Combining Policy Network and Model-Based Scenario Analyses: An Assessment of Future Ecosystem Goods and Services in Swiss Mountain Regions
Christian Hirschi, Professorship of Environmental Policy and Economics, Department of Environmental Systems Science, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich (ETH Zurich)
Alexander Widmer, Professorship of Environmental Policy and Economics, Department of Environmental Systems Science, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich (ETH Zurich)
Simon Briner, Agri-food and Agri-environmental Economics Group, Department of Environmental Systems Science, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich (ETH Zurich)
Robert Huber, Swiss Federal Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape Research WSL
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We argue that the often-proclaimed disregard of ex-ante assessments of the provision of ecosystem goods and services in policy-making processes is not only due to a neglect or a misinterpretation of the results of such assessments in the relevant political processes, but also due to an inaccurate inclusion of political variables into those assessments. To address this weakness, we combine a model-based scenario analysis with a policy network analysis. Analyzing the structure of the policy network and taking into account the policy preferences of the individual network actors allows us to assess the feasibility and likelihood of policy developments as derived from scenario-based modeling assessments. We demonstrate the applicability of our approach in an analysis of potential policy measures aimed at maintaining crucial ecosystem goods and services in Swiss mountain regions, with a specific focus on agriculture, which is arguably one of the most important sectors for various ecosystem goods and services in those regions. Our results show that a production-oriented agricultural policy still has strong political support and, consequently, a status-quo protection scenario is very likely. In contrast, a more environmentally friendly agricultural policy is unlikely if it leads to extensive new regulations for agricultural production. Even with a greening scenario performing best within a set of ex-ante model-based assessments of future policy options, our policy network analysis suggests that changes in agricultural policy would have to reconcile the support of the provision of nonmarketable ecosystem goods and services with market deregulation policies in order to become politically feasible.
agricultural policy; ecosystem goods and services; ex-ante assessments; model-based scenario analysis; mountain regions; policy network analysis; Switzerland