Thesis subject

Valuation of ecosystem services as basis for the new CAP

The Environmental Systems Analysis Group provides the possibility for students to do their thesis in collaboration with our group. This is one of many possible thesis subjects. Please feel free to contact professor De Vries or Dr Ros (right) for more information.

The European Union is spending 360 billion euro on agricultural and rural support in the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) in the period 2015-2020. The policy will have to be renewed in 2020 and complex negotiations are proceeding at this time. The current policy is based on the principle of “cross-compliance”, meaning that farmers only receive income support when they serve environmental goals. These goals are now, however, very broadly and poorly defined in terms of “good conditions” and “greening” which hardly define “cross-compliance”. This needs to be improved to make policies more transparent and convincing. One approach is to emphasize the positive point that farmers, by their management, contribute to providing ecosystem services (ES) to society.

The aims of MSc theses related to this topic include: (i) a systematic review of existing agricultural and environmental legislation on EU, National, Regional and Community level, testing effectivity in the context of the EU subsidiarity principle, and (ii) identification of relevant ES for a number of dairy farms at provincial level (e.g. province Drenthe) and an assessment how these ES can be expressed in financial terms to allow a quantitative expression for ecosystem services that farmers contribute to society.  The latter study is limited to a ”proof-of-principle” and is executed in the context of current legislation. The broader goal is to contribute to a transition in which society, in turn, acknowledges those services by financial contributions to farmers in the context of the new CAP after 2020.