Regional living labs for agroecology
The session opened a conversation with regions on their role in scaling-up agroecology through a more synergistic use of EU funds and on their motivation to take part in forthcoming EU R&I activities.
Guillaume Cros (CoR) and Roberto Scalacci (ERIAFF) highlighted the potential of agroecology in delivering environmental and social benefits, the role that regions can play in enhancing it and the importance of cooperation. Stressing the role of agroecology in delivering the EU Green Deal, Farm to Fork and Biodiversity strategies, Kerstin Rosenow (EC) presented the partnership on agroecology living labs that the European Commission has proposed under Horizon Europe.
The regional examples showed interesting initiatives that combine the key ingredients for agroecology living labs: place-based cooperative approaches seeking impact at regional levels, science-supported co-development of practices with farmers, combination of hard and social sciences and smart use of various funding sources.
Take away message
Regions are willing to engage in research and innovation to scale-up agroecology: 90% of participants are willing to explore future cooperation opportunities in this field.
Motivations include contributing to enhanced resilience and greater environmental and social performance of food & farming regionally. Enabling conditions include a real role for regions in the implementation of future funding streams (including the CAP) and simple and flexible enough frameworks for participation and cooperation.
I reiterate the importance of increasing our knowledge on agroecological practices to help farmers in this necessary transition. Supporting a network of living labs and ensuring knowledge exchange on agroecological approaches via European platforms, such as EIP-AGRI, is essential to accelerate the agroecological transition (Guillaume Cros).
We see a role for regions in facilitating the creation of those spaces where co-creation among all relevant actors can take place (living labs), and in embedding them in the local innovation ecosystem (Kerstin Rosenow).
Agroecology is a broad concept that needs to be translated and adapted to the wide diversity of agricultural and rural contexts in Europe. (Roberto Scalacci)