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Reporting on the EU Conference “Knowledge, innovation and skills for sustainable horizons”


The Directorate-General for Agriculture and Rural development of the European Commission (DG AGRI) hosted the 2023 EU AgriResearch Conference “Knowledge, innovation and skills for sustainable horizons” in Brussels on 31 May and 1 June. The Conference gathered 500 participants in person and many more online, from Europe and all over the world. This included scientists, farmers, rural actors, industry, advisors, policymakers, citizens, and NGO representatives.

The conference provided an overview of European Research and Innovation (R&I) activities and their achievements in agriculture, forestry, and rural areas. Critically, panellists and participants assessed and discussed the future priorities for EU funded agricultural, forestry and rural R&I. Greener farming, digital connectivity and skills were among the themes discussed.

Janusz Wojciechowski, European Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development, opened the event on day 1. Three high-level panels were convened to discuss the political, global and enabling context of EU R&I to tackle challenges and seize opportunities in agriculture, forestry and rural areas. Distinguished panellists included the current and forthcoming Chairs of the Agricultural Council of the EU – Peter Kullgren, Minister for Rural Affairs of Sweden and Chair of the EU Agriculture and Fisheries Council and Luis Planas Puchades, Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food in Spain - Norbert Lins, Chair of the Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development, European Parliament, and Marion Jansen, Director of the Trade and Agriculture Directorate at OECD.

On day 2, eight parallel sessions were the occasion for participants to reflect on concrete strategic themes that are at the core of the work of the SCAR Working Groups. Participants engaged in a co-creation exercise and provided their input to update DG AGRI’s long-term EU research and innovation agenda for agriculture, forestry, and rural areas, and contribute to shaping the Horizon Europe strategic plan 2025-27 and its work programmes.

SCAR Members were very active in the Conference, participating in the parallel sessions, including as keynote speakers and panellists. Issues such as holistic and integrated approaches, co-creation, new business models, long-term monitoring and assessments, place-based and farmer-to-farmer learning were underlined as key in the debates.    

On 2 June, fields visits were organised by DG AGRI and the Support Facility for Innovation & Knowledge exchange | EIP-AGRI with the support of the Flemish Rural Network. The field visits on the farms were closely linked to the themes of the AGRIResearch Conference and focused on soil health, biodiversity, livestock, forestry, and digital and data technologies as well as business model aspects. The visits showcased how research, innovation and agricultural practice interact in EIP-AGRI Operational Group projects.

The Plenary sessions were live streamed and can be watched again here.

More information on the EU AGRIResearch Conference 2023 can be found here.