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Plovdiv FOOD 2030 Declaration .

Future-proofing our food systems through Research and Innovation

On the occasion of the Bulgarian Presidency Flagship conference ‘FOOD 2030 Research and Innovation for Food and Nutrition Security – Transforming our Food System’ in Plovdiv on 14-15 June 2018, stakeholders from research and innovation, agriculture, food and nutrition, business, NGOs and government gathered to discuss the common challenges that Europe is facing in future-proofing our food systems. With this Declaration we call on the European Commission and Member States to further promote and strengthen Research and Innovation policy, and application thereof, to future-proof our food systems with the aim of making our food systems sustainable, resilient, responsible, diverse, competitive and inclusive. We believe the conditions are now right for a new level of ambition for Research and Innovation in both the EU and Member States, and to convene actors around an evidence-based and systemic approach to drive food system transformation.

Future-proofing our food systems will have important positive effect on Europeans in terms of healthier lives, cultural and societal benefits for urban and rural communities, cleaner environment, more sustainable production and consumption, lower import dependency and more vibrant enterprises.

We therefore call on European Institutions, EU Member States and their R&I Funding and Performing Organisations, Regional and Local Authorities, business and civil society to coordinate and complement their objectives across all relevant policies and activities, in shaping the future of national and EU funding instruments, to promote FOOD 2030 as policy framework and engagement process within the Framework Programme for R&I, CAP and ESIF, by:

  1. Fostering and implementing systemic and holistic approaches to future-proof our food systems, in order to address the root causes of their current unsatisfactory outcomes
  2. Strengthening EU, national and sub-national R&I policy coherence and alignment
  3. Boosting R&I investment, market uptake of research results and societal acceptability based on a whole food system approach
  4. Improving data gathering and monitoring and measuring R&I output and impact for sound policies and solutions
  5. Fostering societal awareness raising, science education and skills building to form the next generation of responsible scientists, researchers, innovators and businesses.
Rationale: Threats to Food and Nutrition Security

Food is essential for all human beings. Global peace and stability are largely underpinned by the ability to provide healthy diets for all. However, ensuring sustainable Food and Nutrition Security in a changing world is becoming increasingly challenging and urgent. This is due to the combined effects of increasing natural resource scarcity and environmental degradation (including loss of biodiversity), climate change and the need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, changing demographics and wealth, migration and geopolitical instabilities. The projected need for a 60 percent increase in food to feed a global population approaching 10 billion by 2050, coupled with a growing appetite for animal-sourced protein and higher caloric diets, will dramatically increase pressure on the natural resource base upon which our food security depends. Furthermore, our current food systems are impacting human health: rising obesity-related malnutrition and associated non-communicable diseases are leading to a considerable loss in healthy life years and placing ever higher costs on public health systems.

The need for a systemic transformation

These trends make it clear that we cannot continue to adopt a ‘business as usual’ approach if we are to develop and implement sustainable and resilient solutions to mitigate and adapt to the challenges and deliver on EU policy priorities1, Paris Agreement COP Climate commitments and the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDG). Ensuring Food and Nutrition Security in the long-term will require a societal-level and systemic transformation of our current-day, predominantly short-term, profit-driven and unsustainable food systems. This will also necessitate the transformation of education and training, and an overall change in consumption patterns and behaviour of European citizens. This will require adapted education, training and skills building to underpin the needed culture change.

Transforming our food systems is an opportunity for building new and stronger partnerships and developing improved approaches, technologies and business models that concurrently place environmental sustainability, health and inclusion at their centre. This can be achieved by, for example, fostering place-based innovative food systems in rural and urban areas that provide job opportunities, prosperity, a wellbeing and empower communities.

FOOD 2030 Priorities for Food System Transformation

EU Research and Innovation (R&I) policy has been a driver in developing novel solutions primarily to improve food production. However, the EU now needs to take a further step to become a driver of food system innovation, not only within Europe but also worldwide. Our food systems need to be transformed to place societal health and the environment at their centre, so we can take more informed and better decisions driven by sustainability, resilience and equity. FOOD 2030 provides an EU R&I policy framework in response to the SDG2 and EU priorities3. It aims to connect, scale-up and boost research and innovation to drive sustainable food system transformation in Europe, and beyond. By linking land and sea, ‘farm-to-fork to gut and back’, and consumers to producers , FOOD 2030 aims to provide solutions to four overarching priorities4:

  • Nutrition for sustainable and healthy diets
  • Climate-smart and environmentally sustainable food systems
  • Circularity and resource efficiency
  • Innovation and empowerment of communities

These priorities are addressed by catalysing and supporting research breakthroughs, public and private investments, open science, and increased global cooperation. They are facilitated by the intersection and convergence of researchers, innovators, business, policy makers and civil society. FOOD 2030 focuses heavily on research alignment, inter and trans-disciplinarity, multi-actor and public engagement, education and skills, scale-up, digitisation, and open innovation.

Call for Action

In particular, we see opportunities for R&I to:

  1. Increase adoption of healthy and sustainable diets and reduce obesity and other aspects of malnutrition
  2. Improve access for all to healthy and nutritious foods
  3. Increase climate resilience of food systems through improved management practices, technologies and business models throughout the value chain
  4. Decrease the greenhouse gas and environmental footprint of food systems, including the use of fossil-fuel based inputs
  5. Reduce food losses and waste by 50 % by 2030
  6. Ensure primary producers have equal and good access to knowledge, innovative practices and affordable technologies by 2030 that favour biodiversity and crop diversity at farm level and beyond
  7. Stimulate European regions and cities to implement novel solutions and showcase good practices
  8. Strengthen multi-actor dialogue and build-up ‘public-private-people partnerships’ that unite industry, researchers, public authorities and citizens to co-create place-based as well as globally relevant solutions
  9. Increase public engagement, awareness, education, skills and capacity building for food systems transformation

We, the participants in the conference and interested stakeholders, firmly believe that taking these actions will lead to the establishment of coherent research and innovation programs in response to recent international political drivers, such as the UN SDGs, the COP 21 climate commitments and the EU priorities.

1* Common Agricultural Policy, Common Fisheries Policy, General EU Food Law and Food Safety policies, EU Health and Environment policies, etc.

2* Next steps for a sustainable European future: European action for sustainability, SWD(2016) 390

3* Including: jobs and growth, energy and climate change, EU as global actor, democratic change, etc.

4* European Research & Innovation for Food and Nutrition Security, SWD(2016)319

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