By European Communities, 2009. Today, entire economies are judged by the investment they make in education, science and technology, culture and innovation. Knowledge, particularly scientifically validated knowledge, is critical for turning the increasingly complex challenges society faces into opportunities for more sustainable development, achieving the Millennium Development Goals and implementing other joint commitments. Scientific relations between what is now the European Union and Africa date back more than 25 years to the launch of the first Science and Technology for Development Programme (STD) in 1983 and have steadily developed since. Under the 6th Research Framework Programme (FP6: 2002-2006), teams from 51 of the 53 African countries filed 3,888 applications for participation in research and other collaborative projects together with their peers from Europe and other continents. 873 of these applications from 39 African countries were successful and received funding of some €93 M.
The Marie Curie Initial Training Network (ITN) project, “Biochemical and Genetic Dissection of Control of Plant Nutrition” (also known as “Bionut”), brings together eight of Europe’s top plant research institutes, lead by scientists from the John Innes Centre (UK). Each institute will host one PhD student, and the studentships will be linked to ensure that a fully integrated approach is taken to get the whole picture of plant nutrition. This integration is a key feature of the network, as it advances the science beyond focussing on one mineral nutrient, such as nitrogen or sulphur, to look at the combined nutritional needs of the plant. The results will be brought together to produce the most complete mathematical model of plant nutrition to date. This European research initiative will take steps to understand how crop plants use available nutrients, and address the need for crop varieties that produce higher yields with lower inputs and reduced environmental impact. The integrated approach adopted by the initiative will draw on the complementary skills and specialties of the research groups. Geneticists will screen for undiscovered genes involved in controlling plant nutrition, and systems biologists, biochemists and plant physiologists will combine to work out the functions of these genes. Other partners will focus on the translation of this research into crop plants in the field, ensuring the pipeline from the laboratory to the field is fully covered by this project. (Source: John Innes Centre, 5 April 2011)
The EC's EuropeAid Cooperation Office announced (on 11/5/2011) the signature of a €14.75M contract for support to a sub-Saharan African intra-regional research networking infrastructure which is already interconnected to the pan-European research network, GÉANT. The contract represents a significant injection of capital to develop research networking infrastructure across sub-Saharan Africa and with Europe. The AfricaConnect project will establish a high-capacity Internet network for research and education in Southern and Eastern Africa to provide the region with a gateway to global research collaboration, the objective of which is to overcome the current limitations of international research collaboration within sub-Saharan Africa and towards Europe, and to foster research and education collaboration and advancement within and between these regions. The project will be strongly collaborative, so whilst DANTE, the international research network operator that got the contract, will coordinate AfricaConnect, they will be partnered by DANTE's regional counterpart organisations in Africa – UbuntuNet Alliance covering Eastern and Southern Africa, and WACREN covering Western and Central Africa – as well as the Association of African Universities; existing National Research and Education Networks (NRENs) in Africa (DRC, Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Rwanda, Somalia, Sudan, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia); and several European NRENs (Germany, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal and the UK). In April 2010, Knowledge for development mentioned the publication of the final report on the Feasibility Study on the AfricaConnect Initiative (FEAST project).
Participatory research and on-farm management of agricultural biodiversity in EuropeBy Michel Pimpert, International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED), May 2011.Drawing on experience in Europe and the wider literature, this paper, by Michel Pimpert at the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED), offers some critical reflections on how–and under what conditions–the EU might support the development of innovative participatory approaches for the management of agricultural biodiversity in Europe. Recommendations are offered on how to address three challenges in particular: 1) Transforming knowledge and ways of knowing for the local adaptive management of agricultural biodiversity and resilience in the face of climate change and uncertainty; 2) Scaling up and institutionalising participatory research and innovation in plant breeding, varietal selection, and agroecological research; and 3) Policy reversals for the participatory management of agricultural biodiversity.Do not hesitate to discuss this new publications on our blog page about PARD.
This ODI Briefing Paper calls for a fresh look at the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy alongside development goals and the new global context. The CAP has the potential to affect developing countries in a variety of ways. The EU has recognised that making development policy in isolation is not sufficient. Its commitment to Policy Coherence for Development seeks to ensure that all policies, not only development assistance, promote growth in developing countries. This briefing paper analyses CAP reform options against development goals and finds that research is urgently needed to analyse the coherence between the reforms and European development policy. (ODI Briefing Papers 69, September 2011)
A new research programme led by European research institutions with funding from the European Commission will help to define a policy for sustainable management of soils, with a view to adopting a legally binding Soil Framework Directive, such as exists for air and water. The Ecological Function and Biodiversity Indicators in European Soils (EcoFINDERS) programme, which launched in January 2011, brings together 22 institutional European research partners, including the University of Cambridge, to formulate how best to manage the health of soil. The goal of EcoFINDERS is to design and implement soil strategies aimed at ensuring the sustainable use of soils. (Univ. of Cambridge, 14/7/2011)
PAERIP is a dedicated initiative to promote research infrastructure partnerships between Europe and Africa. There is currently significant political attention on promoting science and technology partnerships between the European Union and Africa. The Joint Africa-European Union (EU) Strategy, adopted by Heads of Government at the December 2007 Lisbon Summit, notably includes a dedicated Science, Information Society and Space initiative. Several collaborative efforts are currently being implemented under this Partnership, with the support of the African Union Commission, the European Commission and African and European Union Member States. None of these initiatives are, however, specifically addressing research infrastructures. The ‘Promoting African European Research Infrastructure Partnerships’ (PAERIP) project is specifically focused on addressing this void notably by undertaking a series of relevant studies, which will inform the organisation of policy dialogue and cooperation promotion events.
The overall objective of PURE is to provide practical IPM solutions to reduce dependence on pesticides in selected major farming systems in Europe, thereby contributing to a reduction of the risks to human health and the environment and facilitating the implementation of the pesticides package legislation while ensuring continued food production of sufficient quality. PURE will provide integrated pest management (IPM) solutions and a practical toolbox for their implementation in key European farming systems (annual arable and vegetable, perennial, and protected crops) in which reduction of pesticide use and better control of pests will have major effects.
The Standing Committee on Agricultural Research (SCAR) was established in 1974 by a Regulation of the Council of the EU. It is formed by representatives of Member States, and presided over by a representative of the Commission, who have a mandate to advise the Commission and the Member States on the coordination of agricultural research in Europe. The SCAR committee was given in 2005 a renewed mandate by the Council to play a major role in the coordination of agricultural research efforts across the European Research Area. The “new” SCAR is made up of the 27 EU Member States, with representatives from Candidate and Associated Countries as observers. The SCAR members currently represent 37 countries.
This 3rd edition of the PAERIP (Promoting African European Research Infrastructure Partnerships) quarterly e-Newsletter highlights some of the key outcomes of the project activities over the period December 2011 to February 2012. This issue features the Second report on Research Infrastructures, an analysis of the Horizon 2020 initiative, a report on the EU-Africa Trust Fund, and more.
EUCARINET is a four-year INCONET Coordination Action, supported by the European Commission (DG RTD-INCO), whose main goal is to strengthen bi-regional sustainable dialogue on Science and Technology between Europe and the Caribbean. Researchers can find an overview of each Caribbean sub-region and the major relevance of R&D plus some interesting links to institutions fostering research and cooperation. It also hosts a database of all research publications from all Caribbean countries/territories except Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands for the period 1999-2009 (based on the Web of Science (WoS,®) online database of Thomson Reuters).
The newsletter Crop wild relative was initiated by the EC-funded PGR Forum project and later adopted as the newsletter of the Crop Wild Relative Specialist Group (CWRSG) of the IUCN Species Survival Commission (SSC). Issue 8 is the first of three issues to be published in the context of the PGR Secure project (full title: Novel characterization of crop wild relative and landrace resources as a basis for improved crop breeding). The project focuses on ensuring that the genetic diversity inherent in crop wild relative (CWR) and landrace (LR) populations and which is important for crop improvement – particularly to adapt crops to grow in our changing climate – is conserved and available for use by plant breeders. The April 2012
The European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT) brings together higher education institutions, research centres and businesses and aims to build Knowledge and Innovation Communities (KICs, a type of cross-border public-private-partnerships). To date, three KICs have been created, focusing on sustainable energy, climate change and information and communication society. The EIT should set up a KIC in 2014 on ‘Food for the future’ that will examine sustainable supply chains. Click to visit the EIT’s website(EIT, 7/11/2012)
This report by the Fridtjof Nansen Institute (FNI, Norway) presents the EU legislation on the marketing of seed and plant propagating material, detailing how it affects agricultural biodiversity. It discusses the principles of the EU’s twelve basic directives in this area and the three directives providing derogations for the purpose of conservation and sustainable use of plant genetic resources for food and agriculture. In addition, the report reviews the development of such legislation in Europe, its effects on agricultural biodiversity, and the content and consequences of the EU directive that provides derogations for conservation varieties. http://www.fni.no/publ/biodiversity.html#eu_seed_legislation (FNI, 08/2012)
This report, prepared for the EC Joint Research Centre (JRC), presents the final results of the study named AVEMAC (Assessing Agriculture Vulnerabilities for the design of Effective Measures for Adaptation to Climate Change). The study tackles the lack of information on vulnerabilities, risks, and needs for the adaptation of European priority crops (maize, wheat, rapeseed, sunflower, rice) under a changing climate. Assessing the importance of climate change vulnerability requires not only the localisation of relative yield changes, but also the analysis of the impact of the change on the acreage affected. The assessment has shown contrasting results in response to the different realisations of the emission scenarios. http://ec.europa.eu/agriculture/analysis/external/avemac/index_en.htm (EC JRC, 04/2012)
The Africa-EU High-Level Policy Dialogue (HLPD) on STI commissioned this study to assess existing bi-regional STI cooperation initiatives and to identify successful, best practice models of Africa and Europe cooperation. This study also identified gaps and effective financial mechanisms that could have a positive impact cooperative initiatives. In terms of collaboration, financing, and private sector participation, the report notes that the current funding landscape is rather dependent on European and on international instruments, weakening the potential of genuine co-ownership. Promising co-financing models for common research priorities are being piloted (notably by the ERAfrica consortium, www.erafrica.eu). The report argues that joint funding, strong leadership and effective governance; clarity and understanding of joint objectives; strong interpersonal relations, equitable resource and benefits sharing, full transparency and open communication all build create mutual trust and foster co-ownership as necessary conditions for optimal efficiency. Other topics addressed by the study include: impact, success criteria, gaps, barriers and challenges. http://hrst.au.int/en/sites/default/files/STI%20study%20final%20report%20-%20revision%20October%202013.pdf (via CAAST-Net Plus, 19/12/2013)
This document discusses the definitions, challenges and future prospects of family farming in the EU. It provides: (i) a definition of the concepts of family farming and an overview of the main figures available; (ii) an examination of the current and new challenges in economic, demographic, sociological and territorial terms; and (ii) an analysis of the future prospects for family farming. The authors, Sophia Davidova, University of Kent, UK and Kenneth Thompson of the University of Aberdeen, UK argue that the main economic challenges to family farms are access to farming resources such as land and capital, and access to markets, particularly in terms of bargaining power in the food chain. One of the key economic drivers of future changes within the family farming sector is the differential between farm incomes and incomes in the rest of the economy. Technological progress and structural change will offset certain disadvantages of some but not all family farms in respect to economic efficiency. More knowledge-intensive and innovative management will allow some family farms to grow, capture economies of scale, and maintain and increase their competitiveness in the European and world market. Family farming – often by pluri-active and diversified households – is likely to continue to dominate EU farming structure despite trends towards larger non-family farms. (European Parliament, 04/2014)