Model integration with economist perspectives

Giovanni Quaranta


Models integration and possible contrasts with up-scaling activities has received increasing attention in recent years especially with respect to the relationship between farm-economics and biophysical assessments. Current bio-economic models that analyse the trade-offs between farm income and interventions on eco-bio-environmental parameters such as maintenance of biodiversity, reduction of erosion and nitrate pollution and more, include static models. Agricultural systems are facing a series of threats, including climate change, land degradation, price volatility and intensification processes, which put their long-term sustainability into question. The University of Basilicata in collaboration with local representatives from various sectors of production in the Basilicata region of Southern Italy has developed an integrated study to define a model system to assess the dynamics at play in rural territories. The study tested the explanatory usefulness of resilience theory for the Basilicata agricultural social-ecological system, applying the adaptive cycle as a diagnostic tool to explore the dynamics and trajectories of change in the coupled social-ecological systems, and evaluating the performance of social, economic and social capitals, which are subject to the same dynamics. The use of dynamic analysis of the social, economic and natural capitals as the key to interpret the various phases of the adaptive cycle of the two agricultural systems proved a powerful tool in analysing the relationships between resilience and sustainable development in rural territories. The adoption of capitals and their inter-relations proved fundamental to the elaboration of adaptation strategies which were compatible with patterns of sustainability. The adaptive cycle heuristic, despite some methodological difficulties, remains useful to describe processes of change in rural socio-ecological systems. There could be enormous potential in adopting these instruments to help identify of the needs of different territories and help the framing and implementation of rural policies.

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