Environmental Engineering Reference
In SEAMLESS, the impact of policy scenarios is assessed through a set of indicators
that capture the key economic, environmental, social and institutional issues of the
questions at stake. Monetary valuation typically captures environmental impacts and
attaches an economic value to them. By using monetary terms as a common metric,
valuation allows for an unambiguous measurement of environmental impacts on
human utility or welfare. In SEAMLESS, this metric needs to be euros.
The different valuation methods measure the preference of individuals for specific
agro-environmental policy measures. Decision-makers, however, are interested in
the preferences expressed by the general public. Therefore, it is imperative to bring
together or aggregate the preferences of individuals to indicate the overall prefer-
ences of society. Here a difficulty arises, because how to devise methods that
can handle the aggregation of individual WTP-amounts? For example, specific
agro-environmental policy measures for green olives will presumably only have an
impact on the biodiversity in olive orchards. Therefore, we can reasonably assume that
individuals in, say, Denmark or Belgium are rather indifferent about these measures,
in contrast to the people in the Mediterranean countries, who may be directly affected
by these specific policy measures. 6 A valuation study can be conducted to monetise
the impacts of the 'olive measures' on the agro-biodiversity. It is justifiable to limit the
geographical scope of this study to the preferences of local people living in (or near
the olive regions in) Portugal, Spain, Italy, and Greece. The outcome of the study would
be an average individual WTP, and the aggregation of this amount - to indicate the
overall preferences - should also be restricted to those regions in which individuals
are influenced by the specific 'olive measure. Some agro-environmental policy mea-
sures, however, have a larger geographical impact and may influence the preferences
of people in perhaps all European countries. For example, the abolition of the EU's
milk quota system, or trade liberalisation of agricultural products, will have effects
far beyond national boundaries. In other words, the impact on agro-biodiversity of
such far-reaching policy measures is making itself felt in most European regions, if
not in all. This, of course, should be reflected in a wide geographical scope of a
valuation study, as well as in the level of aggregation of individual preferences.
Let us pause here and reflect, in SEAMLESS-terms, on the story so far.
Preferences of individuals for changes in agro-biodiversity patterns (that are due to
policy-derived changes in agricultural systems) can be monetised by valuation studies.
These studies result in an economic indicator, namely average individual WTP,
which can be defined by the amount of benefits associated with the agro-biodiversity
resource under consideration. Monetary valuation takes place at the micro level - as
it reflects individual preferences - but higher 'levels of organisation' can be
obtained through aggregating individuals' preferences to larger spatial scales.
Which level of organisation (EU, nation, NUTS-2) is appropriate depends on the
size of the population that is affected by the specific agricultural or agro-environmental
policy measure that is considered.
6 We are aware of the fact that the public in Northern Europe may attach non-use values to the olive
agro-ecosystems in Southern Europe, and therefore, that not all the people in Northern Europe are