Publication Saline agriculture initiatives in Mediterranean and North Sea Region


Salinisation is one of the main challenges of contemporary agriculture threatening food and water security. Climate change with more persistent droughts, floods and sea-level rise is expected to increase this challenge making it one of the most common land degradation processes. At the same time, an increasingly complex institutional landscape has emerged across multiple areas of global environmental governance related to salinisation. This can be seen in a myriad of public, private, and hybrid international institutions coming together by creating transnational initiatives to address the issue of growing salinisation through saline agriculture. Therefore, the aim of this paper is to characterise the status quo and development of a governance landscape of cooperative initiatives for saline agriculture in Mediterranean and North Sea regions.

The results show a few overarching trends in the sample of 99 initiatives selected for the analysis. We suggest that initiatives can play an important role in the governance landscape of saline agriculture and can contribute to the upscaling of saline agriculture by advancing the scientific research and participating in the policy debate. However, findings suggest that the fragmented landscape of initiatives is predominated by public actors and research institutions. This potentially hampers benefit sharing and upscaling opportunities. There is an increase in the number of cooperative initiatives focusing on saline agriculture over time, particularly in years 2019-2020, suggesting increased interest or need for these initiatives. Their main governance functions are operational activities followed by information sharing and networking. However, for upscaling more ICIs are needed that commit to funding & standards and commitments’ activities. Thematically, most of the initiatives focus on the development of new crop varieties and water and soil management practices. The key SDGs addressed by them are SDG2 “Zero hunger”, SDG13 “Climate action”, SDG6 “Clean water and sanitation” and SDG8 “Decent work and economic growth”. Our results indicate that most of the initiatives do not report publicly, but those with reports exhibit high verification rates. Implementation of these accountability mechanisms is crucial for tracking the performance of the initiatives in terms of output, outcome and impact. The lack of employment of these mechanisms might obstruct effectiveness. Furthermore, the short duration and research focus of the international and transnational cooperative initiatives indicate a discrepancy between science and practice, which could hamper upscaling opportunities. More focus should be put on mobilising and transferring knowledge in order to make it accessible to a wider audience, thus increasing uptake, implementation and impact.

Interdependencies among the policies of other governance areas such as climate change or biodiversity allow for mutual learning. This exchange should not be limited to academic and public institutions, but include, inspire and empower all those who are affected by salinized lands in order to ensure community food security.

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