The Mediterranean Rim is vulnerable due to very strong pressures on its food systems, endangering the stability of the entire region including part of Europe. INRAE research has historically focused on the Mediterranean, which accounts for nearly one out of every six of the Institute’s publications. Such partnerships mainly involve Northwest Africa, i.e. the Maghreb, but are gradually widening in scope, especially under the influence of specific ERA-Nets coordinated by INRAE in collaboration with CIRAD (ARIMNet 1 and 2, 2008-2017). Along the same lines, PRIMA (Partnership for Research and Innovation in the Mediterranean Area), which targets food security and water availability, is a 10-year initiative (2018-2028) that is jointly funded by the European Commission and participating countries and brings together 19 countries from the EU and Mediterranean region, i.e. Algeria, Croatia, Cyprus, Egypt, France, Germany, Greece, Israel, Italy, Jordan, Lebanon, Luxembourg, Malta, Morocco, Portugal, Slovenia Spain, Tunisia and Turkey.
INRAE is involved in a dozen projects funded as part of the first PRIMA call in 2018, when projects were submitted on a wide variety of topics such as biodiversity, mixed crop-livestock systems, sustainability, soil, climate, biotechnology, and Mediterranean food systems. INRAE’s representative to the French mirror group is Hugo de Vries, Deputy Scientific Director for Food and Bioeconomics, project leader of INRAE’s upcoming Mediterranean PPI (priority project of international scope).
GODAN (Global Open Data for Agriculture and Nutrition)
Created at the G8 International Agriculture Conference in 2013, GODAN promotes open data in agriculture to meet global food security challenges, including data on geology, satellite monitoring, the weather’s effect on farming yields, crop pest infestations, etc. Its funding is provided by its partners and donors, in the form of both financial and in-kind resources.
INRAE took part in the first summit held by GODAN, which it has been a member of since 2014. The Institute is involved in several GODAN working groups, including one on data infrastructure, and a project to develop an information-retrieval thesaurus that would combine three existing thesauruses, i.e. Agrovoc FAO, National Agricultural Library, and CABI.
The Wheat Initiative was set up in 2011 and is part of the G20 Agricultural Ministers’ Action Plan on Food Price Volatility and Agriculture. It currently comprises 16 countries, 2 international research centres and 9 private-sector plant breeding companies. The Initiative aims to coordinate international wheat research efforts. It also facilitates communication between the research sphere, donors and global policy-makers to ensure effective long-term investments so as to reach wheat research and development goals. Funding is provided by its members.
INRAE (Hélène Lucas) provided scientific coordination until 2016.
GRA (Global Research Alliance on Agricultural Greenhouse Gases)
Founded in 2009, the Global Research Alliance on Agricultural Greenhouse Gases (GRA) now has 40 member-countries. Although the Alliance is an inter-governmental organisation, it has also formed partnerships with international organisations such as FAO, CGIAR, World Agriculture Forum and with some international programmes (GODAN, FACCE-JPI). The purpose of this global research alliance, which is governed by a council of members, is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the agricultural sector while promoting carbon sequestration in soil and the climate-change resilience of food systems. Research groups, organised into networks, have been set up in areas such as livestock, paddy rice, and croplands.
INRAE is taking part in four of its five working groups. The Soil Carbon and Nitrogen Cycling group, which is chaired by France (Jean-François Soussana, INRAE), evaluates the potential role modelling plays in estimating greenhouse gas emissions and guiding mitigation strategies.
INRAE is a member of the Climate-KIC, Europe’s main public-private innovation community on climate change (more than 200 partners from both the academic and economic spheres across 12 European countries). INRAE mainly contributes to the KIC’s innovation pillar and jointly coordinates a bioeconomic platform, while actively taking part in the water and soil platform. A portfolio of 15 projects has been initiated with nearly 20 private-sector partners such as Veolia, Astrium, Philips, Bayer, Suez Environnement, CIMV. On the issue of climate-smart agriculture, four business services have been developed, i.e. technologies, climate impacts, regulations, co-construction among sector players, with priority given to livestock farming (milk, meat) and sustainable crops (vineyards, fruit trees) in a flagship project coordinated with WUR, Wageningen in the Netherlands. Jean-François Soussana represents INRAE at EIT Climate-KIC.
GACSA (Global Alliance for Climate-Smart Agriculture)
Hosted by FAO, GACSA is an independent alliance for climate-smart agriculture. It is governed by its members, who come from all sectors, i.e. governments, intergovernmental organisations, famers’ organisations, NGOs, civil society groups, research institutes and the private sector, and whose objectives and activities are consistent with GACSA’s vision and mission. For the period 2015-2019, its funding came from many different donors including Norway, Switzerland and the United States. GACSA does not fund research projects. Members may take part in other members’ collaborative activities, share information, knowledge, expertise and experience through a range of methods in order to populate the GACSA database and, most importantly, to be able to exert influence, particularly in their own countries.
As part of this programme, INRAE and CIRAD developed Agrisource, a free and open on-line platform, to bring together a community of stakeholders around the issue of climate change. Agrisource incorporates the advances made by communities of practice such as Climate-Smart Agriculture, agroecology, or carbon sequestration initiatives such as 4 parts per 1000 (see article).
AgMIP (Agricultural Model Intercomparison and Improvement Project)
AgMIP is an international network focussed on agricultural modelling against the backdrop of growing climate-change-related risks to agriculture. It involves both public- and private-sector stakeholders, i.e. universities, research bodies, professional agricultural organisations, governments and civil society groups. One of AgMIP’s aims is to improve agricultural models through inter-comparison testing and assessment, both in developed and developing countries. It operates via research groups and has a wide regional web with teams in Africa, Asia and America.
The AgMIP programme uses American and Australian models (DSSAT, APSIM, CropSyst) along with a few European ones including STICS developed at INRAE. INRAE is also jointly leading several programmes on wheat, maize and grasslands. Jean-François Soussana, INRAE, co-chairs the AgMIP programme steering committee, whose management team mainly consists of scientists from NASA, the USDA and the University of Florida (Cynthia Rosenzweig, Jerry Hatfield and Jim Jones).
The 4 parts per 1000 Initiative, soils for food security and the climate
The 4 parts per 1000 on soils for food security and the climate was launched at the Conference of the Parties on Climate Change in Paris in 2015. Its goal is to mobilise researchers in a cross-cutting approach to dealing with the closely related issues of climate change, soil carbon levels, food security and land degradation. It also involves mobilising other types of knowledge (farmers) and associating stakeholders from outside the research realm such as NGOs and famers’ organisations. Finally, these scientific fronts contribute to international discussions and, in that way, participate in the global agenda. “4 parts per 1000” is also in line with the Sustainable Development Goals, particularly in regard to the “Land Degradation (SDG 15) – Climate Action (SDG 13) –Zero Hunger (SDG 2)” nexus. It has also developed collaborative research efforts with FAO as part of the Livestock Environment Partnership (LEAP). This initiative, which is integrated into the Lima-Paris actions, is supported by the European Union. It also receives financial support from the Horizon 2020 Framework Programme for Research, particularly through the CIRCASA (Coordination of International Research Cooperation on Soil Carbon Sequestration in Agriculture) project.
In 2019 INRAE published a study on the carbon storage capacities of soil in France carried out at the request of ADEME (French agency for the environment and energy management) and the French Ministry of Agriculture and Food. Using an innovative methodology, the study assessed those capacities and estimated the costs per region of implementing the 4/1000 goal. See article.
TEMPAG for sustainable agriculture in temperate regions
TEMPAG in an international network that currently has 10 members and is co-chaired by INRAE and the University of Leeds. It conducts assessments and provides an overview of the status of the science on sustainable agricultural production systems in temperate regions. TEMPAG carries out activities on resilient agricultural production systems at multiple spatial and temporal levels, optimal land management for food production and other ecosystem services, and the sustainable improvement of food productivity at the farm and enterprise levels.
International SWOT project (Science Team 2020-2023)
The SWOT (Surface Water and Ocean Topography) satellite will be launched in 2021 as part of a French and American space agency (CNES-NASA) mission, which is also supported in part by the agencies in Canada and the United Kingdom. It has an overall budget of about USD 1 billion. This satellite is portrayed as revolutionary since it is supposed to make it possible to cover almost the entire globe (except for the poles) at very fine scales for the ocean (meso-scales), but, more importantly, lakes and rivers on continental areas. All the rivers more than 50 or 100 m in width will be surveyed along with all the lakes that are larger than 250m x 250m. Currently a database has been prepared with 350,000 river stretches (each stretch is from a few kilometres to a maximum of 10 km long) which will be observed and have their details recorded as part of this mission.
INRAE (UMR G-EAU, Montpellier) has been part of the project’s international science team since 2014, mainly working on reconstituting rivers’ flow rates from data provided by the satellite. Our researchers are currently testing their algorithms on about 40 rivers around the world. The Congo was chosen as an especially interesting river given its size, issues, international cross-border nature, etc. Some activities have been carried out with an IOWater/AFD/CNES/IRD/INRAE/CNR/BRL consortium in conjunction with CICOS (International Commission of the Congo-Oubangui-Sangha Basin). This work has been recognised by the international community, with many recent publications on that topic.