Author: Blanca Casares (AEIDL)
On 17 January 2024, the Tools4CAP (Innovative Toolbox empowering effective CAP governance towards EU ambitions) project, a Coordination and Support Action in Horizon Europe, held its first module of the Academy. This session gathered over 50 experts from 22 countries, encompassing representatives from EU institutions, public authorities at national level, research institutions, innovators, farmers and other stakeholders.
Empowering stakeholders through innovative learning
The Academy is designed to provide a dynamic framework for capacity building and peer-learning. Its primary objective is to develop an attractive and tailored training programme to meet the end users’ needs. The inaugural module of the Academy primarily focused on showcasing the online Inventory of methods and tools used for the design and monitoring of Common Agricultural Policy Strategic Plans (CSP) and presenting the related deliverable. This session was not just an exhibition but also a platform to foster interaction and learning among participants. It provided a practical demonstration of the usefulness and added value of the tools listed in the Inventory.
What is Tool4CAP?
The event kicked off with a warm welcome from Blanca Casares, policy expert at AEIDL (European Association for Innovation in Local Development). AEIDL leads the organisation of the Academy’s training sessions in close collaboration with other partners to develop an attractive and tailor-made training programme.
Daniele Bertolozzi, agricultural policy researcher and consultant at Ecorys, set the stage by presenting the objectives of the project, the approach to be followed in the upcoming years, and the expected main outcomes, which include:
- The conceptual framework to build a robust understanding of the New Delivery Model.
- The Inventory of methods and tools.
- Methodological guidelines for the implementation of innovative methods and tools adapted to Member States needs.
- A Handbook to support the application of good practices.
- A Replication Lab to showcase the operational capacity to novel solutions of Member States through 10 case studies.
- A Capacity Building Hub to help end users reinforce their capacity to use innovative solutions and good practices.
Capacity Building Hub: A cornerstone for innovation
Blanca Casares (AEIDL) further elaborated on the Capacity Building Hub, a key component of the project designed to help end users reinforce their capacity to use innovative tools. It is made up of:
- A Stakeholder Engagement Platform for bottom-up conversations, organising 32 national multi-stakeholder focus groups across 16 countries covered by the consortium.
- The Academy which will organise 10 modules over the next three years using practical, engaging and interactive methods to promote hands-on learning around CSP design and monitoring.
Blanca explained other additional activities of the Academy, such as collecting experts’ insights through interviews or blog articles, establishing joint actions with other projects or networks. She also introduced a dedicated section on the project’s website: practical information for CSP. It includes relevant documents, from the legal framework, to the approved national CSPs, and key sources for implementation, evaluation and innovation.
Exploring the Tools4CAP Inventory
Joshua Wilson, consultant at Ecorys, provided an in-depth overview of the Inventory. This online resource allows user to explore the different tools filtering by Member State and by four categories:
- Stakeholders needs assessment tools: tools based on qualitative methodologies, including but not limited to participatory approaches.
- Policy choices supporting tools: tools with logic-based methodologies that facilitate decision-making and are particularly useful when dealing with complex systems.
- Policy analysis tools for evidence-based decisions: tools that generate (scientific or empirical) evidence through the analysis of policies, either ex-ante or ex-post, to inform decision-making, hence underpinning evidence-based policymaking.
- Monitoring and data collection tools: tools that collect and make available (but do not interpret) the necessary information and data for the performance review of the CAP Strategic Plan, and to inform policy analyses and policy choices.
In addition, the Inventory includes a more detailed filtering system, offering subcategories for each tool group and by CSP relevant task for design and monitoring.
Work on the inventory will continue during the Project, and two updates are expected, one in January 2025 and another in December 2026. Recently, a new feature has been added to the online inventory, allowing users to provide feedback on individual tools or on the Inventory as a whole.
Finally, the training was enriched by participatory working groups focusing on the four tool categories. In each group, participants delved into the methodology, purpose and practical application of the tools, along with their sub-categories. In addition, the inventoried tools were discussed and some of them were explored in more detail. Central to these discussions were two pivotal questions, driving the narrative of the session:
- To what extent are the inventoried tools useful for the users’ needs (CAP Strategic Plan design and CAP Strategic Plan monitoring)?
- What are the main challenges and limitations in the use of the tools?
All presentations and recordings from this module are available on the event page. A Highlights report, to be published soon in English and translated into 16 languages, will provide further insights.