In recent decades human impacts on the environment have emerged as a serious concern. Though climate change is receiving the most public attention, there are many other factors that threaten ecosystems [including agriculture itself] and that have an adverse effect on agriculture, forests and fisheries.
To enable agriculture to cope with a range of complex and interlinked challenges, such as rapidly increasing globalisation, climate change and unsustainable consumption of natural resources, the development of clear futures scenarios are important in ensuring that the right questions are asked.
In that perspective, the SCAR launched a wide foresight process aiming at identifying possible scenarios for European agriculture in a 20-year perspective, to be used in the identification of priority research needs for the medium and long term. This foresight process was strongly encouraged by the by the informal meeting of EU Council in Krems on 28-30 May 2006.
B. Foresight Expert Group
An expert group has been appointed to synthesise the existing analytical and foresight material in relation eight “major driving forces” for agriculture in Europe and has issued a foresight paper on each area:
The analysis of these major driving forces and their possible interactions led to the identification of four futures scenarios [Climate Shock, Energy Crisis, Food crisis, Cooperation with nature] illustrated in a synthesis paper
The scenarios flowing out of the above process should be used, both at the European and national level, to define better policies and to build a medium to long-term research agenda for European agriculture that is sufficiently robust and evidence-based.
The reports from the Expert Group were disseminated among relevant stakeholders and discussed, together with other foresight exercises, in a Workshop on "Foresight to Set Long-Term European Agricultural Research Priorities",
which was held in Stockholm
on 29-30 March 2007
and gathered around 60 participants.
The views expressed and conclusions drawn
71 kb] during the workshop were used, along with other stakeholder consultation, in preparing input for the Conference "Towards Future Challenges of Agricultural Research in Europe"
934 kb] held in Brussels
on 26-27 June 2007
with wide participation from science [agriculture and foresight] and policy. This conference focussed on the areas where research could contribute to help agriculture to face future challenges.
D. The establishment of a Foresight Monitoring Mechanism
Building on the conclusions of the Conference, the SCAR decided to establish a Foresight Monitoring Mechanism aiming at providing early signals and warnings about emerging and new problems at regular intervals. The mechanism has to be supported over time to deliver useful insight about possible changes as early as possible. As a first step, a “Consultancy Expert Group ”
15 kb] has been appointed by the Commission to gather , analyse and synthesise information in order to provide research policy orientations .
The CEG group finished its work in December 2008. They made a report
3.4 mb] that is based on a scanning of foresight studies and reviews of challenges to European agriculture in a global context as well as an analysis of priority areas.
Third Foresight Expert Group's (FEG3) Report is currently under finalisation. The Draft Final Report is available: "Sustainable food consumption and production in a resource-constrained world".
The contributors were: Annette Freibauer (chair), Erik Mathijs (rapporteur), Gianluca Brunori, Zoya Damianova, Elie Faroult, Joan Girona i Gomis, Lance O´Brien, Sebastien Treyer (experts).
F. The European Commission, DG Research and Innovation under the auspices of the Hungarian Presidency, organized the conference "Transition towards sustainable food consumption and production in a resource constrained world"
in Budapest on 4-5 May 2011
The description of the conference and the proceedings are available on the conference website
, which is continuously updated.