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A framework for coupling a participatory approach and life cycle assessment for public decision-making in rural territory management

Jouini M., Burte J., Biard Y., Benaissa N., Hajer A., Sinfort C.. 2019. Science of the Total Environment, 655 : p. 1017-1027.

DOI: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2018.11.269

To ensure agricultural land in rural territories is managed sustainability, environmental assessments need to be undertaken to support both policy-makers and local stakeholders in their decision making. Thanks to its completeness, life cycle assessment (LCA) is one of the most widely used tools for the evaluation of environmental impacts. However, LCA is difficult to apply in rural areas of developing countries. First, it requires a lot of data that are difficult to collect due to the diversity of small farming systems. Second, LCA results are difficult for non-specialists to interpret due to the complexity of its multiple indicators. Third, the processes considered in LCA often do not match the values and interests of the stakeholders. The aim of this paper is to propose an innovative operational framework that couples LCA and a participatory approach to overcome these issues. The first step was to conduct a progressive participatory diagnosis of the socio-ecological structure of the rural territory and to characterise the main cropping systems. The results of the diagnosis and other data were progressively triangulated, validated and consolidated with the stakeholders at the territorial level. The paper discusses the quality and validity of data obtained using a participatory approach. To improve the appropriation of results by stakeholders, the LCA method was applied using a territorial approach to distinguish on-site and off-site activities as well as global and local impacts. The applicability of the framework was tested on a case study in a semi-arid region in central Tunisia.

Mots-clés : développement régional; approches participatives; développement agricole; politique foncière; développement rural; système de culture; développement territorial

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