Using science for
Global population currently stands at 6 billion and estimates
point to that figure rising to 7.5 billion by 2020.
Almost all population growth over this period will be in
developing countries and these changes will put even more
pressure on ecosystems as people try to find ways to increase
food production levels. The challenge is to produce more
food without stripping the Earth of its resources as, realistically,
there is very little new land available that can be turned
over to farming. Most increases in production must be found
from land that is currently used for agricultural purposes,
while avoiding the problems caused by overuse of pesticides,
soil degradation, and inefficient use of water supplies.
Improvements in efficiency will come from better management
practices and by optimising the use of land and aquatic
resources so they fit as well as possible with local climate,
terroir and need. Science can also help as advances in life
sciences and biotechnologies can be used in many different
ways to improve production levels and to solve problems
that hamper sustainable farming and fishing activities.
At the very least, they can shed new light on the global
consequences of anthropomorphic practices in a systematic
Projects for change
While the conference examines the future use of these sciences
and how they can help the developing world, this catalogue
already offers some excellent examples of success.
The chosen projects meet at least one of the seven challenges
chosen for debate at the conference:
All the projects are part-run or part-funded by the European
Union (EU), with the active involvement of a number of Directorates-General.
Many of the projects come under the wing of the Research
DG’s international co-operation (INCO) programmes,
but other Directorates-General are also heavily involved
such as Development DG and EuropeAid.