Strategies and policies to reduce the impacts of agricultural activities on watercourses and aquatic ecosystems.

Faby Anne Gagné-Mimeault   Additional Authors: Jérôme Dupras, Jean-François Bissonnette, Mikaël Scattolin

Governments adopt strategies and policies to reduce the impacts of agricultural activities on watercourses and aquatic ecosystems. Agri-environmental incentive programs, also referred to as payments for ecosystem services (PES) programs, are conservation instruments that compensate farmers who adopt one or more agri-environmental practices. However, farmers’ enrollment in PES programs remains low. If financial incentives are insufficient to encourage farmers to implement agri-environmental practices on their lands, farmers’ needs, interests, and values may provide clues to designing more effective programs. Through the Quebec Water Strategy 2018-2030, our research project aims to intensify the agri-environmental shift by demonstrating the social and ecological benefits of improving agricultural practices. In particular, our research seeks to better understand socio-economic barriers and opportunities for implementing agri-environmental practices in Quebec (Canada). Inspired by the grounded theory methodology, we conducted a literature review, field observations, and semi-structured interviews with farmers and relevant stakeholders. Our preliminary results show that farmers face various challenges, such as ensuring the succession of their farms and optimizing their land. Technical advice and the influence of neighbours and their community play a critical role in farmers’ decision to adopt a practice. Farmers generally perceive soil quality as a more central concern than water quality and are more inclined to favour soil-enhancing practices such as direct seeding, green manuring, and cover cropping. Finally, we find that the socio-economic context must be considered when designing agri-environmental incentive programs, as this could lead to more attractive incentive programs whose adoption withstands the test of time. For example, a farmer approaching retirement may not be amenable to taking risks, while a younger farmer may be more amenable to cover cropping or green manuring.

Resilience of farms to multi-dimensional disturbances

Christopher J. Greyson-Gaito   Additional Authors: Aaron Delaporte, Alfons Weersink, Kevin McCann

The world’s population will rise to 9 billion by 2050, putting immense pressure on the global agricultural system. Climate change will cause frequent and often large disturbances to individual farmers and the whole agricultural system. Furthermore, climate change will interact with other human-caused global changes to cause disturbances. Although research has examined the profitability of farms in general, relatively little research has examined whether farms will be resilient to these interacting multi-dimensional disturbances. In this study, I used a simple socio-ecological model to examine how ecological aspects of farms affect farm resiliency to disturbances in crop yield and prices, and input costs. The first part of this model uses the classic cost and revenue curves to examine the effects of disturbances on profits. These insights are then extended to a simplified financial model examining how disturbances interact with financial feedback to affect farm solvency. Increasing the maximum potential yield of crop farms improved resiliency the most. When maximum potential yield was small, increasing the efficiency of inputs became critical for resiliency. Generally, aiming for maximum profits instead of maximum yield when choosing the inputs to add at the beginning of the growing season was best for resiliency. Overall, increasing maximum potential yield increases resiliency by providing a larger financial buffer and improving the flexibility of the farm. With human-caused disturbances increasing in the future, fostering flexibility and other resiliency-promoting mechanisms in the agricultural system is critical for the persistence of farms.

Analysis of the quality of the green bonds for climate action.

 Sila Basturk Agiroglu

This study examines the details of the use of proceeds of green bonds issued under the Green Bond Principles, the most prevalent voluntary guidance framework for green bonds globally. Green bond frameworks and impact reports are reviewed and coded into a database for the purpose of this study. No similar study and publicly available dataset focused on the use of proceeds and impact reporting of the green bonds at the country and sector levels to the extent of the author’s knowledge. Hence, this study fills a gap in the literature by focusing on what is financed under green bonds, how to create a quantified quality score, and how the volume and quality of historical green bond issuances differ between countries and industries.

 The research examines the impact reports and calculates a quality score in two categories: transparency and additionality. The results are aggregated at country and sector levels. The dataset is examined using quantitative analysis methods and the results of the study indicate that involvement in refinancing is very common in most of the green bonds which decreases their additionality scoring by not providing capital for greenfield investments but rather financing already existing investments. Meanwhile, transparency scoring is negatively affected by insufficient or partial reporting of the details of the financing and impact metrics. The study is most relevant to the Pathways to Net-Zero and Systemic Development themes of the CANSEE 2023 conference. Climate finance instruments are expected to enable the green transition by providing the necessary financial capital to eligible projects. However, involvement in refinancing, lack of transparency in the share of refinancing and total project costs, and insufficient or nonexistent reporting of impact reporting methodology, especially for avoided/reduced greenhouse gas emissions, are significant pitfalls behind making sustainable finance an effective tool for climate finance mitigation and adaptation efforts.