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CONTEXT & VISION

From the Rio de Janeiro Earth Summit in 1992 to the 2015 Paris Agreement, people around the world have become increasingly aware of the risks of climate change. 
Rapid climate change seems likely and, by the end of the century, will be a threat to global food security. All parts of Europe will be affected by strong year-on-year variability, which may include summer heat waves or heavy rains. In a scenario where temperatures rise 3°C to 4°C by the end of the century, agricultural and forestry production in France will be affected, particularly after 2050, by chain reactions to water, soil and biodiversity resources. For certain industries, extreme weather is already affecting competitiveness. This may lead to price shocks, have a negative impact on farm revenues and cause the reorganisation of industries and landscapes. The economic, social and political balance of the Mediterranean Basin is already precarious; these changes will have consequences that the region may not be able to bear.

Agriculture and forestry systems must become more resilient to the effects of climate change. It is important to anticipate the necessary changes by adapting genetics and plant and animal health protection measures, and by rethinking production practices and systems. Water, soil and biodiversity management in rural areas must change to take better account of the ecosystem services of agriculture and their resistance to extreme weather events.
Greenhouse gas emissions can be reduced without negatively affecting agricultural production by increasing carbon stocks in the soil and in biomass, by limiting reactive nitrogen losses and by controlling microbiological processes in the soil, in ruminants, in wastewater and so on. Protecting and restoring land has many benefits, including carbon storage, enhancing agricultural and forestry productivity, increasing resilience to extreme weather events and restoring biodiversity. It is important to develop and evaluate strategies that bring together climate change adaptation, the protection of natural capital and the fight against greenhouse gas emissions.

With health and economic risks already on the rise, climate change calls into question current management practices for natural resources, agriculture, forests and rural areas:

  • How to use breakthroughs and innovation to adapt, or even completely reshape, production systems and natural resource conservation strategies? 
  • How to rapidly reduce greenhouse gas emissions and the use of fossil fuels in food systems? 

The pathways and trajectories for adaptation remain undefined. Research, as a source of innovation and ideas, must facilitate the development and implementation of adaptation strategies that bring together risk-management approaches in the short term with the long-term potential to adapt and respond to change. To do so, it is necessary to better understand risks, to develop options, tools and dedicated services, to study adaptation processes in industries, landscapes and natural resources and to assess the role of public policy.