Knowledge exchange, innovation and the promotion of more environmentally-sustainable agriculture in Europe


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Innovation has been highlighted as an important focus for the next round of EU CAP reform. Professor Janet Dwyer gave a presentation on innovation in EU agriculture to a recent conference of academics and policy makers in Prague, Czech republic. In her talk, Janet highlighted the ways in which advice, training and networking can help to encourage farmers to innovate, and she also discussed the need for more innovation in policy, so that funds can really help, rather than constrain, new and experimental ideas and projects.

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  • Projected change in mean temperatures for EU27 are between 2 and 4 degrees over the next century, with the highest changes in the south – Iberian peninsula plateau and Alpine regions, also Bulgaria, Romania and Greece, and Finland.Rainfall will increase 40% in Scandinavia and Scotland, but decrease 40% in Italy, Iberia, SW France and Greece and Romania.Considerable increases in river flooding are anticipated in northern Scandinavia and northern Italy. Some low lying parts of England, Ireland, Romania and Hungary will also see much more river flooding. Eastern England, the Netherlands, Belgium, Denmark and West France as well as regions in northern Italy (Veneto) and Romania will also see greater exposure to coastal storm surges.Overall the economic impacts of climate change show a clear south-north gradient: many economically important countries like Germany, Poland and almost the whole Scandinavia may expect a positive impact. The main reason for the gradient is the economic dependency of large parts of Southern Europe on (summer) tourism, but also agriculture. Both are projected to be negatively impacted due to the increase in temperature and decrease in rainfall. Energy demands also come into play through the increased need for cooling. However, the Alps as a premier tourist depended region are also identified as hotspot which mainly results from the projected decrease in snow cover. The economic impact in South Eastern Europe is a consequence of the impact on agriculture – which is still important there.
  • Mantino et al (2010) found examples in southern Italy where rural development funding was designed to produce social and environmental benefits as well as economic benefits – reducing crime, promoting reduced inputs, supporting added value.
  • Knowledge exchange, innovation and the promotion of more environmentally-sustainable agriculture in Europe

    1. 1. Knowledge exchange, innovation and the promotion of more environmentally-sustainable agriculture in Europe Janet Dwyer CCRI University of Gloucestershire, UK
    2. 2. Outline• Challenges for EU agriculture and rural areas• Implications for rural actions and resources• Innovation – what, where and how? – ideas for further research
    3. 3. Challenges for EU agriculture & rural areas• Increasing fossil fuel prices – higher global demand, lower / more costly / less secure supplies• Growing global food demand• Climate change - pressures north and south from temperature and rainfall shifts• Demographic change – shrinking workforce, pressure in south• Continuing austerity in public finances – reduced financing for CAP and Regions?
    4. 4. Vulnerability to climate change of EU regions highest negativeimpact medium negativeimpact low negative impact no/marginal impact low positive impact .No data* reduced data*ESPON CLIMATE study
    5. 5. Population Change2000-2007 Annual AverageChange per 1000inhabitants- < -6.0 (193)- -6.0 - -3.0 (154)- -3.0 - 0.0 (226)- 0.0 - 3.0 (300)- 3.0 - 6.0 (249)- > 6.0 (341) These trends are set to continue,- no data placing pressure on many poorerSource: DEMIFER project,annex of maps: ESPON and some water-stressed regions2012
    6. 6. Implications for rural activities & resources• EU agriculture must become much more resource-efficient: using fewer non- renewable inputs, conserving soil and water, and reducing or eliminating wastes
    7. 7. • The multifunctionality of rural spaces must be maintained and increased, embracing energy generation and non-food products plus sustained use for leisure and food production• Ecosystem services need more attention and long-term planning
    8. 8. ‘Innovation’ – What?Means thinking or doing somethingperceived as quite new (in thatcontext):• Technological change• New knowledge• New ways of working• New (farming) systems• New ways of doing policy• New institutional arrangements
    9. 9. Innovation – Why?• To transform farm-level knowledge about best management strategies and sustainability planning• To raise standards of practice on farms, achieving a ‘step-change’ in approach• To develop new businesses / sub- sectors and successfully exploit market opportunities based upon sustainable resource management• To test and learn from the experience of successful pioneers
    10. 10. How best to promote innovation? It is not possible to force people to innovate, BUT there is much evidence of the value of fostering and promoting a climate in which innovation is encouragedKEY ingredients*:• Stronger research-practice linkages• Communities of learning: advice, training and information (awareness-raising)• New networking and collaborative action *EP-funded study on sustainable competitiveness and innovation. 2012
    11. 11. Examples – research-practice linkages• Lower Saxony: regional government has joint research and investment programmes with local manufacturing and chemical industries to develop novel crops and new products, working with farmer organisations• England: government-funded research programmes encourage scientists to work with groups of farmers, in ‘adaptive co-learning’ to understand soil quality and hydrological cycles, and plan for climate change (increased severity of flooding)• The expanding IFM community is innovating and sharing good practice across the EU
    12. 12. Examples – training, advice & informationThere is little point forcing people to take advice:make it attractive, enjoyable and accessible• Dedicated ‘filière’ programmes (Italy, France, Germany) often led by processors, use a tailored package = training, advice, consumer information to scale-up supply chains and increase producer viability• Farmer-led ‘hubs’ (Wales) encourage members to identify and pursue training and information needs, with peer support and access to funds• LEADER Action Groups fund visits and exchanges - these have stimulated farmer demand for knowledge
    13. 13. Lessons and examples – innovative networks & collaboration• Bridging social capital is a key element in micro-regional development: mixing skills, knowledge and experience - external facilitators may be needed (evidence: EDORA project)• Agri-environment co-operatives, Netherlands offer environmental gains via more flexible approaches, designed by farmers themselves• Integrated territorial programmes in Southern Italy show the value of multi-actor planning and delivery partnerships, involving a WIDE range of regional interests
    14. 14. Innovation: How? Enabling policy is vital- consider the plumber…• We need smarter working with multiple goals, integrated planning & delivery• We need to control and reduce the weight of controls and bureaucracy – make policies closer to beneficiary, more flexible• ‘Better targeting’ does not have to mean more constraints, higher costs!
    15. 15. 2 models from industry, worth further research?• BPR – ‘business process re-engineering’, analysing processes to enable simplification, with a strong focus upon the experiences of all actors in the delivery chain• Lean Systems and Systems thinking – to enable a move away from ‘one size fits all’ approaches, to programmes which enable tailored solutions for each individual situation, without leading to excessive bureaucracy or high costs
    16. 16. Thank you!