WUR to lead EU programme DeSIRA-LIFT: climate smart, productive and sustainable food systems

Published on
July 30, 2021

Wageningen University & Research leads a new EU programme, DeSIRA-LIFT, that will support the design of evidence-based policies for food system transformation. This programme is a close collaboration between Agrinatura, EFARD and DG INTPA (International Partnerships) of the European Commission. The programme is part of the DeSIRA initiative of the European Commission.

The key role of food systems in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) is increasingly acknowledged. The objective of the DeSIRA initiative (Development Smart Innovation through Research in Agriculture) is therefore to contribute to productive and sustainable transformation of agriculture and food systems in low and middle-incomes countries. A particular emphasis is placed on climate change effects. With a budget of more than 300 mln euros, the initiative aims to strengthen research capacities and research governance involving key actors at national and international levels, in alignment with the European Green Deal.

The objective of DeSIRA-LIFT is to support the DeSIRA initiative and its current and future activities in order to optimize its impact.

Helena Posthumus, programme director DeSIRA-LIFT at Wageningen Centre for Development Innovation: 'Research in itself does not lead to food system transformation if it is not connected to the movers and shakers in the food system who can bring about change. This requires strengthening of partnerships and innovation capacities. It also requires supporting evidence-informed policy dialogue and design."

DeSIRA-LIFT aims to contribute to these efforts together with international partners, and synthesize the knowledge and lessons on these topics to inform policy makers of the European Commission and beyond. Posthumus: “Hence the acronym LIFT: Leveraging the DeSIRA Initiative for agri-food systems transformation. Outcomes aim at a better use of research for impact under a changing climate, particularly in Africa. In the project, we will closely cooperate with the representatives of the European Commission. A challenging example of working at the interface of research, policy and practice.'

Programme objectives

Specific objectives of DeSIRA-LIFT are:

  • Enhancing the impacts of DeSIRA research projects to strengthen climate and development- oriented innovation systems in line with more sustainable food systems transitions
  • Supporting African research organisations in their roles linked to research and innovation through Agricultural Research for Development (AR4D)
  • Making knowledge work for INTPA policy and contribute to the international policy dialogue on food systems

DeSIRA-LIFT is implemented by a consortium of Agrinatura, the European network of universities and research institutions dealing with tropical and subtropical agriculture, and EFARD, the European Forum on Agriculture Research for Development. Besides WUR, partners leading the different work packages are from CIRAD (France), University of Lisbon (Portugal), Natural Resources Institute (UK), the Swedish University of Agricultural Science and, on behalf of EFARD, COLEACP, the international association for sustainable trade in fruit and vegetables with ACP countries.