The European transnational research cooperation project, consists of a network of 25 partners from 16 European countries. SUSFOOD aims at placing sustainable food research high on national agendas and on the agenda of Horizon 2020. The SUSFOOD scope is divided into 4 domains (Valorisation of food and food products, Engineering of the food production chain/system, Consumer preferences and behaviour, Holistic view – Link dimensions) and more subdomains encompassing a broad aspect on sustainable food.
THE FRENCH NATIONAL INSTITUTE FOR AGRICULTURAL RESEARCH - FranceLead applicant
In today’s complex climatic, demographic and energy context, agricultural research must deal with major issues on various scales. Preparing worldwide food availability and security by 2050, reducing greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture, and promoting alternative agricultural and forestry practices that can respond to non-reversible climate change are challenges the entire world must face. Some of the many underlying concerns that must be tackled include understanding individual behaviour on a regional or market level; studying the relationships between plant, animal and human health; researching new ways of producing energy and materials from agricultural sources; and limiting overall environmental impacts. To deal with these issues, the French National Institute for Agricultural Research (INRA) produces scientific knowledge and works for economic and social innovation in the areas of food, agriculture and the environment.
Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, Finland - FinlandInitiative partner
The Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry steers the policy on sustainable use of natural resources. Legislative work is carried out as part of the Finnish Government and the EU institutions and decision-making. Renewable natural resources derive from the renewal capacity of the nature itself. Among other things, they comprise all plants and animals. According to the principle of sustainable development, renewable natural resources must be used so that their value is preserved for the future: meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.
Ministry of Agriculture, Estonia - EstoniaInitiative partner
The area of government of the Ministry of Agriculture covers the planning and implementation of rural policy, agricultural policy, fishing industry of the fisheries policy and the trade policy of agricultural products, the organisation of ensuring food safety and compliance, the coordination of the activities related to animal health and protection and plant health and protection, the organisation of agricultural research and development and agricultural education and the preparation of corresponding draft legislation. The tasks and objectives of the Ministry of Agriculture arise from the Statutes of the Ministry.
Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture, Germany - GermanyInitiative partner
MEL research is closely linked to the future-centric topics climate protection, renewable resources and feeding the global population. One of the main goals is to protect the natural environment through sustainable agricultural production. At the same time, perspectives are to be created for rural areas. Last but not least food safety and a healthy diet are other important research topics.
The French National Research Agency - FranceInitiative partner
The National Research Agency is responsible for the implementation of research funding on projects in France. A mode of competitive selection, based on international standards, the agency is committed to: 1.Contribute to the development of science and technology 2.Fostering creativity, the deregulation, the emergence and partnerships 3.Focus research efforts on economic and societal priorities defined at the highest level of the State and in consultation with other stakeholders in research 4.Encourage interaction between disciplines 5.Strengthen public-private links.
SUSFOOD aims at setting up a European strategic research agenda by increasing cooperation and synergy between the European partners. SUSFOOD will enhance collaboration and coordination between research programmes on sustainable food production and consumption. The strategic goal of SUSFOOD is to reinforce the scientific cooperation between EU member and associated states in order to maximise the contribution of research to the development of food systems aiming at more sustainability from production to consumption.
The project is expected to have positive impacts on European research by improving the partnerships between the countries, but also thanks to a good detection of research gaps. It will lead to a better synergy between research activities. To achieve its objectives, the consortium has developed an efficient framework with concrete actions following a strategy based on three points:
1. Construct an overview of the existing research (open web based archive,formulating synergies, gaps and overlaps in European research...)
2. Develop a transnational strategic research agenda (SRA) ( key research priorities, sustainable food production and consumption, transnational calls to deepen the cooperation between national research programmes...)
3. Develop instruments, mechanisms and processes to enable joint transnational activities (instruments, mechanisms and processes needed to implement transnational funding activities...).
The European food and drink industry is the largest manufacturing sector in Europe. Despite its prominent position, globalisation has increased the pressure on all aspects of this sector. A competitive industry must play an important part in driving the EU towards becoming the most competitive, knowledge-based economy in the world. The food and drink industry puts sustainable growth at the heart of its business model. It does so because of the relationship between industry and environment, on which relies the continuous, adequate supply of safe and high quality raw materials. Several aspects contribute to the development of food sustainability amongst which is the improvement of research, innovation, skills and knowledge transfer across all aspects of production, storage, distribution, consumption and waste.
In this context , the SUSFOOD ERA-NET was set to play a fundamental role in linking all contributors to make our world more sustainable.
SUSFOOD’s main achievements to date can be resumed in:
- An open web based archive to map European food research (Meta Knowledge Base or MKB). The MKB offers a freely accessible database, an open forum and partnering tool to the whole research community. This database is therefore intended to become a forum for the exchange of information and best practices between Member States and candidate countries for the EU and also for launching transnational calls.
- SUSFOOD has launched a first call which had an enormous success with 98 submitted pre-proposals.
- SUSFOOD has delivered a strategic research agenda based on identification of priorities, gaps and opportunities in European food research programmes concerning sustainable food production and consumption.
- SUSFOOD has launched a second call in June 2014.
The main beneficiaries of this initiative are national ministries, funding bodies, research institutions and organisations, stakeholders and manifacturers dealing with food science from all SUSFOOD partner countries.
The main addressed needs can be resumed in providing sustainable solutions for Food security to ensure enough food for the world´s growing population, a Sustainable food production to address the tightening supplies of energy, water, natural resources and climate change, a Knowledge transfer between all stakeholders to support uptake and use of innovative approaches, a Change of markets and approaches to new economy to move towards a more resilient and sustainable food economy and Managing the food demand to contribute to food security.
With the support of the EC funding part of the project, SUSFOOD has gathered twenty five partners (ministries, research performing organisations & funding organisations) from sixteen countries. People involved are scientists or have strong scientific background on food and nutrition research.
The managing team is made of two senior scientists and one project manager from INRA in France.
As in any project, we had to deal with different kind of difficulties:
- partners dropping out of the project for internal reasons (keeping them informed allows them to get in again if they can);
- partners undergoing changes of organisation (we were lucky to have some contact persons remaining)
- funding partners having budget cuts (we have been able to attract an agency and a fundation who became new associated partners in the ERA-NET)
There are other initiatives that tackle sustainability issues as regards agricultural production. SUSFOOD has had a specific focus on sustainability issues along the food chain beyond the farm gate down to consumer/consumption level.
The social and economical components are considered, interactiong with the environmental aspects. Along this line of thinking, we have considered the needs for interdisciplinary research on: valorisation of food and food products; engineering the food production chain; consumer preferences and behaviour.
Environmental aspects and the need for improved assessment methods have been considered as key horizontal issues.
SUSFOOD is a collaborative and support action of 25 partners originating from 16 countries in Northern, Southern and Eastern Europe. The overall aim is a better coordination of research programmes between European partners, in-depth and durable cooperation in form of transnational joint activities, implementation of joint research projects and design and development of common methodologies. In addition, SUSFOOD targeted to lead to long term contribution to structuring the European Research Area and uptake activities for bringing the experience, methods and tools into use throughout and beyond Europe. SUSFOOD contributes to a coordinated effort of European research groups to address these issues through a holistic approach. SUSFOOD bridges the gap between knowledge creation and application by ensuring the transfer of its results to the European food industry, particularly SMEs. In this way SUSFOOD will support the “Innovation Union”, one of the flagships of the “Europe 2020 strategy”
The promotion and dissemination of this initiative was insured through:
- 2 web sites: http://susfood-db-era.net , http://www.susfood-era.net
- Electronic country book
- Workshops, conferences, International symposiums...