The European Alliance on Agricultural knowledge for Development

4th SCAR Foresight Stakeholder Conference

Brussels European Commission DG Research Innovation

8 October 2015. Brussels. The European Commission, DG Research and Innovation in close cooperation with the Standing Committee on Agricultural Research (SCAR) organized the conference “Sustainable Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries in the Bioeconomy – A Challenge for Europe”.

350 participants (high Commission level delegates, private and public sphere representatives, researchers and experts from different sectors) exchanged their views. The renewed role of SCAR and possible next steps on the foresight exercise was explored.
The conference provided an important contribution to the work on the further development of the European and national bioeconomy strategies, not only to orient the discussions on the research and innovation investments in the Bioeconomy, but also to contribute to the ongoing discussions during EXPO MILANO “Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life” 2015.

The 4th SCAR Foresight Exercise launched in spring 2014 explores the interactions between the primary sector and the bioeconomy. With an emphasis on the future, the exercise explores not only what will happen, but also what might happen by developing the paradigm of the bioeconomy, with the fundamental constraint of sustainability. Internal contradictions within primary production sectors and possible conflicts among sectors were a major point of interest.

Highlights: Watch the video of the event.

  • Presentation of FEG 4 report (from scope to key messages) by Erik MATHIJS, KU Leuven, Chair for FEG4, @ 2:14:30
  • Climate smart setting in the bioeconomy Tom ARNOLD, Director General Institute of International and European Affairs, former Coordinator of the Scaling up Nutrition (SUN) movement) @ 5:14:05

Extracts from the report:

A central challenge: produce enough food. At the global level, producing enough food is a central question, particularly in countries that will have a population increase and do not have enough land and water to ensure food security. Therefore, the question is mainly for Asia (population increase and carrying capacity overtaken), Africa (an important demographic wave to come and yields still low), and WANA (West Asia North Africa) (dry land, water limitations and still increasing population). In these countries, the equation is: produce food, with higher yields, environmentally friendly, at low cost (producers are small holders and consumers are poor). It looks like an impossible challenge, increased research (and policy) interest in intensification based on ecological principles, in other words ecological intensification (while preventing negative socio-economic consequences) may be part of the solution. Another part is the establishment of permanent economic complementarities between countries having surpluses and countries having deficits. (page 59)

Policy paradoxes: the ‘energy paradox’, the ‘green paradox’ and the ‘Jevons’ paradox’ — Energy policies are increasingly faced with the ‘energy paradox’, the ‘green paradox’, and the ‘Jevons’ paradox’. The energy paradox is a situation in which consumers undervalue the cost of future energy cost over the current purchasing price, and thus are not willing to pay for more efficient technologies. This paradox discourages investments in efficient technologies. Conversely, conditions creating the so-called ‘green paradox’ occur when reduction in fossil fuel demand following GHG mitigation agreements leads to a reduction in fossil fuels prices, which in turn leads to an increase in fossil fuel use from countries that do not adopt GHG mitigation policies (Gra on et al., 2014). Thirdly, the ‘Jevons’ paradox’, also known as ‘rebound effect’, is related to an increase in total consumption as a consequence of efficiency gains. The Jevons’ paradox is now recognised by the International Energy Agency (IEA) and the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. (page 77)
Assessment/rewarding systems relating to researchers (impacting their careers), research projects and programmes (assessing impacts), research institutes/bodies (their outputs, but also including for instance efficiency of the organisation as regards their systematic and purposeful networking with stakeholders and actors), other actors (non-researchers’ contribution to solutions), education (teaching students how to co-create solutions in projects), and even the organisation of regional/national/international KIS (policies and funding) need to change. This makes the research and innovation process more uncertain from a traditional perspective on research.

See also:

  • “Career development for scientist should not discourage engagement in trans disciplinary research, involvement in innovation projects, partnership and mobility with the industrial sector” The Role of the SCAR and the Foresight Process (1st-4th) Stefano BISOFFI, SCAR Member, Scientific Director of CREA @ 2:06:18 (video of the event)
  • the question of PAEPARD @ 3:23:06 (video of the event) on the Horizon2020 paradox: Scientific excellence vs the expectation to integrate different actors (brokers, extensionists, users, etc.)

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