The workshop held on 27th and 28th November in Brussels was visited by more than 40 people from 16 different countries, including researchers, advisers and those involved in innovation support for a more sustainable agriculture.
The event gave participants the opportunity to learn from 16 case studies, to share experiences and to learn more about co-innovation and the kinds of roles and skills needed to successfully develop more sustainable agricultural systems through multi-actor partnerships, particularly within the context of Integrated Pest Management.
The case studies were grouped into four themes: multi-stakeholder and coordinated action, linking cases and the system context, the role of advisers, and participatory approaches to co-innovation. As well as providing insights into co-innovation and participatory approaches, the workshop provided participants with the opportunity to reflect on the questions, challenges and learning points they face in their working lives as they seek to develop participatory, co-innovation approaches in agriculture.
Co-organiser Frank Wijnands, from Wageningen University, explained that for the organisers an innovation cannot be considered as an innovation unless it is put into practice. Achieving this demands blends of expertise and experience and often involves learning on the job as co-innovation is not taught directly in schools.
“After World War Two, every actor in the agricultural system was aligned to improve agricultural productivity,” he said. “Now we have multiple objectives and lots of public goods involved. We usually need input from many stakeholders, so co-innovation is more pertinent than it was 20 or 30 years ago. A very important topic is the participatory approach and we are looking to those who are facilitating or managing this process.”
He suggested the three key factors were connecting stakeholders, the framing or reframing or questions and solutions and converging action, which can be understood clearly through the use of the co-innovation circle. He explained that the organisers of the event were genuinely motivated to create a platform for co-innovation and at the end of an intensive day and a half of exchanges, participants were unanimous in their desire for future events of this kind.The workshop was contribute to the European Innovation Partnership on 'Agricultural Productivity and Sustainability' to advance the implementation of Integrated Pest Management in agriculture and horticulture in the European Union. The workshop was organised by Wageningen UR in cooperation with INRA from France and MTT from Finland.