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An analysis of stakeholders´ behaviour toward public goods - application to ecosystem services provided in the forest and agricultural sector

Many environmental resources are characterized as public goods including biodiversity, carbon storage, water, soil and air quality. In this project, we are interested in the forest and agriculture as suppliers of public goods, more specifically forest soil quality and biodiversity conservation which is particularly threatened by the use of pesticides. Generally, individuals have little incentive to voluntarily provide public goods because they are reluctant to incur private cost for everyone to benefit from their contribution, and they may believe others would contribute to this public good. Still, the provision of public goods is a social dilemma which relies on a tradeoff between individuals’ self-interests and collective interests. This makes individual behavior worthwhile study ng in such a context where stakeholders (citizens, farmers, forest owners, NGOs, policy-makers) interact one with another to provide public goods. While the provision of public goods has widely been studied in the literature, we focus on two issues which are few or not tackled.
1- We aim to investigate the way stakeholders’ preferences shape themselves over private and public goods: this is what we call the structure of preferences or payoffs. By structure of preferences, we mean: how do private and public environmental goods combine in providing wellbeing to a given stakeholder? Are these goods perceived as rather complements or substitutes within stakeholders’ preferences? In economics, the widespread assumption is that private and public goods are perfectly substitutable, which seems restrictive. Related to our application, forests both provide soil quality as a public good and wood used for private purposes (e.g. building, heating). Forest owners and citizens for example may have a different perception of the relationship (substitutability or complementarity) between the benefits they get from forest soil quality (e.g. lower acidification) and wood production. How can we determine this underlying relationship and how does it affect forest soil quality and the services it provides to society?
2- We aim to evaluate the efficiency and social acceptability of policy instruments when it comes to reducing the use of pesticides which severely affects biodiversity. While efficiency has widely been studied, social acceptability may play a role as important as efficiency in the decision process and especially regarding its consequences after implementation (e.g. strikes postponing or canceling the policy implementation). This research question will be applied to the reduction of the use of pesticides in the agricultural field since there is a large range of policies (and associated instruments) both at the national and European levels that can be explored.