The world is changing rapidly. At a time of increasing global threats including climate change, the scarcity or degradation of resources, and population growth, the current economic crisis has triggered unpredictable short-term consequences, such as the aggravation of poverty, the contracting of export markets, and the tightening of credit and development funds. However, in the long term, the crisis may offer new opportunities, such as reducing the use of fossil fuels, moving towards more climate friendly types of production, encouraging regional integration and cooperation between science and societies. In this global context, agriculture and the food sector face an uncertain future, especially in some regions of the globe, and technical and political choices could play a determining role in ensuring the welfare of rural populations and avoiding social exclusion and environmental degradation.
The crisis has led to a situation of rupture, questioning realities that were previously taken for granted. It has revealed the vulnerability of systems and the need for innovation. How can we anticipate better and develop our capacity for resilience? In uncertain times, when values and norms are changing, our societies need to be creative and to reinvent innovation systems with a view to the long term. Some agro-food systems have already demonstrated their ability to take sustainability into account: agro-ecology, organic farming, local food initiatives, indigenous or participatory plant breeding, agro-forestry, integrated resource management, green biotechnologies, or the use of renewable and biomass energy. While it is obviously important to capitalize on this experience, a new global paradigm is also required. Renewing systems does not only mean defining new solutions, but changing innovation processes and models by creating new bonds between research and society.
Following the 1993 international symposium organised by CIRAD, INRA and ORSTOM on “Innovation and Societies: What kinds of agriculture? What kinds of innovation?”, we would like to review changes in the way research contributes to innovation. Today, agriculture is not questioned for itself, but for its interactions with the environment and the society as a whole. Focus has moved from local situations to global challenges. And stakeholders are now widely accepted as an integral part of innovation processes. What these changes imply for research is a question that must be addressed collectively. This is why we invite researchers from all disciplines, as well as stakeholders and policy makers, from Northern and Southern countries, to seize this opportunity to reflect together on future choices, to make new concrete proposals for research agendas and for political action, and to discuss how innovations systems can better achieve sustainability.
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To discuss how innovation systems can help achieve sustainability, we wish to bring together people from different communities and hopefully go beyond the usual confrontations to make a global review of the current situation.
To facilitate exchange, the symposium will be organized in such a way as to:
The symposium thus intends to provide an arena to reflect upon future choices, design appropriate scientific agendas, and help renew actions and policies.
Researchers from institutions in Northern and Southern countries and from a wide variety of disciplines including: agronomy, biology, genetics, animal sciences, food processing, sociology, anthropology, economics, management, geography, land planning, ergonomics, modelling, engineering sciences, educational sciences, political sciences.
To widen the scientific debate, we also invite stakeholders from all horizons: professional organisations, advisory and support services, development institutions, policy makers, etc.
1. Innovating to link production and conservation: how to feed the world population and protect the planet at the same time?
What new production systems can be promoted to ensure sustainable agriculture in different regional contexts? Can agroecology and natural resource management systems reconcile production and conservation? What can be the contribution of new techniques such as green biotechnologies, genetics, and varietal selection? What arrangements, policies and integrative actions between social and economic organizations can favour the link between conservation and production? Do we need a new paradigm to orient our agricultural systems?
2. Questioning social equity: how can innovation reduce the fragility of poor populations and make them members of a sustainable society?
How can innovations help fight regional and social exclusion (social responsibility, resource sharing, access to land and credit, new exchanges, and rural policies)? How can public policies, regulatory frameworks and international agreements affect social justice in the creation and diffusion of innovation? How can sustainable innovation systems (in production, finance, and markets) be promoted for pro-poor development? How can innovation systems be made ‘culturally sustainable’, i.e. respect and enhance cultural identities? How is it possible to measure the social inequity generated by innovation?
3. Learning and being creative: how can different types of knowledge be combined to create innovation?
Given the need to alleviate poverty, hunger, malnutrition and to mitigate climate change, what can be the role of local and community-based knowledge in the construction of sustainable development? How to create innovation by involving different actors, distributed knowledge and competences? How to encourage dialogue and knowledge production among different frameworks and cultures (ICTs, information systems, training, participative projects, etc.)? Does the Knowledge Society paradigm leave room for acknowledgement of local knowledge?
4. Acting collectively: what kinds of institutions, policies, and forms of governance can strengthen society’s capacity for resilience?
How can governance of innovation systems change to take sustainable development into account? What are the roles of consumers, standards and certification? How can we improve multi-actor innovation processes that include public and private stakeholders, and citizens, including farmers and women, at a territorial level? What policies could better enhance sustainable development?
5. Renewing research models and practices: how can research better fulfil its responsibilities to elaborate innovating solutions in collaboration with society?
In what ways does innovation for sustainable development require specific research positions and approaches (participatory approaches, involvement of stakeholders, interdisciplinarity)? How should research practices and organisations change to enable them to produce innovations for sustainable development and to evaluate them? What new forms of acknowledgement (legal, institutional) will encourage research, especially in Southern countries? What type of partnerships should be developed to encourage new forms of research cooperation between countries?
Go to Call for Papers
Abstracts will be selected according to their relevance to one or more of the five hot topics.