Over the next two years, BSAG participates in a pan-Baltic consortium in the Interreg funded project WATERDRIVE. Waterdrive promotes a holistic multi-benefit approach, utilizing the synergies between agricultural water management and river basin management. It engages local multi-stakeholder groups and implements local case projects to gather evidence and tools to execute more holistic cross-sector water management projects which benefit the farmer, the nature and the wider community. Waterdrive is strongly aligned with the climate contingency strategies for agriculture on the national level and it seeks to establish a strong enough evidence basis for the needed adaptations in the policy mechanisms and administration.
The WATERDRIVE consortium, consisting of 18 partners from the EU countries (inclusion of Russia and Belarus in the project is in process), brings together national, regional and local authorities, research institutes, agricultural advisory organisations, interest organisations, environmental NGO’s and companies. As such, it is a true cross-sector multi-actor collaboration platform with decades of joint experience in working with diffuse source nutrient pollution management and assessment and in execution of concrete agri-environment projects on local and municipal levels. Many key actors being members of the consortium, the project can motor the process for change and produce results which enjoy strong support from within the stakeholders and which are realistically implemented. As an example, a model of a result-based agri-environmental compensation scheme will be tested and assessed in Sweden. Digitalization and the use of advanced decision support systems is at the core of the project and it will make advanced digital decision support systems available for a number of farms, which will test and co-develop the systems. Supporting integration across scales, the same tools are also demonstrated and tested with advisors and planning authorities.
BSAG’s role in the project mainly concerns work package 5, which focuses on creating impact. BSAG leads an activity compiling best practices for financing collaborative local projects. Within this activity, some local demonstration investment projects will be developed for implementation. Beyond that, participation in Waterdrive strengthens BSAG’s work on climate smart agriculture on the Carbon Action platform by enabling the establishing of strong links and collaboration across the existing work on farming practices and soil and water management provided by the Waterdrive project. Waterdrive maintains a strong focus on the catchment and landscape levels with a specific attention on water quality thereby offering broader reference context and stakeholder basis to complement the Carbon Action platform. BSAG’s existing cooperation with various actors in the regions of Southern and Southwestern Finland provides a strong expert and stakeholder basis for joint learning through testing practices and measures. In Finland, Waterdrive will be implemented in practice in the River Porvoo catchment area, where the aim of drainage renovation works (coordinated by ProAgria Southern Finland) is to sustainably improve drainage and mitigate flood risks while preserving the fisheries and spawning grounds. A challenging task, but as such, it goes well with BSAG’s portfolio and track record.
Waterdrive runs until June 2021 and is coordinated by the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU). The other Finnish partners are Finnish Environment Institute (SYKE), Natural Resources Institute Finland (Luke) and Finnish Field Drainage Association. The project website will be opened soon, until then, more information is available on the Interreg website or in Finnish here.