10th International Conference “Rural Development 2021”: Focus on Bioeconomy and Climate Change   | VDU Žemės ūkio akademija

10th International Conference “Rural Development 2021”: Focus on Bioeconomy and Climate Change  

The 10th anniversary international scientific conference “Rural Development 2021” took place on the 21st – 23rd of September at the Vytautas Magnus University Agriculture Academy (VMU Agriculture Academy). In relation to bioeconomy development in response to the challenges of climate change, the participants of the conference all agreed that pro-active decisions reducing the climate change and securing protection of the depleting biological resources would be necessary with the view towards sustainable development of the world and quality, secure, and clean life of the humankind. 

Growing Role of Research that Brings Positive Change

150 experts representing 20 countries gathered for the event both directly and remotely to discuss and propose economic and social innovations and various solutions to boost the bioeconomic processes. Researchers exploring the topics of agro-innovations and food technologies, biosystem engineering and environment integrity, multifunctional approach for sustainable use of bio-resources and other relevant topics, practitioners, policy-makers, representatives of NGOs, young researchers, and students shared the results of the research. The results of social research for sustainable bioeconomy and climate change were presented.

In her welcome speech, Prof. Dr Astrida Miceikienė, Chancellor of the VMU Agriculture Academy reminded the participants of its history. She took the audience back to the year 2003 when the conference “Rural Development” took place at the Academy for the first time to explore the changes that were taking place at that time. “Now, same as then, the world is moving rapidly on the path of change, and the role of science that provides recommendations, forecasts, and develops innovations is particularly important. The mission of the Academy reflects our main goal – to develop and disseminate the scientific knowledge and make sincere effort to secure healthy food and fully fledged living environment for all the Lithuanian citizens. We can do more by keeping up with the global changes and novelties, sharing the innovative ideas, experience, and research results,” – said Prof. Dr A. Miceikienė.

Researchers at the VMU Agriculture Academy – Experts for the European Commission

Mr Pacôme Elouna Eyenga (Belgium), Head of Innovation and Knowledge exchange EIP-AGRI, started the plenary session of the Conference by presenting the key achievements, focus group discussions of the EIP-AGRI (The European Innovation Partnership for Agriculture Productivity and Sustainability) established by the European Commission. The speaker emphasized the importance of knowledge exchange and announced the VMU Agriculture Academy as an important EIP-AGRI partner for the new period, as the researchers at the Academy provide professional expert serves in research and spread of agricultural innovations.

From Identification of Challenges to Dissemination of the Best Practice

Researchers from Germany, France, Sweden, and Lithuania delivered their presentations at the plenary session of the Conference. Key sustainability principles and necessary systemic changes to secure global sustainability were discussed. The researchers called the general public to consider the depleting natural resources and provided hands-on proposals on the preservation thereof. Experts specializing in different areas were invited for more detailed deliberation of the important topics in different sections, and the conclusions thereof were then presented at the final plenary session.

The section dedicated to presentations on agro-innovations and food technologies covered the problems of excessive food consumption, excessive waste amounts and pesticide use, soil preservation in view of the Green Deal. “It is important to think about the Green Deal, new strategies that would help reduce the farming intensity and, at the same time, preserve the soil productivity. The solution could lie in the alternative non-chemical pesticides that reduce the risk to the human, general public, and the entire ecosystem. Today, we already have the possibility of find the solution in fighting the pests without the use of chemicals,” – said Assoc. Prof. Dr Rimantas Vaisvalavičius in his review of the studies presented by the researchers. “The resources are limited. We have to explore the ways to reduce the amounts of waste and the solutions of recycling and reuse. We must think not only about own health, but also about the environment as we are consuming,” – concluded Mr R. Vaisvalavičius, the moderator of the section.

Focus on Natural Resources for Abatement of the Climate Change Processes

Prof. Dr Algirdas Jasinskas presented the key insights of the session dedicated to presentations on biosystem engineering and environment integrity. The researchers’ presentations supported the relevance of the Green Deal goals and the necessity of finding the solution to the challenges of climate change. “Researchers take active interest in the renewable energy possibilities, technology and environmental safety, optimization of agricultural equipment and technologies, sustainable animal husbandry. With the view towards the coming decade, we have sufficient biomass resources, but their use is narrow, and mostly concentrated on biofuel production. Hence, to follow the Green Deal path, we need to take a broader perspective and action,” – said Prof. Dr A. Jasinskas.

The section dedicated to the multifunctional approach for sustainable use of bio-resources focused on the forests as the main research object. The researchers were exploring the forest values, biological and genetic diversity, causes of the climate change. They covered the goals of the EU Forest Strategy for 2030 that provide for adaptation of the European forests to the new conditions as continuation of the socio-economic function and in order to secure viability of rural areas. “People have irreversibly altered the natural course, and it is particularly important to explore the ways to maintain sustainable forests,” – concluded Prof. Dr Darius Danusevičius, the section moderator, in his review of the research findings.

The Importance of Systemic Changes in Process Management and Formation of Society Practices

The section of social research for sustainable bioeconomy and climate change responded to the key questions raised at the Conference including the social practice, social and cultural changes on the path towards the Green Deal, social innovations for bioeconomy development in response to the COVID-19 pandemics, reconsideration of the agricultural and rural development policy system, creation of the smart rural development models, and placing particular attention on the solutions for development of a sustainable food system. “Although a fairly large share of research is still on the conceptual level, the researchers have also shared relevant findings of empirical studies. The topics generated in preparation for the conference were doubtlessly covered at the Conference. The Conference has gathered researchers and practitioners and has enabled them to share the research results, international insights, experience, and ideas,” – concluded Prof. Dr. Vilma Atkočiūnienė in her review of the research presented during the section.

The key Conference goals were achieved successfully: interdisciplinary scientific discussions were promoted, new ideas on the rural development processes in the context of bioeconomy, climate change, innovations, and social context were presented. The event that gathered over 150 internationally recognized researchers has demonstrated that the science is already taking steps towards the safer future. The Conference has enhanced research collaboration, supported the need and prospects for the business and science synergy, and has provided the grounds for further collaboration.

You are welcome to listen to the presentations of the plenary session of the international scientific conference “Rural Development 2021” and reviews of the section presentations at the final plenary session.