape and not well matched to the spatial and temporal processes corresponding to actual ecosystem benefit flows to the beneficiaries.

This calls for new approaches in governance!

Key assumptions and objectives

Against this backdrop, we hypothesize, that collaborative approaches in governance exist that help in providing a better institutional fit between agro-ecosystem management and the required spatial and temporal scales necessary to reach specific ecosystem services (ES), food production and biodiversity targets in rural landscapes. We further hypothesize that from such collaborative approaches valuable lessons can be learned to inform stakeholders in governance and policy who are confronted with similar challenges.

Thus, cp³ will explore governance models for agro-ecosystem management in rural landscapes that go beyond command and control or market-based approaches and will focus on collaborative governance approaches involving actors from all spheres of society, including the state, market and civil society sector. Such collaborative approaches draw on a multitude of different governance models which include partnerships where social entrepreneurs or technological innovators from the market sector are involved or where citizens take on the role of evaluators or scheme monitors as lay experts through honorary work.


The cp³ project will address the following four research questions:

  1. Identify, describe, and analyze such collaborative governance models that are successful in providing an institutional fit between the level of governance and the required spatial and temporal scales necessary to reach specific ES, food production and biodiversity targets
  2. Identify, describe and analyze agricultural production practices linked to the different governance models and explore their relations to ES, food production and biodiversity targets, including existing trade-offs and synergies
  3. Develop an inventory of ES provided by and needed to sustain agro-ecosystems, including spatial and temporal scales of delivery, and ES flows
  4. Derive recommendations for stakeholders, i.e. policy makers, market actors, civil society initiatives, farming community, how development of such collaborative governance models can be supported by specific policies and administrative conduct.