Sketching sustainable land use in Europe by 2040

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A new paper describes the participatory approach that was used to define three cross-sectoral visions of sustainable land use in Europe in 2040. EFI Senior Researcher Hans Verkerk was one of the authors.

The continuously growing global demands on a finite land resource will require better strategic policies and management of trade-offs to avoid conflicts between different land-use sectors. Visions of the future can support strategic planning by stimulating dialogue, building a consensus on shared priorities and providing long-term targets. We present a novel approach to elicit stakeholder visions of future desired land use, which was applied with a broad range of experts to develop cross-sectoral visions in Europe. The approach is based on (i) combination of software tools and facilitation techniques to stimulate engagement and creativity; (ii) methodical selection of stakeholders; (iii) use of land attributes to deconstruct the multifaceted sectoral visions into land-use changes that can be clustered into few cross-sectoral visions, and (iv) a rigorous iterative process. Three cross-sectoral visions of sustainable land use in Europe in 2040 emerged from applying the approach in participatory workshops involving experts in nature conservation, recreation, agriculture, forestry, settlements, energy, and water. The three visions—Best Land in Europe, Regional Connected and Local Multifunctional—shared a wish to achieve a land use that is sustainable through multifunctionality, resource use efficiency, controlled urban growth, rural renewal and widespread nature. However, they differ on the scale at which land services are provided—EU-wide, regional or local—reflecting the land-sparing versus land-sharing debate. We discuss the usefulness of the approach, as well as the challenges posed and solutions offered by the visions to support strategic land-use planning.

Marta Pérez-Soba, James Paterson, Marc J. Metzger, Marc Gramberger, Joske Houtkamp, Anne Jensen, Dave Murray-Rust, Pieter J. Verkerk. 2018. Sketching sustainable land use in Europe by 2040: a multi-stakeholder participatory approach to elicit cross-sectoral vision. Regional Environmental Change.