» Enhancing Food System Resilience | London, United Kingdom, 7-8 December 2021 and 5-6 April 2022
Food systems are complex and food system research links agriculture research with many disciplines. The conference has a multidisciplinary set up and will be structured around four key questions: (i) on what the resilience of food systems have to be oriented, (ii) to which threats food systems have to be resilient, (iii) who would benefit from an increased resilience and (iv) over what time frame this resilience should be organised. It will also question, from a policy viewpoint, the degree to which enhancing food system resilience needs to be based on negotiating resilience between different actors in the system rather than implementing a system-wide intervention. Addressing these topics needs to place agricultural and other interventions in a broader construct.
COVID-19 has brought into sharp focus risks to the food security and the negative impact for many. The UN World Food Programme warned that an estimated 265 million people would be facing acute food insecurity by the end of 2020, up from 135 million people before the crisis, because of income and remittance losses. COVID-19, coupled with other shocks and stresses to food security such as climate change and potential alterations in trade arrangements, has greatly heightened societal-level concerns about the resilience of the food system which underpins food security. The food systems framework explicitly recognises food consumers as key actors in the food system. This is important as new framings of food security (FAO HLPE) have included agency as a new dimension of food security, along with the traditional availability, accessibility, utilisation and stability dimensions. Empowering consumers, enhancing agency, particularly those less well endowed, is a promising strategy in improving food security for all. The food systems framework and resilience framing cycle provide a pathway for governments and the private sector to ensure their interventions leave no one behind.
» Forecasting and managing multi-risks in Mediterranean, temperate and boreal forests: comparison between North-American and European approaches | Bordeaux, France, 4-6 July 2022 (initially planned on 1-3 December 2021)
This workshop will draw together the current of knowledge on multi-risks in forests and the research perspectives that will help reduce exposure and vulnerability of forests to risks. North-American and European forests provide a wide range of economic and social benefits to humankind. These include contributions to the overall economy – for example through employment, processing and trade of forest products and energy – and investments in the forest sector. They also include the protection of sites and landscapes of high cultural, spiritual or recreational value. Maintaining and enhancing these functions is an integral part of sustainable forest management. Forests have experienced an intensification in disturbances in recent years, such as fires, insect outbreaks and windthrows. Significant advances have been made in understanding natural disturbances taken individually. Survey devices and strategies for risk mitigation have been developed for fire, diseases or windthrows. However multi-risks approaches remain incomplete, despite disturbances often being successive and that some disturbances increase susceptibility to other disturbances. Not only do calamities add up, but they also change in scale as with mega-fires and large pest outbreaks. This workshop is designed to bring together scientists and stakeholders to highlight different scientific problematics related to risk prevention and mitigation based on the issues raised by forest stakeholders. In particular, new public policies in multi-risks management would imply the implementation of devices for risks monitoring and alert. This also requires understanding the decision making process in risk management with its behavioural and economic dimensions.
» Overcoming the barriers to adoption of microbial bioherbicides | Bellagio or Bari, Italy, 21-25 September 2021 - Postponed to September 2022
In the societal context of agriculture, non-chemical methods in crop protection are gaining importance, particularly as the use of synthetic chemicals is aimed to be substantially reduced in various regions of the world. Thus, biological plant protection is gaining importance, within which weed biocontrol is less applied than other biocontrol agents. Considering this, along with the facts that numerous herbicide active ingredients have been banned or withdrawn in several countries worldwide and no herbicides with new modes of action have been introduced during the last two decades, biological means of weed control are important to be surveyed, summarized and assessed. This workshop will bring together leading experts in biocontrol, plant physiology, microbiology, molecular biology and formulation technology to discuss potentials and perspectives of weed biocontrol, promising to be a good and effective dialogue among research specialists and policy-makers, and is intended to identify the critical technical problems and to propose solutions to overcome them, as well as to help regulatory boards and political bodies in taking proper science-based decisions about the use of microbial bioherbicides. It is, therefore, of particular interest to the OECD Expert Group on Biopesticides, which focuses on, among other things, developing methodologies and guidance to assess the safety of biological pesticides, including microbials, and identifying impediments in the registration process for both companies developing biocontrol products and governments regulating such products.
» From Barcodes to Bushels; Bridging the gap between gene banks and crop improvement | Gaterslaben, Germany, 17-20 October 2022 (initially planned on 11-14 October 2021)
This workshop is a one-time event, designed as a small group to explore solutions for improving sequence data management. Obviously, given the current DNA sequencing technologies and the ensuing trend in accumulation of sequence data, the issues regarding data organisation, quality control, annotation and interpretation become a priority. This workshop explore how improving data generation and data management practices related to crop diversity will impact all aspects of gene bank management including increased effectiveness of conservation priorities, more precise validation of identity and integrity, and more accurate estimation and prediction of genetic value. These improvements rely on the use of community standards and methods that facilitate data integration, based on exemplar projects that have been implemented in a few major crops. One of the aims of the workshop is therefore to attempt to developing a set of standard sampling and data management practices, so that gene banks will become more efficient at conservation, better able to deliver this diversity to national and international stakeholders and more able to engage as partners in research focused on food security and sustainability. Additionally, best practices related to “non-monetary forms of fair and equitable benefit sharing” as outlined in International Treaties, such as the Convention on Biological Diversity, the Nagoya Protocol and the International Treaty for Plant Genetic Resources in Food and Agriculture will be identified.
» International workshop on innovative hydrothermal systems to valorize agricultural residuals: Roadmap towards implementation - achievements and barriers taking place | Seoul, Korea, Postponed to 2023 (initially planned on 8-9 November 2021)
The aim of the workshop is to develop a roadmap for the implementation of hydrothermal technology in agricultural production systems to improve material use and recycling of agricultural wastes and residuals as well as surplus biomass. Many years of research have shown that hydrothermal technology can produce value-added products from agricultural materials, such as biomass, wastes and residuals (subsequently denoted as residuals for simplicity). It is potentially beneficial in recycling organic carbon and nutrients from plant and animal residuals to agricultural land, developing economic opportunities in rural areas for businesses valorising residuals, and avoiding negative health and environmental impacts from wet organic residuals. Developing hydrothermal carbonisation systems is one of the solutions to remedy agricultural waste and residuals releasing excess nutrients and pollutants in the environment, which are a problem for the sustainable production of food. The roadmap this workshop will produce will help resolve the many hurdles that exist to implementing both technological and policy systems for this technology.
This workshop will provide concrete examples of how plant health is essential to the health of individuals and societies, and will be a key step in developing synthetic knowledge of plant health globally. It will be an important step of the Global Plant Health Assessment (GPHA) initiated by the International Society of Plant Pathology (ISPP) in 2020, International Year of Plant Health. The workshop is an essential step in developing synthetic knowledge of plant health globally, which will include a description of the impact of plant diseases on the ecosystem services generated by important plant systems in the world. It will bring together members of the GPHA co-ordination group and the lead scientists of each PlantSystem-Ecoregion considered to analyse reports already commissioned and assemble them into a collective synthesis in order for policy recommendations to be developed. It will deliver, for the first time, information of plant health across regions and systems, thereby helping policy makers to set priorities in targeting practices to improve plant health.
» First Conference on Farmer Centric On-farm Experimentation—Digital Tools for a Scalable Transformative Pathway | Montpellier, France, 13-15 October 2021
Technological innovations in agriculture, developed in a mainly top-down approach by the scientific community, are hardly adopted by many farmers. This conference aims to look how on-farm experimentation could bridge this gap. The organisers will hold four virtual workshops to prepare for the main conference on: how ‘on-farm experimentation’ can create value, how this value can be shared and what are the needs for legitimate arrangements to protect intellectual property; the technology fallacy exploring various examples of scalable changes offered by on-farm experimentation towards systemic goals of efficiency, profitability and environmental protection; the opportunity of on-farm experimentation with big data and agricultural analytics to position farmers in the centre of this digital evolution; and policy legislation and investment to support transformation by ‘on-farm experimentation’. The conference itself will discuss and synthesise the results of these virtual workshops with the aims of: congregating, exhibiting and expanding the international network around on-farm experimentation with farmers, researchers, policy, economic specialists; developing scientific, social guidelines and skills in relation to on-farm experimentation; identifying resources and tools to facilitate on-farm experimentation; and advising policy makers.
» Agriculture as an Actor of Social Inclusion (AGASI) | Nitra, Slovak Republic, 14-15 October 2021
The aim of the conference is to draw the attention of politicians and decision-makers at various levels to the effects that social farming could bring. This issue concerns primarily, but not only, the domains of social affairs, social economy, employment and agriculture. The debate on policy issues that are to be addressed during the conference will contribute to national scientific and public debate. This will be the first international conference on social farming in the Slovak Republic. Its participants will discuss development of policies creating conditions for social farming. It will contribute to the scientific and public debate on forms, effects, added value of social farming, etc. This should help in the process of incorporating social farming into the social economy, social system and agricultural and regional policy of the state. Social farming and gardening could help in inclusion of different groups of disadvantaged people into society. It could bring innovative therapy, education and leisure activities and additional income for farmers.