The doctoral project focuses on promoting the delivery of Agri-Environmental Climate Public Goods (AECPGs) by agriculture and forestry through the development of improving contractual solutions. These contractual solutions are agreements between farmers and public or private entities. In this thesis, four different contract features are addressed. Instead of the action-based approach, promising new instruments could achieve environmental improvement, such as results-based payments (RBP), environmental-related land tenure systems or collective approaches, as well as by better value chain strategies. In result-oriented measures, farmers or management bodies are paid if they achieve certain precisely defined ecosystem/environmental objectives (Birge et al., 2017).  The following advantages are perceived with RBPs: farmers have a higher self-interest in achieving environmental objectives, flexibility is higher and the innovation capacity of farmers is encouraged, social capital is built up and the measure improves cost-effectiveness in terms of agri-environmental schemes (AES) payments as well as land-use practices for environmental objectives  (Birge et al., 2017; de Snoo et al., 2013; Matzdorf et al., 2008; Matzdorf and Lorenz, 2010; Klimek et al., 2008; Burton and Paragahawewa, 2011; Schroeder et al., 2013; Swagemakers et al., 2009). Factors hindering the implementation of RBP could be: finding and defining appropriate indicators, insufficient knowledge among farmers about the link between management measures and their impact on the environment and the landowner bears an increased risk (Allen et al., 2014; Birge et al., 2017). In a collective approach, farmers (and other stakeholders) apply together for an agri-environment-climate measure (AECM) commitment to collectively deliver environmental public goods and ecosystem services (EAFRD, 2016). The European Court of Auditors (ECA) mentioned the implementation of collective approaches to AECM in the Special Report No 7/2011 and encouraged the European Commission and the Member States to regard this approach. The Dutch government, for example, only deals with cooperative applications and stated four main reasons for this. First, they argue that the decline of biodiversity can only be halted through a cross-farm approach. Second, the cooperatives as final beneficiaries of agri-environmental support enable more flexibility and a simpler scheme design with room for local fine-tuning of activities and payments. Third, working with cooperatives could simplify the administrative processes and improves the scheme compliance. Fourth, in the Netherlands, there is a long tradition in agri-environment cooperatives and the social structure for this scheme design was already present (Ministry of Economic Affairs, 2016). Further, environmental-related land tenure systems could constitute another alternative or supplement for the action-based approach. An environmental-related land tenure system is given if the farmers are only allowed to lease a field under some environmental clauses, for example, no use of pesticides or less use of nitrogen. Finally, value chain related contract solutions is also one of the new instruments. Approaches including the value-chain, are approaches where the value chain explicitly pays for public goods.

However, these instruments have only rarely been tested and analysed in the EU. Here, this doctoral project aims to provide new insights.

First, existing, innovative and successful contract-solutions are assessed inside Europe by means of performance criteria (such as longevity, acceptance, effectiveness, etc.) and the reasons for success are identified. For this purpose, a qualitative content analysis and a diagnostic analysis are performed. Data collection is based on a uniform and structured process of expert and stakeholder interviews. Second, the acceptability of farmers in Austria towards innovative contract solutions is examined. In particular, the factors influencing the Austrian farmer's acceptance of new and innovative contract solutions are determined. For this purpose, a Structural Equation Model (SEM), for example, could be created and tested. In addition, further SEM will also be carried out in another area of sustainability. The purpose of this empirical study is to determine factors influencing consumer’s willingness to pay for aquaponic products directly and indirectly via Structural Equation Modeling (SEM).


Allen, B., Hart, K., Radley, G., Tucker, G., Keenleyside, C., Oppermann, R., Underwood, E., Menadue, H., Poux, X., Beaufoy, G., Herzon, I., Povellato, A., Vanni, F., Prazan, J., Hudson, T. and Yellachich, N. (2014), Biodiversity protection through results based remuneration of ecological achievement: Report Prepared for the European Commission, DG Environment, Contract No ENV.B.2/ETU/2013/0046, London.

Birge, T., Toivonen, M., Kaljonen, M. and Herzon, I. (2017), “Probing the grounds: Developing a payment-by-results agri-environment scheme in Finland”, Land Use Policy, Vol. 61, pp. 302–315.

Burton, R.J.F. and Paragahawewa, U.H. (2011), “Creating culturally sustainable agri-environmental schemes”, Journal of Rural Studies, Vol. 27 No. 1, pp. 95–104.

de Snoo, G.R., Herzon, I., Staats, H., Burton, R.J.F., Schindler, S., van Dijk, J., Lokhorst, A.M., Bullock, J.M., Lobley, M., Wrbka, T., Schwarz, G. and Musters, C.J.M. (2013), “Toward effective nature conservation on farmland: making farmers matter”, Conservation Letters, Vol. 6 No. 1, pp. 66–72.

Klimek, S., Richter gen. Kemmermann, A., Steinmann, H.-H., Freese, J. and Isselstein, J. (2008), “Rewarding farmers for delivering vascular plant diversity in managed grasslands: A transdisciplinary case-study approach”, Biological Conservation, Vol. 141 No. 11, pp. 2888–2897.

Matzdorf, B., Kaiser, T. and Rohner, M.-S. (2008), “Developing biodiversity indicator to design efficient agri-environmental schemes for extensively used grassland”, Ecological Indicators, Vol. 8 No. 3, pp. 256–269.

Matzdorf, B. and Lorenz, J. (2010), “How cost-effective are result-oriented agri-environmental measures?—An empirical analysis in Germany”, Land Use Policy, Vol. 27 No. 2, pp. 535–544.

Schroeder, L.A., Isselstein, J., Chaplin, S. and Peel, S. (2013), “Agri-environment schemes: Farmers’ acceptance and perception of potential ‘Payment by Results’ in grassland—A case study in England”, Land Use Policy, Vol. 32, pp. 134–144.

Swagemakers, P., Wiskerke, H. and van der Ploeg, J.D. (2009), “Linking birds, fields and farmers”, Journal of environmental management, 90 Suppl 2, S185-92.