Project report A roadmap for upscaling carbon farming in Flanders


This roadmap is an end product of the LIFE CarbonCounts project, in which ILVO together with the Department of Agriculture & Fisheries has been setting the tone for scaling up effective and viable carbon farming in Flanders since September 2021. Within this trajectory, the starting point was a broad study of what is already known about carbon farming in Flanders, and also who is already working on it. Information from literature, in-depth interviews, workshops with policy makers and knowledge available to both partners was compiled and published in the form of a system analysis (ILVO communication D/2022/08). This analysis was used as a basis to develop tracks towards future, resistant systems for carbon farming together with the actors involved. This roadmap is the result of that process. From the field surveyed, the project partners distilled the widely supported desirability of focusing on three networks, each with its functions and tasks. The consensus is that the three proposed networks should be complementary. In order for carbon farming in Flanders to achieve its goal, there must be (1) a clear goal (navigation network), (2) measurements and models must be sufficiently reliable (MRV network for measuring, reporting and verifying carbon farming) and (3) profits and risks must be fairly distributed in sustainable revenue model (financing network).

The navigation network can be initiated by policy makers who are given a clear mandate and set up a governance structure to create a narrative for carbon farming in Flanders. As we strive for a supported vision, this network involves farmers (organizations), researchers, private organizations, government agencies and civil society organizations. Some important agenda items for this network are agreements on additionality, long-term carbon storage and fair distribution of risks and revenues among the different parties.

The MRV network should work on a knowledge base for monitoring, reporting and verification of the impact of carbon farming practices on carbon stocks, in a way that is sufficiently accurate for the different stakeholders, yet cost-effective and with minimum administrative burden. The MRV network will establish a collaboration structure to further improve the MRV knowledge base throughout time for the farming context in Flanders.

Finally, the financing Network provides in-depth consideration of decisions from the navigation network and the MRV network. Agricultural organizations and private actors consider whether the risks, revenues and potential claims around climate neutrality are fairly shared between farmers and private actors. Consideration should also be given to new, innovative ways to shape fair, sustainable financing for carbon farming in Flanders.

With this roadmap, we provide the tools for a public-private partnership and regulatory framework at the Flemish level. The project partners are convinced that this will sow the seeds for successful carbon farming in Flanders. This roadmap is only a starting point, and in the coming years Flemish agriculture will have to seize the opportunities of carbon farming to achieve a win-win between all parties involved.


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Greet Ruysschaert

Soil expert