Margarita Ruiz Ramos is a professor in the Department of Agricultural Production at the School of Agricultural, Food and Biosystems Engineering (ETSIAAB), exsecretary of the Research Center for the Management of Agricultural and Environmental Risks (CEIGRAM) and member of the research group on Agricultural Systems (AgSystems). From December 1, she will also be one of the experts advising the European Commission on the upcoming climate challenges.
The academic has been recruited for the Leading National Experts program, through which the member states of the European Union send for a limited period of time (2 years, extendable for another 2 years) officials specialized in a subject in which the European Commission requires advice and management. One of these matters has to do with climate. Margarita Ruiz Ramos has therefore joined the Directorate General for Research and Innovation and, specifically, the Climate and Planetary Boundaries Unit to provide her expertise in these matters. The main objective will be to implement the European Green Deal and to address issues that deepen Earth system science, adaptation and Earth system science, climate change adaptation and mitigation, and biodiversity.
The teacher received the vacancy in July, through the Center for the Development of Inclusive Technologies (CEDETI), and had to work “against the clock” to make a decision practically “overnight”. And the reason for accepting was clear to her: “I thought it would be difficult to find a position again with a profile so in tune with my line of research and the experience I have had as a scientific collaborator in the Spanish National Research Agency”. Margarita Ruiz Ramos has spent six years collaborating in the management of international programs at this Agency, and this is precisely the reason why she has lost the “allergy to management” that she confesses is typical of researchers. “I am a researcher very focused on investigation and, over the years and due to the contact with the Agency, I have become more and more attracted to management,” says Ruiz Ramos.
In the journey that is about to begin, her work will consist of helping to implement, monitor and propose improvements that will then be passed on to the European Commission. In this sense, there are five main lines of action: policy development, with program implementation; policy analysis, which will allow the results to be studied; policy monitoring, to support policy dissemination; policy coordination, to facilitate the transfer of knowledge; and the final management of these programs. final management of these programs.
Change of plans
The professor acknowledges feeling very excited “to provide scientific support” but, at the same time, admits that it has been an “important decision” that has meant “changing the mental scheme I had made for myself”. Just a few days before receiving the call for applications, she won the competition for her Chair Professorship and her idea was “very different,” she says. In her mind, she envisioned a calmer year, focused on research, as Principal Investigator in a recently approved project of the Fundación Biosiversidad. This decision has meant “undoing all the plans I had and embarking on something new,” but she says she is “really excited” about this new stage.
In this new challenge she has just embarked on, she does not forget the support and backing she has found along the way. “Everything has been supportive at all levels and bodies I have had to turn to,” she says, recalling that the support of all her teaching colleagues, CEIGRAM, the department, the School, the Rector’s Office and the research group of which she is a member have been decisive in making the decision. A path that she is sure she will also pave for others with her knowledge.
The AgroSceNA-UP project publishes the Policy Brief entitled “Defining a roadmap for sustainable nitrogen fertilization” with the objective of contributing to the transition towards more sustainable systems by providing information to policy makers and other stakeholders in the sector on what actions can be taken to overcome the barriers that are currently limiting the implementation of strategies to reduce nitrogen losses.
The Policy Brief is the result of a participatory workshop involving representatives of key industry stakeholders such as farmers, livestock producers, fertilizer companies, sectoral units of public administration, environmental organizations and research.
The main outcome of the Policy Brief is that the diversity of constraints and actions to be carried out to favor the implementation of N loss reduction scenarios implies that the design of the roadmap to advance the sustainability of nitrogen fertilization requires a holistic approach that facilitates the transition from a farm-centered approach to a territorially integrated one, considering for example the coupling of plant and animal productions. This transition must be carried out with a multi-stakeholder approach, considering all the actors in the value chain, and with the participation of academia, civil society and local, regional and national authorities.
The document with complete information can be found by clicking here.
Video: ‘Vertical agriculture, crops at different heights produced in cities’.
Vertical agriculture is proposed as a solution for producing food in urban areas, reducing the transportation costs and its ecological footprint. Food security for a growing world population, population density in cities and the scarcity of arable land are problems to which this type of agriculture aims to provide a solution.
These crops do not compete for land use because they do not occupy productive spaces; water use is reduced by 95% and, in addition, being in closed environments, the presence of pests is minimized and pesticides and herbicides are not needed for their control.
Rubén Moratiel, CEIGRAM researcher and professor at ETSIAAB, has been invited to promote the benefits of this type of crops in the news broadcast on TVE’s Telediario 2, on November 20.
On Wednesday, November 15, the School of Agricultural, Food and Biosystems Engineering (ETSIAAB) of the UPM was the scenario of an interactive workshop in the framework of the XXIII Science and Innovation Week of the Community of Madrid. This workshop highlighted the importance of reuse and circular management of water to promote a sustainable future.
The leading speakers of this experience were the distinguished CEIGRAM researchers Mario Ballesteros, Paloma Esteve, Irene Blanco and Sergio Zubelzu, from the RECLAMO Project (The contribution of water REuse to a resourCe-efficient and sustainabLe wAter manageMent for irrigatiOn). With enthusiasm and expertise, they guided the High School students of the Enriqueta Aymer School through the various aspects of Water Reuse, exploring its possibilities, limitations and opportunities.
During the participatory workshop, the young participants gained a deep understanding of the urban water cycle, debunking myths about the unsafety of reclaimed water and recognizing the imperative need to preserve both the conservation status of rivers and the water needs of population and industry. This meeting resulted in a valuable educational experience, enriching environmental awareness and fostering a more holistic approach to water management in our society.
With initiatives such as these, the RECLAMO project promotes the transfer of knowledge and reinforces its commitment to research to address contemporary water challenges. This workshop inspired young people to consider the essential role that water reuse plays on the path to a sustainable and resilient future.
On October 4, 5 and 6, the International Congress on Agricultural Insurance was held, organized by ENESA within the framework of the official activities of the Spanish Presidency of the EU Council. This Congress took place in Jerez de la Frontera, Spain, and dealt with the effects of climate change on farms and the Insurance System itself.
CEIGRAM’s contribution to this Congress was presented by Isabel Bardají, Director of CEIGRAM. Her presentation focused on analysing the main impacts and adaptation to climate change in agriculture, based on studies and research carried out by CEIGRAM researchers in various fields.
Firstly, to address the impacts, the results obtained on cereal yields were presented, using various projections of agro-meteorological parameters under different climate change scenarios, as well as the recent evolution of the most relevant extreme events for agricultural insurance in significant locations for the main crops.
On the other hand, to address the potential of adaptation, the positive results obtained in different studies were presented, by modifying management practices such as sowing dates, conduction or irrigation systems, changes in varieties using those more resistant to droughts or with different cold requirements; these studies have been carried out in crops such as cereals, vines, olive groves or peaches. The conclusion drawn from these studies is that adaptation is possible, although it requires combinations of both management and plant varieties, and should be considered locally, assessing the different options for each case.
As part of the recent rebranding of the Research Centre for the Management of Agricultural and Environmental Risks (CEIGRAM), we have produced a new brochure that summarises the activity, values, mission and vision of our centre.
Below, you can view and download the new CEIGRAM brochure:
This new brochure has been made possible, in large part, thanks to the work and support of the company MUAK Studio, whom we have contracted for this purpose.
Maria Blanco (Universidad Politécnica de Madrid and CEIGRAM) and the EU case study team are collaborating with experts, policymakers and other relevant stakeholders to define the key WEFE nexus challenges in the EU.
Climate change and increasing pressure on natural resources have been identified as some of the major challenges that will affect Europe in the coming decades, resulting in consequences such as migration pressure, food price shocks, water scarcity, irrigation inefficiency and imbalances in energy markets. These factors will become more impactful with time and represent the key elements of our EU GoNEXUS case study.
To address socioeconomic and environmental challenges from a nexus perspective, the EU case study team has identified the most important WEFE challenges. These nexus challenges will be further discussed and refined through dialogues with stakeholders. The all-encompassing challenge is that water scarcity and pollution will have major ramifications on other sectors, such as irrigation, energy prices, food security and biodiversity. The main challenges are listed below.
Challenge #1: Growing water scarcity and water stress index due to increasing water demand related to macroeconomic trends (demographic pressure, increasing food demand…) and climate change (a warmer and drier climate).
Specifics of the challenge: Food and energy security require large amounts of fresh water. Water is one of the essential resources in both sectors, acting as a crucial component for irrigation. The demand for natural resources is likely to increase over the coming decades due to growing global population numbers and economic development. At the same time, climate change may lead to lower overall water availability. Consequentially, water scarcity, variability and uncertainty are becoming more prominent, which could lead to vulnerabilities within the energy and food sectors.
Why this challenge matters? The EU is promoting initiatives to address water scarcity, such as investments to improve water use efficiency and the reuse of wastewater for irrigation. However, those solutions do not come without a cost. Energy requirements to transport reclaimed water from wastewater treatment plants to irrigated areas are high. While water reuse for irrigation may contribute to the reduction of water stress in coastal areas where irrigation is an important component of water demand, it may also contribute, in a more indirect way, to nutrient pollution migration. Addressing water scarcity requires paying attention to the impacts on energy demand, food security and ecosystems conservation.
Relevance: This challenge is linked to the Water Framework Directive, the European Green Deal, the Circular Economy Action Plan (CEAP) and SDG #6.
Challenge #2: Green energy transition and the reduction of CO2 emissions
Specifics of the challenge:
Energy use accounts for 75% of EU GHG emissions, making energy system transformation an integral part of the EU’s climate ambition. The green energy transition involves a higher share of renewable energy, replacing thermal and nuclear power generation vulnerable to water availability and temperature increases. Therefore, the transformation of the power sector can help mitigate the effects of water scarcity in a warmer and drier climate. However, greening the energy system can have negative economic impacts. Furthermore, hydroclimatic scenarios also consistently show negative impacts on hydropower generation and biomass potential.
Why this challenge matters? It is crucial to assess the impacts of climate adaptation strategies and energy policy measures from a nexus perspective, to account for the impacts not only on climate neutrality but also on water use and the agrifood sector. Additionally, assessing the ability of renewable sources to improve energy use efficiency is an essential aspect of the challenge that our work will contribute to. Through investigating this challenge, our main goal is to examine if the envisaged solutions to promote the energy transition are resilient in the context of the WEFE nexus, specifically focusing on climate neutrality, hydropower generation and biomass potential.
Relevance: This challenge is linked to the European Green Deal, which sets an ambition for a climate neutral Europe in 2050, the Energy Efficiency Directive, Fit for Purpose, Renewable Energy Directive, and SDG #7.
Challenge #3: Reconciling water, energy and food security with ecosystems conservation (and other environmental effects)
Specifics of the challenge: The agrifood system, which now accounts for almost a third of global greenhouse gas emissions, consumes large amounts of natural resources, contributes to soil and water pollution, and leads to biodiversity loss. Additionally, the energy sector is one of the major contributors to GHG emissions and the increase in water consumption reduces environmental flows and impacts freshwater ecosystems. Hence, we need to rethink our food systems, which now account for almost a third of global greenhouse gas emissions, consume large amounts of natural resources, lead to biodiversity loss. Promotion of sustainable agriculture may help to protect the ecosystem.
Why this challenge matters? There are a number of areas that require further research. For example, we are investigating how the increase in energy use due to the growing energy demand for irrigation (and other related activities such as water transfers and pumping) will impact the ecosystems. Also, we are looking into how irrigation water demand can be reduced to protect natural ecosystems, how water scarcity affects the ecosystems and how we can achieve food security and sustainable agriculture production with ecosystem conservation and the sustainable use of natural resources.
Relevance: This challenge is linked to SDG #13, 14 and 15, the Zero Pollution Action Plan (reducing pollution at source, e.g. pesticide use) and the European Green Deal (Farm to Fork Strategy, Biodiversity Strategy).
Challenge #4: Weak governance of the WEFE nexus
Specifics of the challenge: Overall, cross-sectoral coordination of governance systems is insufficient. As a result, policy measures and regulations aiming at improving one part of the nexus often lead to overtaxing or affecting another part. The search for policies and governance mechanisms that are robust under changing conditions as well as economically and ecologically sustainable is crucial to minimize cross-sectoral trade-offs and promote synergistic actions.
Why this challenge matters? Despite ambitious policymaking to improve resource efficiency and sustainable management of natural resources, the EU still faces complex sustainability issues at the nexus coherence between water, energy, food and ecosystems. It is important to identify the WEFE policy solutions that are effective as well as coordinated both from a sectoral perspective and a spatial perspective (from the EU to the subnational level)
Relevance: This challenge is linked to SDG #17.
To overcome these challenges, GoNEXUS is combining expert knowledge with modelling tools at the EU level. These modelling tools include an integrated water resource and crop model (LISFLOOD-EPIC), an agricultural-food model (CAPRI), an energy model (PRIMES) and an ecosystems model (GLOBIO). These models are currently being improved to address these challenges and will help to evaluate the impacts of the EU regulatory framework on the water, energy and food sectors as well as to assess the ability of EU policies to manage WEFE nexus challenges. Ultimately, we aim to make progress towards designing more sustainable and coherent policies and solutions for the efficient and sustainable management of the WEFE nexus in Europe.
From the Research Centre for the Management of Agricultural and Environmental Risks (CEIGRAM), we are pleased to announce that we are currently in a process of renewing the graphic image of the center. All this has been possible, in large part, thanks to the work and support of the company MUAK Studio, whom we have hired for this purpose.
The changes we have made will be reflected in the logo of the research centre, as well as on the website, social networks and graphic material, both digital and physical, that supports the activity and evolution of CEIGRAM (rollup, brochure, among others).
Next, you can download the new official CEIGRAM logos for your use.
Between October 24 and 28 of this year, the International Nitrogen Workshop will be held in Madrid, organized by the Universidad Politécnica de Madrid through ETSIAAB, CEIGRAM and its researchers Alberto Sanz Cobeña and Luis Lassaletta.
Agro-food systems are fuelled by nitrogen. About 80% of this valuable resource is lost to the environment before reaching our plates. We refer to this loss as nitrogen waste.
The ambitious goal of halving nitrogen waste by 2030 requires important coordination of many actors: multidisciplinary scientists, farmers, industry, policy-makers, NGOs, and consumers.
In the words of its organizers, the XXI International N Workshop will contribute to this challenge by welcoming contributions dealing with different spatial scales (from the plot to global) and system scopes (crop, livestock, agroforestry, forestry, urban and agro-food systems). We will discuss these communications allocated in five regular- and three special sessions, together with eight interesting keynotes during five exciting days in October 2022 in Madrid, Spain.
There are eight confirmed keynotes dealing with multidisciplinary issues and diverse scales:
Mark Sutton (CEH, UK): Halving N waste: general perspectives
Nandula Raghuram (INI-Director, India): Crop improvement for NUE
Laura Cárdenas (Rothamsted Research UK): N2O emission factors
Xin Zhang (Maryland University, USA): NUE in cropping systems
Aimable Uwizeye (FAO): NUE in livestock systems
Gilles Billen (CNRS, France): Agro-food system scenarios
Jill Baron (USGS, USA): Farmers’ involvement in reactive N abatement
Estela Romero (CREAF, Spain): N dynamics in river basins
Five regular sessions are structured following a system’s scale organization. Each session counts with a specific committee of experts:
The Technical University of Madrid and the University of Valencia have collaborated since 2019 and have jointly run the EIT Climate-KIC Journey programme for three years. Hosts Esperanza Luque Merelo and Lola Garzón Benítez believe their universities benefit from attracting talented, enthusiastic participants from across Europe – as well as offering Spanish students a change to network and learn more about climate innovation. In 2021, the Technical University of Madrid also ran a pilot of the EIT Climate-KIC Climate Innovation Leadership (CIL) programme, which will be merged with Journey in 2022.
“Participating in these EIT Climate-KIC programmes provides so many opportunities – training, tools and the chance to learn about the latest climate action topics. It is also a chance to belong to a multicultural, international Alumni community.”
Lola Garzón Benítez, Associate Professor in the Department of Business Management, University of Valencia
“We’ve seen time and time again that the networks created by these EIT Climate-KIC programmes provide a wealth of support for participants, hosts and coaches. It’s great to be part of an inspiring community and knowing like-minded people who you can share ideas and information with.”
Esperanza Luque Merelo, Project Manager at the Research Centre for the Management of Agricultural and Environmental Risks (CEIGRAM), Technical University of Madrid
The EIT Climate-KIC programme Journey has been jointly run by the Technical University of Madrid and the University of Valencia for three years. Working at the CEIGRAM research centre at the Technical University of Madrid, Esperanza Luque Merelo says the collaboration is very enjoyable and one of the best parts of being a host, “is to work in an international environment.”
Lola Garzón Benítez, an Associate Professor at the University of Valencia, has worked on the Journey programme since the university began running it 2013: “These programmes are a good opportunity to raise awareness of the university internationally, as students from across Europe join them. In the beginning, not many participants were Spanish or Southern European – thankfully, this has changed in the last few years and it is great to see motivated and enthusiastic people from many different countries work well together.”
One of the benefits of being a host is sharing latest developments with a wider audience, says Esperanza: “Our research centre is active in adaptation and mitigation and concerned with adapting food systems to new requirements, helping them become more sustainable. As a host, I am motivated to share what we’re working on with participants and it is great to have different teachers who are experts in various areas and disseminate knowledge in different ways. We have enjoyed this experience for the last four years.”
In 2021, the Technical University of Madrid also ran a pilot of the EIT Climate-KIC Climate Innovation Leadership (CIL) programme, which will be merged with Journey in 2022. Lola and Esperanza agree that these programmes are a welcome addition to the universities as sustainability becomes increasingly mainstreamed in their institutions. The programmes also help break stereotypes, says Esperanza: “We had an older participant who was worried about the age gap – but he loved it, was happy to get involved, other participants learned a lot from him and vice-versa.”
Natural synergies are also strengthened, says Lola “My PhD student who recently participated is now training to become a coach – it’s like the beginning of a wheel!” While the COVID-19 pandemic has made planning more difficult, Esperanza and Lola have adapted: “We’ve done our best to prepare a good programme while face-to-face teaching isn’t possible – and we will continue to do so.”
Efforts to diversify the rural economy will only be fruitful if the general living conditions and standards are in place, such as housing, communication, and services. Without adequate general living conditions, people will continue to emigrate from rural areas regardless of the efforts made to generate work opportunities.
In order to diversify the rural economy, sectoral approaches will only be partially effective. Instead, a comprehensive and horizontal strategy is needed, incorporating all sectors and themes. This strategy should be the foundation for coordinated actions undertaken by all actors involved. The kind of actions that will be effective in stimulating the diversification of the rural economy are different in different rural areas, mainly related to how close to an urban centre the rural area is located.
Following three years of implementation and two years of pilot iterations, as well as the validation of Pilot Data and Operational Data Products, the BEACON project is successfully reaching its end.
Results showed that BEACON toolbox managed to achieve in terms of service uptime and thus significantly reducing the Agricultural Insurance (AgI) process cycle-time, especially for contracts that covered calamities such as frost, flood, fire, and windstorms, minimizing the evaluation and the compensation / reimbursement time of a farmer to a week. For insured parcels under hail, BEACON toolbox offered a more accurate evaluation of damage under 40 days following the extreme event, bringing again time savings, even of less extent. On average it is estimated that the achieved AgI Process cycle-time decrease varies between 70% to 95%.
Similarly, the automation achieved within the AgI companies level reached more than 90% and could be increased further where the BEACON toolbox integrates directly with already utilized ERP and SAP systems. Automation among actors of the AgI supply chain was also piloted, and fully realized, achieving a 100% acceptance of data rate and information availability.
The BEACON Toolbox is ready to offer the AgI customers a list of clear benefits:
1. Seamless contract monitoring through better contract overview;
2. More accurate climatology and forecast dynamic statistics that assist underwriting and damage prevention in general;
3. Better cost optimization gained through higher operational efficiency:
• better distribution of employees
• prioritization of in-field visits based on an accurate overview of damaged parcels
• information about the damage before clients;
4. Improved trust and transparency among AgI supply chain actors by enabling the quick uptake of blockchain and through smart contracts handling;
5. Higher consistency of the whole AgI business pipeline.
BEACON’s final message to its target AgI customers, through a now validated and proved definite value proposition, is that its toolbox couples leading earth observation technology with weather intelligence, and blockchain technology delivering cost-efficient and actionable insights for the agri-insurance industry, representing the end-to-end solution for AgI users.
The BEACON Horizon 2020 project started 3 years ago and lasts this month. The project consortium was KARAVIAS Underwriting Agency (Greece), AGROAPPS PC (Greece), UNIVERSIDAD POLITECNICA DE MADRID (Spain), ETHERISC GMBH (Germany), UNIVERSITY OF BELGRADE FACULTY OF CIVIL ENGINEERING (Serbia), INOSENS DOO NOVI SAD (Serbia) και ΕΤΑΜ ΑΕ (Greece).
For the fourth consecutive year, the Universidad Politécnica de Madrid (UPM) was one of the venues for the Climate-KIC Journey, the largest summer school in Europe on innovation and entrepreneurship to face the challenges posed by climate change. This year, it was again organized together with the Universitat de València and was called The Spanish Journey.
For the second consecutive year, all Journeys have been developed online, to avoid health risks, given the Covid-19 pandemic situation in Europe. All this has once again been a challenge in the organization and implementation of the same.
Between July 26 and 30, the UPM, through its R + D + i CEIGRAM centre, coordinated the celebration of the Journey in Madrid, co-organizing Leg 2 of this summer school with the Universitat de València, in charge of this Journey between August 2 and 6.
CEIGRAM, led by the scientific head of the program, Margarita Ruiz Ramos, CEIGRAM researcher and professor at ETSIAAB-UPM, and Esperanza Luque, project manager at CEIGRAM and local manager of the Journey in Madrid, with the support of Hamid Yammine (communication and logistics), designed a program with sessions and activities that made up the Journey. For this, we had expert researchers and consultants in different sectors affected by Climate Change, alumni of Journeys from previous years, virtual guided visits and other activities related to the risks generated by climate change. Discussions have been generated between the speakers and the participants, which have led to a greater awareness of this great challenge, to be inspired and put on the stage of what the problem of climate change represents for life on the planet, today and for generations to come. During the Journey, the students have been coordinated by two coaches (recruited directly by Climate-KIC): Clara Giberga (Spain) and Rowan Simonsen (Denmark), who have been with the students during the Journey, encouraging participation and work as a team in a dynamic and creative way.
This year, again, we had the opportunity to have a session with Vera Estefanía González, from the Spanish Office for Climate Change, an expert in climate policy, who offered the students a broad overview about the current political scenario and how the negotiations on this matter at European and global level, while answering concerns and questions that arose during the session.
Also during this Journey we once again have the support of GuMNet (Guadarrama Monitoring Network), a climate, meteorological and environmental observation network in the Sierra de Guadarrama. Among the presentations related to these sessions, a general presentation on what the problem of climate change represents for the planet, by Fidel González-Rouco, was the starting point; And as a novelty this year, there was the participation of Ana Moreno Caballud and Blas Valero Garcés, from the IPE-CSIC (Pyrenean Institute of Ecology), in addition to a broad description of the objectives and instrumentation of the GuMNet Project. For the visits, filming and preparation of the material for this session, we had the logistical support of Patrimonio Nacional de la Herrería, and with researchers from CEIGRAM, from the Universidad Complutense de Madrid (especially that of Félix García Pereira and Cristina Vegas), CIEMAT and IPE-CSIC.
In another session and in collaboration with the itdUPM and the Madrid City Council, it was explained what the Madrid Deep Demonstration project on clean and healthy cities consists of. For this, we had the support of Luisa Guerra and Sara Romero from itdUPM, and Alicia Carvajal, from Dark Matter Labs, who were in charge of describing how the evolution and co-design of this Climate-KIC and city council of Madrid initiative has been.
We also had experts on issues related to climate impacts and challenges for two days: Noemí Merayo (UPM), Jordi Domingo (Fundación Global Nature), Enrique Sánchez (Universidad de Castilla La Mancha) and José Luis Postigo (Universidad Rey Juan Carlos), who together with Professor Margarita Ruiz Ramos promptly assisted the students in concerns related to the challenges that arise in the field of water use, agriculture, weather, security and migration. In the first of these sessions, in addition, one of the participants of the Journey (Lisa Michel) was invited to represent her companions in the panel of experts, which greatly animated the session.
Another session offered during this year was that of “Feeding the world in a warming planet”, coordinated by CEIGRAM researchers Alberto Sanz Cobeña and Ivanka Puigdueta, who have also participated as experts in previous Journeys. During this year they highlighted especially the importance of consuming local products to reduce our carbon footprint around the issue of food. This session was also attended by people linked to the Food Wave project, in which the Madrid City Council participates along with 16 other countries in the world, with young actors with the aim of raising awareness about sustainable approaches to the consumption and production of food in our cities. A short presentation was made, inviting students to participate.
After Madrid, the Journey continued until August 6 by the Universitat de València, led by Professors Lola Garzón Benítez and Marta Pla-Castells. During this second phase of Leg 2, students worked individually and in teams on topics such as creativity, change management, business modeling, storytelling and entrepreneurship, among others.
The next stage, Leg 3, was focused on collaborative learning, applying the knowledge acquired in a more local context, and at the same time interacting with the entire Journey community in a broader way.
Finally, between September 10 and 12, the Community Summit of the Journey (Leg 4) was held, also online, an event that was also open to young students from all over the world, in order to share success stories and failure around the Journey, thus enriching the path towards the design of the system that allows facing the challenges that climate change represents.
The students of the Spanish Journey, organized by groups and to fulfill one of the tasks of the course, outlined several projects related to 1) The complexity of the food system; 2) the need to implement green energy; 3) The circular economy applied to the world of gym equipment; 4) Promote environmentally sustainable changes in behavior.
On the other hand, it is worth noting that around twenty students from the Universidad Politécnica de Madrid participated in Journeys organized in other cities.
The EIT Climate-KIC Journey undoubtedly represents an opportunity for the Universidad Politécnica de Madrid to position itself at the forefront of the fight against climate change both academically and professionally, allowing its students to interact with students and experts from other countries, knowing first-hand the initiatives that are being carried out at the European level to face this great challenge, awakening their concerns and promoting potential networks at a global level that in the future may be translated into successful initiatives.
This year, in addition, CEIGRAM and UPM are also participating in the Climate Innovation Leadership (CIL) pilot program, in which students from different European universities (including more than ten from UPM) receive training on tools that allow them to do facing the climatic challenges that our planet currently faces. One of the parts of this pilot program has been constituted, precisely, by the Journey. Added to this, both the UPM and the CEIGRAM will be present soon in what will be the Climathon in the city of Madrid.
Six ETSIAAB students and Professor Elena Benavente participated in the summer school “Host Plant Resistance Breeding as a part of Integrated Pest Management” during the month of August, held at the SLU (Alnarp, Sweden), in the framework of the Erasmus+ ESCAPAdE project, a project in which the Universidad Politécnica de Madrid has participated through CEIGRAM since its inception in 2018.
Between August 17 and 21, students attended the course, which included topics related to Pests and pathogens, plant defence and resistance biology, chemical ecology, control methods and plant protection in relation to global climate change, among others. This, along with a series of assignments until August 27 that were completed from home, gave the students 3.0 ECTS at an academic level.
During the summer course, the students also made presentations related to the topics covered, which allowed a greater exchange of knowledge among all the participants. In this sense, it is worth noting that the summer school was attended by students from the seven institutions that are part of ESCAPAdE ( BOKU, CZU, DUTH, SupAgro, ETSIAAB-UPM, SLU and D3A-UPM).
Later, between August 23 and 24, also in Alnarp, students had the opportunity to attend a job fair organized by ESCAPAdE, with significant support from PLANTLINK, where students and companies representatives had the opportunity to exchange concerns and prospects for the future of the sector, leaving open possibilities for professional connections in the future.
The ETSIAAB students who accompanied Professor Benavente representing the UPM were Sebastián Cainarca, Pablo Mata, Juan Navarro, Cristina Sáiz, Alejandro Sánchez and Elena Sánchez-Brunete.
From CEIGRAM we are very proud to participate in projects such as ESCAPAdE, which beyond innovation in the field of teaching and research, provides opportunities like this to students of our university to expand their knowledge and perspectives for their future.
For the fourth consecutive year, the Universidad Politécnica de Madrid has been selected to be one of the venues for the Climate-KIC Journey, the largest summer school in Europe in innovation and entrepreneurship to face the challenges posed by climate change. The Journey offers a unique combination of academic study and real-world experience through a multidisciplinary program organized by the best universities in Europe.
Around 200 students will participate this year in Journeys organized online by nine universities and research centres in ten European cities (Dublin, Lisbon, Madrid, Valencia, Zurich, Tallinn, Riga, Malta, Timisoara and Limassol).
This year, the Climate-KIC Journey will begin on July 10, with a first week of Journey in which all participants will be together in the so-called Leg 1.
During Leg 1, participants and coaches will get to know each other and develop a community spirit before embarking on individual Journeys. The main objective of this stage is to build a common learning base on climate change, systems thinking, system innovation and leadership concepts, which are key to allowing participants to have a mutual understanding and mental model about climate change, its root causes and consequences. Leg 1 will take place between July 10 and 17.
Subsequently, after a week off, students will join their respective Journeys (9 in total) from July 26, the day on which Leg 2 officially begins. In said Leg 2, the Universidad Politécnica de Madrid shares headquarters with Valencia, this year again represented by the Universitat de València.
At this stage, each Journey will be accompanied by two coaches, whose objective is to guide the students throughout the Journey, supporting the students in the work they must do and energizing the different processes and relationships that are being created along the way throughout summer school. In the case of our Journey, the coaches assigned for this year are Clara Giberga (Spain) and Rowan Simonsen (Denmark).
In this phase, the focus is to build on the foundation created in Leg 1, but also to gain a good understanding of the specific circumstances on the challenges of climate change in a local context (Madrid and València). The local ecosystem will be explored and used to provide study cases with the objective of examining key concepts learned in Leg 1 and understanding and proposing solutions with a systemic approach.
In addition, at this stage students will work in teams of 3-5 people on a topic of their choice related to what has been identified as high leverage points within a chosen ecosystem, and from there they will deliver a system innovation plan at the end of Leg 2.
Specifically, the program in Madrid will take place between July 26 and 30, and will have experts from different disciplines directly related to the problem of climate change, including professors from the ETSIAAB, professionals in the area, representatives of administrations and alumni of the Journey that have been part of this summer school in the past.
The Journey team of the Universidad Politécnica de Madrid is made up of the ETSIAAB professor and CEIGRAM researcher Margarita Ruiz-Ramos (Principal Researcher), Esperanza Luque Merelo (Management and organization) and Hamid Yammine (Support in management, organization and communication).
The next stage, Leg 3, focuses on collaborative learning, since the participants will “return home” and make the learning received so far their own, applying it to their local ecosystem, but will continue to interact with the entire Community of the Journey of broader form. During this time, they will develop and begin to implement a personal action plan in their local context, using a peer-coaching group. In addition, there will be time to connect with other participants of the Journey through specific sessions.
Finally, between September 10 and 12, the Community Summit of the Journey (Leg 4) will be held, an event that will also be open to young students from all over the world, in order to share stories of success and failure around the Journey, thus enriching the path towards the design of the system that allows to face the challenges that climate change represents.
This year, in addition, CEIGRAM and UPM also participate in the Climate Innovation Leadership program, in which students from different European universities (including more than ten from UPM) receive training on tools that allow them to face challenges climate conditions that our planet is currently facing.
From CEIGRAM and the Universidad Politécnica de Madrid we are very excited to continue being part of this wonderful initiative of Climate-KIC and to join in the fight to generate greater awareness at the citizen level on issues related to climate change and sustainability.
Challenges that threaten the performance of farming systems have put resilience high on the agenda. Actions and strategies to stimulate the resilience of farming systems should follow six key principles that describe how actors in the farming system and its environment (governments, value chain businesses, banks, advisors and others) should act. How these principles translate into concrete recommendations is specific to regions and sectors. A co-creation process such as a policy dialogue should be created to develop roadmaps towards supporting resilience.
Challenges that threaten the performance of farming systems such as droughts and price drops, originating from stress and shocks such climate change, geo-political uncertainty, trade conflicts, changing consumer preferences and also the very recent COVID-19 crisis have put resilience higher on the agenda. Ensuring a resilient farming sector was among the prominent goals of the European Commission’s proposal for the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) post-2020. The Green Deal, the Farm-to-Fork Strategy, the Biodiversity Strategy and the EU Recovery and Resilience Plan reinforced the call for enabling resilience. Hence, the institutional and socio-economic environment in which farming systems are embedded should stimulate the capacities of robustness, adaptability and transformability as well as its anticipating capacity.
SURE-Farm’s 6 key principles for enabling resilience
SURE-Farm has investigated the resilience of EU farming systems from various points of view and with a diversity of methods. Based on its work, SURE-Farm derived principles for enabling resilience and developed more concrete roadmaps towards higher farming system resilience. The resilience-enabling principles describe how actors in the farming system and the enabling environment should act to foster resilience. They are based on an analysis of the systemic behaviour of the system, i.e., the decisions made by the actors within the farming system and within its environment when dealing with challenges in the past.
Roadmaps towards resilience: need for a policy dialogue
The systems analysis has led to six principles to guide farming systems and enabling environment actors how to stimulate resilience. Translating these principles into concrete recommendations needs to be done through a regional and/or farming system specific approach. We advocate to set up a resilience enhancing policy dialogue gathering all relevant actors from a farming system and its environment. Policy dialogues, also called roundtables or task forces, bring diverse interest groups to the table, focus on an issue that is of common interest, and seek to formulate practical solutions to problems. Within the SURE-Farm project, such policy dialogue has been initiated in the form of a participatory roadmap workshop in 11 casestudies, with the aim to define actions and strategies to enable resilience, based on the defined principles. Recommended actions and strategies within the roadmaps that resulted from these workshop are case-study specific. Nonetheless, the following 14 common themes are proposed:
Develop new institutional arrangements within the value chain and promote diversity of marketing channels
Invest resources in product differentiation and new business models
Increase investment in rural development and improve the attractiveness of rural areas, especially to the young generation
Improve entrepreneurship of farmers through education, social learning and advisory services and strengthen AKIS
Invest resources in adaptation of farming systems’ production and marketing modes
Create awareness about long term trends and challenges within the farming system
Reward farmers for their contributions to public functions
Develop and maintain a long term vision at farm, farming system and policy level
Invest in impact assessments of alternative (adapted or transformed) farming systems
Develop institutions that allow more flexibility to farming systems
Involve multiple actors in concerted efforts and address the institutional and structural mix rather than to rely on single instruments
Stimulate a diversity of pro-active risk management strategies
Facilitate access to land and labour
Support for horizontal and vertical cooperation in rural development programmes
A broad range of stakeholders, farmers and policy makers share SURE-Farm’s perception that enhancing resilience is necessary and urgent. SURE-Farm is convinced that by addressing its six key principles and adopting its wider set of recommendations, stakeholders and policy makers, in a concerted effort, can enhance the resilience capacities of Europe’s farming systems towards the future.
After four years, DIVERSify, a European H2020 project investigating mixed cropping as a technique within sustainable agriculture, comes to an end.
The DIVERSify project aims to optimise the performance of crop species mixtures or ‘plant teams’ to improve yield stability, reduce pest and disease damage, and enhance stress resilience in agricultural systems. It focuses on improving the productivity and sustainability of European agriculture using an approach that has global relevance, learning from the experience of international researchers and stakeholders.
Since its inception, this project has had the participation of the Professor of the Universidad Politécnica de Madrid (ETSIAAB) and researcher at CEIGRAM M. Inés Mínguez. Also had participation in the project CEIGRAM researchers Isabel Bardají, Rubén Moratiel and Alberto Garrido.
Next, we present a video with the final recommendations from the project:
Future Agri-food Systems for a socially and environmentally sustainable transition: Co-design of strategies for the mitigation of environmental risks in water and atmosphere in natural spaces of the SUDOE territory
The AgroGreen-SUDOE project seeks to develop proposals for the management of farming systems, with regional and actor sensitivity, that lead to a minimum environmental impact of agricultural activity in the SUDOE territory (Spain, Portugal and southern France). The project is developed within the framework of the Interreg V-B Southwestern Europe Cooperation Program (SUDOE) and has funding of more than one million euros from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).
In the framework of the project, the management scenarios (management practices such as fertilization and irrigation) will be co-designed based on a process of synthesis of existing information, generation of new data and estimation of agri-environmental impacts through modeling tools. All this with the aim of incorporating the vision and sensitivities of the main actors involved in the process of production of food of agricultural origin, as well as in the development of public policies in the agricultural and environmental field. That is why one of the axes of the project is the creation of the AgroGreen-SUDOE Multi-Actor Platform in which the co-design of scenarios pivots.
The project is coordinated by the Universidad Politécnica de Madrid through CEIGRAM and its partnership is structured on two levels: beneficiary partners and associates. The beneficiary partners are 6, two per country and with representation from the academy and the world of agricultural producers (final recipients of the final product of the project):
The group of associated partners, more numerous (20), responds to the same profiles, adding the administrative facet in the environmental and agricultural fields:
The final product of the project will be a visualization tool for the agri-environmental impacts associated with crop production in the SUDOE territory through different crop management practices, with a special focus on fertilization and irrigation. This product will be the result of the conjunction of scientific rigor (data, modeling tools and previous experience of contrasted groups), of transnational cooperation and of the co-creation process within the AgroGreen-SUDOE multi-actor Platform, to face a common problem and provide sensitive solutions to each region.