Policy design for climate change mitigation and adaptation in sheep farming: Insights from a study of the knowledge transfer chain

TitlePolicy design for climate change mitigation and adaptation in sheep farming: Insights from a study of the knowledge transfer chain
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2020
AuthorsConcu, G, Atzeni, GE, Meleddu, M, Vannini, M
JournalEnvironmental Science & Policy

Low innovation adoption rates in agriculture have spurred intense research on farmers’ attitudes and motivations. Little attention has been paid to attitudes of other important actors in the knowledge transfer chain. Evidence indeed suggests that adoption rarely happens at the farm level, but requires the right inputs from science and extension services. Divergent attitudes among actors in the knowledge transfer chain may hence contribute to low adoption rates by transferring insufficient, outdated, irrelevant and/or incorrect information. This study is an investigation on attitudes towards climate change mitigation and adaptation of three classes of actors: sheep farmers, researchers involved in fields related to sheep farming and extension officers from private companies and public agencies. The investigation is based on data collected through self-administered questionnaires submitted to 165 participants to agricultural field days in Sardinia (Italy). The sample consists of sheep farmers (37,5%), researchers (16,4%), extension officers (32,1%) and other agricultural workers or students (14 %). In order to assess differences in attitude and identify the sources of attitudinal divergence, the study adopts Kolmogorov – Smirnov (KS) equality-of-distribution tests and Partial-least square structural equation modelling (PLS-SEM). Comparing and contrasting attitudes towards several topics related to GHG emission mitigation and adaptation to climate change reveal that researchers and extension officers have different attitudes towards innovation for mitigating GHG, that in turn depend on different information and beliefs on the causes and effects of climate change. This context is less than optimal to promote adoption of climate change mitigation or adaptation strategies. Climate change science and policy design need to recognise the complexity of knowledge transmission and the multiplicity of attitudes and beliefs that inform and affect the process. To mitigate the impact of diverging attitudes and beliefs among researchers and extension officers tailored communication strategies should avoid controversial issues and focus on benefits of innovation on farm efficiency. In turn, this would build trust and cooperation among all the actors in the knowledge transfer chain. Only when cooperation is assured, one could be confident that the information delivered to farmers is scientifically sound, relevant, value-neutral and useful in changing farmers' behaviour.

KeywordsAttitudes, Climate change adaptation, Equality-of-distribution tests, GHG emission mitigation, Partial-least square structural equation modelling, Policy design, Technology transfer chain