Policy options for mainstreaming forest-based mitigation measures in EU rural development

Valentino Piana


In the next programming period 2014-2020, climate change will arguably raise as a cross-cutting issue in many – if not most – policies of the EU, including programs and funding related to e.g. energy, transport, research, infrastructure, urban and rural development. Early signs of this attention can be seen in the implementation of the current period, also keeping into account the significant delay in spending, which will prompt reallocation of funds as well as the inclusion of further criteria for awarded projects. The recent EU Green Paper on “Forest Protection and Information in the EU: Preparing forests to climate change” [COM (2010)66] and the launch of a debate on options, including the subsequent public consultation, is somehow an exploration for this increase in awareness and for the respective roles of different governance levels.

We are in a relatively early phase of development, so this paper raises more questions than provides answers for mainstreaming mitigation (and adaptation) measures in a rural development in which forests and OWL (Other wooded land) play a potentially important role, highlighting opportunities and constraints concerning the forest sector in the context of socio-economic development of rural areas.

Indeed, the theme is elusive as for its relevance at EU level: on the one hand, some think that forests could be fast and cheap means for sizeable mitigation and adaptation to climate change, but, on the other hand, the sector, and this environmental function / ecosystem service, is currently under-funded and marginal in public discourse, while the political, social and environmental sustainability of this function might exhibit the need for caution and qualifications.The paper explores, among other issues, the options for mainstreaming mitigation policies through additionality or restructuring rural policies, by proposing a sector-specific or a standardised carbon price, to be paid for stocks or for land-use change and quality, in European or tropical forests, through price and non-price policies.


forest; mitigation; adaptation; rural development; EU policies

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