Platform for African – European Partnership in Agricultural Research for Development

Monday, December 4, 2023

EC report Food 2030 Research and Innovation

EC (2023) Food 2030 Research and Innovation – Pathways for action 2.0: Research and innovation policy as a driver  for sustainable, healthy, climate-resilient and inclusive food systems #160 p.

This publication provides an update on the European Commission’s Food 2030 initiative and aims to guide future research and innovation policy reflections related to Horizon Europe, the farm-to-fork strategy, the European Green Deal and beyond.

It sets out eleven pathways for action where research and innovation can concretely deliver co-benefits related to nutrition, climate, circularity, and communities, at multiple levels: from local to international:
  1. Governance for Food Systems Change
  2. Urban Food Systems Transformation
  3. Food from the Ocean and Freshwater Resources
  4. Alternative Proteins for Dietary Shift
  5. Food Waste and Resource-efficient Food Systems
  6. The Microbiome World
  7. Nutrition and Sustainable Healthy Diets
  8. Food Safety Systems of the Future
  9. Food Systems Africa
  10. Data & Digital Transformation
  11. Zero Pollution Food Systems

This report also underlines that a systemic interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary approach to research and innovation is crucial for success and improved impact.

The Food 2030 pathways are being deployed via Horizon Europe, the EU’s framework programme for R&I (2021–2027), which provides funding to support a diversity of projects and initiatives, in Europe and beyond. The modernisation of the pathways was supported by a participatory expert workshop held on 10 March 2023 in Brussels, where about 90 experts with diverse backgrounds and experiences were invited to collectively reflect on the way forward. 

Extracts of the report:

Living labs are defined as practice-driven, place-based organisations that facilitate and foster open, collaborative innovation and real-life environments where both open innovation and user innovation processes can occur and where bottom-up-driven R&I can be designed and implemented. (...) Living labs will be extensively employed in the planned Horizon Europe partnerships on agroecology and sustainable food systems. For the latter partnership, they will serve as practice-driven organisations that facilitate collaborative innovation and real-life environments to support sustainable food systems transformation. The partnership will create a knowledge hub of living labs to enable knowledge sharing and dissemination. Living labs and lighthouses within the context of the EU mission ‘A soil deal for Europe’ are defined as follows: lighthouses are places for the demonstration of solutions and of exemplary achievements, while living labs are collaborative R&I initiatives between multiple actors that experiment in laboratories on the ground (e.g. urban areas, forest sites or industrial settings) to find solutions to the problem of degrading soil, based on a jointly agreed objective(page 21)

The market for food in Africa is expanding rapidly, largely fueled by an increasing middle class. By 2030, food demand is projected to increase, bringing the size of Africa’s food and agribusiness to EUR 0.94 trillion119 and opening up employment opportunities all across food systems. (...) The African Development Bank estimates that Africa’s annual import bill of food will triple from EUR 35 billion in 2017 to about EUR 110 billion in 2025. (...) The need to strengthen the resilience of African food systems and actors is more important than ever in order to reduce the dependency on imports and increase food security by strengthening local production systems.
 (page 123)

The FAO estimates that one third of food is lost or wasted across the whole supply chain, and in Africa this food loss mostly occurs at the farm level (page 124)

The pathway ‘Food systems Africa’ is relevant to EU policies such as the EU Green and, in particular, the farm-to-fork, biodiversity and bioeconomy strategies. This pathway is part of the EU–AU R&I partnership on FNSSA, which was identified as the first priority of the AU–EU HLPD on Science, Technology and Innovation. It is pursuing a 10-year roadmap (2016–2026)130 with four priorities: (i) sustainable intensification, (ii) agriculture and food systems for nutrition, (iii) expansion and improvement of agricultural trade and markets and (iv) a group of cross-cutting topics. (...) The pathway is also closely related to the activities of SCAR, in particular the SCAR strategic working group on European agricultural research towards greater impact on global challenges.   (page 125)

In the context of societal challenge 2 of Horizon 2020 and cluster 6 of Horizon Europe, pages 129 and consecutive pages describe the range of thematic issues covered, identifies future R&I needed such as:
  • linking food-system-related enterprises with local and regional financial intermediaries to fund profitable and sustainable entrepreneurial ideas, eventually linking these to payment for ecosystem services as security for repayment of loans;
  • enabling healthy and sustainable food environments, including the use of local and forgotten food types and protein-rich crops (e.g. legumes) to promote healthy diets
  • boosting food processing by SMEs, ensuring food safety and observing sociocultural preferences, while taking into account regional innovation profiles and, if applicable, geographical indications;
and provides a summary of Food 2020 projects.
  • Inno Food Africa:  Locally-driven co-development of plant-based value chains towards more sustainable African food system with healthier diets and export potential 2020–2024, EUR 6.5 million  (Horizon 2020), RIA, Food 2030
  • Healthy Food Africa. Improving nutrition in Africa by strengthening the diversity, sustainability, resilience and connectivity of food systems 2020–2024, EUR 7 million (Horizon 2020), RIA, Food 2030
  • FOODLAND Food and Local, Agricultural, and Nutritional Diversity 2020–2024, EUR 7 million  (Horizon 2020), RIA, Food 2030
  • AfriFOOD-Links. Transforming Africa`s Urban Food  Environment through Strengthening Linkages beween Systems Stakeholders in Cities across the Continent and Europe 2022–2026, EUR 12 million  (Horizon Europe), RIA, Food 2030
  • INCiTiS-FOOD. Integrated and Circular Technologies for Sustainable city region FOOD systems in Africa 2023–2026, EUR 6 million  (Horizon Europe), RIA, Food 2030
  • Healthy Diets 4 Africa Combating malnutrition in Africa through diversification of the food system 2023–2028, EUR 10.3 million (Horizon Europe), RIA, Food 2030
  • LEAP-AGRI A long term EU–Africa research and innovation partnership on food and nutrition security and sustainable agriculture 2016–2022, EUR 9.2 million  (Horizon 2020), ERA-NET, Food 2030
  • FOSC Food System and Climate (FOSC): Assessing the impact of climate change on food and nutrition security and designing more sustainable and resilient food systems in Europe and beyond 2019–2024, EUR 5 million  (Horizon 2020), ERA-NET, Food 2030

Extracts of the programme:

5-6 December 2023
. Over 400 people from the Food 2030 community convened in Brussels to attend the high-level conference “Food 2030: Green and resilient food systems”, and over a thousand more followed it online.

The event, which represented an important milestone in the Food 2030 process, served to showcase promising Research and Innovation (R&I) outcomes contributing to sustainable food systems transformation in Europe and beyond. Furthermore, the conference provided a space for multi-stakeholder reflection and dialogue towards envisioning future R&I needs.

The conference constituted of 14 panel sessions, 4 keynote speeches, 4 high-level addresses, for a total of over 60 speakers.

05/12 CET International Partnerships - Breakout session 3: 

Moderator Leonard Mizzi (EC)
Hugo de Vries (INRAE)
Hugo de Vries, Research Director at INRAE and coordinator of the EU funded project ‘FOODPathS’ that is preparing the EU Sustainable Food Systems (SFS) partnership, shared his expertise and pivotal role in building up the Partnership, shedding light on the development of the international dimension of this critical collaboration. The European Partnership on Sustainable Food Systems enables to globally exchange on co-benefits and trade-offs of food system approaches. Multi-scale orchestration of food system approaches is the only sensible way to reach sustainable food systems globally and locally. A European Partnership on SFS is not inclusive if the rest of the world (players) is absent. 

Angelo Riccaboni (PRIMA)
Angelo Riccaboni, Chairman of the PRIMA Foundation, and an expert in fostering R&I partnerships, provided valuable insights into the water, agriculture and food systems nexus, emphasising how such partnerships can drive innovation, research, technology transfer, and capacity development on a global scale. Technological and organisational R&I are key to promote the transition towards more sustainable agrifood systems. To this purpose, in the Mediterranean area, greater attention should be given to the adoption of innovations by communities and SMEs. PRIMA is a successful example of R&I International Partnerships 31 fostering collaboration, exchange of knowledge and innovation in a critical area (i.e., the Mediterranean), based upon the principle of equal footing. Now more than ever, it is important to invest in cooperation and science diplomacy to find solutions able to address the common challenges we are facing, leaving no one behind. For solutions to be effective, more attention should be given to the nexus among water, energy, food and ecosystems. In fact, sustainable agrifood systems are essential to meet the global targets that the International Community has agreed upon in terms of climate change adaptation and mitigation, as well as for the implementation of Agenda 2030.

Irene Frempong (FARA)
Irene Annor-Frempong, Lead for the AU-EU FNSSA International Research Consortium, with her deep knowledge and contributions to the establishment of Food and Nutrition Security and Sustainable Agriculture (FNSSA) priorities, discussed the forthcoming AU-EU International Research Consortium (IRC) platform for FNSSA, highlighting the importance of international collaboration in addressing global challenges. 
  • The IRC will provide access to a large database of FNSSA projects, skills, and events to facilitate cross-country, crossdisciplinary, and cross-sectoral learning to bring results to the end-users. 
  • It will avoid unnecessary duplication, enhance scaling, improve targeting of R&I investments, facilitate effective governance of joint programmes, and catalyse higher impact. 
  • The IRC presents a two-way communication in the AU-EU science-policy interface and within the FNSSA partnership. It therefore affords easy partnering with institutions across Africa and Europe to bring results (i.e. practice) to policy. 
  • The IRC knowledge platform on AU-EU collaborations presents structural, practical, and participatory interaction between partners to promote joint funding opportunities on priority FNSSA topics and improve the contribution of projects to European and Africa development goals as well as to global targets e.g., SDGs. 

05/12 Global Food Systems governance and Science-Policy interfaces - Breakout session 6: 

  • Jacqueline Broerse (VUA)
  • Patrick Caron (CGIAR)
  • Stefanos Fotiou (FAO)

Film screening and debate 04/12

2,121,078 views YouTube; 10,000,000 views Netflix  #Climatecrisis #Documentary #EatingOurWaytoExtinction

Narrated by Kate Winslet, ‘Eating Our Way to Extinction,’ a Cinematic Feature Documentary addresses the elephant in the room that no one wants to talk about... Will we be the next species on the path toward extinction?

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