Brussels, 26 October 2006
Guidelines for promoting sustainable agriculture in Alpine mountain regions
Insights into handling social dynamics in project management
In recent years, the societal demands to agriculture have concerned the provision of high quality food products, the preservation of the environment (energy, water and biodiversity) and development of services (visit, accommodation, landscape maintenance). A multi-functional and sustainable agriculture requires that farmers work more at a local level and with other stakeholders. It also means the farmers' involvement in local project. Handling these changes implies to experiment innovative actions in line with societal demands and to design methods to support joint action between farmers and other actors.
The European project so-called IMALP "Implementation of Sustainable Agriculture and Rural Development in Alpine mountains", begun in January 2003 and completed in June 2006, is rooted in this above context. Its objective is to implement and assess collective actions aimed at promoting sustainable agriculture and rural development in the Alps. IMALP involves four pilot areas located in the Alpine arc: Moyenne-Tarentaise, France, Val d'Hérens, Switzerland, Murau, Austria and Val di Sole, Italy. In each area, an action group has been responsible for managing and implementing four to eight actions.
Based on the scientific result of the IMALP project, guidelines were elaborated. One of the main innovative aspects of the project is to address collective action in the design phase but in particular in the implementation of actions to promote sustainable agriculture. The guidelines provide a method for clarifying the key moments of the social dynamics that arise during projects and practical advice to manage it. This complex social dynamics can be regarded as a series of successive phases. These phases are described in the guidelines, the role of the facilitator is detailed and indicators to assess progress and achievement are proposed. One chapter is dedicated to examples of specific actions: development of collective projects of agri-tourism or on-farm educational activities, diversification of agricultural products with wood-based energy or meat marketing chain, collective structure to improve working conditions, contracts between farmers and municipalities for landscape management. At the end, a glossary provides an overview of standard tools used in project management methods and tools specifically designed in the IMALP project.
This guide is intended for use in the context of rural development projects, in particular when the role of agriculture and the involvement of local farmers are crucial. The guide targets in particular local actors and technical advisors advisory services, training institutions and administrative departments in the field of agriculture and rural development. The methodology proposed in this publication has been developed with Alpine regions in mind but is also applicable to many other situations where different stakeholders are called upon to work together toward a common goal.
IMALP was co-funded under the European Commission's Fifth Framework Programme and the Swiss Confederation