ESAD: Multi-stakeholder platform on the future of EU agricultural R&I

To help shape the future of public agricultural research and innovation in the EU, IEEP has created a dialogue platform bringing together key stakeholders from diverse sectors and interest groups.

Focusing on the EU’s research and innovation (R&I) programme Horizon Europe, and its predecessor Horizon 2020, the aim of the European Sustainable Agriculture Dialogue (ESAD) is to provide evidence on how public agricultural R&I can effectively support the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals and the EU’s key post-2020 environmental objectives.

Created in 2019, ESAD brings together more than 35 key actors from the industry, civil society, universities, and research centres to discuss key topics, exchange views and standpoints, and ultimately shape decisions towards sustainable agriculture.

To bring a national perspective to the discussions, the platform is mirrored in four EU Member States – Germany, France, Poland and Italy. The unique feature of ESAD is that it provides opportunities for diverse stakeholders to exchange their sometimes conflicting interests and perspectives.

What role for Horizon Europe?

To date, the platform has focused on four key areas where it has identified research gaps: soil health and soil quality, protein transition, supply chains, and sustainable crop protection.

The research needs identified for the four areas demonstrate how Horizon Europe could leverage investment for innovative ways to implement and optimise systems and increase new research efforts in agriculture to deliver more sustainable food systems.

ESAD's woak has shown that, in the framework of the EU’s climate and environmental strategies and in preparation for the EU recovery plan, public funding for research & innovation should become a priority for the EU, in addition to securing joint funding support through public and private partnerships to leverage private investments that deliver public goods.

Below is a selection of briefings produced by external authors, with support by some of the ESAD members. Please note that the individual publications do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of any of the members but only those of the authors.

The future of sustainable agriculture: Where can European research and innovation take it next?

This synthesis paper provides an overview of the four identified topics, summarising the research focus to date and the key research gaps and needs of each area to be addressed in future research programmes to deliver more sustainable food systems.

Authors: Nora Hiller, Ben Allen and Jean-François Hulot (IEEP)

Identifying research needs for a sustainable EU protein transition

This briefing seeks to identify research needs for a European protein transition from the different angles of the debate.

Authors: Elise Hubert, Pierre-Marie Aubert and William Loveluck (IDDRI)

Identifying sustainable supply chains: Is shortening the answer?

This briefing provides a review of the research focus on short food supply chains and emphasises research needs to make advances sustainable and resilient.

Authors: Yuna Chiffoleau and Tara Dourian (INRAE)

Soil: Research needs to enhance soil quality and health

This briefing explores the recent research focus shift towards soil multifunctionality and corresponding research needs to enhance soil quality and health.

Authors: Paul Mäder and Else Bünemann (FiBL)

Sustainable crop protection: Background material for the ESAD platform

This briefing informs of the advanced integration of sustainable crop protection in the context of agricultural systems in the current research context and points to the research gaps including monitoring tools and plant resilience and diversity.

Author: Elisabet Nadeu (RISE Foundation)