A system-based approach for the long term
Czech Regional Event opening session summary

On Wednesday, May 18, the Czech University of Life Sciences Prague hosted the latest edition of the ForumforAg Regional conference. More than 200 participants joined us in the auditorium for a truly international event marking the crossover from the French Presidency of the Council of the European Union to the upcoming Czech Presidency in July. Throughout the day, sessions discussed biodiversity, environmental targets, climate mitigation, food system transformation and forestry.

Czech intro session

Delegates were welcomed by Professor Josef Soukup, CSc, Dean of the faculty, Faculty of Agrobiology, Food and Natural Resources, at the university. Introducing the university and its faculties in the areas of agriculture, life sciences, and the economy, he said fields of study that relate to the development of agriculture attract many students.

Joining him, Constantin Kinský, Vice President and Member of the Board of the Private Forests Chamber in the Czech Republic (SVOL) and European delegate, European Landowners’ Organization (ELO), welcomed the ForumforAg debates as a way to provide continuity. He introduced the ELO and outlined its definition of sustainability, which relates to three areas: ecological sustainability, economic response to sustainability, and socio-political sustainability.

Mr Kinský handed over to Janez Potočnik, Chair of ForumforAg 2022 and Chairman of the RISE Foundation and Co-Chair of the International Resource Panel of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), to give the opening address. Now is not the time to retreat from the EU Green Deal, Mr Potočnik argued, but to invest further in soil health, biodiversity and new agtech to achieve food security. With the war in Ukraine and worldwide fear of a global food and energy crisis, action clearly needs to be taken to prevent potential terrible hunger. But we still need to act for the long term. “Solving the current conflict-related crisis should not, and cannot, compromise our ability to tackle the triple planetary crises of climate emergency, biodiversity loss and pollution,” Mr Potočnik said.

Czech intro session

COVID and Ukraine have only accelerated the need to transition our food system to one that is robust and sustainable, restores biodiversity, reduces emissions, sequesters carbon, and provides affordable, nutritious food for us all.
Multiple approach is needed. Mr Potočnik listed a number of key points to achieve food security – on livestock, marine production systems, “amazing” agricultural technologies, pollinators, soils, and food waste. Food security is also about policies not directly related to food and the future of forests.

“This multiple approach may seem a long way from the economic counter-offensive – the single, swift response – that political and media logic demands. But it is less strange to those working to hold back the underlying planetary crisis. Here, the cumulative effect of many positive, system-changing decisions is almost the only thing keeping a stable and safe world within reach.”
He said we must link resource use to fundamental human needs and optimize the systems that deliver them. “Nature is a large eco-system getting bankrupt due to our behaviour.” Climate crisis efforts are driven by the supply side, yet demand-side mitigation could reduce global GHGs in some sectors by up to 70% by 2050, he continued. He highlighted differing policy signals and market signals creating confusion.

Concluding, he said: “Focusing only on cleaning the current production systems will unfortunately not be enough. We must enter the untapped territories of the needed deep system transformation. If we want to avoid extinction of elephants in nature, we need to extinct elephants in the rooms.”

Read Mr Potočnik’s remarks in full for further information.

Biodiversity framework to maintain agriculture production

In the second part of the welcome session, Ladislav Miko, Deputy Director-General for the Food Chain, Health and Food Safety Department (DG SANTE), European Commission and special advisor to Czech Minister of Environment, and Lukas Visek, Member of the Cabinet of Executive Vice-President of the European Commission Frans Timmermans, discussed ways to restore biodiversity above and below ground.
Mr Miko emphasized that “we can’t go on with business as usual for one single day”. Maintaining biodiversity is no longer enough, it is vital to restore it. He highlighted two key elements: the health and fertility of soils, and the structure and functions of agriculturally managed land.

On soil, Mr Miko said that “the loss of organic matter and the destruction of the structure of soils leads to a dramatic loss in soil biodiversity and the subsequent layers of biodiversity above ground. There is only one solution to it. We need to try to find ways to return the organic matter”. Soil is the biggest reservoir of carbon, yet instead of capturing it, soil has started to produce carbon. Our minor scale of action has no chance of restoring biodiversity for all farmlands. Many protective measures need to be put in place, such as support for pollinators and agricultural methods.

The food chain as a whole

Mr Visek made the point that “we can no longer compartmentalize the food chain”, reminding guests that it is two years since the EU launched far-reaching initiatives to make the food system sustainable and support the Green Deal. “We need to consider the food chain as a whole, and everybody has a role to play.” He said that land and sea-based food systems are one of the most important drivers of biodiversity loss, yet they also run the biggest risk of biodiversity collapses. The European Commission will adopt new pesticide legislation in June which will “help us bring more nature into farming, and it will also stimulate innovation, as we will need to replace chemical pesticides with alternatives, with knowledge, with technology”. The ambition is to reduce the use and the risk of chemical pesticides by 50% by 2030.

But the EU food system still leads too many consumers to unhealthy food choices with negative effects on health and quality of life, and a substantial cost to society, Mr Visek said. In the EU, 20% of food is wasted: “Just think about the impact it has, not just on climate change, but also on the biodiversity loss, because we need to use pesticides to produce this food.” Forthcoming legislation – to help reduce food waste, to set targets on nature restoration, and the long-awaited soil health law – should help. He echoed the risk of the war in Ukraine driving a global food crisis. There would be no shortage of food in the EU, but “we need to reduce the dependency of the EU food system on import inputs such as fossil fuels, fertilizers, feed and raw materials”.

Watch the recording of the full discussion for further information.

Steps to achieve the CAP targets
Czech Regional Event session 1 summary

At the ForumforAg Czech Regional conference held on May 18 at the Czech University of Life Sciences Prague, the pressing question posed during session 1 ‘Can we achieve the environmental targets with the new CAP and the National Strategic Plans?’ brought our panellists plenty of challenges from the audience. Livestock reduction, how best to improve soil, and the need for wide consultation on the national plan were among them.

Czech intro session

How does the CAP strategy tie in to farmers’ interests?

Pierre Bascou, Director Sustainability Directorate, DG Agriculture and Rural Development, European Commission, said the goal is to support a sustainable transition of the whole food chain, and the climate neutrality of the entire land use sector. And to do so while balancing the economic objectives and helping farmers with their environmental and climate performance. It was essential to accompany farmers by offering them training and advisory services. “We need to support and encourage farmers to innovate, to change practices, to adapt to the latest knowledge in terms of agronomic practices, producing, way of marketing, etc.”

Can the CAP goals be achieved at scale?

Martin Hlavacek MEP, Member of the European Parliament, said “we could, but very likely we will not”. To succeed, the 10 million farmers across Europe all need a solution they can implement on the ground. Member states have flexibility, losing the commonality of the CAP – and some of the practices states adopt may not bring results. Better policy coherence is also needed if Europe is to achieve the CAP goals, he said, citing legislative barriers that block technological innovations. Success depends on whether Europe sticks with business as usual or allows acceleration of the trends that need to be accelerated.

Alžběta Procházková, WWF Central & Eastern Europe, said environmental objectives needed to be fine-tuned for a specific area, for a specific region. “So we have to tailor make the objectives and prepare a scale of the rules for environmental measures so that they can be applied across the whole of the EU.”

One farmer present took issue with the EU on a number of policy approaches: on reducing livestock farming – “which we need for manure” – , on farming land in smaller parcels, and on “not being ambitious enough” in reducing pesticide use. Speaking as another highly experienced famer, panellist Monika Nebeská, Chairwoman of the Board, Agricultural Cooperative Všestary, agreed it was “nonsense” to continue reducing livestock as it was a part of the agricultural cycle, for example, contributing to retaining water in the landscape. On pesticides, she said farmers were bound to stick to limits but there was no real support for how to do that. “It’s restrictions and restrictions again, only farming that that is blamed.”

Is the Czech Republic ambitious enough in its draft national strategic plan as regards environment and climate?
Pierre Bascou answered that the ambition was “not sufficient” in three areas – 1, greenhouse gas emissions, 2, biodiversity protection and development and, 3, the design and definition of the different types of intervention that would help farmers to improve in their environmental and climate performance. “This is what we are currently discussing, to revise the level of ambition upwards,” he said.

Do we need evolution or revolution?

“Should we perhaps be more lenient and slower in introducing these measures? Have the farmers had enough time to impose these measures, to implement these measures?” asked the Moderator, journalist Naděžda Hávová. Pierre Bascou said it was neither – rather, accelerated evolution. “We need to accelerate the transition which is currently on the table… We need to provide financial incentive. We need to provide advisory. We need to facilitate the use of innovation… We need to better tailor the financial support… because each farmer needs a specific solution.”

Martin Hlavacek added that what is needed is an evolution of the practices on the farm but a revolution in other areas, for example, technology. “Why are we not having a revolution on new genomic techniques? If we are talking about reduction of fertilizers and pesticides, why we are not having a revolution… on approvals of new active substances and authorizations of alternatives to those we are banning?”
Building on the question, Alžběta Procházková said what was needed was cooperation. In her opinion, in the Czech Republic in particular, “we have a problem because the cooperation is not sufficient… some farmers see us (NGOs) as opponents, as somebody doing things that go against what farmers want to do. And they don’t believe that we are searching for joint solutions.” She called for greater cooperation, including in the drafting process for the national plan and between different ministries. Better communication with the public was also needed – society as a whole needs to own the plan.

Would you like to explore the debate in greater depth? Watch the recording of the full discussion.

More than one pathway to climate-biodiversity-food harmony
Czech Regional Event session 2 summary

How best to integrate climate mitigation and biodiversity regeneration in food system transformation? In our third session at the ForumforAg Czech Regional conference held on May 18 at the Czech University of Life Sciences Prague, an expert panel tackled the complexity of this 3-way challenge and how to implement practical solutions, while still giving choices. Discussion flourished as each gave their – and their organization’s – perspective, from farmer to landowner, private sector to NGO.

Czech session 2

After introductions by the Moderator, Naděžda Hávová, Jurgen Tack, Scientific Director, ELO, opened by describing the relentless march of the changing climate, and the disastrous effect on biodiversity and food. He outlined the two strategies to tackle climate change – adaptation and mitigation: adaptation is typically the way for individuals and mitigation for larger organizations. Farmers have been adapting for four decades. Recent European policies – to sequester carbon, reduce emissions, improve soils – are a shift towards mitigation. Mr Tack said farmers are developing a positive attitude towards both strategies on climate change. But the relationship between farmers and biodiversity is more complicated. They are competing for land and there are often opposing views from farmers and nature conservation organisations. There is a tendency to take more extreme positions in the discussion.
“In this debate we need much more nuanced opinions,” Mr Tack said. They do not do well in social media or present-day politics, but “it’s the only way forward in a world becoming more and more complex. And in a world where we have to combine solutions for biodiversity, solutions for climate, solutions for food, food security.”

In search of solutions

Barbara Pia Oberč, Policy and Project Officer, European Regional Office in Brussels, IUCN, agreed that climate change and biodiversity loss are “two interlinked existential crises and two sides of the same coin”. She highlighted some statistics to illustrate the pressures: for example, IUCN’s red list assesses over 112,000 species, of which nearly a third are threatened with extinction. For her, the question is not “what do we need, but how do we get there”. IUCN has examined 14 potential pathways which have commonalities but also diversity: “It’s about a combination of what makes sense in the circumstances that you’re dealing with.”

Ms Oberč said debate needs to be about the whole food value chain, not just producing food, including the cost of the transition, calling for “open, constructive and positive dialog among all stakeholders”. Key opportunities coming up: the strategic plans ahead of the new CAP in 2023, the Sustainable Food Systems Framework Initiative, the Pollinator Initiative, Sustainable Use of Pesticides Directive, and the Global Biodiversity Framework Post 2020.

“Trust farmers more so they take responsibility”

The global nature of climate and biodiversity challenges was stressed Dr. Miroslava Bavorová, Associate Professor, Department of Economics and Development, Czech University of Life Sciences Prague. A large share of food insecure people around the globe are smallholder farmers, yet policies in the less developed economies are mainly oriented on achieving food security in Europe. Her impression was that ”everything has to be institutionalized and that farmers need very specific directives and only then they will treat their land in an environmentally friendly way”. Society wants to pay farmers to be environmentally responsibly, yet they are intrinsically motivated to do so. “Farmers do not want to destroy their land… so I would support trusting farmers more so they take the responsibility of being environmentally friendly… this is also already happening, especially in the Czech Republic.” Dr. Bavorová also mentioned Australia, where she said most agriculture policies and direct payments to farmers had been abolished.

Focus on a private sector role

Petr Adler, Head of Sales and Country Leader, Czech Republic, Syngenta, described his company’s role “to bring innovation to the market, share information and be there for the agricultural producers… the ones who share the biggest burden of the changes”. Also to interconnect individual stakeholders, including strategies to communicate to end consumers.

With questions from the audience, debate moved to the Sustainable Use Regulation and the target to reduce synthetic pesticide by 50%. Petr Adler said Syngenta would first come up with a solution that functions within these limits. “But when it comes to solving food crisis, we have to reach outside of Europe and everybody must contribute to the solution for that.”

If you would like to explore the debate in greater depth, watch the recording of the full discussion.

Adapting forests for the future climate
Czech Regional Event session 3 summary

The final session of the ForumforAg Czech Regional conference held on May 18 at the Czech University of Life Sciences Prague was an opportunity to hear experts discuss the type of forest the world needs to mitigate climate change.

Czech session 4

Opening the session, the Moderator, Constantin Kinský, Vice President and Member of the Board of the Private Forests Chamber in the Czech Republic (SVOL) and European delegate, European Landowners Association, set the scene by saying that what was common to all parties was that we do not know how far climate change will go. We do know the climate is warming, more so on the ground, and that trees are dying, but the exact scenario we face is not clear.

For that reason, he said the debate would take a specific climate change scenario and answer what kind of forests were needed to address it – “concrete answers that can help foresters make the right decisions on the ground and help us make the right decisions as a society”.
The first panellist, Alessandro Cescatti, Senior scientist, Directorate for Sustainable Resources, Joint Research Centre, European Commission, alluded to the trees in The Lord of the Rings and asked: what would trees tell us if they could talk, and where would they go if they could walk? The signals trees are sending out say they are facing unprecedented challenges. Warming is reducing the availability of water and drying out the trees, reducing resilience and putting the carbon capture potential of the tree at risk. Too many of the same species exacerbate the problem because they all need the same resource at the same time. And if trees could walk they would move north to avoid higher temperatures. Many trees are already at the edge of the limits of the climate change they can withstand.

So how to adapt? asked Mr Cescatti. We have to plan forests for the end of the century, when we don’t know exactly what conditions will be. There are also social and cultural barriers to be overcome, for example, about what can be planted where. Despite that, we need to increase genetic diversity. On the positive side, he said, some of the harsh confrontations between different stakeholders are dissolving: “We are all after the same objective now, which is building resilient forests that can withstand the climate of the next century.”

Piloting forest adaptation in France

The French perspective was given by Erwin Ulrich, Head of the mission to adapt forests to climate change, Forestry and Natural Hazards Directorate, ONF, Office National des Forêts, France, who spoke about his work piloting the adaptation of forests on a national level. “We want to continue to guarantee multifunctional forests everywhere, because they correspond to our forestry culture and to society’s wishes,” he said. Mr Ulrich described some of the actions to be taken, including re-establishing balanced, wild game populations; creating much more mixed forests with two to three main tree species, and new tree species, also from abroad; and protecting biodiversity. Mosaic forest concepts would also be developed, with diversity of species adapted to regions. He said experimental plots would be monitored for 30-50 years.

Call for a mindset change

Building on the need for different species and diversity, Mr Kinský said that the most conservative people were not foresters but environmental agencies who were often backward rather than forward looking. “We need a mindset change… in particular of the regulations and the law,” he said.

Jiří Svoboda, President of the Association of Municipal, Private and Church Forest Owners in the Czech Republic (SVOL) said that the Czech Republic environmental agency was “one of the strictest in the world” and foresters are sometimes left with a choice of only four to five species. He said he would like to see discussions on forestry legislation re-opened.

Commonality and subsidiarity

The discussion turned to the question of balance – between commonality across Europe, but also subsidiarity for local decisions which are right for the conditions. Mr Kinský reminded policymakers that they needed to listen to local foresters “because we have to deliver the job”, and foresters could commit to listen to policymakers “because we know that we need a wide variety of opinions to be able to find a solution”. He continued: “We don’t expect to have a precise answer… it’s very difficult. But you have a duty to open that debate and we have a duty to call for that debate. You will not be able to achieve without us and we will not be able to achieve anything without you.”
Tomáš Vrška, Director, University Forest Enterprise Křtiny, Mendel University in Brno, commented that “when you work with the concept of natural restoration and nature based restoration, it needs to be really location specific. You simply can’t do a desk study and write down a law that stipulates this or that.”

Wood as a renewable raw material for industry

The commercial view on the future of forests and climate change came from Johanna Pirinen, Senior Vice President, Sustainability, Stora Enso Wood Products Division. Ms Pirinen said that the forest-based renewable products that Stora Enso brings to the market have a three-fold climate benefit – 1) the forest as it grows is sequestering carbon from the atmosphere; 2) the product stores the carbon for its long lifetime or when recycled; 3) there is the “substitution effect” of replacing oil-based plastics. “We are talking about having walls out of mass timber instead of concrete,” she said, emphasizing the huge impact of utilizing a renewable raw material in a beneficial way. Of course, it needs to be based on sustainable forest management.

Mr Vrška was confident that companies would respond to the different proportions of hard wood available to them. “Here in the Czech Republic, we are having this friendly debate about the future… I personally would not be afraid at all in terms of what the food processing industry will be buying from us.”

Farmers and foresters together

The session opened to a wide range of questions from the audience before wrapping up with short messages from additional guests: Emmanuelle Mikosz, Forum for the Future of Agriculture Programme Director; Sabine von Wirén-Lehr, Director of EU Affairs, Tetrta Pak; and Alberto Arroyo Schnell, Head of Policy and Programme, IUCN European Regional Office. Thierry de l’Escaille, Secretary General, European Landowners’ Organization, thanked the event’s Czech hosts and the university, partners, panellists, moderators, and the event producers. He said the Forum had launched 15 years ago to foster open debate about agriculture and now it needed to do the same for forests – bringing together farmers and foresters because “it’s crucial we do this together”.

Like to hear more on forestry from our experts panellists? Watch the full discussion and check out the other sessions of our Czech Republic Regional Event.

Comments from
Pierre Bascou, Director Sustainability Directorate, DG Agriculture and Rural Development, European Commission

Pierre Bascou, Director Sustainability Directorate, DG Agriculture and Rural Development, European Commission, spoke during Session 1 at our recent Czech Regional event. We asked him for a summary of his speech.

Czech Session 1

We are currently living in a world characterised by many uncertainties and crises, which, due to their different nature and impact, call for a differentiated policy response.

The growing impact of climate change and of biodiversity loss has led us to engage into a progressive and irreversible long-term transition towards sustainability, resilience, competitiveness, and climate neutrality in the framework of the new growth strategy of the EU, the Green Deal, and for agriculture and the food system, of the Farm to Fork strategy.

We should make no mistake: this transition to sustainable agriculture and food system is our only path if we are to continue ensuring the long-term food security to our citizens in the EU and beyond.

But delivering on this ambitious vision requires a progressive and irreversible transition at all stages of the food supply chain, and a change of mindset from all actors. We need to change how we produce and how we consume.

Reaching this environmental and climate ambition and the several environmental targets will need to build on a series of policy initiatives related not only to agriculture, but covering the whole food supply chain, with initiatives related to the establishment of a legislative framework for sustainable food system, actions to ensure sustainable production at farm and food industry level, actions to promote the shift towards healthy and sustainable food diets, reduction of food wastes and the promotion of the transition at global level.

These initiatives will rely upon or combine with the implementation of the biodiversity and soil strategies, the FitFor55 package, the upcoming environmental legislation related to soil and nature protection, the revision of the some key legislations related to PPP, the full implementation of the existing environmental and climate legislation as well as the action plans related the circular bio-based economy, zero pollution, organic farming, integrated nutrient management just to name a few.

It is important to mention all these policy and legal initiatives (existing or upcoming) because it is their coordinated and coherent definition and implementation that will enable us to achieve the environmental and climate ambition that we are all looking for, for agriculture and for the rest of the food chain.

The future CAP will in turn provide a key contribution to this endeavour by promoting and supporting this transition towards sustainability, resilience and competitiveness at farm level, within the overall objective and policy orientation of the Green Deal and in full coherence with environmental and climate legislation.

Achieving this ambition is based on 4 elements:

First, the introduction of a new and more effective delivery model, offering more flexibility for Member States and ensuring policy coherence with the environmental and climate legislation;

Second, the introduction of a new green architecture, including an enhanced system of conditionality for all farmers (with significant requirements supporting on-farm biodiversity, soil agronomic capacity, but also practices supporting climate mitigation) and financial incentives such as the eco-schemes, in addition to the existing measures under the PII. All these instruments will benefit from impactful ring-fencing obligations (25% in PI and 35% PII).

The third element relates to the specific role of research and innovation and the need to better accompany farmers in this transition, in particular through the sharing of knowledge and the provision of advisory services.

The fourth important field of action relates to the necessity to improve the economic viability and competitiveness of the agricultural sector to ensure the transformation and transition in a balanced and just manner.

In this path towards sustainability, Member States will play a key role with their NSP that we are currently evaluating in view of validating them before the end of this year.

However, after looking at the environmental and climate objectives of the strategic plans received, we consider that overall more work will be needed (and this is the case of the CZE plan, notably as regards the climate ambition and biodiversity protection).

In many cases, we did not have enough information to assess sufficient ambition and contribution to the CAP environmental and climate objectives. Moreover, contribution to and consistency with other climate and environment legislation is not always demonstrated (e.g. link with the National energy and climate plan, or the Prioritised action framework in Natura 2000 in CZE).

A few plans show a relatively good potential but many, like the CZE plan, will require adaptation to ensure full conformity with legal requirements, including on the aspects of coherence between the needs identified and the interventions designed – and the targets set – to address these needs.

The definition of baseline requirements for all area-based payments (the conditionality) is sometimes not meeting expected levels. For example on the GAECs 6 and 7 (minimum soil cover and crop rotation), a number of Member States including CZE want to exempt some parts of the arable land from the soil cover obligation or set a too low minimum duration for the intermediate crop to be taken into account for crop rotation. This does not seem in line with the regulation.

While MS budgetary allocations complies with the minimum level of spending fixed by the Regulation or even go above, the scope and ambition of many eco schemes and agro-environmental measures requires further work. In total, MS have proposed almost 184 eco-schemes and more than 250 agro-environment-climate schemes, varying in coverage and practices. Many are well developed, but others are unclear in terms of aim or specific requirements to effectively tackle the environmental and climate challenges recognized in the analyses.

On organic farming, Member States are generally ambitious (this is the case of CZE) with respect to the development of organic farming with some Member States still requiring further efforts to enhance ambition or relevance of the support. When assessing the related interventions, the Commission takes account of the different starting points and specific national circumstances of each Member State.
Finally, in terms of renewable energy, all Member States, including CZE, have been requested to step up their ambition and finance investments in this domain. The CAP Plans can provide for an effective contribution to reduce the dependency on fossil fuels, both through the production of renewable energy such as biogas, as well as with the increase of organic fertilisers.

Before concluding, I would like to underline that the Commission is aware that the context in which Member States have designed their draft Plans has substantially changed with the Russian invasion on Ukraine and this will be considered in the approval process.

That is why in the communication on food security and in the observation letters sent to MS, we called on the Member States to strengthen the resilience and sustainability of the sector by, for example, using funding to boost sustainable biogas production, improve energy efficiency, foster agro-ecological practices, support protein crop production, precision agriculture and develop their knowledge and innovation systems.

V současné době žijeme ve světě, který se vyznačuje mnoha nejistotami a krizemi, jež vzhledem ke své různé povaze a dopadu vyžadují diferencovanou politickou reakci.

Rostoucí dopady změny klimatu a úbytku biologické rozmanitosti nás vedou k tomu, abychom se v rámci nové strategie růstu EU, Zelené dohody, a v případě zemědělství a potravinového systému Strategie Farm to Fork, zapojili do postupného a nezvratného dlouhodobého přechodu k udržitelnosti, odolnosti, konkurenceschopnosti a klimatické neutralitě.

Neměli bychom se mýlit: tento přechod k udržitelnému zemědělství a potravinovému systému je naší jedinou cestou, pokud chceme i nadále zajišťovat dlouhodobou potravinovou bezpečnost našich občanů v EU i mimo ni.

Naplnění této ambiciózní vize však vyžaduje postupný a nezvratný přechod ve všech fázích potravinového řetězce a změnu myšlení všech aktérů. Musíme změnit způsob výroby i spotřeby.

Dosažení této environmentální a klimatické ambice a několika environmentálních cílů bude muset vycházet z řady politických iniciativ týkajících se nejen zemědělství, ale pokrývajících celý potravinový řetězec, s iniciativami souvisejícími s vytvořením legislativního rámce pro udržitelný potravinový systém, opatřeními k zajištění udržitelné produkce na úrovni zemědělských podniků a potravinářského průmyslu, opatřeními na podporu přechodu ke zdravému a udržitelnému stravování, snižováním potravinového odpadu a podporou tohoto přechodu i na globální úrovni.

Tyto iniciativy se budou opírat o provádění strategií v oblasti biologické rozmanitosti a půdy, balíčku FitFor55, připravovaných právních předpisů v oblasti životního prostředí týkajících se ochrany půdy a přírody, revize některých klíčových právních předpisů souvisejících s přípravky na ochranu rostlin, plnou implementací stávajících právních předpisů v oblasti životního prostředí a klimatu, jakož i akčních plánů týkajících se oběhového hospodářství založeného na biologických zdrojích, nulovém znečištění, ekologickém zemědělství a integrovaném řízení živin, a to je jen několik příkladů.

Je důležité zmínit všechny tyto politické a právní iniciativy (stávající nebo připravované), protože právě jejich koordinované a koherentní vymezení a implementace nám umožní dosáhnout ambicí v oblasti životního prostředí a klimatu, o které všichni usilujeme, a to jak pro zemědělství, tak pro ostatní části potravinářského řetězce.

Budoucí SZP k tomuto úsilí zásadně přispěje tím, že bude prosazovat a podporovat tento přechod k udržitelnosti, odolnosti a konkurenceschopnosti na úrovni zemědělských podniků, a to v rámci celkového cíle a politického zaměření Zelené dohody a v plném souladu s právními předpisy v oblasti životního prostředí a klimatu.

Dosažení této ambice je založeno na 4 prvcích:

o Za prvé, zavedení nového a účinnějšího modelu realizace, který členským státům nabídne větší flexibilitu a zajistí soudržnost politiky s právními předpisy v oblasti životního prostředí a klimatu;

o Za druhé, zavedení nové zelené architektury, včetně rozšířeného systému podmíněnosti pro všechny zemědělce (s významnými požadavky na podporu biologické rozmanitosti v zemědělských podnicích, agronomické kapacity půdy, ale také postupů podporujících zmírňování změny klimatu) a finančních pobídek, jako jsou eko-schémata, jako doplněk ke stávajícím opatřením v rámci Pilíře II. Všechny tyto nástroje budou mít prospěch z povinnosti vyčlenit na ně významné procento (25 % v Pilíři I a 35 % v Pilíři II).

o Třetí prvek se týká specifické úlohy výzkumu a inovací a potřeby lépe podporovat zemědělce při tomto přechodu, zejména prostřednictvím sdílení znalostí a poskytování poradenských služeb.

o Čtvrtá důležitá oblast činnosti se týká nutnosti zlepšit ekonomickou životaschopnost a konkurenceschopnost zemědělského odvětví, aby byla transformace a přechod zajištěny vyváženým a spravedlivým způsobem.

Na této cestě k udržitelnosti budou hrát klíčovou roli členské státy se svými národními strategickými plány, které v současné době vyhodnocujeme s cílem schválit je do konce tohoto roku.

Po posouzení environmentálních a klimatických cílů obdržených strategických plánů se však domníváme, že celkově budou zapotřebí více dopracovat (a to je případ plánu CZE, zejména pokud jde o klimatické ambice a ochranu biologické rozmanitosti).

V mnoha případech jsme neměli dostatek informací, abychom mohli posoudit dostatečné ambice a příspěvek k cílům SZP v oblasti životního prostředí a klimatu. Kromě toho nebyl vždy prokázán příspěvek k dalším právním předpisům v oblasti klimatu a životního prostředí a jejich soulad s nimi (např. vazba na Národní plán v oblasti energetiky a klimatu nebo prioritní akční rámec v rámci soustavy Natura 2000 v ČR).
Několik plánů vykazuje poměrně dobrý potenciál, ale mnohé z nich, jako například plán ČR, budou vyžadovat úpravy, aby byl zajištěn plný soulad s právními požadavky, včetně aspektů soudržnosti mezi zjištěnými potřebami a navrženými intervencemi – a stanovenými cíli – k řešení těchto potřeb.

Definice základních požadavků pro všechny platby na plochu (podmíněnost) někdy nesplňuje očekávanou úroveň. Například u GAEC 6 a 7 (minimální půdní pokryv a střídání plodin) chce řada členských států včetně ČR vyjmout některé části orné půdy z povinnosti půdního pokryvu nebo stanovit příliš nízkou minimální dobu trvání meziplodiny, která má být zohledněna pro střídání plodin. To se nezdá být v souladu s nařízením.

Rozpočtové příděly členských států sice odpovídají minimální úrovni výdajů stanovené nařízením, nebo ji dokonce překračují, ale rozsah a ambice mnoha ekologických programů a agroenvironmentálních opatření vyžadují další dopracování. Celkem členské státy navrhly téměř 184 ekologických programů a více než 250 agroenvironmentálně-klimatických programů, které se liší rozsahem a postupy. Mnohé z nich jsou dobře propracované, u jiných však není jasný cíl nebo konkrétní požadavky na účinné řešení environmentálních a klimatických výzev, které byly v analýzách rozpoznány.

Pokud jde o ekologické zemědělství, členské státy jsou obecně ambiciózní (to je i případ ČR), pokud jde o rozvoj ekologického zemědělství, přičemž některé členské státy stále vyžadují další úsilí ke zvýšení ambicí nebo relevance podpory. Při posuzování souvisejících intervencí Komise zohledňuje různá východiska a specifické vnitrostátní podmínky jednotlivých členských států.

Pokud jde o obnovitelné zdroje energie, všechny členské státy včetně ČR byly vyzvány, aby zvýšily své ambice a financovaly investice v této oblasti. Plány SZP mohou účinně přispět ke snížení závislosti na fosilních palivech, a to jak výrobou energie z obnovitelných zdrojů, jako je bioplyn, tak i zvýšením spotřeby organických hnojiv.

Před závěrem bych rád zdůraznil, že Komise si je vědoma toho, že kontext, v němž členské státy své návrhy plánů koncipovaly, se v souvislosti s ruskou invazí na Ukrajinu podstatně změnil, což bude při schvalovacím procesu zohledněno.

Proto jsme ve sdělení o zajišťování potravinové bezpečnosti a v připomínkových dopisech zaslaných členským státům vyzvali členské státy, aby posílily odolnost a udržitelnost odvětví například využitím finančních prostředků na podporu udržitelné výroby bioplynu, zlepšení energetické účinnosti, podporu agroekologických postupů, podporu produkce bílkovinných plodin, precizního zemědělství a rozvoj svých systémů znalostí a inovací.

Nous vivons actuellement dans un monde caractérisé par de nombreuses incertitudes et crises qui, en raison de leur nature et de leur impact différents, appellent à une réponse politique différenciée.

L’impact croissant du changement climatique et de la perte de biodiversité nous a conduits à nous engager dans une transition progressive et irréversible à long terme vers la durabilité, la résilience, la compétitivité et la neutralité climatique dans le cadre de la nouvelle stratégie de croissance de l’UE, le Green Deal, et pour l’agriculture et le système alimentaire via la stratégie Farm to Fork.

Nous ne devons pas nous tromper : cette transition vers une agriculture et un système alimentaire durables est notre seule voie si nous voulons continuer à assurer la sécurité alimentaire à long terme de nos citoyens dans l’UE et au-delà.

Mais pour concrétiser cette vision ambitieuse, il faut une transition progressive et irréversible à tous les stades de la chaîne alimentaire, et un changement d’état d’esprit de la part de tous les acteurs. Nous devons changer notre façon de produire et de consommer.
Pour atteindre cette ambition environnementale et climatique et les différents objectifs environnementaux, il faudra s’appuyer sur une série d’initiatives politiques liées non seulement à l’agriculture, mais couvrant l’ensemble de la chaîne alimentaire, avec des initiatives liées à l’établissement d’un cadre législatif pour un système alimentaire durable, des actions visant à assurer une production durable au niveau des exploitations agricoles et de l’industrie alimentaire, des actions visant à promouvoir le passage à des régimes alimentaires sains et durables, la réduction des déchets alimentaires et la promotion de la transition au niveau mondial.

Ces initiatives s’appuieront ou se combineront avec la mise en œuvre des stratégies en matière de biodiversité et de sols, de l’ensemble FitFor55, de la future législation environnementale relative à la protection des sols et de la nature, de la révision de certaines législations clés relatives aux PPP, de la mise en œuvre complète de la législation environnementale et climatique existante ainsi que des plans d’action relatifs à l’économie biologique circulaire, à la pollution zéro, à l’agriculture biologique, à la gestion intégrée des nutriments, pour ne citer que quelques exemples.

Il est important de mentionner toutes ces initiatives politiques et juridiques (existantes ou à venir) car c’est leur définition et leur mise en œuvre coordonnées et cohérentes qui nous permettront d’atteindre l’ambition environnementale et climatique que nous recherchons tous, pour l’agriculture et pour le reste de la chaîne alimentaire.

La future PAC apportera à son tour une contribution essentielle à cette entreprise en favorisant et en soutenant cette transition vers la durabilité, la résilience et la compétitivité au niveau des exploitations agricoles, dans le cadre de l’objectif global et de l’orientation politique du Green Deal et en totale cohérence avec la législation environnementale et climatique.

La réalisation de cette ambition repose sur 4 éléments :

o Premièrement, l’introduction d’un nouveau modèle de prestation plus efficace, offrant plus de flexibilité aux États membres et garantissant la cohérence politique avec la législation environnementale et climatique ;

o Deuxièmement, l’introduction d’une nouvelle architecture verte, comprenant un système amélioré de conditionnalité pour tous les agriculteurs (avec des exigences importantes en faveur de la biodiversité sur l’exploitation, de la capacité agronomique des sols, mais aussi des pratiques favorisant l’atténuation du changement climatique) et des incitations financières telles que les éco-régimes, en plus des mesures existantes dans le cadre de la PII. Tous ces instruments bénéficieront d’obligations de délimitation des impacts (25 % dans l’IP et 35 % dans l’IPI).

o Le troisième élément concerne le rôle spécifique de la recherche et de l’innovation et la nécessité de mieux accompagner les agriculteurs dans cette transition, notamment par le partage des connaissances et la fourniture de services de conseil.

o Le quatrième champ d’action important concerne la nécessité d’améliorer la viabilité économique et la compétitivité du secteur agricole pour assurer la transformation et la transition de manière équilibrée et juste.

Dans ce cheminement vers la durabilité, les États membres joueront un rôle clé avec leurs PSN que nous évaluons actuellement en vue de les valider avant la fin de cette année.

Cependant, après avoir examiné les objectifs environnementaux et climatiques des plans stratégiques reçus, nous considérons que, dans l’ensemble, davantage de travail sera nécessaire (et c’est le cas du plan de la République Tchèque, notamment en ce qui concerne l’ambition climatique et la protection de la biodiversité).

Dans de nombreux cas, nous ne disposions pas de suffisamment d’informations pour évaluer l’ambition et la contribution aux objectifs environnementaux et climatiques de la PAC. De plus, la contribution et la cohérence avec d’autres législations sur le climat et l’environnement ne sont pas toujours démontrées (par exemple, le lien avec le plan national sur l’énergie et le climat ou le cadre d’action prioritaire de Natura 2000 en République Tchèque).

Quelques plans présentent un potentiel relativement bon, mais beaucoup, comme le plan de la République Tchèque, devront être adaptés pour garantir une conformité totale avec les exigences légales, notamment en ce qui concerne la cohérence entre les besoins identifiés et les interventions conçues – et les objectifs fixés – pour répondre à ces besoins.

La définition des exigences de base pour tous les paiements par zone (la conditionnalité) ne répond parfois pas aux niveaux attendus. Par exemple, en ce qui concerne les BCAE 6 et 7 (couverture minimale des sols et rotation des cultures), un certain nombre d’États membres, dont la République Tchèque, souhaitent exempter certaines parties des terres arables de l’obligation de couverture des sols ou fixer une durée minimale trop faible pour la culture intermédiaire à prendre en compte pour la rotation des cultures. Cela ne semble pas conforme au règlement.

Si les dotations budgétaires des États membres respectent le niveau minimal de dépenses fixé par le règlement, voire le dépassent, la portée et l’ambition de nombreux programmes écologiques et mesures agroenvironnementales nécessitent des efforts supplémentaires. Au total, les États Membres ont proposé près de 184 eco-schemes et plus de 250 mesures agro-environnementales et climatiques, dont la couverture et les pratiques varient. Beaucoup sont bien développés, mais d’autres manquent de clarté en termes d’objectif ou d’exigences spécifiques pour relever efficacement les défis environnementaux et climatiques reconnus dans les analyses.

En ce qui concerne l’agriculture biologique, les États membres sont généralement ambitieux (c’est le cas de la République Tchèque) en ce qui concerne le développement de l’agriculture biologique, mais certains États membres doivent encore faire des efforts pour renforcer l’ambition ou la pertinence de l’aide. Lorsqu’elle évalue les interventions correspondantes, la Commission tient compte des différents points de départ et des circonstances nationales spécifiques de chaque État membre.

Enfin, en ce qui concerne les énergies renouvelables, tous les États membres, y compris la République Tchèque, ont été invités à renforcer leurs ambitions et à financer des investissements dans ce domaine. Les plans de la PAC peuvent contribuer efficacement à réduire la dépendance à l’égard des combustibles fossiles, à la fois par la production d’énergie renouvelable, comme le biogaz, et par l’augmentation des engrais organiques.

Avant de conclure, je voudrais souligner que la Commission est consciente que le contexte dans lequel les États membres ont conçu leurs projets de plans a considérablement changé avec l’invasion de l’Ukraine par la Russie, ce qui sera pris en compte dans le processus d’approbation.

C’est pourquoi, dans la communication sur la sécurité alimentaire et dans les lettres d’observation envoyées aux États membres, nous avons appelé ces derniers à renforcer la résilience et la durabilité du secteur, par exemple en utilisant les fonds pour stimuler la production durable de biogaz, améliorer l’efficacité énergétique, encourager les pratiques agroécologiques, soutenir la production de protéagineux, l’agriculture de précision et développer leurs systèmes de connaissance et d’innovation.

Comments from
Monika Nebeská, Chairwoman of the Board, Agricultural Cooperative Všestary

Monika Nebeská, Chairwoman of the Board, Agricultural Cooperative Všestary, spoke during Session 1 at our recent Czech Regional event. We asked her for a summary of her speech particularly covering the question ‘Can we achieve the environmental targets with the new CAP and the National Strategic Plans?’

Czech Session 1

In my opinion, the objectives for strengthening the sustainability and greening of the European economy, including the agri-food sector, as defined in the European Green Deal and the Farm to Fork Strategyand reflected in the Common Agricultural Policy, are very ambitious.

It really makes me concerned about the impact these objectives will have on agricultural practice. Especially in an economic and political situation that is significantly different from the time these goals were adopted. It is alarming that there is no impact assessment for the strategies presented. I am afraid that there will be a fall in agricultural production, hence a fall in exports, and I then conclude that there will be a sharp drop in farmers’ incomes. As a result, all this will lead to a further dramatic rise in food prices.

It worries me that the Czech Republic’s ambitions in this area are also very high. We know that the European Commission has given Member States a great scope for subsidiarity, and the Czech Ministry of Agriculture has submitted a plan that is more ambitious than the objectives and requirements defined by the European Commission. In the new CAP, the Czech Republic is even the most ambitious in Europe in a number of parameters – for example, it plans to allocate 30% of the money for ecosystems to the first pillar. Furthermore, 23% of the budget for redistribution of payments – here we also rank first on a European scale. In neighbouring Germany, Poland and Slovakia, for example, they have a maximum of 10-12% for redistributive payments. In addition, the European Commission has decided to release a crisis reserve of €470 million to support agriculture in individual Member States in order to compensate for expensive inputs and the loss of export markets. The Commission has even allowed each Member State an increase of up to 200% on national top-up payments, and a number of our neighbours have already announced that they will use of this option. However, this is the Czech government, who is not planning to do so.

However, overly ambitious plans have an impact not only on Czech Farmers, but also on agriculture on a European scale. I find it ridiculous that Third Countries do not have to follow the rules. What about our European competitiveness? Aren’t we scoring an own goal? At a time when the European Commission is still calling for a reduction in dependence on oil and gas, on imports (including fertilisers, protein crops, etc.), at a time when, on the contrary, it is necessary to strengthen agri-food self-sufficiency, a very dangerous game is at stake. We do call and will call for maximum simplification of the whole system. And we will call for a system that is fair to all and realistic at the same time.

Another major challenge for European agriculture, for meeting climate goals and ensuring self-sufficiency is the war in Ukraine. The price of wheat has been rising, by more than 20% since the war beginning and by almost 75% compared to last year. Another limited export commodity is fertilisers, which, in addition to Russia, are also produced in large quantities by Belarus. Their price has jumped by around three times year-on-year. Although the Czech Republic is one of the smaller “fertilisers” within the EU, with about 120 kilograms of fertiliser per hectare (of which about 75% is nitrogen fertiliser), compared to about 160 kg in Europe – this price rise means a big financial blow for farmers. Given the ever-increasing fuel prices, rising fertiliser prices may be just the imaginary nail in the coffin of European farmers.

Undoubtedly, such ambitious goals require ambitious funding.However, it is a pure reality that within the entire European Union, the Czech Republic’s budget funds are cut the most. This is most pronounced in Pillar II of the CAP. Why does the level of support differ? Excessively high demands are placed on us for significantly less money. In practice, this means that the basic payment will be €75, now it’s €230… I don’t want to downplay the importance of environmental protection, the Commission’s focus on strengthening the sustainability of the sector is certainly a sensible direction, but I don’t want it to be us – farmers – who will be burdened by all the restrictions that are coming…

Changes must go hand in hand with farmers and not the other way around. We need to realise what we farmers have already achieved, what initiatives we have taken, and we cannot continue to be merely punished. We must work together, not against each other, to achieve a sustainable future together. Without proper funding, without proper help, we will not be able to do it.
I believe that the Czech government is listening to us and will take into account the views of all farmers, whose role in the national economy and environmental protection is unquestionable. And while we may have different perspectives on the issue, it is clear that all of us who work with the land strive for the same thing: food self-sufficiency and thus ultimately national food security and, of course, care for the environment.

The attitudes of the Czech government will be particularly important in the view of the forthcoming Czech Presidency and the related influence on European decision-making. At that time, for example, the revision of the Sustainable Use of Pesticides Directive will be discussed. According to the current proposal, the consumption of pesticides across Europe is to be halved by 2030. Can Czech farmers cope with this restriction? Or will the Czech Republic have to import more food from other countries? Then there is the proposal for a revision of the Industrial Emissions Directive, which was presented by the European Commission at the beginning of April. Industrial emissions include beef cattle, poultry and pig emissions for all farms with more than 150 large livestock units. If the EC’s proposal passes, the directive will have its impact not on 20 000 farms in the EU, as it is today, but on 160 000 farms in the European Union.

t – My favourite philosopher and geologist RNDr. Václav Cílek says that soil and food are even more wealth and security than we have thought for at least fifty years. I wish people realized that.

This text reflects the speech of Mrs. Monika Nebeská at the Prague Regional ForumforAg Conference on May 18, 2022. On May 25, 2022, the Government of the Czech Republic approved the submitted version of the strategic plan. Thus, the amount of redistributive payments that farmers receive on the first 150 hectares of land will remain at 23% of the total amount for direct payments.

Comments from
Alžběta Procházková, Agriculture expert, WWF Central and Eastern Europe

Alžběta Procházková, Agriculture expert, WWF Central and Eastern Europe, spoke during Session 1 at our recent Czech Regional event. We asked her for her comments on the event and particularly the question ‘Can we achieve the environmental targets with the new CAP and the National Strategic Plans?’

Czech Session 1

The Forum for the Future of Agriculture in Prague spread the necessity of a complete transformation of the entire system of food production and consumption. Because of the Europe-wide and global nature of the problem, the view describing the Czech dimension of the problem got a little out of the discussion. From the perspective of NGOs, I would like to return to the overarching question of the first panel in the context of the Czech Republic:

Is the proposed Czech Strategic Plan able to achieve the necessary environmental goals?

The Common European Policy is a great opportunity for change of the restoration of the European agricultural landscape. The new Czech government, which was appointed in December 2021, is addressing the environmental challenges of the CFSP significantly more openly than the previous government. It has been agreed to co-finance the Pillar II from the state budget at 65%, and support for small agricultural entities was promised. Repeated statement by the Minister of Agriculture, Zdeněk Nekula, that the Strategic Plan must ensure the sustainable management of landscape in addition to the production of healthy food, are a good political promise. How this will manifest itself in real terms of the Strategic Plan, however, is still under discussion. And the Ministry of Agriculture has not yet revealed their plans.

What exactly are the environmental goals of the Czech agricultural landscape?

Agricultural land in the Czech Republic represents approximately 53% of the country’s land area. The average farm size in the Czech Republic is 133 hectares, which is more than eight times the European average (16 ha). Approximately ¼ of the agricultural land used for farming during the second half of the 20th century was drained by systematic drainage.

The consolidation of land meant ploughing up of margins, wetlands, even the tree plantations and other valuable landscape features. Also adding to the intensification, heavy mechanization and chemicalization of agriculture, the consequences of the historical development of the 20th century are truly enormous. The restoration of the agricultural landscape will require a comprehensive and systematic change.
First and foremost is the search for appropriate agrotechnical methods for conventional agriculture that, while maintaining production, will lead to a widespread improvement in soil conditions, better protection of surface water, reduction of wind and water erosion, etc. In this sense, we hope that after incorporating the EC’s comments, the right direction will already be taken in this CAP period and further period will confirm this direction.

At the same time, however, the Czech agricultural landscape needs extensive and well-thought-out restoration of landscape’s multifunctional structures. The new landscape elements that are created must be located in such a way that contribute to optimizing hydrological conditions, prevent erosion, contribute to circular use of nutrients and water conservation, while supporting biodiversity. In this sense, the current proposal has strategic plan is seriously flawed.

Environmental organizations have continuously advocated for a more ambitious green architecture setting on all levels of the Strategic Plan. In our efforts, we have focused primarily on setting up ecoschemes that will be supported by 30% of the direct payment envelope and can thus have the greatest positive benefits in the landscape. The European Commission’s comments published in the Czech Republic on 3 May supported our demands.

We hope that at least the vegetated buffer strips along watercourses can be promoted to the basic level of ecosystems as the basis for our holistic view of the agricultural landscape.

At the same time, we have jointly submitted on behalf of 4 NGOs (DUHA, CSO, Čmelák and Živá voda) a Ministry of Agriculture a proposal that promotes systemic thinking also to the superstructural level of ecosystems. Here, however, the setting and financial support is still quite uncertain.

It is clear that this Strategic Plan will not be sufficient to achieve the goals that the Czech landscape needs for its restoration. However, I believe that it will set a good direction that we can continue to follow. At the same time, I believe that in the course of its preparation, space for dialogue has slowly begun to open up between the various actors in the process, which is noticeably lacking in our country. The search for opportunities for constructive dialogue will be a long way off, because the scissors between sustainable and productive vision of agriculture in the Czech Republic are still gaping. I am grateful that the Forum for the Future of Agriculture is creating space, that goes against this trend. Because we need to look for common inspiration and solutions at all levels, between farmers and ecologists, between experts and laymen, between ministries, between neighboring countries, between regions and between practitioners and the European Commission. So that the possibilities of the CAP are really used and effectively lead to the support of the sustainability of our entire society.

Pražské The Forum for the Future of Agriculture před nás v celé šíři rozprostřelo nutnost kompletní transformace celého systému produkce a spotřeby potravin. Z důvodu celoevropské a celosvětové podstaty problému se z diskusního prostoru poněkud vytratil pohled na český rozměr. Ráda bych se z perspektivy neziskových organizací ještě vrátila k zastřešující otázce prvního diskusního panelu v kontextu České republiky:

Je navrhovaný český Strategický plán schopen dosáhnout potřebných environmentálních cílů?

Společná evropská politika je pro obnovu evropské zemědělské krajiny velkou příležitostí ke změně. Nová česká vláda, která byla jmenována v prosinci 2021, se k environmentálním výzvám SP_SZP staví významně otevřeněji než vláda předcházející. Bylo odsouhlaseno kofinancování II. pilíře ze státního rozpočtu ve výši 65 %, byla přislíbena podpora malých zemědělských subjektů a opakované prohlášení ministra zemědělství Zdeňka Nekuly, že Strategický plán musí vedle produkce zdravých potravin zajišťovat také šetrné hospodaření v krajině, jsou dobrým politickým příslibem. O tom, jak se to projeví ve skutečné podobě Strategického plánu se však ještě stále jedná. A Ministerstvo zemědělství zatím své plány neprozradilo.

Jaké vlastně jsou environmentální cíle České zemědělské krajiny?

Zemědělská půda v České republice představuje přibližně 53 % rozlohy státu. Průměrná velikost zemědělského podniku v ČR je 133 ha, což představuje více než osminásobek evropského průměru (16 ha). Přibližně ¼ zemědělské půdy byla v průběhu druhé poloviny 20. století odvodněna systematickou drenáží. Scelování pozemků znamenalo rozorání mezí, mokřadů, stromořadí a dalších cenných krajinných prvků. Přičteme-li důsledky intenzifikace, těžké mechanizace a chemizace zemědělství, jsou důsledky historického vývoje 20. století skutečně obrovské. Obnova zemědělské krajiny bude vyžadovat komplexní a systémovou změnu.

V prvé řadě jde o hledání vhodných agrotechnických způsobů pro konvenční zemědělství, které povedou při zachování produkce k plošnému zlepšení stavu půdy, lepší ochraně povrchových vod, omezí větrnou i vodní erozi atd. V tomto smyslu doufáme, že po zapracování připomínek EK dojde již v tomto období společné zemědělské politiky k vykročení správným směrem a další období toto směrování potvrdí.
Česká zemědělská krajina ale potřebuje zároveň rozsáhlou a promyšlenou obnovu krajinných struktur multifunkčního charakteru. Nově vznikající krajinné prvky musejí být umístěny tak, aby přispěly k optimalizaci hydrologických podmínek, bránily erozi, přispěly k cirkulárnímu využití živin a k ochraně vod a zároveň podpořily biodiverzitu. V tomto smyslu má stávající návrh strategického plánu velké nedostatky.

Ekologické organizace kontinuálně prosazují ambicióznější nastavení zelené architektury na všech úrovních Strategického plánu. Ve svém snažení jsme se soustředili především na nastavení ekoschémat, která budou podpořena 30 % objemu obálky přímých plateb a mohou tak mít největší pozitivní přínos v krajině. Připomínky Evropské komise zveřejněné v České republice 3. května naše požadavky podpořily.
Doufáme, že se podaří jako základ našeho celostního pohledu na zemědělskou krajinu prosadit alespoň vegetací pokryté ochranné pásy podél vodních toků do základní úrovně ekoschémat. Zároveň jsme společně za 4 nevládní organizace (DUHA, ČSO, Čmelák a Živá voda) podali na Ministerstvo zemědělství návrh, který podporuje systémové uvažování také do nadstavbové úrovně ekoschémat. Zde je ale nastavení a finanční podpora stále zcela nejistá.

Je zřejmé, že tento Strategický plán nepostačí k dosažení cílů, které česká krajina potřebuje pro svou obnovu. Věřím ale, že nám nastaví dobrý směr, který budeme moct dále sledovat. Zároveň věřím, že v průběhu jeho příprav se začal pomalu otevírat prostor pro dialog mezi různými aktéry procesu, který u nás citelně chybí. Hledání možností konstruktivního dialogu bude ještě běh na dlouhou trať, protože nůžky mezi udržitelným a produkčním viděním zemědělství se v České republice stále ještě rozevírají. Jsem vděčná, že FFA vytváří prostor, který jde proti tomuto trendu. Potřebujeme totiž hledat společné inspirace a řešení na všech úrovních: mezi zemědělci a ekology, mezi odborníky a laiky, mezi jednotlivými ministerstvy, mezi sousedícími státy, mezi regiony i mezi praktiky a Evropskou komisí. Aby možnosti SZP byly skutečně využity a efektivně vedly k podpoře udržitelnosti celé naší společnosti.

Le Forum pour le Futur de l’Agriculture de Prague a diffusé la nécessité d’une transformation complète de l’ensemble du système de production et de consommation alimentaire. En raison de la nature européenne et mondiale du problème, le point de vue décrivant la dimension tchèque du problème a été un peu écarté de la discussion. Du point de vue des ONG, j’aimerais revenir à la question primordiale du premier panel dans le contexte de la République tchèque :

Le Plan Stratégique National tchèque proposé est-il en mesure d’atteindre les objectifs environnementaux nécessaires ?

La politique européenne commune est une grande opportunité de changement pour la restauration du paysage agricole européen. Le nouveau gouvernement tchèque, qui a été nommé en décembre 2021, aborde les défis environnementaux de la PESC de manière beaucoup plus ouverte que le gouvernement précédent. Il a été convenu de cofinancer le pilier II à partir du budget de l’État à hauteur de 65 %, et un soutien aux petites entités agricoles a été promis. Les déclarations répétées du ministre de l’agriculture, Zdeněk Nekula, selon lesquelles le plan stratégique doit assurer la gestion durable du paysage en plus de la production d’aliments sains, sont une bonne promesse politique. Cependant, la manière dont cela se traduira concrètement dans le Plan Stratégique National est encore en discussion. Et le ministère de l’agriculture n’a pas encore révélé ses plans.

Quels sont exactement les objectifs environnementaux du paysage agricole tchèque ?

Les terres agricoles de la République tchèque représentent environ 53 % de la superficie du pays. La taille moyenne des exploitations agricoles en République tchèque est de 133 hectares, soit plus de huit fois la moyenne européenne (16 ha). Environ ¼ des terres agricoles utilisées pour l’agriculture au cours de la seconde moitié du 20e siècle ont été asséchées par drainage systématique.
Le remembrement des terres a entraîné le labourage des marges, des zones humides, voire des plantations d’arbres et d’autres éléments précieux du paysage. Si l’on ajoute à cela l’intensification, la forte mécanisation et l’usage plus récurant de la chimie de l’agriculture, les conséquences de l’évolution historique du XXe siècle sont énormes. La restauration du paysage agricole nécessitera un changement global et systématique.

Il s’agit avant tout de rechercher des méthodes agrotechniques appropriées pour l’agriculture conventionnelle qui, tout en maintenant la production, permettront une amélioration généralisée de l’état des sols, une meilleure protection des eaux de surface, une réduction de l’érosion éolienne et hydrique, etc. Dans ce sens, nous espérons qu’après avoir intégré les commentaires de la CE, la bonne direction sera déjà prise dans cette période de la PAC et que la période suivante confirmera cette direction.

En même temps, cependant, le paysage agricole tchèque a besoin d’une restauration étendue et bien pensée des structures multifonctionnelles du paysage. Les nouveaux éléments du paysage qui sont créés doivent être situés de manière à contribuer à l’optimisation des conditions hydrologiques, à prévenir l’érosion, à contribuer à l’utilisation circulaire des nutriments et à la conservation de l’eau, tout en soutenant la biodiversité. En ce sens, la proposition actuelle du Plan Stratégique National est sérieusement défectueux.

Les organisations environnementales n’ont cessé de plaider en faveur d’une architecture verte plus ambitieuse à tous les niveaux du plan stratégique. Dans nos efforts, nous nous sommes principalement concentrés sur la mise en place d’écoschemes qui seront soutenus par 30 % de l’enveloppe des paiements directs et qui pourront donc avoir les plus grandes retombées positives dans le paysage. Les commentaires de la Commission européenne publiés en République tchèque le 3 mai ont soutenu nos demandes.

Nous espérons qu’au moins les bandes tampons végétalisées le long des cours d’eau pourront être promues au niveau de base des écosystèmes comme base de notre vision holistique du paysage agricole.

En même temps, nous avons soumis conjointement au nom de 4 ONG (DUHA, CSO, Čmelák et Živá voda) au Ministère de l’Agriculture une proposition qui promeut la pensée systémique également au niveau superstructurel des écosystèmes. Ici, cependant, le cadre et le soutien financier sont encore assez incertains.

Il est clair que ce plan stratégique ne sera pas suffisant pour atteindre les objectifs dont le paysage tchèque a besoin pour sa restauration. Cependant, je pense qu’il définira une bonne direction que nous pourrons continuer à suivre. En même temps, je crois qu’au cours de sa préparation, un espace de dialogue a lentement commencé à s’ouvrir entre les différents acteurs du processus, ce qui fait cruellement défaut dans notre pays. La recherche d’opportunités pour un dialogue constructif sera longue, car les ciseaux entre la vision durable et productive de l’agriculture en République tchèque sont encore béants. Je suis reconnaissant au Forum pour l’avenir de l’agriculture de créer un espace qui va à l’encontre de cette tendance. Car nous devons chercher une inspiration et des solutions communes à tous les niveaux, entre les agriculteurs et les écologistes, entre les experts et les novices, entre les ministères, entre les pays voisins, entre les régions et entre les praticiens et la Commission Européenne. Pour que les possibilités offertes par la PAC soient réellement utilisées et contribuent efficacement à soutenir la durabilité de l’ensemble de notre société.

Opening words from Janez Potočnik
Czech Regional Event

Janez Czech stage

Dear friends, welcome to another edition of the Forum for the Future of Agriculture and I am delighted to be talking to you in the Czech Republic.

The raison d’etre of the Forum for Agriculture is to bring all of us together, policy makers, farmers, NGOs, industries, and academics to see if we can find ways to break down our silos and transform our food system, together.

I don’t believe I need to convince you all here today of the urgency for such a transformation, for all our sectors – energy, transport, infrastructure and so on. I think we all recognise that the current predominant system of production, and consumption, is unsustainable both for the climate, and the environment.

The war in Ukraine has only worked to expose the vulnerabilities of the food system and the urgency to build resilience for the long run. Ukraine and Russia combined are important producers of wheat, barley, maize, sunflower seeds and oils and natural gas. Export bans and the effect of conflict on trade routes and ability to plant and process crops has led to a worldwide fear of a global food and energy crisis. This combined with increasing transport costs may prevent countries that were reliant on imports from Ukraine, such a Tunisia, Turkey, and Egypt, and low-income counties with high import dependency ratios across Africa and Asia, from procuring sufficient food supplies. This is an enormous concern. And inevitably perhaps, as there was at the start of the COVID crisis, there are cries from some corners to ramp up production in Europe, to plough up areas designated for nature to grow and replace the shortfall in livestock feed from Ukraine, and to support fertiliser producers to sustain production.

Whilst action clearly needs to be taken to allay potential terrible hunger down the line, we need to think very carefully about what action we take, because how we react to this crisis today, will determine how we fare during the next. The Ukraine war is not a climate related emergency, but if we don’t meet the 1.5 degrees climate target, nor halt biodiversity loss, be in no doubt, that global crisis will keep coming, and our systems will be less able to buffer the shocks. Solving the current conflict related crisis should not, and cannot, compromise our ability to tackle the triple planetary crises of climate emergency, biodiversity loss and pollution.

Now is not the time to call off the Green Deal, an ambitious and necessary policy framework, or question the good intentions and the vision included in the Farm to Fork document. Rather, the COVID crisis and the war on Ukraine have accelerated the need to transition our food system to one that is robust, sustainable, that restores and preserves biodiversity, reduces emissions, and sequesters carbon, and provides affordable, nutritious food for us all.

Let me reiterate some of the messages I have already shared during the main Brussels Forum event. Long term food security is not about ploughing up nature areas to grow more food for livestock. Livestock is an essential part of our farming system, but there is clear evidence that we are overconsuming and overproducing livestock products. Therefore, holding up and sustaining the size of the livestock sector does not contribute to long term food security.

Food security is about recognising that in western countries we continue to overconsume, at the expense of others. It is about prioritising food for direct human consumption over food produced for animal feed.

It is about taking a fresh look at marine production systems that can have the capacity to deliver multiple benefits. Aquaculture to produce seaweed and bivalves is a great option because these species absorb nutrients directly from their environment and therefore not dependant on feedstocks.

It is about amazing agricultural technologies, like precision agriculture, vertical farming, and production of meat analogues. They rely on expensive machinery, but we can see these technologies being offered to farmers through dematerialised product-as-a-service business models, which is again very encouraging. The emergence of these new business models in the food system are breaking away from engrained ways of thinking and working in order to create new or additional value through sustainability solutions, shared throughout the food chain. It is about our care for pollinators, and it is about our care for healthy soils. It is about how much of the food we still waste which, if you think about it, also means wasted water, energy, pesticides, fertilisers, and land used to produce that food. This is entirely unacceptable from an economic and environmental, but also ethical, perspective. But it is also about policies which are not directly related to food. It is, for example, about how much of the biofuels produced from food crops we use to fuel cars instead of feeding people, it is about how much of the fertile land we use for various expanding infrastructure projects, it is about how much of the fertile land is swallowed up by urban expansion and new space required by our inefficient resource consuming mobility systems. It is about ensuring our forests are protected and planted to withstand the climate change of the future and working together to link in sustainable biomass production into our value chains, whilst simultaneously supporting carbon sequestration and biodiversity … and I could continue.

All this is about food security!

This multiple approach may seem a long way from the economic counter-offensive – the single, swift response – that political and media logic demands. But it is less strange to those working to hold back the underlying planetary crisis. Here, the cumulative effect of many positive, system-changing decisions is almost the only thing keeping a stable and safe world within reach. While dealing with acute challenges, we are also facing an emerging chronical and systemic environmental and social crisis due to the overuse of natural resources and uneven and unfair distribution of their benefits. The triple planetary crisis is making instability the norm.

Natural resources are at the heart of our environmental and human health challenges. The use of materials – fossil fuels, metals, minerals, biomass, everything we extract from the Earth – has tripled since 1970 and accounts for a huge share of greenhouse gas emissions. In overusing Earth’s resources, and by distributing the benefits unfairly, our economic model is taking far more than the planet can sustainably give.

The problem is that humankind has never separated out economic growth from ever-rising demand for resources. As a result, we are now overstepping planetary boundaries, and locking ourselves out of the safe operating space in which human societies evolved. We must instead link resource use to fundamental human needs and optimize the systems that deliver them. We do not need a car, we need mobility, we do not need a chair, we need to sit comfortably, we do not need a fridge, we need fresh, healthy food. Much extracted material goes into under-utilised cars, inefficiently built cities, and poorly maintained machinery. If we look at our production and consumption through the lens of natural resource use, we can start to look at the transformation of the whole system, not just of a specific sector. We need to reject the assumption that these systems need to be so resource intensive.

As a university student, I was taught that economic theory is based on the rational behaviour of consumers and producers: the more we produce at the lowest possible price, the higher the capital returns and GDP growth. But what if the whole economic system was at fault? Undervalued human capital and, in many cases, not valued natural capital by our markets, are leading to systemic social and environmental imbalances. Imagine that for example, large food shopping centre customer, would enter the centre and not pay, at least not pay the full price, for the things taken home … the food shopping centre would soon get bankrupt. The same is happening to nature. Nature is a large eco-system getting bankrupt due to our behaviour. Our short-term rational behaviour is leading to a long-term irrational “charming mass suicide” as Arto Paasilinna titled one of his excellent novels.

Our international efforts to fight the climate crisis remain focused on, and driven by, the supply side. This, the recent IPCC report warns, will fail to limit warming to 1.5C. But authors add that demand-side mitigation could reduce global GHGs in some sectors by up to 70% by 2050. More fundamentally, demand-side measures get us closer to the human questions of responsibility and equity. High-income regions, including Europe, must take the lead. Resource efficiency should thus be complemented with sufficiency-based policies. Until then, ambitious policies such as the EU’s Green Deal and the UNFCCC’s targets face an uphill battle to implement incentives and regulations to change our production and consumption patterns. Sending policy signals one way, and market signals the other, is creating confusion (not to mention intense lobbying by companies that fear the loss of profitable markets). It’s time to stop signalling to producers that destroying natural capital is free of charge. Time to stop contradictory messages to consumers, who still routinely pay more for food with a low environmental impact, instead of the reverse.

I started today saying that the challenges we face for our climate, our biodiversity and our health no longer need to be laid out. The science is overwhelmingly pointing us in the direction for change. Many of us have sat at the Forum for Ag, and other conferences and heard the now often repeated phrase, that there is no time to lose, that we need to change. These are messages given with good intention, but if those intentions are not followed through, they only work to make us feel better in the moment and serve to lose us time in the long run.

I applaud the phenomenal amount of work that is being directed towards innovation to reduce the impact of our current system, but without full scale systems change, these innovations will not even touch the sides of what is needed to meet our climate and biodiversity targets.
Our young and future generations who face an existence tackling the devastating effects of our lack of action will judge us poorly. The current economic system, and system of agriculture has bought food security for millions, healthcare advances beyond what could have been imagined, allowed the creation of social security systems in many of our countries, which we are grateful for. But it has now run its course and no longer serves us well. It has left us with a climate emergency, the devastation of natural resources, a declining quality of life and ever-growing inequality. And so, there is little logic in clinging to a broken system.

Like it or not, the responsibility falls to us here to today, listening at home, working in companies, doing the weekly shop, sowing the seeds in the fields this spring. The burden has fallen upon our shoulders to transition how we produce, and how we consume, to save the world for those to come. And I don’t deny this will be difficult. Tough choices will have to be made, money reinvested, whole sectors restructured, and policies updated. But it is also an enormous opportunity to create an economic system, and a food system, that serves us ; that works to improve our quality of life, provide equality, and prepare us for the future.
Dear friends, to conclude. Making our fragile economies and societies more sustainable and resilient is our best defence against any future crises. In the longer term, food and energy security are not about opening a new economic front. They are, first of all, about reassessing our values, rethinking our economies and reducing overconsumption.

Standards and behaviour patterns linked to the current economic model were set by high-income countries. We are ethically bound to show the world that we are willing and able to change a reality we created, and to lead the essential transition – at home and globally. The map of resource use still shows the shadows of an imperialist world, where wealthy nations pursue their ambitions at the expense of others. A more stable and sustainably prosperous future will mean shifting to an era of responsible resource use, where benefits are more fairly shared, mitigating resource fragility and strengthening our preparedness and resilience. The more we avoid these strategic, sometimes difficult decisions, the more likely is that that we will soon face them again.

For the future we want we need a system-based approach: minimising trade-offs and future lock-ins and maximising co-benefits and synergies among all our efforts. Focusing only on cleaning the current production systems will unfortunately not be enough. We must enter the untapped territories of the needed deep system transformation. If we want to avoid extinction of elephants in nature, we need to extinct elephants in the rooms. According to the Dasgupta Review, our unsustainable engagement with Nature can be traced to institutional failure and the failure of contemporary economics to acknowledge that we humans are embedded within Nature, and not external to it. So, for the beginning, it would be good to agree that humans are part of nature and start behaving accordingly. I never forget to mention that we are the first generation facing the emergence of a single, tightly coupled human social-ecological system of planetary scope. We are more vulnerable, interconnected, and interdependent than ever.

And in the spirit of working together, I would like to take a moment to thank the wide variety of partners who come together to support the Forum and join the conversation on these crucial topics: the founding partners: The European Landowners’ Organization and Syngenta; our strategic partners: The Nature Conservancy, International Union for the Conservation of Nature, Cargill, WWF and Thought for Food; Our international partner: The Chicago Council of Global Affairs and our supporting partners: The Friends of the Countryside, John Deere, Pepsico, Nestle, Indigo, The Rewe group, SYSTEMIQ and the RISE Foundation. And to thank Emma Mikosz and her extraordinary team for bringing us together today.

I wish you a fruitful conference and thank you for your attention.

Janez Potočnik

Month of March
Wrap-up session summary

Janez Potočnik, Chair ForumforAg 2022 and Chairman RISE, opened the final session of the Forum’s month-long series of events including the Annual Conference and various webinars to debate the future of food systems. He welcomed the fact all speakers had embraced the need for reform. To achieve that transformation, the whole food chain must be involved, not just farmers, and consumption, as well as production, must change, with both encouraged by proper market incentives. Mr Potočnik agreed on the need to develop short-term strategies to address global food security concerns sparked by the war in Ukraine, but not at the cost of a long-term strategy. “Unless we take urgent action now, our resilience to buttress inevitable future shocks will diminish and the effects will be worse and more widespread,” he warned.

Session 4 blog

Maciej Golubiewski, Head of Cabinet of Commissioner for Agriculture, Janusz Wojciechowski, explained how the Commission is helping Ukrainian agriculture by facilitating land routes for its exports and providing diesel for its farmers. He was confident the EU would continue on the transformation path, while targeting short-term measures to help producers. He stressed that the EU was “ready to help those parts of the world that are really looking with fear at the possible consequences” of the war in Ukraine.

In a special interview, Robert Bonnie, United States Under Secretary of Agriculture, shared details of the administration’s climate smart commodities programme to boost livestock and grain production, while reducing greenhouse gas emissions and sequestering carbon. He emphasised the measurement, monitoring and verification features in the programme. “We are in essence asking the US taxpayer to come help our farmers, ranchers, forest owners put these practices in place,” he said, adding: “Our best argument is to have data and to demonstrate that this can actually work.”

Following on from the launch last November of the transatlantic platform for collaboration on agriculture, Under Secretary Bonnie described as “critically important” the exchange of information between EU and US scientists and farmers. “We are all in this together. I think there is a lot to learn.”

During an online discussion, Galina Peycheva-Miteva, a Bulgarian farmer successfully practising regenerative agriculture, pointed to the need for role models. “Farmers need practical evidence that the nature-positive approach will work economically before they try it on a large scale.” With agriculture being increasingly considered in the context of climate change, unlike ten years ago, she was optimistic about the future. However, she urged decision-makers “to help farmers bear the costs associated with transitioning to sustainable farming”.

Marie Brueser, Entrepreneurship Leader at Thought For Food, explained her organisation helps start-ups throughout the food system. While finance is essential, the experience of large companies and their support for new ideas is also needed. She too was optimistic about the way ahead. “We have the people, the capital, the technologies, the knowledge. All of that combined creates a really good set-up and really good solutions that will create what we need.” But the real question is: “Will be courageous enough to drive those forward?”

Session 4 blog

Jon Parr, President of Syngenta Crop Protection, and Thierry de l’Escaille, Secretary General, European Landowners’ Organization, co-founders of the Forum almost 15 years ago, reflected on the success it has had in creating a space for an open and constructive exchange on agriculture and the environment – once seen as mutually exclusive. Both pointed to its ability to bring together prominent practitioners from different disciplines.

Jon underlined the key contribution science can make, the need to “make sure we continue to talk about nurturing innovation to solve the equations that are currently not working for us” and the importance of discussion being followed by action.

Thierry noted how the Forum tries to build a bridge between the covid, climate and conflict crises to develop better understanding, and solutions, of their impact on society and food systems. This year’s Forum had aimed to give hope to farmers to ensure they “can find a way, not only to be accepted by society, to be useful to society, but also to be sufficiently profitable in their businesses”.
Presentation of the prestigious Land and Soil Management Award, which brought the ForumforAg 2022’s month-long events to a close.

The Land and Soil Management Award was launched in 2008 by the European Landowners’ Organization, under the auspices of the European Commission (DG Environment and the Joint Research Centre) and in association with the University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences (BOKU) of Vienna, Syngenta, as well as the Centre for Soil and Environmental Sciences of the Ljubljana University. Since then, the award jury has selected outstanding achievements throughout the EU in the field of sustainable soil and land management.

Prof Martin Gerzabek, Institute of Soil Research, Vienna, as president of the jury, announced that, from a field of 12, the Geographical Institute Research Centre for Astronomy and Earth Sciences in Budapest was this year’s winner for its long-term agricultural trials. “The jury was especially impressed by the long duration of the experiments of 19 years, which is not easy to achieve for a research institute,” he said.

Andrea Vettori, Member of Cabinet of Environment, Oceans and Fisheries Commissioner Virginijus Sinkevičius, explained that 60-70% of soil ecosystems in Europe are downgrading. “This is why many years ago, the European Commission, DG Environment, decided to partner with Syngenta and the European Landowners Organization to create the award.

He announced diplomas of recognition to two further projects: French farm Lo Biais al Maset, Albi, which has been applying agri-ecological measures for almost two decades and Gut&Bösel Keyline agroforestry, Germany, a regenerative organic farm that minimises soil erosion while enhancing biodiversity and careful use of water.

Annual Conference closing session
Annual Conference 2022 session 5 summary

Pascal Lamy, President of the Paris Peace Forum, Vice President of Europe Jacques Delors, started the closing session by examining the future of agriculture in the context of global trade trends. He mentioned how previously, the debate had focused on the costs and benefits of protecting producers. That era is receding, mainly because prices for agriculture, and to some extent food, are on the medium to long-term rise. “I think we are now moving in what I call the era of precaution, much more than protection. Producers are not the main issue in agri-food policy.”

Session 4 blog

He identified three key factors – nature, health and security – as “the new set of objectives and targets in addressing the model of future farming and food in the European Union and this entails a transformation of the EU agri-food system”. This involves a move towards more regenerative agriculture, regulation to protect human health and adoption of the necessary precautionary measures to ensure availability and affordability of food. He made a clear distinction between food security, which he supports, and food sovereignty, which he does not. The first “is about providing food at an affordable price”. The second “is about producing what you eat”.

Pascal maintained that the Green Deal transition will require serious change in the common agricultural policy and that this had so far been “significantly overlooked”. The debate must be seen from a wider spectrum and involve a whole range of stakeholders.

The former World Trade Organization Director-General said that the impact of the war in Ukraine was a good example of what happens when global food markets are disrupted. He strongly advised against introduction of export restrictions which would simply make matters worse, particularly for countries heavily dependent on Russian and Ukrainian cereals.

Session 4 blog

In her address to the Forum, Amina Mohammed, Deputy Secretary-General, United Nations & Chair of the United Nations Sustainable Development Group, warned that every single Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) is in danger, as finance is channelled into “short-term profit, rather than long-term resilience”. This affects SDG 3 which calls for ensuring healthy lives and promoting well-being for all ages. “We must make healthy diets central to the transformation of food systems,” she said in a video message to the Forum, identifying ways this could be achieved.

Targeted investment is needed to improve food quality and diversity; the food and agricultural sectors must be supported to increase availability of diverse, safe and nutritious foods; a food systems approach can make healthy foods cheaper and ensure access to affordable, sustainable diets for all; and measures must be in place to withstand shocks such as pandemics and climate change. The UN Food Systems Summit identified over 2,000 solutions. “Let’s use these tools to transform food systems, nourish humanity and build a healthier and more sustainable world for all,” she said.

Janez Potočnik, Chair ForumforAg 2022 and Chairman RISE Foundation, bringing proceedings to a close, pointed out that the latest International Panel on Climate Change report made grim reading. “Climate-related impacts are heating the world at the high end of what most of us predicted and at an accelerated rate.” The choice ahead is either to use the small window of opportunity that exists to manage “the transition needed in an organised way or to wait till the consequences will force us to change. I do not need to explain to you what that will mean in real life.” He called for an intergenerational impact assessment to be mandatory for all policy proposals. After thanking all involved in the day’s events, he repeated his earlier plea for an end to “the insane war” and suffering in Ukraine. But finished on an upbeat note: “Despite everything, stay optimistic. One should never forget optimists live longer and better.”