Jeroen Dijkman presented a keynote address at a major environmental symposium in the Netherlands on behalf of the Global Research Alliance on Agricultural Greenhouse Gases.
The 8th International Symposium on Non-CO2 Greenhouse Gases (NCGG8), entitled “Global Challenges and Local Solutions”, was held in Amsterdam on 12-14 June. It brought together scientists, experts, decision-makers and stakeholders in the field of climate change with a view to supporting the development of technologies and policies to reduce global warming due to non-CO2 greenhouse gases.
The symposium was held in conjunction with the 2nd Research Programme Meeting of FACCE ERA-GAS, which brought together coordinators and partners of ten research projects.
ERA-GAS is a European initiative to strengthen the transnational coordination of research programmes and provide added value to research and innovation on greenhouse gas (GHG) mitigation. It covers aspects of monitoring and mitigation of agricultural GHGs.
New Zealand funds contribute to five ERA-GAS projects and that contribution was represented in symposium presentations on the METHLAB project (refining direct-fed microbials and silage inoculants for the reduction of methane emissions from ruminants) and RumenPredict (predicting appropriate GHG mitigation strategies based on modelling variables that contribute to ruminant environmental impact).
Dr Dijkman’s keynote address was entitled Public agricultural research in an era of transformation: The challenge of agri-food system innovation.
In it, he said that with the endorsement of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs – see footnote), society has issued an urgent call to ensure that agri-food systems deliver across the full spectrum of economic growth, social inclusion and environmental sustainability objectives. This broadens the scope of the change processes that society needs to engage with significantly and places new demands on research.
The emphasis on renewing systems that is central to the SDGs requires major changes across multiple levels and at multiple scales ranging from the introduction of new technologies and practices in businesses and homes, to the adoption of new societal values and regulatory and policy environments.
Such change was illustrated by using the example of the salmon industry in Chile. In developments spanning over 40 years, this sector saw large public-sector investments in technology transfer and infrastructure followed by a private sector-led expansion phase that made Chile one of the world’s largest exporters of salmon. The high social and environmental cost incurred as a result of this transformation, stimulated a subsequent phase in response to new societal values where new capacities were built and innovation transitioned the sector to more sustainable and inclusive areas of development.
Dr Dijkman said the contemporary development era, framed by the SDGs, also coincides with the emergence of a more engaged public that has expectations and increasing political voice to define new development directions and the acceptability of technology.
Engaging with these new dynamics in a way that best contributes to the aspirations for inclusive and sustainable agri-food systems means that public agricultural research organisations need to consider four key issues:
- Adopting a scaling and impact perspective that involves reconfiguration of systems as well as component parts
- Linkages to multi-stakeholder alliances aligned to sustainability
- Engaging society to define new development directions and the acceptability of technology
- Safeguarding the balance among the social, environmental and economic contributions of innovation
Refer link Sustainable Development Goals at the United Nations