OPTAIN Moments

14/09/2021

There is so much going on with the OPTAIN project. We are now bringing you a comprehensive recap of the best moments of the last six months.

 

Virtual WOCAT training for all case study leaders

In the 1st Multi Actor Reference Group (MARG) meeting, potential and existing Natural Small Water Retention Measures (NSWRM) have been discussed and selected with local stakeholders of all 14 OPTAIN case studies. Selected existing NSWRMs will now be assessed and documented with the World Overview of Conservation Approaches and Technologies (WOCAT) Technology questionnaire and the platform for Natural Water Retention Measures (NWRM). Therefore, a 2-Day virtual training was organized in June 2021 for all case study representatives. The participants learned more about WOCAT and the NWRM framework as well as how they can document their own NSWRMs on the WOCAT global sustainable land management (SLM) database. In the next few months, all NSWRMs will be documented as a basis for a coherent OPTAIN catalogue with a selection of the most promising NSWRMs.

 

The Hungarian version of OPTAIN website

Stakeholders play a central role during the whole lifetime of the project. Therefore, it is important to reach them in many ways. Three case studies of the project are located at least partly in Hungary: Csorsza and Felső-Válicka , Kebele-Kobiljski, and Tetves. Actors who are interested or involved in or affected by agricultural and water management plans could be most efficiently and directly engaged if information about the project is also available in Hungarian. Therefore, in close cooperation with the Centre for Agricultural Research (ATK) and the General Directorate of Water Management (OVF) we have built a Hungarian version of the OPTAIN website (see www.optain.hu).

The site mainly follows the structure of www.optain.eu with a focus on providing information about the three case studies mentioned above and their engagement with stakeholders, e.g.: It provides a possibility for stakeholders to show their interest in the project through online registration here or fill in questionnaires related to NSWRMs here.

Arable Event 2021

Information about the project was provided in newsletters edited by the Hungarian Chamber of Agriculture and General Directorate of Water Management highlighting the Hungarian case studies and call for stakeholder collaboration. The latest results related to the actor engagement of OPTAIN project were presented at the Desertification and drought Day - 2021 conference.

It happened during the Arable Event 2021 of the Hungarian Chamber of Agriculture on 9 and 10 June 2021. The event hosted platforms to present the latest scientific results from the research area of plant production, agricultural machinery exhibition, information about the influence of climate change on agriculture, farm advisory system, agricultural education, human induced soil forming processes characteristic for cultivated soils. During the two-day event, there were 20,000 visitors interested in the agri-food and environmental sector.

 

The progress of Work Package 3

Under WP3, an inventory of input data for integrated modelling has been initiated from all case studies. The resulting catalogue is used to provide an overview on the data availability for the catchment-scale and field-scale models, to see what data is missing and to decide which missing data is feasible to cover. The data inventory provides indispensable information for data collection and harmonization for the model-based assessments.

Metadata file generators have been developed and will be published in open-access. The developed scripts and tools allow the user to generate a one-by-one or bulk xml metadata files which comply with standards according to article 5(1) of INSPIRE Directive 2007/2/EC.

The climate variables required by the field- and catchment scale models have been defined for the assessment of NSWRMs effectiveness under future climate. A common climate database has been selected to perform bias correction of the climate model simulation data.

 

Policy analysis – Mapping (Phase A)

An InterVison meeting for CSS leaders was held on Friday, June 11th, 2021, focusing on Work Package 6 Task 6.2 activities and the analysis of policy arrangements at the case study level. Analysis on differences among policy arrangements and governance practices of water, agriculture, spatial planning, and climate change will be made. The task will serve as policy recommendations for a better balance among different levels of governance and for the best possible application in strategies for agricultural climate change adaptation.

WP6 will undertake policy analysis of four phases (policy mapping, a survey on the decision-making process and institutional responsibility, guidelines for optimal implementation of NSWRM, development of Incentives and promotion). Among that, phase A – mapping was discussed at the InterVison meeting. Phase A will provide an overview of how measures selected (WP2) for assessment link to legislation and regulations, from the local level to national and EU level directives. The task requires CSS leaders to use a template and visually display the national, river basin, regional and local sub-basin/municipal scale legislation relevant to the existing selected measures in their case study area. This visualisation should show how measures (implementing level) link back to directives and other legislation in different ways and the policy mechanisms (incentives for implementation). In addition, the task will provide information on central institutions and organisations that play a role in financing measures.

Phase B will follow in early autumn with a survey among key informants about the policy arrangement, e.g., authorities (policymaking, policy implementation), experts, agri-advisers, consultants, research and science, as well as NGOs.

Figure: Relation between EU directives and regulations, country-specific legislation and measures

 

Common working environment (CWE)

Task 6.1 analysed standards for the common working environment (CWE) and established a platform for project partners' harmonised reporting of project outputs. The results of OPTAINs work packages addressing specific issues of the project (actor platform, measures and indicators, data mining, modelling, optimisation) are assimilated in the following way:

  • Basic project integration is handled through the coordination of all elements of the project.
  • Cross WP and cross catchment analysis are enabled by harmonising tools, data, and process workflows.
  • Exchange of modelling and communication with the public will be coordinated by following the developed protocols, metadata standards via the data-sharing platforms.
  • Providing the information base for the OPTAIN Learning Environment is enabled by ensuring that the OPTAIN project consortium utilises the established CWE platform and stores the data (or information) in a joint project database.

The established CWE provides an understanding of the technical and functional background of the knowledge produced in the project and enables communication between project partners and stakeholders at different management levels and provides easy sharing of project results and recommendations.

 

Initial list of economic and environmental performance indicators

In Task 2.2, we aim at creating a list of performance indicators to evaluate the effectiveness of NSWRM implemented in case studies areas as well as to further explore the effect of potential combination of measures (modelling exercises in WP 4 and 5). In practice, we need to downscale the global indicator-related frameworks like Triple Bottom Line (Elkington, 1994), Ecosystem Services (MA, 2005), Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), to be of use at the catchment and field level.

In June 2021, we delivered an initial list of indicators:

  • Environmental performance indicators (EPI) – reflecting on possible changes in the state of the environment (e.g., water and nutrient fluxes, soil erosion and yield).
  • Socio - economic performance indicators (SPI) – related to the financial aspects and costs of single NSWRM (e.g., implementation costs, economic efficiency, cost-benefit ratio), but also to their implications on agriculture production (e.g., value of production per hectare, unit cost of irrigation water, contribution margins, dependence from CAP or other subsidies) and water management (e.g., unit investments and costs incurred per hectare).

No universal set of indicators exists which would be equally applicable in all cases. Therefore, as a next step, it is crucial to consult this initial list of indicators with all project partners (especially Case Study leaders and modellers) and with MARG.

 

 

OTPAIN Learning Environment: a user-friendly online platform providing evidence-based knowledge on NSWRM

OPTAIN is working on the development of its Learning Environment (LE) that will be delivered online in August 2022. OPTAIN LE aims at ensuring an easy access to NSWRM knowledge that will be developed and tested during the five years of the project, taking into account the pre-existing knowledge such as existing catalogues on NSWRM (WOCAT and NRWM.eu). The activities carried on during the first year led to the establishment of the LE vision and its development strategy. Thanks to a collaborative and co-creative process with the project’s partners.

- The objectives of the LE have been clarified: provide training and capacity building support, permit the evaluation and exploration of NSWRM effectiveness, allow an easy access to OPTAIN outputs and help networking among stakeholders,

- The targeted end-users have been confirmed and classified with a first focus on OPTAIN case studies, then the institutional, the aware end-users and the public,

- The draft design has been set and proposes six main categories of knowledge for the LE: Learn about NSWRM, Case studies, Interactive scenarios, NSWRM measures, NSWRM policy, and the data, software.

During the second year, the LE work force will be set, and the working groups dedicated to the different LE categories of knowledge be launched at OPTAIN second general assembly, at the end of September. The key milestones of LE development will be for the working groups to define the content of the LE, so the technical requirements of the LE can be set by OiEau. Then, the development, test and evaluation phases will take place in close collaboration with the project’s partners and stakeholders from OPTAIN case studies.