Brussels, 10th June 2010
Europe launches major joint research effort to ensure food security in the face of climate change and rising demand
Twelve top scientists will meet in Paris today to prepare a European–level work programme to coordinate nationally funded research aimed at securing a safe and sustainable food supply. This is the first meeting of the Scientific Advisory Board for the EU Joint Programming Initiative (JPI) on Agriculture, Food Security and Climate Change. This initiative involves twenty European countries overall and is jointly led by France, through its National Institute for Agricultural Research (INRA) and the UK, through the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC). It will bring together researchers, improve the effectiveness of national funding totalling over a billion euro annually, share existing research results and coordinate future work to avoid duplication and maximise value for money. The European Commission helped to shape and prepare the JPI that is being launched today and on 28 April put it on a formal footing by adopting a Recommendation. The Commission will also contribute about € 2 million.
European Commissioner for Research, Innovation and Science, Máire Geoghegan-Quinn says: "Food security is a stark matter of life and death and without it there is no other kind of security. Quite rightly, billions of euro are being invested by public and private sector in tackling this huge challenge. But no one Member State can succeed on its own. We can only get full value for public research funds by working together. This Joint Programming Initiative will help replace fragmentation and duplication with coherence and coordination and will therefore be a major contribution to the Europe 2020 Strategy."
Joint Programming aims at bringing together Member States in close cooperation to define, develop and implement common strategic research agendas in the fields that matter most to Europe's quality of life and prosperity. Today, less than 15% of public civil research is coordinated at the European level. Only about 5% of public research funding is channelled through the EU budget, but the Commission is committed to doing everything it can to contribute to improving coordination of the other 95%.
The JPI on Agriculture, Food Security and Climate Change aims at targeting joint research to achieve a shared vision: to secure a safe and sustainable food supply, whilst reducing the impact of agriculture on climate change. As well as the French and British coordinators (see above), it involves Austria, Czech Republic, Cyprus, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, Israel, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Romania, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden and Turkey.
The meeting in Paris at INRA headquarters gathers 12 top scientists1 including two from the US and aims to fix the scientific research agenda of the JPI by the end of the year. The Scientific Advisory Board will also formally elect its Chair for the next two years.
JPIs also provide Europe's partners with "a single voice" to which they can talk.
On 28 April 2010 the Commission published a Recommendation which launched the Joint Programming Initiative on 'Agriculture, food security and climate change', bringing together 20 European countries. The Recommendation also committed the Commission to contributing to the JPI by supporting its secretariat and Scientific Advisory Board.
The JPI will complement existing work at EU level. Through its own Framework Programme for Research, the European Commission has over the last five years provided some €300 million for joint projects in the areas covered by the JPI. In addition 12 ERA-NET schemes are networking national European research programmes in the same areas: see http://netwatch.jrc.ec.europa.eu/nw/.
Climate change is among the main challenges to agriculture's ability to feed the world's population, projected to reach nine billion by 2050. This will increase food demand by 50% by 2030, just when demand for biomass for non-food purposes (e.g. biofuels) is predicted to grow strongly.
In addition to attempting to cope with higher temperatures, water shortages and unpredictable climate conditions, agriculture will also have to find ways of reducing its emissions which account for roughly 14% of global greenhouse gas emissions.
Challenges such as those linked with agriculture, food and climate change are of a European and often global scale. Total annual public investment in these areas in Europe is about €1.3 billion.
In addition to the one presented today, three other JPIs are currently making steady progress towards addressing other major societal challenges:
A pilot one on Neurodegenerative diseases should soon adopt its first actions following a meeting of its Scientific Advisory Board in April 2010 (see IP/10/431)
Fifty top European scientists will meet in June 2010 to define a common vision for the JPI "A healthy Diet for a healthy Life"
The JPI on "Cultural Heritage and Global Change" is building on the foundations laid by the NET-HERITAGE action
More details at:
Kenneth Cassman, Elias Fereres, Stephen P. Long, Frits Mohren, Bernd Müller-Röber, Pirjo Peltonen-Sainio, John R. Porter, Johan Rockström, Thomas Rosswall, Jean-François Soussana, Henning Steinfeld, Joachim von Braun