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Final Conference Announcement

"Bioeconomy and ecosystem services – synergy or conflict? Horizontal and vertical policy analysis, modelling and orchestration in practice” 

The Final Conference of the COST Action FP1207 will be organized 5-6 September 2016 at Université catholique de Louvain, Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium. Deadline for abstracts 15 May 2016. More information and registration available at http://www.uclouvain.be/orchestra.html

About the ORCHESTRA network
At the European Union (EU), there is no common forest policy such as Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) in agriculture. The formulation of forest policies is the competence of the Member States (MS) within the national framework of established ownership rights, laws, regulations, practices and interrelated sectoral policies. This is based on the principle of (vertical) subsidiarity, according to which the Union should not undertake action unless EU action is more effective than action taken at national or sub-national level. At EU level, MS collaborate in forest policy mainly through the EU Forest Strategy and related Forest Action Plan. At the EU level, forest policy does not stand by itself, but is interconnected with a wide range of policy strategies that are formulated in the Union. Among those strategies, Europe 2020, the European Union’s growth strategy, aims as one of its five targets at greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions 20% (or even 30%, if the conditions are right) lower than in 1990, 20% of energy from renewables and 20% increase in energy efficiency. These targets are translated into national targets in each EU country, reflecting different situations and circumstances. The targets concerning GHG emissions, renewable energy and energy efficiency extend over several sectors, including the forest sector, and are thus reflected in several sectoral policies. There are linkages also with the trade and cooperation policy as well as the policy against illegal logging (especially FLEGT Action Plan and EUTR on “due diligence”).

At national level, forest programmes can be important instruments for forest policy. They can also support the integration of EU principles and guidelines in the respective national political frameworks. The implementation of EU targets within the forest sector has to be balanced with multiple interests and functions of forests, taking into account other policies and initiatives arising from international negotiations and treaties (e.g. United Nations Conference on Environment and Development, United Nations Forum on Forests, United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification, Convention on Biological Diversity, World Heritage Convention, Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species, Indigenous and Tribal Peoples Convention, International Tropical Timber Agreement, World Trade Agreement), non-legally binding instruments (e.g. certification schemes) and EU sectoral policies, for example in relation to rural development, the protection of biodiversity (e.g. the 2020 Biodiversity Strategy) and water resources (the Water Framework Directive) – to mention only a few. As many European countries are hit by economic crisis and budgetary cuts, expectations for the EU incentives increase. Consequently, the second pillar of the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), Rural Development Policy (RDP), and its forestry measures are expected to play a more crucial role in supporting sustainable management of European forests and related carbon sinks (e.g. measures for afforestation to create new carbon sinks or other activities to expand existing sinks) as well as mobilizing wood for energy and wood-based products. Because of the importance of various ecosystem functions and territorial goods and services of forests for rural livelihoods and environment, RDP should explicitly consider the links between forests and climate change, forests and biodiversity (e.g. measures for Natura 2000 sites) as well as forests and water (e.g. measures to implement the Water Framework Directive).

Obviously, consistency and efficiency of forest-related policies is increasingly important. However, the complex interrelationships between different sectors and multiple levels make it challenging to foresee the economic, social and environmental impacts of the implementation policy targets and measures. Furthermore, the paradigm shift in governance towards a multi-stakeholder approach (horizontal subsidiarity) complicates the design of efficient policy measures. For example, actors in the private sector often pursue their own benefit and not that of society. Therefore they may perceive policy targets and measures from a different point of view than policy institutions.

A multinational, transdisciplinary network of sociologists, policy scientists, economists and quantitative modellers with a close connection to policy processes at different levels is required to incorporate the vertical and horizontal dimensions of forest-related policies in modelling and integrated policy analysis in regards of three aspects. First, there is a need to analyse how different forest-related targets are implemented across national borders and sectors. Second, national and European level capacities should be enhanced to apply quantitative models for integrated policy analysis. Third, new ways to orchestrate models and integrated policy analysis for the multilevel, multi-stakeholder policy support are necessary at supranational, national and sub-national levels.

For the implementation of the above objectives, the COST framework with its networking mechanism seems to be most appropriate. It will enable active collaboration with various stakeholders which will be expedient in improving the coherence of dealing with policy targets and related policy measures.