Topic: Discussing more innovative governance options to tackle the complexity of (rural) land-use change in the Alentejo (Portugal)
Keywords: Territorial Governance; Rural Sustainability; Post-Productivism; Innovation; Mediterranean.
Rural land-use in the Alentejo (Portugal) is currently undergoing rapid and unsustainable processes of intensification, financialisation and globalisation which especially affect the most productive agricultural land. In parallel, marginal land is either maintained for traditional agricultural and farming systems that are largely in decline, or abandoned, thus becomming equally unsustinable. This results in a complex mosaic of rural land-use systems with high degrees of social-ecological and territorial heterogeneity across scales. Such a complex mosaic can potentially provide with a number of ecosystem and landscape services that need to be enhanced, and also with disservices that need to be avoided. This demmands devising more innovative governance structures and instruments. Problems detected in the current governance framework include the fragmentation and lack of coherence among the key land-use policy instruments, the absence of an overarching strategic and operational framework for spatial coordination and planning of land-use decisions across spatial-temporal scales and institutional levels, and the predominantly conservative mindset of the key social actors and institutions bearing market and political power in the region. This is then worsened even more by the prevalence of a productivist discourse that largely permeates media, policy and the general public. However, the situation largely differs between agricultural sub-sectors and farming systems. As an example of this, intensive olive oil producers are more open to adopt technological innovation, whilst they are not as eager as traditional olive grove farmers to embrace interactive or governance innovation. In this paper, we will present the overall picture of governance institutions and tools driving rural land-use change in Alentejo. Then we will also identify the main gaps preventing this governance framework to help achieve UN´s sustainable development goals 2 (zero hunger), 13 (climate action) and 15 (life on land). We will then close up by proposing a set of governance options for the future that can help tackle the gaps identified and that will be defined on the basis of 4 different scenarios: International Competition, Market Segmentation, Euorpeization and Ecologization.