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France and China discuss agroecology and climate change

INRA and INRA researchers: resolutely committed

French-Chinese conference on agroecology in the context of climate change
3-5 June 2015, Beijing
Group photo - INRA participation. © Sophie de Bentzmann, French Embassy, Sophie de Bentzmann, Ambassade de France
Updated on 11/18/2015
Published on 09/15/2015

When it comes to climate change, agriculture has a vital role to play. The French Embassy in China, together with the Ministry of Agriculture, Agrifood and Forestry, INRA and Allenvi, organised a conference on agroecology within a context of climate change. The conference took place in Beijing from 3-5 June 2015.

On the agenda were discussions about the contribution of agriculture to the fight against, and adaptation to, climate change, and a field trip in the province of Shandong.

A conference rich in exchange and discussion

Huajun Tang, Vice President of the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences (CAAS), François Houllier, President of INRA and the AllEnvi alliance, and Jacques Pellet, Minister Counsellor of the French Embassy in China, kicked off the conference with a plenary discussion about the current situation French and Chinese farmers are facing in a context of mounting climate concerns and the ever-more stringent policies associated with them. Jean-François Soussana, research director of INRA’s environment division and expert on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), participated in the discussion on the topic “Climate change, food security and agroecology: from challenge to solutions”.

The conference continued with several parallel discussions on more specific topics, with the contribution of several INRA researchers:

  • Industrial crops, Robert Habib - INRA Provence-Alpes Côte d’Azur and Chantal Gascuel - INRA Rennes;
  • Livestock farming, Muriel Tichit - INRA Versailles-Grignon and Jean Pierre Bidanel - INRA Jouy-en-Josas;
  • Integrated systems, Christian Dupraz - INRA Montpellier, Gilles Lemaire - INRA Poitou Charentes;
  • Forests, Laurent Saint André, Philippe Delacote and Jean-Francois Dhôte – INRA Nancy; François Lefevre - INRA Provence-Alpes Côte d’Azur;
  • Greenhouse gas emissions, Denis Loustau – INRA Bordeaux Aquitaine; Luc Delaby - INRA Rennes; Michel Doreau – INRA Auvergne Rhône Alpes;
  • Biomass as a source of energy, L. Saint André and Nicolas Marron - INRA Nancy;
  • Carbon retention in soil, JF. Soussana, Katja Klumpp – INRA Auvergne Rhône Alpes, Patricia Garnier – INRA Versailles-Grignon.

The conference closed with a final plenary discussion presenting examples from French and Chinese territories and another presentation by Muriel Tichit.

Overall, the conference brought together some 140 participants from the fields of research, public policy, development and agricultural training, as well as from the corporate world. It provided an important forum to draw up a plan of action and trace new perspectives to work together in a concerted effort.

Contributions of two INRA Versailles-Grignon researchers in images

Headed by François Houllier, the INRA delegation consisted of no less than 18 members, among whom were two researchers from INRA Versailles-Grignon: Muriel Tichit, from the Science for Action and Development joint research unit: actions, products and territories (INRA, AgroParisTech), and Patricia Garnier, from the Functional ecology and eco-toxicology of soils joint research unit (INRA, AgroParisTech).

. © INRA, Luc Delaby
© INRA, Luc Delaby
During the discussion on livestock farming, Muriel Tichit presented the threefold framework of 'food-biodiversity-ecosystem services’ while evoking the key challenge that European agricultural and conservation policymakers currently face in developing alternative strategies for soil use that reconcile production and biodiversity.
During her second presentation, Ms Tichit touched on the topic of ecosystem services and how studies of them must take into account that for any given plot, different parties often have different, and even opposing, goals. A common vision therefore must be developed, and solutions found collectively.
 © Sophie de Bentzmann, Ambassade de France
© Sophie de Bentzmann, Ambassade de France
During a presentation by Patricia Garnier, the impact of contact between organic matter and micro-organisms in modelling the mineralisation of organic carbon on a small scale was discussed. Ms Garnier brought this issue to the forefront of the challenges that face agro-ecology: improve forecasts of the fate of organic matter and nutrient content that leads to mineralisation, to in turn improve management practices.

The trip to China ended with a very informative excursion in the field organised by Sophie de Bentzmann (French Embassy). There were two major highlights: a visit to the jujube (or Chinese date) museum, and an opportunity to meet researchers and students from the participative research programme of the University of Beijing.