Comb Lab extends its sincere wishes for the New Year to every reader, and hopes that everyone will be able to create the right conditions for their projects to come to fruition.
Once aspirations and wishes have been formulated, the question is how to make them a reality. Sir Robert Watson, Chairman of the IPBES (the IPCC for biodiversity) said in 20231: “The health of the ecosystems on which we and all other species depend is deteriorating faster than ever. We are eroding the very foundations of our economies, livelihoods, food security, health and quality of life worldwide”. The question then becomes: how can we develop a process of proactive resilience, i.e. one that anticipates the future and is open to deal with the unexpected, while remaining within planetary limits? Back to the candle? Quite absurd. Let’s hope that the convergence of essential restraint with the reasoned use of the “intelligent agents” now entering our daily lives will mark the boundaries of a worthy and equitable resilience.
A recent OECD report2 entitled: “Support policies largely hinder adaptation to climate change” caught our attention. It points out that: “Climate change is having an increasing impact on agricultural production worldwide, due to increased variability in temperature and precipitation, disruption of ecosystem services and slower productivity growth”. As a result, “public authorities are stepping up their efforts to help agriculture adapt to climate change”.
Unfortunately: “Market price support warps the signals sent to producers, discourages them from changing their production systems and creates distortions on international markets, which remain essential to mitigate the effects of shortages or bumper harvests and to strengthen the resilience of agricultural and food systems. Furthermore, the 1.5°C objective set out in the Paris Agreement will not be achieved without mitigation efforts in the agricultural sector” .
It all ties together: climate change, rainfall variability, the fragility of ecosystems and contradictory signals from the markets all pose a direct threat to food security. In fact, the media, of whichever trend, are now talking about food risk. And when the OECD points out the efforts that the agricultural sector must make to mitigate the rise in average temperature, we take the reasoning a step further: agriculture will have no choice but to:
- move away from polluting and costly industrial inputs,
- reduce tractor hours in view of the reduced availability of fuel.
Farmers will have to choose between reintroducing labour to the farm or making massive use of facilities managed by artificial intelligence3. Unless they combine the two, because “AI forces us to think in terms of tasks, not jobs”4. We’ll be coming back to this issue in a future newsletter…
Surprising as these forecasts may seem, their occurrence is a probability that must be considered. But once again, everything fits together, and no matter how agricultural techniques evolve, food remains the overriding issue. Who could claim not to be concerned?
That’s why Comb Lab Resilience is supporting the Forum alimentaire des Combrailles (Combrailles’ Food Forum) initiative. Food processing, transport, preservation and distribution are directly dependent on the inevitable energy transition. In this respect, the combination of the Comb Lab Resilience process and the roll-out of the Territorial Food Programme (TFP), which is entering its second phase, promises to make an impact on the region, allowing us to approach the year with real optimism, without being naive.
Of course, cooperation with the associations working in and for the Combrailles area remains a fundamental parameter. Here, as in so many other places, our contributory approach resonates fully with the words of researcher Carine Sebi (Energy for Society Chair at the Grenoble School of Management), who concludes a recent study with these words: “To reconcile agricultural, energy and industrial issues, the State must monitor the application of existing regulations. Locally, local authorities must be supported in exercising their responsibility for territorial planning, to ensure consistency between local issues and national ambitions”5.
Fully motivated to make the most of the opportunities to help build resilience in the Combrailles, we wish you all the best for 2024!
3 Les Echos 20 12 2023. https://www.lesechos.fr/pme-regions/innovateurs/neofarm-inaugure-un-demonstrateur-de-ferme-semi-robotisee-dans-loise-2042533
4 Alexandre Viros ; Le Grand continent Source Le grand Continent