Building a future science and education system fit to deliver to practice

Publication date
December 1, 2016
February 14, 2017
Short description

Agriculture, forestry, fisheries and aquaculture, together with the bio-based industries, are integral parts of the European economy and society. Relying on the use of limited natural resources, these sectors produce and process biological resources to satisfy the demand of consumers and a wide range of industries for food, feed, bio-energy and bio-based products. While they enhance Europe’s self-reliance and provide jobs and business opportunities essential for rural, coastal and marine areas, these sectors are also facing significant challenges which require solutions based on research and innovation. A transition is needed towards an optimal and renewable use of biological resources and towards sustainable primary production and processing systems. These systems will need to produce more food, fibre and other bio-based products with minimised inputs, environmental impact and greenhouse gas emissions, and with enhanced ecosystem services, zero waste and adequate societal value.

Transition towards more sustainable agriculture, forestry, food and bio-based value chains, equipped to face the challenges ahead, requires a renewal and strengthening of the technical and soft skills of all concerned.  While basic research remains necessary, a crucial challenge is also to remove bottlenecks to the delivery of practice-oriented research to end-users. Some front-runners are engaging in new ways of rating such research activities that deserve to be assessed, applied to agriculture and may be upscaled to a wider range of research providers and funding bodies.

Proposals will involve the production of a challenge- and foresight-based inventory of skills that will be needed in agriculture, forestry and related value chains, covering primary producers, advisors, industry, businesses and scientists. Proposals will review how current science, education and training systems in a wide and varied range of EU Member States (and possibly third countries) cater for these needs, seeking to draft roadmaps for the improvement of curricula, learning methods and long-term interaction between education, science and economic players. Particular attention should be paid to soft (e.g. entrepreneurial, intermediation and communication) skills in particular for farmers, advisors and researchers, and technical skills related to new practices or processes and sustainability requirements in scientific fields of importance for the future. Proposals should analyse how education and training systems could improve, in particular by attracting more farmers and other players to engage in sufficient education and lifelong learning. The effectiveness of existing EU policy instruments on education and training in this area should also be assessed and improvements proposed.

Furthermore, proposals should develop an operational system for encouraging and measuring performance and reviewing outputs of interactive innovation and practice-oriented research, with a view to improving their effective delivery and the uptake of best practices from the field. 

Proposals should build on the analysis to make further policy recommendations on how to develop education, training and science in the future. 

Expected Impact:

This action should improve the performance of science and education systems and their benefits for agricultural and forestry sectors and related industries. The following impacts are expected:

  • a shared inventory of the skills needed for a transition to more competitive and sustainable agriculture and related value chains, serving as a basis for continuous and longer-term cooperation between education bodies across Europe, leading to intensified exchanges and regular updates of the inventory;
  • improved technical and soft skills for farmers, foresters, advisors, industry employees and scientists, translating into better farm management, increased competitiveness, sustainability and resilience to environmental, climate and market changes;
  • greater awareness of gaps in research capacities and specific fields of science of crucial importance for sustainable agriculture;
  • increased efficiency of agricultural knowledge and innovation systems in the EU thanks to i) improved linkages between education, science and economic players, ii) enhanced capacity of players to interact with one another, and iii) contribution to an institutional shift towards better recognition and rewarding of practice-oriented research;
  • improved quality and usefulness of research outputs for the immediate use by farmers, foresters or value-chain businesses, thanks to a peer-review system leading to an improved implementation of research results by end-users and an innovative agricultural sector; and
  • recommendations for improved policies for education, agriculture, research and innovation at European, national and regional levels.

Source: Participant Portal

  • H2020
Geographical focus
  • H2020
Scientifc field / Thematic focus
  • Agricultural Sciences

Entry created by Anna Sirocco on December 1, 2016
Modified on December 1, 2016