Towards better monitoring of investments in agricultural research in Europe

Towards better monitoring of investments in agricultural research in Europe

16 April 2015. This international workshop was organized by FAO and the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) within the framework of the EU-funded project on the Impact of Research on EU Agriculture (IMPRESA), whose overall aim is to measure, assess and comprehend the impact of all forms of European research on key agricultural policy goals.

The workshop, which brought together key stakeholders to discuss, finalize and agree on a set of recommendations for the development of future research monitoring to enhance impact of investments in agricultural research in Europe. Specifically, the workshop aimed to:

  • Present key findings from the IMPRESA project regarding the current status and trends in investments in agricultural research in Europe (based on surveys in 20 countries).
  • Discuss the rationale for monitoring expenditures on agricultural research. 
  • Discuss and formulate recommendations for better monitoring of investments in agricultural research in Europe. It is IMPRESA’s ambition to put forward realistic recommendations regarding how the monitoring of agricultural research investments in Europe can be improved. Three options to do so will be discussed in the workshop.

  • The “new” topics conform to European programmes, such as Horizon 2020, and include challenges related to climate change adaptation and mitigation, notably through the management of natural resources and reductions in pesticide use. Alongside measures to stimulate “greening” of the agricultural and rural economy, research investments also provide support for improved uptake of ICTs and other new technologies applied to the agricultural context. In most countries, biodiversity, nutrition, human and animal welfare are also of particular interest. (page 31)
  • Despite poor data availability, it can be inferred that since 2008 an overall decline in agricultural research expenditure in the European countries studied has been experienced. (page 34)
  • Change in both the level and the mix of sources of research funding are having effects on the structure and orientation of agricultural research. Public institutes are receiving less recurrent funding and having to enter competitive bids for contract research, as well as seeking to diversify by undertaking commercially funded work. This is influencing a shift from basic to applied and developmental work in research, and as a result concerns are expressed about longer-term effects on innovation potential. Research priorities are being shaped to a greater extent by multiannual strategies, and resemble the objectives and patterns of operation of the Framework Programmes more closely. (page 34)
  • Increased involvement of the Business Enterprise sector in agricultural research is also welcome. However, while it provides some attractive and much needed compensation for the reductions in public funding, the overall implications appear not to have been fully thought through. The public and policy interest is not served well by handing over substantial control of, and resources for, the research agenda when there are already concerns about adverse effects of industrial concentration and supply chain dominance. Policies related to strategy towards (and also governance arrangements within) PublicPrivate Partnerships in agricultural research should be subject to thorough and extensive review, both by national governments and European coordination frameworks. (page 35)
See the IMPRESA country reports on agricultural research expenditure (published on-line in March 2015). In addition, a Synthesis Document of the country reports has been published and is available here.

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