Development and evaluation of an on-demand sustainability tool in Flanders

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Abstract

Tools for assessing sustainable farming may serve various goals and meet with a range of requirements. This paper focusses on the development of an on-demand tool, a term that is assigned to tools that are initiated by the end users. Furthermore, they are often pro-active and flexible to external changes. As the research and development process leading to a sustainability assessment tool has an important influence on the final outcome and final adoption in practice, this paper aims at describing and evaluating the set-up, process and outcome of a participatory tool development process. This process is initiated by the main regional farmers’ organization Boerenbond to pro-actively react on increasing sustainability demands from society.. The study is worked out for three different industries: fruit production, greenhouse cultivation and arable farming and evaluates what kind of tool this process generated, which lessons learnt were successfully implemented and which barriers still remain an issue. The evaluation is based on the Blackstock et al. (2007) framework to analyze participatory research, adjusted with some lesson learnt from literature on other tool development processes. A multiple data collection method (document analysis, interviews) is applied to provide data on criteria such as leadership, ownership, social learning and transparency. Preliminary results show which criteria or lessons learnt were successfully implemented during this development process and which barriers still remain an issue. It seems that an explicit clarification of goals and requirements throughout the development process is necessary, that both the research and project team play an important role in the development process of the tool and that tool use relies on finding available, correct and compatible data. These and more insights help to revise the original participatory process and to extrapolate to similar processes foreseen for three other industries.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the 11th European IFSA Symposium, Berlin, 1-4 April 2014 : Farming systems facing global challenges: Capacities and strategies
EditorsThomas Aenis, Andrea Knierim, Maja-Catrin Riecher, Rebecka Ridder, Heike Schobert , Holger Fischer
Number of pages11
Publication date1-Apr-2014
Publication statusPublished - 1-Apr-2014
Event11th European IFSA Symposium - Berlijn, Germany
Duration: 1-Apr-20144-Apr-2014

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