Ecological transition is the main solution to climate change and environmental crises. It consists of a transition from an intensive and unsustainable production system to one that is economically, environmentally, and socially sustainable. Its importance has prompted policymakers and international organizations to include it as one of the main goals within national PNRR (Piano Nazionale di Ripresa e Resilienza) and international strategies (European Green Deal). But ecological transition can be reached only through a presence of natural resources variability, indeed, one of the best tools that could reach this goal is the biodiversity. Biodiversity is defined as the variability among living organisms from all sources, including diversity within species, between species, and ecosystems (Convention of Biological Diversity, 1992). A lack of biodiversity would cause the failure to achieve not only ecological transformation but also all 17 sustainable development goals (SDGs) defined by the U.N. in 2015. Rural areas are one of the largest hotspots of biodiversity as they protect biodiversity, prevent soil erosion, mitigate climate change, global warming, and hydrological risks, and promote ecological resilience. One of the main activities of rural areas is agriculture, which has both negative and positive environmental impacts. Sustainable agriculture enables the creation of a sustainable food chain and the production of ecosystem services that society requires. Ecosystem services are defined as direct and indirect contributions of ecosystems to human well-being (TEEB, 2010), which must underpin not only ecological transition but also economic growth to avoid the loss of biodiversity and the related depopulation of rural areas. One of the main problems with ecosystem services is the lack of market valuation; all beneficiaries tend to regard them as gifts from the ecosystem at no cost and for indefinite duration, which is not the case. It is evident by the approximately 1 million species that are now at risk of extinction and the drastic reduction of pollinators (Legambiente, 2021). Further, 60% of the population of fishes, birds, mammals, and reptiles have halved from 1970 to 2014. The actual beneficiaries of ecosystem services are producers, who use these services as productive inputs for all intents and purposes (i.e., benefit from the activity of pollinators), consumers/families (such as the benefit from walking in the mountains), and society (no coastal erosion due to the action of Posidonia). Therefore, to avoid a failure of their evaluation, it is necessary to work on both the supply and demand sides. On the one hand, incentives should be provided to producers to encourage them to produce ecosystem services as a competitive advantage. On the other hand, consumers should be encouraged to purchase sustainable and eco-friendly goods. This study seeks to address these issues. The first chapter focuses on abiotic soil ecosystem services, on which few studies have focused. Our goal is to estimate their social value through an experimental choice applied to a sample of 200 people with respect to two niche products grown in Liguria: Rotella apple and Moscatello wine. Before submitting the experimental choice to our sample, we identified five attributes with their respective levels that described our products: use of the soil (two levels), location of the product (two levels), knowledge of the soil (two levels), historical product conservation (three levels), and price (four levels). Once the results of the experimental choice were obtained, we applied a mixed multinomial logit model for the estimation. From the results, we found that consumers attributed a positive social value to abiotic soil ecosystem services; that is, their presence positively impacted their utility. This paper was presented at the international conference related to the EVA course called “Advances in Economic Valuation of Ecosystem Services for Public Policy and Ecosystem Accounting” held on May 25, 2022, as part of the TRANSUMARE festival, held in Genoa, Italy, May 23-28, 2022. The second chapter addresses the supply side analysis. First of all, we defined the weaknesses and strengths of the internal and external contexts (SWOT: strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Treats) in which 43 rural areas operate, using focus groups and meetings with various stakeholders (mayors, ANCI, park authorities, and rural firms). These 43 rural areas firms participated in two projects called CAMBIOVIA and BIODIVALP of Liguria Region. This study has two objectives: to rank the sustainability of the enterprises and to target policymakers’ strategic interventions necessary for the enhancement of these enterprises. In particular, the firms’ sustainability is interpreted from an economic, ecological and market perspective through composite macro-indicators. These sustainability indicators are based on both qualitative and quantitative data and firms are then ranked with respect to each category of macro-indicators through partially ordered sets methods. The methodology applied is entirely innovative and is represented by POSET, a partially ordered set hierarchization tool, which makes it possible to avoid offsets between data and consider their varying natures. In the second case, we used a multi-criteria analysis derived from a questionnaire submitted to 59 stakeholders to enable participatory consensus building, with the addition of a hierarchization approach for partially ordered sets due to the presence of qualitative variables. The results identified the following as the best tools: training, local brands and labels, and territorial networks. While referring to the classification of companies from an ecological, market, and economic point of view, it is seen how they differ for market and ecological sustainability while presenting the same situation, not good, in terms of economic status. This work was presented at the international conference related to the EVA course called “Advances in Economic valuation of Ecosystem Services for Public Policy and Ecosystem Accounting,” held on May 25, 2022, as part of the TRANSUMARE festival, held in Genoa, Italy, May 23-28, 2022. The third chapter analyzes household behavior. This chapter aims to understand whether there is a space to engage consumers in an active demand attitude for ecosystem services that remain embedded in products. This is achieved by profiling consumers based on their consumption behaviors and analyzing their socio-economic-demographic characteristics. Latent class analysis (LCA) was used to study the consumption habits of a sample of 942 consumers. The results presented two groups of consumers. The first group presented less environmentally sustainable consumption habits, while the second group presented greater sustainability in their consumption. Regarding socio-economic-demographic characteristics, it was found that there were more educated consumers with more children and higher incomes in the second group. For group 1, we also observed that consumers’ consumption habits were due to their socio-demographic characteristics; in fact, because of their low level of income, they always purchased products from supermarkets. Meanwhile, a high percentage of consumers often bought PDOs (Protected Designation of Origin) and organic products and paid attention to animal and worker welfare as well as the information contained in the labels. With this work we underline the importance of consumers’ socio-economic-demographic characteristics for more sustainability behaviors.

ECOLOGICAL TRANSITION, BIODIVERSITY AND ECOSYSTEM SERVICES: THE CRUCIAL ROLE OF CONSUMERS AND PRODUCERS

ROCCA, MARIA
2022-11-28

Abstract

Ecological transition is the main solution to climate change and environmental crises. It consists of a transition from an intensive and unsustainable production system to one that is economically, environmentally, and socially sustainable. Its importance has prompted policymakers and international organizations to include it as one of the main goals within national PNRR (Piano Nazionale di Ripresa e Resilienza) and international strategies (European Green Deal). But ecological transition can be reached only through a presence of natural resources variability, indeed, one of the best tools that could reach this goal is the biodiversity. Biodiversity is defined as the variability among living organisms from all sources, including diversity within species, between species, and ecosystems (Convention of Biological Diversity, 1992). A lack of biodiversity would cause the failure to achieve not only ecological transformation but also all 17 sustainable development goals (SDGs) defined by the U.N. in 2015. Rural areas are one of the largest hotspots of biodiversity as they protect biodiversity, prevent soil erosion, mitigate climate change, global warming, and hydrological risks, and promote ecological resilience. One of the main activities of rural areas is agriculture, which has both negative and positive environmental impacts. Sustainable agriculture enables the creation of a sustainable food chain and the production of ecosystem services that society requires. Ecosystem services are defined as direct and indirect contributions of ecosystems to human well-being (TEEB, 2010), which must underpin not only ecological transition but also economic growth to avoid the loss of biodiversity and the related depopulation of rural areas. One of the main problems with ecosystem services is the lack of market valuation; all beneficiaries tend to regard them as gifts from the ecosystem at no cost and for indefinite duration, which is not the case. It is evident by the approximately 1 million species that are now at risk of extinction and the drastic reduction of pollinators (Legambiente, 2021). Further, 60% of the population of fishes, birds, mammals, and reptiles have halved from 1970 to 2014. The actual beneficiaries of ecosystem services are producers, who use these services as productive inputs for all intents and purposes (i.e., benefit from the activity of pollinators), consumers/families (such as the benefit from walking in the mountains), and society (no coastal erosion due to the action of Posidonia). Therefore, to avoid a failure of their evaluation, it is necessary to work on both the supply and demand sides. On the one hand, incentives should be provided to producers to encourage them to produce ecosystem services as a competitive advantage. On the other hand, consumers should be encouraged to purchase sustainable and eco-friendly goods. This study seeks to address these issues. The first chapter focuses on abiotic soil ecosystem services, on which few studies have focused. Our goal is to estimate their social value through an experimental choice applied to a sample of 200 people with respect to two niche products grown in Liguria: Rotella apple and Moscatello wine. Before submitting the experimental choice to our sample, we identified five attributes with their respective levels that described our products: use of the soil (two levels), location of the product (two levels), knowledge of the soil (two levels), historical product conservation (three levels), and price (four levels). Once the results of the experimental choice were obtained, we applied a mixed multinomial logit model for the estimation. From the results, we found that consumers attributed a positive social value to abiotic soil ecosystem services; that is, their presence positively impacted their utility. This paper was presented at the international conference related to the EVA course called “Advances in Economic Valuation of Ecosystem Services for Public Policy and Ecosystem Accounting” held on May 25, 2022, as part of the TRANSUMARE festival, held in Genoa, Italy, May 23-28, 2022. The second chapter addresses the supply side analysis. First of all, we defined the weaknesses and strengths of the internal and external contexts (SWOT: strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Treats) in which 43 rural areas operate, using focus groups and meetings with various stakeholders (mayors, ANCI, park authorities, and rural firms). These 43 rural areas firms participated in two projects called CAMBIOVIA and BIODIVALP of Liguria Region. This study has two objectives: to rank the sustainability of the enterprises and to target policymakers’ strategic interventions necessary for the enhancement of these enterprises. In particular, the firms’ sustainability is interpreted from an economic, ecological and market perspective through composite macro-indicators. These sustainability indicators are based on both qualitative and quantitative data and firms are then ranked with respect to each category of macro-indicators through partially ordered sets methods. The methodology applied is entirely innovative and is represented by POSET, a partially ordered set hierarchization tool, which makes it possible to avoid offsets between data and consider their varying natures. In the second case, we used a multi-criteria analysis derived from a questionnaire submitted to 59 stakeholders to enable participatory consensus building, with the addition of a hierarchization approach for partially ordered sets due to the presence of qualitative variables. The results identified the following as the best tools: training, local brands and labels, and territorial networks. While referring to the classification of companies from an ecological, market, and economic point of view, it is seen how they differ for market and ecological sustainability while presenting the same situation, not good, in terms of economic status. This work was presented at the international conference related to the EVA course called “Advances in Economic valuation of Ecosystem Services for Public Policy and Ecosystem Accounting,” held on May 25, 2022, as part of the TRANSUMARE festival, held in Genoa, Italy, May 23-28, 2022. The third chapter analyzes household behavior. This chapter aims to understand whether there is a space to engage consumers in an active demand attitude for ecosystem services that remain embedded in products. This is achieved by profiling consumers based on their consumption behaviors and analyzing their socio-economic-demographic characteristics. Latent class analysis (LCA) was used to study the consumption habits of a sample of 942 consumers. The results presented two groups of consumers. The first group presented less environmentally sustainable consumption habits, while the second group presented greater sustainability in their consumption. Regarding socio-economic-demographic characteristics, it was found that there were more educated consumers with more children and higher incomes in the second group. For group 1, we also observed that consumers’ consumption habits were due to their socio-demographic characteristics; in fact, because of their low level of income, they always purchased products from supermarkets. Meanwhile, a high percentage of consumers often bought PDOs (Protected Designation of Origin) and organic products and paid attention to animal and worker welfare as well as the information contained in the labels. With this work we underline the importance of consumers’ socio-economic-demographic characteristics for more sustainability behaviors.
Ecological Transition, biodiversity and ecosystem services
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11567/1099494
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