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Newsletter February 2015

Food for the future. Sustainable food systems via European networking.

The European SUSFOOD project coordinated European research to achieve more sustainable food production and consumption.

SUSFOODAccording to the European Commission’s “Europe 2020 strategy”, the vision for the European Union is to achieve a sustainable future, to ensure more jobs and better lives. Some of the key elements for the future of Europe are sustainability, innovation, economic growth and competitiveness, a high employment rate and societal and territorial cohesion. The grand challenges that Europe is facing require sustainable solutions in areas such as: (1) Food security to ensure enough food for the world´s growing population, (2) Sustainable food production to address the constrained supplies of energy, water, natural resources and the issue of climate change, (3) Knowledge transfer between all stakeholders to support uptake and use of innovative approaches, (4) Food and health to improve and guarantee the quality of life of an ageing society, (5) Change of markets and approaches to new economy to move towards a more resilient and sustainable food economy and (6) Managing the food demand to contribute to food security. The ERA-Net SUSFOOD proposed a way to coordinate and establish transnational activities within this area ranging from primary production (post-harvest) to consumption of food.

The partnership, representing 25 institutions from 16 countries, aimed to support food-related research as well as the research and innovation communities who work on food chain sustainability beyond the farm gate. It took account of existing pre-farm gate initiatives and addresses three main domains: 1) valorisation of food and food products, 2) engineering the food chain for resource efficiency and 3) consumer preferences and behaviour. It specifically focused on understanding how food demand can be managed, which is a challenge for the entire food system.

The SUSFOOD partners constructed an overview of the existing research, launched transnational calls for proposals and developed a transnational research agenda. This strategic research agenda, based on identification of priorities, gaps and opportunities in European food research programmes, promoted an inter-disciplinary approach including social sciences and included the competitiveness and innovation perspective. This project is a long term contribution to structuring the European Research Area thanks to establishment of a common vision on agricultural and food research with a post-harvest focus, and uptake activities for bringing the experience, methods and tools gained by SUSFOOD into use throughout and beyond Europe including non-participating countries. To map the European research and to offer to its research community an open forum and a partnering tool, SUSFOOD partners ILVO and DASTI (DK) launched an open web based archive, the Meta Knowledge Base (MKB). By cross-analysing the data, the MKB provided a mapping of the current state of the scientific research landscape (institutions, research programmes and research projects) in Europe to increase the sustainability of food systems from production to consumption. A current state of art of these results were published by ILVO in the SUSFOOD Country Report.

SUSFOOD launched two calls for proposals: a first call in 2013 of which 9 of 98 submitted pre-proposals were funded for a total amount of €10 M. And a second call in 2014 for €7.6 M in which 6 projects will be funded.

A second SUSFOOD project has been submitted for launch in 2017.

More info

susfoodTitle: SUSFOOD: ERA-Net on sustainable food production and consumption
Funding: EC, FP7
Term: December 2011 - November2014
Partners: 28 Partners: FR: INRA, ANR, ACTIA en FDNC (associated partner) - DE: BLE, BMELV, PTJ Jülich en BMBF (associated partner) - DK: DASTI en UCPH - SE: FORMAS - ES: INFO MURCIA, INIA,ELIKA en FDNC (associated partner) - BE: ILVO en IWT (associated partner) - FI: MTT en MMM - NL: EZ - IT: MIPAAF - SL: MIZS - PO: NCBiR - NO: RCN - TR: GDAR - UK: DEFRA en TSB - RO: UEFISCDI
Contact: Katrien Broekaert, Hendrik De Ruyck, Lieve Herman