CCRI Researchers at European meetings and beyond!

Researchers from the CCRI team have been busy travelling to a variety of Horizon 2020 research projects meetings, conferences and other events in mainland Europe and beyond.

In September, Julie Urquhart and Alice Goodenough participated in the EUFORE (European Forest Research and Innovation Ecosystem) regional stakeholder workshop in Paris. The aim of the workshop was to work towards defining a new Horizon Europe partnership on forests and forestry with the SCAR (Standing Committee on Agricultural Research) Working Group FOREST. The goal of the partnership will be to support research and innovation in forests and forestry across Europe.

Julie Ingram and Honor Mackley-Ward attended the EU MINAGRIS project meeting in Piacenza Itaty in September. They also hosted the high level stakeholder forum workshop on the theme of One Health at the Agrifoodplast conference.  The MINAGRIS (Micro and Nano plastics in Agricultural Soils) project is investigating the impact of plastic on agricultural soils and ecosystems.  CCRI lead  the WP8 on dissemination and coordinate the UK case study. For further information about MINAGRIS, please visit the project website.

A group of researchers stood outside a brick building

Julie also attended the project meeting of the EU project TRANSECT (Trans-disciplinary approaches for Systemic economic, Ecological and Climate change Transitions) in Namur Belgium in September as a member of the Strategic Advisory board. This Horizon 2020 funded project aims to grow our understanding of a wide range of agroecological farming practices so that these can be increasingly implemented by European farmers. For further information, please visit the TRANSECT website.

In mid-September Paul Courtney, John Powell and Katarina Kubinakova attended a FARMWELL Partnership meeting held at the University of Pisa.  The main objective of the meeting was to develop policy recommendations based on the analysis of 12 social innovations implemented within six EU member states over the past five years. 

The CCRI has played a key role in the project through application of a social return on investment (SROI) model exploring and valuing outcomes from social innovations to improve farmer well-being.  Both summative and formative evaluations have been carried out providing evidence for the scale and type of investment required to generate outcomes from innovative actions in rural areas, along with monetary valuation of outcome benefits to farmers and other stakeholders. 

Projects vary widely and include enabling migrants to access employment and services in Italy, empowering small scale renewable energy cooperatives in Greece, care farming in Poland, and development of a farmer learning network on mental wellbeing in Belgium.  In Pisa the CCRI team met up with their partners and wrestled with dissemination issues – how and where to utilise the evidence to influence policy processes at different levels, ranging from local and regional authorities up to EU level. 

To find out more about FARMWELL, please visit the project website.

Damian Maye and Jane Mills travelled to Stavanger for the kick-off meeting for Agrisocial, a Research Council of Norway-funded project, led by colleagues at the Norwegian Centre for Rural Research (Ruralis). The meeting included a fieldtrip to visit a farm and other sites to learn more about the ‘green transition’ taking place in Norway and impacts and tensions this presents for rural (and urban) citizens, plus a meeting to review the upcoming work tasks.

Damian and Jane gave a presentation on the first evening to introduce some of CCRI’s work on rural-urban relations and planetary rural geographies.

Damian Maye, Aimee Morse and PhD Student Adam Fisher attended the European Society for
Rural Sociology Congress conference
in Rennes, France. The theme for the conference was ‘Crises and the futures of rural areas’, and at the five-day event Damian was involved in organising sessions as well as presenting papers, Aimee co-organised a session with colleagues from Ruralis and Adam presented a paper based on his PhD research.

Nenia Micha attended the Triannual Congress of the European Agricultural Economists Association, also held in Rennes, France. The congress brought together more than 1100 participants and the plenary speakers’ list included Catherine Geslain-Laneelle, Director for strategy and policy analysis in DG Agri, and Arnaud Degoulet, from La Coopération Agricole.

Nenia gave a full paper presentation where she talked about the quantitative work the NICRE team (Fahimeh, Nenia and Damian) is doing on the ability of English rural enterprises to withstand critical shocks. This work includes a multivariate analysis on an extended survey in rural England and explains which type of businesses are more resilient to shocks and why. Her session attracted high interest and was a good opportunity to remind the research community of the work CCRI is doing in the fields of Rural and Agricultural Economics.  Nenia’s participation in the congress was partly funded by the Agricultural Economics Society.

Janet Dwyer spent a busy week in Kyoto at the end of September, meeting with Japanese research colleagues to work together on a new project bid, ‘Satoyama reconnections’ – finding new ways to sustain longstanding cultural landscapes in UK, Europe and Japan. She and CCRI Associate Professor Lois Mansfield also gave a seminar to a 40-strong audience of policy makers, researchers and practitioners at the Research Institute for Humanities and Nature, on the outskirts of Kyoto. They discussed different national policy responses to the climate emergency, contrasting the French ‘planned’ shift towards agroecology and the elimination of pesticides from farming with the UK’s more ‘laissez-faire’ approach of setting challenging environmental targets and waiting for the sector to find its own solutions. Japan is currently pursuing a new ‘greener’ farm policy but as yet, its emphasis is firmly upon ‘smart’ farming, using technology to address both environmental and economic trade (export) targets, while farm numbers continue to decline across the country as a younger generation has moved to the cities. Janet and Lois also visited paddy-field farms and other valued cultural landscapes along the shores of Lake Biwa, which supplies most of Kyoto’s water.

Janet (2nd left) with colleagues