Economic growth and an ever rising world population put pressure on food demands and agricultural products. To feed nearly 9 billion people by 2050, a new vision is needed to ensure food supply, environmental sustainability and economic opportunity through agriculture. Agriculture and forestry are integral parts of the European economy and society. They provide the basis for food, feed and non-food products to meet the demands of consumers and a wide range of industries. With about 70% of the EU land area covered by forests or in agricultural use, primary production activities have a huge impact on the integrity of rural areas in terms of preserving the natural capital, quality of life, and job creation.
Productivity in the agricultural and forestry sectors has seen a remarkable growth in the past decades, partly at the expense of the environment. A rising world population along with economic growth and changing consumption patterns are further increasing demand for primary products. This pressure on agricultural productivity is happening against the backdrop of dwindling natural resources and the effects of an increasingly variable climate.
Reconciling production with the sustainable management of land and other natural resources is considered as being the major challenge for current and future agriculture and forestry systems. Research and innovation are crucial to support the move towards more sustainable, «triple performing» types of primary production which embrace economic, social and environmental objectives.
To rise to the challenge, research and demonstration activities will encourage cooperation across basic and applied research disciplines, as well as between researchers, practitioners, businesses and other stakeholders. The resulting innovations should benefit a diverse primary production sector and ensure that high quality products and services continue to be delivered in sustainable ways.
The proposed research is organised around the following headings:
- Increasing production efficiency and coping with climate change, while ensuring sustainability and resilience
- Providing ecosystem services and public goods
- Empowerment of rural areas, support to policies and rural innovation
- Sustainable forestry