Building resilience in fragile mountain environments through value chain analysis

by | Aug 1, 2023 | MOVING

Author: Raphael Garcia (AEIDL)

Mountain areas are incredibly important both ecologically and economically, providing highly valued public goods and services that are crucial to the well-being of the population. However, these areas are also highly vulnerable to threats such as climate change, land use changes, depopulation, and natural resource degradation. In order to develop sustainable strategies for the development of mountain areas, a new comparative framework has been proposed that focuses on the contribution of value chains to the resilience and sustainable development of socio-ecological systems (SES) in these areas.

The value chains are seen as operative units of analysis, connecting actors beyond territorial boundaries and economic sectors to generate economic, environmental, and social values. This systemic, integrated, and asset-based approach explores the potential synergies emerging from the coordination of the diversity of local specificities and considers the opportunities and threats emerging from external sub-systems.

Two mountain food value chains have been used to illustrate the framework and test its efficacy, depicting two value chain configurations that result in different social, economic, and environmental outcomes for the sustainable development of the SES. Mountain areas cover 36% of Europe’s surface area and are home to 16% of its population. Although they are fragile and vulnerable environments, they are also providers of highly valued public goods and services that are essential to the economy.

The long-term vision for rural areas set out by the European Commission and the accompanying Rural Pact and Rural Action Plan aim to achieve stronger, connected, resilient, and prosperous European rural areas by strengthening the synergies between territorial cohesion and agricultural policies. These strategies should target asset-based development strategies accounting for the specificities and inherent values of mountain areas, building on the need to balance between environmental and resource management priorities and socio-economic growth and development.

To fully harness the development potential of local resources, including natural and human and social capital, mountain areas should not be considered in isolation. The nature and strength of their connections with other areas have relevant implications for the resilience and sustainable development of mountain areas. In this context of renewed interest for coherent place-based policies, this paper develops a framework aimed at supporting empirical analyses of value chains’ contribution to the development of mountain areas through identifying potential leverage points for resilience and sustainable development.

You can read more about it on the article “Characterizing value chains’ contribution to resilient and sustainable development in European mountain areas,” published by the Journal of rural Studies (open access) and written by some MOVING partners.

Moretti, M., Belliggiano, A., Grando, S., Felici, F., Scotti, I., Ievoli, C., Blackstock, K., Delgado-Serrano, M.M., & Brunori, G. (2023). Characterizing value chains’ contribution to resilient and sustainable development in European mountain areas. Journal of Rural Studies, 100, 103022.