The Multiactor Approach Enabling Engagement of Actors in Sustainable Use of Chemicals in Agriculture

Els Belmans, Paul Campling, Elien Dupon, Ingeborg Joris, Eva Kerselaers, Saskia Lammens, Lies Messely, Ellen Pauwelyn, Piet Seuntjens, Erwin Wauters

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingContribution to book/anthology


    Water quality in rural areas is largely depending on farming practices. Despite numerous efforts to reduce nutrient and pesticide concentrations in surface water and groundwater and regulation (Nitrates Directive (91/676), Water Framework Directive (2000/60), Groundwater Daughter Directive (2006/118), Directive on Environmental Quality Standards (2008/105), Sustainable Use Directive (2009/128)), many water bodies are not in good status for nitrates and hot spots of contamination for phosphorous and pesticides persist. The stagnation of the water quality is not only due to a long-term storage of the agrochemicals in soil and groundwater systems but also to the lack of implementation of good agricultural practices and mitigation measures that prevent the chemicals to enter the water system. Over the past two to three decades, our understanding of the functioning of the water system and the effect of farming practices and mitigation measures has increased tremendously, but somehow we fail to convert that knowledge into actual implementation at a scale which is necessary to create real improvement of water quality. We think that a paradigm shift from purely top-down regulation and enforcement to local actor engagement is needed to revert the trend. Therefore, we present here a multiactor approach to engage actors at the scale of water system catchment (river or aquifer) or a so-called action lab. Within an action lab, key actors are involved in setting up new governance strategies including alternative financing regimes, participatory monitoring approaches, best management practices, and collaborative software applications to facilitate the process of implementation of mitigation measures. This chapter describes methodological approaches to create engagement in a multiactor setting, including the four key aspects on governance, monitoring, management and collaborative tools, and a few example stories related to water quality.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationAdvances in Chemical Pollution, Environmental Management and Protection
    EditorsEttore Capri, Anne Alix
    Number of pages178
    PublisherAcademic Press Inc Elsevier Science
    Publication dateMay-2018
    ISBN (Print)9780128128664
    ISBN (Electronic)9780128128671
    Publication statusPublished - May-2018


    • S214-social-changes
    • water quality
    • agriculture
    • agrochemicals
    • rural
    • nutrients
    • pesticides
    • multiactor
    • governance
    • monitoring
    • mitigation
    • management practices


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