Posts Tagged ‘water’

EFP Brief No. 253: Egypt’s Desalination Technology Roadmap 2030

Thursday, February 14th, 2013

This project was an activity within the framework of Egypt’s Vision 2030 project carried out by the Center for Future Stud-ies in the Egyptian Cabinet’s Information and Decision Support Center, with the aim of identifying the future needs for desalination technology development, charting a series of research and development activities that will result in cost-effective, efficient revolutionary desalination technologies that can meet the national future needs, and providing short and long term action agenda to guide desalination research and investments in Egypt till the year 2030.

Investment to Meet National Needs

Water shortage is a worldwide problem, where 40% of the world population is suffering from water scarcity. In Egypt, the per capita water share was 771 CM/capita/year in 2005, which is below the international standards of “water poverty line” of 1000 CM/capita/year. Due to the long time horizon required to implement the Upper Nile development projects, directing efforts towards non-conventional water sources – such as; water recycling; reuse of drainage water; treated industrial and sewage effluents; rainfall harvesting; and desalination – provides a short term solution to the water shortage problem. Water desalination should top the agenda of developing non-conventional water resources, since desalination technologies have developed substantially over the last fifty years, especially with the development of “Reverse Osmosis” (RO) technology in the sixties leading to significant reductions in the cost of desalination. Therefore, due to the great advances which occurred in the field of desalination globally, and the noticeable increase in awareness of the importance of such a technology among decision-makers in Egypt, the Center for Future Studies (CFS) at the Cabinet’s Information and Decision Support Center (IDSC) has taken the initiative to develop a desalination technology roadmap for Egypt in the year 2030. The desalination roadmap is a program-planning document that identifies the most appropriate desalination technologies and their related R&D projects that Egypt needs to invest in to meet the national needs.

Developing and R&D Agenda

The desalination roadmap is a program-planning document that identifies different desalination technology alternatives and their related R&D projects, and the milestones for meeting future national needs of water resources. Due to its role in investigating the future of Egypt in different areas, the Center for Future Studies (CFS) at the Cabinet’s Information and Decision Support Center (IDSC) has taken the initiative to develop a desalination technology roadmap for Egypt. The project objectives are:

  1. To identify future needs for desalination technology development.
  2. To chart a series of R&D activities that will result in cost-effective, efficient revolutionary desalination technologies that can meet future national needs.
  3. To establish development activities that will accelerate the rate of improvement of current-generation desalination technologies, and therefore allowing these technologies to better meet the short-term national needs.
  4. To develop short-term and long-term action agendas for the required desalination R&D projects in Egypt till 2030.
  5. To improve communication within the R&D community and between this community and the end users.

Technology Roadmapping Methodology

The desalination technology roadmap project was divided into three main phases: roadmap initiation, technical needs assessment, and technical response development. The first phase was concerned with the preparation of the actual roadmapping process and involved agreement on the roadmap’s scope, leadership, participants and deliverables. This phase involved constituting the Desalination Steering Committee (DSC), validating the need to roadmap and clearly portraying this need in a clear vision statement.

The second phase was Technical Needs Assessment: which involved technical needs definition, by assessing current capabilities and identifying the capability gaps and associated R&D goals. This was carried out by the Steering Committee’s core research group who conducted research in the field of desalination, in general, and in Egypt, in particular to determine recent breakthroughs in desalination technologies and how far Egypt has reached in this field. This was followed by identifying and specifying the areas of technical risks/opportunities, and correspondent technical solutions that are either available, or currently under development through a series of brainstorming sessions to identify potential alternate solutions. This phase resulted in a number of critical objectives associated with each need highlighted in the vision statement, and which certain research projects are meant to fulfill. These targets aim at challenging the R&D community to pursue and achieve major technological breakthroughs to be used in future projects, and should only be developed if key projects are not scheduled to start for another 10 years or more.

The final phase of the project was the Technical Response Development, which involved identifying relevant technological areas and research projects (e.g thermal, membranes, alternative, reuse, and cross-cutting research areas) to meet the metrics of each critical objective, and involved brainstorming to identify all possible technical approaches which represent the mechanisms for achieving the critical objectives. This phase resulted in a Broad Strategic Action Agenda which serves as a guideline for the R&D projects required on the short and mid/long term by providing prioritized suggested R&D projects, their duration and an estimated budget.

Most activities associated with the roadmapping process were conducted through committees or workgroups, and a number of focus group meetings were sequenced and scheduled for all work groups to come together, share results, and reach consensus on the defined targets or critical objectives. In addition, a number of individual follow-up meetings took place.

The Desalination Roadmapping Team was composed of the Desalination Steering Committee (DSC) and the Desalination Working Group (DWG). The main responsibility of the DSC was to oversee the technology roadmapping process, and guide it in the direction of achieving the vision statement or the final goal. The DWG is a committee representing a group of experts in desalination technology, environmental engineering, water resources planning, and energy resources. Their main responsibilities were to brainstorm technology options responsive to the technology strategies provided by the DSC, as well as the costs, benefits and risks of the different options.

Good Water Quality Free of Charge

Upon identifying the steering committee, a meeting was held to highlight the main national needs facing Egypt’s water resources in the future till 2030. This meeting was held among a number of prominent experts in the field of water resources and desalination, and accordingly, the following broad vision for desalination was formulated and agreed-upon to cover the main national needs as below:

“Develop desalination technologies that aim to secure cost-effective, drinkable, fits for its uses and sustainable water for Egypt in 2030”.

National Needs and Critical Objectives to Meet National Needs

Following the extensive literature review carried out by the research team during the second phase of the roadmapping process, the technical needs of Egypt in the field of desalination were identified and were mainly focused on capitalizing on the availability of abundant renewable resources in Egypt, mainly solar and thermal energy. As determined by the agreed-upon vision, Egypt’s main national needs with respect to water can be categorized as:

  • Cost-effective water: In Egypt, as in many countries, there is no direct charge for water services provided for agriculture, while water provided for domestic and industrial uses is subsidized. Farmers receive water free of charges and are only responsible for pumping costs from the manual pump to the field. However, the provision of water free of charges to farmers began to pose an increasing burden on the government especially in the face of increasing costs for O&M and irrigation and drainage system rehabilitation, due to the increasing population and construction of mega projects. As with regards to the municipal and industrial sectors, it is estimated that government subsidies amount to 70% of water service in the industrial sector and 88% in the municipal sector. The rate for domestic water supply in Greater Cairo is about LE 0.13/m3, which is much lower than the cost of providing raw water (around 0.56/m3). Charging users for water and water services in Egypt is a sensitive issue, as it involves political, historical, social, and economic factors.
  • Drinkable water: Access to safe drinking water and sanitation is considered a basic human right, however providing this service and securing the required investments are a real challenge for the government. In Egypt, over 90% of Cairo’s drinking water is drawn from the Nile, which has provided high quality water during the 1970’s and 1980’s. However, the Nile’s water quality showed increasing deterioration in the 1990’s due to increased industrial and agricultural discharges, and also contamination from human sewage. In addition, water quality provision was increasingly threatened by the inefficient infrastructure and deteriorating distribution systems and water treatment plants.
  • Water fits for its uses: Given the worsening water situation in Egypt due to the massive and increasing demand by the agricultural sector, supplementary non-conventional sources including desalination of sea and brackish water, and reuse of waste water, represent very important sources to ensure maximum water allocation for its uses. In general, desalinated seawater costs about more than twice the price of freshwater used in irrigation and hence is considered too expensive for all types of agricultural production. However, desalination costs have decreased to nearly one-tenth of what it was 20 years ago, and are likely to continue falling due to continuous advances in the field. This declination in cost is likely to make the use of desalinated sea or brackish water feasible for wide use in both agricultural and industrial fields.
  • Sustainable water. Achieving the national need of providing sustainable water resources requires that policy makers widen their scope on the main users of water, to include the environment as well as the traditional industry, agriculture and household users. This measure is crucial in the future in order to overcome the unsustainable “hydrological” debt that Egypt faces today, as its future water flows are more or less fixed while consumption is increasing at an enormous rate leading to water depletion.
Quantifying the Objectives

These are the objectives for each national need that the different proposed desalination technologies are expected to fulfill. These objectives gained consensus by the experts who have participated in this study.

Near Term Critical Objectives (2015):

  • Reduce capital cost by 20%
  • Increase energy use by 10%
  • Decrease operating and maintenance cost by 20%
  • In-house manufacture of renewable energy (RE) units
  • Increase public awareness, education/training on the importance of desalination.
  • Water quality meets drinkable water standards identified by Egyptian Environmental Affairs Agency (EEAA)
  • Develop science related concentrate specific regulations
  • Microbial removal
  • Provide water for supplementary irrigation coupled with greenhouse irrigation
  • Water use in industry
  • Reduce cost of desalinated water by 20%
  • In-house manufacture of RE
  • Maintain stability of reclaimed water over time
  • Brine reuse for other purposes

 

Mid/Long Term Critical Objectives (2030):

  • Reduce capital cost by 50%
  • Increase energy efficiency by 50%
  • Reduce operating cost by 50%
  • In-house manufacture of multi stage flashing (MSF)/Multi Effect Distillation (MED) desalinating plants
  • Develop small desalination units for remote areas
  • Address cumulative issues related to concentrate and enhance regulations
  • Wider water for supplementary irrigation coupled with greenhouse irrigation
  • Wider water use in industry
  • Reduce cost of desalinated water between 60-80%
  • Development of new systems projects
  • Use of nuclear energy for large desalination plants using CANada DUterium Oxide Uranium (CANDU) technology.
Desalination Technologies to Address Critical Objectives: Research Areas with the Greatest Potential

The Roadmapping Team identified three main technology areas where R&D is needed in order to create the next-generation desalination technologies. These technologies and their associated research areas are:

  1. Solar/Thermal Technologies:
  • Design and manufacture of solar stills
  • Application of a reflection reduction solution to the glass of solar desalination units
  • continuous improvement in material enhancement for solar desalination unit
  • Multistage evacuated solar desalination system
  • Multiple effect humidification/ dehumidification at ambient temperature (solar)
  • Solar multistage condensation evaporation cycle
  • Enhancement of reverse engineering of national made (5000 m3/day) MSF (or MED) units (existing 5000 m3/day of Sidi Krir & Euon Mosa could be used for verification)
  • Solar PV-RO system
  • Develop solar ponds for energy and concentrate management
  1. Membrane Technologies
  • Enhancement of in- house manufacture of RO technology
  • Enhanced evaporation through Multistage Condensation Evaporation Cycle
  1. Other Technologies
  • Manufacturing of stand alone small desalination units (1.0 – 20 m3/day)
  • Integrated complex for water production (solar stills), electricity (wind, solar, bio mass), food (greenhouses self sufficient of irrigating water, rabbit, sheep and birds breeding), and salts (chemical salts, artemia & fish nutrients).
  • Ionization of salty water for irrigation
  • Secondary treatment of brine for salt production
  • Integrated complex for water production (solar stills), electricity (wind, solar, bio mass), food (greenhouses self sufficient of irrigating water, rabbit, sheep and birds breeding), and salts (chemical salts, artemia & fish nutrients )
  • The biology of salty water, including understanding of environmental impacts, using bacteria for beneficial treatment, etc.

Expectations of Impacts

Given that the critical objectives that are to be achieved by the roadmap are divided into short-term and mid/long term, it was seen as most suitable to divide the strategic plan for desalination into a strategic plan to achieve short term critical objectives and another strategic plan to achieve mid/long term critical objective

Mid/Long Term High Priority R&D Projects
  • Manufacturing of stand alone small desalination units (1.0 – 20 m3/day). Duration: 10 years, Expected Cost: L.E10 million.
  • Integrated complex for water production (solar stills), electricity (wind, solar, bio mass), food (greenhouses self sufficient of irrigating water, rabbit, sheep and birds breeding), and salts (chemical salts, artemia & fish nutrients). Duration: 5 – 10 years, Expected Cost: L.E 2.5 million.
  • Storage of brackish water aquifers all over the country. Duration: 10 years, Expected Cost: LE 5 million
  • Bio technology using Bacteria, micro, plants…etc, that reduce amount of salt in seawater (e.g. Man-Grove). Duration: 12 years, Expected Cost: 2 million.
  • Combined nuclear power & desalination plants. Duration: 20 years, Expected Cost: 50 million.
Authors: Dr. Abeer Farouk Shakweer

Reham Mohamed Yousef reham.yousef@gmail.com

Sponsors: Egyptian Cabinet’s Information and Decision Support Center (IDSC)
Type: National Technology Foresight Exercise based on desk research and expert opinion
Organizer: Center for Future Studies
Duration: 2006 – 2007
Budget: n.a.
Time Horizon: 2030
Date of Brief: June 2011

Download EFP Brief No. 253_Desalination Technology Roadmap 2030

Sources and References

Abou Zaid, Mahmoud, “Desalination in Egypt between the Past and Future Prospects”, The News Letter of The Middle East Desalination Research Center, Issue 9, March 2000.
El-Kady, M. and F. El-Shibini, “Desalination in Egypt and the Future Application in Supplementary Irrigation”, National Water Research Center, Ministry of Public Works and Water Resources, July 2000.

Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), “Raising Water Productivity”, Agriculture 21 Magazine, Agriculture and Consumer Protection Department, March 2003, http://www.fao.org/AG/magazine/0303sp2.htm

National Research Council “Review of the Desalination and Water Purification Technology Roadmap”, The National Academies Press, Washington DC, January 2003.

EFP Brief No. 252: Egypt’s Water Security – Future Vision 2030 Using Delphi Method

Tuesday, February 12th, 2013

This study was an activity within the framework of Egypt’s Vision 2030 project carried out by the Center for Future Studies in the Egyptian Cabinet’s Information and Decision Support Center. Using Delphi Method, the study aims at identifying, analyzing and foreseeing potentials of Egypt’s water security as ground to thinking of pilot solutions aimed at evading problems and crisis as well as developing a set of procedures whereby Egypt’s water security is attained.

Increasing Gap between Water Supply and Demand

The Nile stands as Egypt’s main source of water whereby it secures 80% of Egypt’s water yield per year-according to the 1959 Nile Agreement, Egypt’s fixed quota of Nile water comes to 55.5 billion m3/year. In Egypt, water security tops the national agenda whereby studies reveal that estimations of available water and water needs for different purposes are heading towards an increasing gap between water supply and demand, not only because of the anticipated increase of water demand, but also due to the impact of other factors on the available quantity of Nile water. The study at hand contributes to foreseeing the future of Egyptian water security, by analyzing the impact of varied factors influencing Egypt’s water security in terms of the political, economic, environmental, hydrological, legal and strategic aspects,  developing an integrated vision, and forming a new approach for further research in this area and providing comprehensive knowledge.

Combining Forecasting and Delphi

The study applied the “Delphi Technique” – an important qualitative tool of future studies – which relies on collective intelligence and scientific forecasts, by deriving knowledge from a group of experts, directing them to consensus on aspects of the issue at hand, and providing verifications for the relatively extreme positions. This technique was used to identify the main factors of uncertainty that will affect the future of Egypt’s water security, and to forecast potentials of these uncertainty factors, their different expected impacts, and proposed recommendations. A Delphi web site was developed allowing access to 25 experts in the areas of water, economic and political science.

The study also used forecasting (futures analysis) which does not seek foreseeing or planning the future, but rather conducts a set of conditional forecasts or scenarios assuming either the reality or desired ones. Hence, the research does not conclude to achieving any of the aforementioned scenarios but aims at allowing societal players to learn about the requirements of achieving one of the desired scenarios according to their relevant preference in order to work on giving it precedence over other alternative scenarios.

Main Factors Affecting Water Security

Based on the theoretical review of the issue of Egypt’s water security, the most important factors affecting Egypt’s water security were identified by applying Delphi Technique as follows:

  1. Relations between countries of the Nile basin towards either cooperation or struggle:

The regional hydrological system of the Nile basin lacks a comprehensive legal or institutional framework deemed acceptable by all Nile countries because of their conflicting outlook on the legitimacy of the existing agreements and international conventions – the 1929 and 1959 Agreements in specific. Accordingly, countries of the Nile sources divide the River Nile’s water according to the area of River Nile basin passing through the given country, and the contribution of each country to the river’s water yield. However, Egypt and Sudan refuse reviewing the distribution of water quotas in the Nile basin based on calls for justice and equity.

Additionally, some of the Nile basin source countries are calling for enforcing the principle of international water sale on the Nile basin system including that Egypt and Sudan, pay financial compensation in return for their water quotas if they wish to maintain them, while Egypt and Sudan refuse this principle on the ground that water is a socio-economic commodity that should not be subjected to market mechanisms.

On another level, countries of the Nile basin sources reject the condition of advance notification when developing water projects or taking water measures within their national borders, which is seen as necessary by Egypt and Sudan.

  1. Impact of external powers:

External powers, mainly USA and Israel play a crucial role in affecting international water interactions in the Nile basin, and carry out a motivating role for struggle. In this regard, Israel adopts two main strategies: “Quota based system” considering projects involving water that eventually aims that Israel receives fixed water quota from the Nile and “Seizure Strategy” which implies surrounding the Egyptian policy and using water as a pressure card against Egypt and Sudan. European countries, specially Italy, Holland and some Asian countries particularly Japan are playing a motivating role for water cooperation in the Nile basin putting down inclinations towards water related conflicts by providing financial and technical support for a number of water related projects in the Nile countries.

  1. The impact of the separation of South Sudan:

Opinions vary on the impact of south Sudan separation on Egypt’s water security. Some opinions perceive minimum negative impact resulting from the separation on the Egyptian water yield from the Nile and others are seriously concerned about the potential impacts.

  1. Shifts to irrigated agriculture and minimizing pressure on the blue water:

All countries of the Nile sources wish to follow Egypt’s footsteps in terms of cultivating spacious irrigated agricultural areas. However, this type of agriculture requires costly technical expertise. In this context, funding and technical assistance provided through investors, local, regional or international entities might have a hidden agenda for helping poor citizens of the Nile countries, destabilizing some countries and creating tension in a manner that impacts development plans.

  1. Change in the economic:

As a main feature of the Nile basin countries- except Egypt- extreme poverty reflects on the capabilities in terms of providing water related infrastructure. According to 2007 World Bank data, Burundi had the lowest GDP (US$0.97 billion) among Nile Basin countries, whereas annual GDP per capita growth rate was highest in Ethiopia and Sudan at 8.4% and 7.7% respectively. Egypt comes next with a growth rate of 5.2%. Nevertheless, GDP per capita share decreased in Burundi by 0.3% and in Eritrea by 2.3%.

  1. Water reservoirs or control utilities:

If dams are constructed to serve as reservoirs, it is necessary to ensure that the stored water affects Egypt’s water quota in the long term.

  1. Impact of climate change on water of Nile basin:

The most important climate changes affecting the Nile’s water are increasing temperatures which  will cause rising rates of evaporation, and changes in the rates, locations and seasons of water fall will cause the loss of quantities of rain that were to be used in agriculture and human consumption in the northern coast.

  1. Political stability of the Nile basin countries:

Continuous or aggravated forms and indicators of domestic instability in the Nile basin countries will push them to adopt struggle based foreign policies. It is projected that countries of the Nile basin sources will resort to adopting aggressive foreign policies towards both mouth and stream countries-Egypt and Sudan-every now and then. This is in an effort to divert the domestic public opinion away from internal problems and failures suffered in each country relatively.

Egyptian Water Security Scenarios

Given the aforementioned main factors affecting Egypt’s water security, the future of water in the Nile basin will likely be shaped according to three alternative scenarios as follows.

Business as Usual Scenario

The current situation of struggle relations between Egypt and the Nile Basin Countries, will continue but will not escalate to war because of political expertise,  and countries of the Nile basin maintain a reasonable margin of rationality with their neighbours. Furthermore, the domestic political, economic and social circumstances of the Nile basin countries will not permit potential escalation of conflicts.

According to the outcomes of Delphi survey, a change in the current situation of cooperation or struggle regarding water is unlikely (there were no sharp deviations regarding the potential full cooperation or struggles that may escalate to war over water), where 46%, 38% and 50% is the probability of increasing the normal yield of Nile water before 2030 via cooperation where Egypt develops projects in the Ethiopian Plateau, Equatorial Lakes Plateau and Bahr el Ghazal. But the probability of reaching an agreement on some of the conflict areas by amending the existing legal agreements of the Nile basin countries is 48%.

Also, lack of current sufficient funding will affect the ability of benefiting from green water and relieving the pressure off blue water in Nile Basin countries. And in light of the outcomes of Delphi survey, Egypt’s probability of developing projects -in cooperation with donor international organizations-aimed at assisting other countries in benefiting from green water is 49%, 52% and 53% respectively in the Ethiopian, Equatorial Plateaus and Bahr el Ghazal.

It is unlikely that the basin countries will experience an economic boom on the short term, since economic development requires stable political regimes and local, regional and international capital, capacity building, technical calibres and improvement of institutions and laws.

There is low probability of an impact from the separation of south Sudan on Egypt’s yield of the Nile water, as the new State will be bound by all past conventions related to the River Nile. Needless to mention, South Sudan is advantaged with abundant rain which spares it the need for this water. According to Delphi Survey, the probability of a relevant impact on Egypt’s Nile water supply is 45%.

It is likely that climate changes will continue without an impact on the normal yield of Nile water in Egypt, at least during the coming twenty years. According to a study by the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) in 2004, there is limited confidence regarding changes in amount and direction of rainfall on the future on the Nile basin countries. Based on the survey results, the probability that climate changes will move the rain belt far from the Ethiopian, Equatorial Lakes Plateaus or Baher Al Gazal are 40%, 35% and 44% respectively.

Optimistic Scenario (Regional Cooperation)

This is the scenario of optimization of available opportunities for developing shared water resources and building a regional water system capable of securing the needs of the region’s countries without undermining the fixed historical and legal rights of some of the countries.

This scenario involves the potential of expanding cooperation areas among Nile basin countries within the Nile Basin Initiative, which includes all ten Nile basin countries, provides an institutional framework for collective cooperation, receives governmental and political support, and pays great attention to projects and mechanisms aimed at building mutual trust among basin countries, as well as capacity building and training projects.

There is an increased possibility of establishing water related projects in collaboration with the basin countries via building and connecting dams on a unified electricity network in those countries, aimed at generating power for agriculture and industrial production purposes rather than storing water and assist in regulating water supply to Egypt. Survey results indicate that probability of completing Gongli Canal is 56%, in addition to the possibility of redirecting Congo River to benefit from its water is 60%.

Pessimistic Scenario (Conflict)

This scenario is based on the possibility that variables motivating struggle will lead to raising chances of conflict of national interests in the Nile basin countries to an extend of inter struggle. The struggle inclination might rise given the following variables:1) A strong and sharp inclination of the Nile basin sources countries towards enforcing the principle of “selling Nile water” to the two countries of the mouth and stream will cause an eruption of international water struggle and wars among the countries.2) Escalated role of the external motivating powers for Nile-Nile struggle based on the following considerations:

Israel will play a motivating role for water struggle in the Nile basin in addition to the indirect role of the USA, where it will work on besieging and pulling the parties of Egyptian policy, on the regional level, in a way that serves coining the American power on the political and strategic levels in preparation for an effective Israeli role.

Countries of the upper Nile basin will seek to constitute external coalitions aimed at changing the current situation; these are mainly Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda.

Separation of south Sudan will be at the expense of projects dedicated to exploiting the wasted Nile water in the Egyptian and joint upper parts, such as the Gongli Canal project.

The political tensions in the Ethiopian Plateau will negatively affect the Egyptian water yield as well as failure to implement any proposed projects. According to the survey, the probability of the eruption of a civil war (due to ethnicity, religion, political or tribal affiliation) in the Ethiopian Plateau and bearing an impact on water projects and management is 53% and 57% respectively.

Based on the Delphi Survey outcomes, the probability of increased Nile basin countries’ demand for Blue water for agricultural, industrial, drinking, tourism, and fish wealth purposes by 2030 in the Ethiopian, Equatorial Plateaus and Bahr El Gazal Region are 60%, 61% and 59% respectively. As for the probability that those countries construct dams or other projects in the Ethiopian, Equatorial Plateaus and Bahr El Gazal Region-to meet the increased demand for water -that will eventual-ly affect Egypt’s Nile water quota by 2030 are 63%, 59% and 54% respectively.

Cooperation for Water Security

  1. Cooperation among the Nile Basin Countries

Regional cooperation should depend on balancing the distribution of benefits and duties in the context of a cooperative Win-Win Approach, which will eventually lead to optimizing the benefits among all Nile countries enabling a relevant improvement and development.

  1. Endorsing the Soft and Diplomatic Instruments

This ensures avoiding the struggle scenario, and can be supported by developing the mutual dependency mechanism between Egypt and Ethiopia via joint projects where Egypt provides the technical expertise in irrigation currently being provided by Israel.

  1. Enhancing Cooperation between Egypt and Sudan

The mutual dependency mechanism between Egypt and Sudan, in light of separation, can be achieved through establishing strong ties with both north and south via joint cooperation in agriculture, power production, health, education and industrial projects in addition to military. This entails developing railways, river naval lines and unified electricity networks, and that Egypt grants southern citizens all advantages equal to Sudanese citizens in terms of education, work, residence, and entry into Egypt, and redrafting the projects to exploit wasted water in the upper Nile in Bahr El Gabal, Bahr El Gazal, and Mashar Swamps situated in south Sudan.

  1. Benefiting from Green Water

This entails that Egypt: cooperates with the international donor organizations for developing projects in the source countries, transfers agriculture technologies to all Nile basin countries by availing technically qualified irrigation and agriculture engineers, and developing rain harvest technologies and introducing selected seeds and chemical fertilizers.

  1. Creating a social, economic, political observatory

This should be in charge of monitoring changes immediately, analysing indicators and presenting relevant plans. In the event of any internal political tensions in the Nile basin countries, Egypt should adopt a neutral position, stimulate mediations in ethnic and border conflicts taking place in the Great Lakes and African Horn regions to evade the potential sensitivities that might emerge due to aligning with any of the conflicting parties.

  1. Egypt’s Role in Developing Economies

It is recommended that Egypt carries out development projects in Nile Basin countries and cooperates with international organizations in areas of improving health care, and eradicating Endemic diseases that affect public health and consequently productivity.

  1. Forecasting the Impact of Climate Changes

Developing a local model for forecasting the impact of climate change on the Nile basin water yield, in cooperation with the British Meteorology Office.

Authors: Dr. Nisreen Lahham   nisreenlahham@idsc.net.eg

Dr. Mohamed Saleh   msaleh@idsc.net.eg

Sahar Sayed Sabry    saharsayed@idsc.net.eg

Sponsors: Egyptian Cabinet’s Information and Decision Support Center (IDSC)
Type: National Technology Foresight Exercise based on desk research and expert opinion.
Organizer: Dr. Nisreen Lahham, Executive Manager, Center for Future Studies, www.future.idsc.net.eg
Duration: 2009 – 2010
Budget: n.a.
Time Horizon: 2030
Date of Brief: August 2011

Download EFP Brief No. 252_Egypt’s Water Security

Sources and References

Ayman Alsayed Abdul Wahhab (editor), “River Nile Basin: Cooperation opportunities and problems” (Cairo, Al Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies, 2009).

Mohammad Salman Taye`a, Water Security in the Arab Gulf in a Changing World: between Prerequisites of National Interest and Addressing External Threats, Middle East papers, National Center for Middle East Studies, Vol. 38 October 2007.

Atlas of international agreements on fresh waters, UNEP, FAO, and Oregon University, 2002.

H.J.Brans (ed.), The Scarcity of Water: Emerging Legal and Policy Issues, London, The Hague, Boston, Kluwer International, International Environmental Law and Policy Issues, 1997, 21-39.

Theodore J. Gordon, The Delphi Method, future research methodology – V2.0, AC/UNU Millennium Project.

World Bank, World Development Indicators, Washington, 2007

 

EFP Brief No. 181: Technologies for EU Minerals Supply

Thursday, May 26th, 2011

This exercise was part of an EU FP7 Blue Skies Project aimed at piloting, developing and testing in real situations a foresight methodology designed to bring together key stakeholders for the purpose of exploring longer term challenges and building a shared vision that could guide the development of the relevant European research agenda. This approach was applied to the theme of “Breakthrough technologies for the security of supply of critical minerals and metals in the EU economy”.

The Minerals Challenge

Minerals and metals are essential to almost every aspect of modern life and every economic sector. Aerospace, agriculture, culture, defence, energy, environmental protection, health, housing, transport and water supply are all highly dependent upon them. Plans for economic recovery and the development of new industries also depend on their availability – for example “green” energy production from solar cells and wind turbines, the green car of tomorrow and many more all require a range of rare minerals and metals for their production.

Although essential to our economies, development of this sector has been neglected in Western Europe during the past 25 years. This was mainly because of the very low price of these commodities – a consequence of abundant reserves discovered in the 1970s. As a result, the mining and metallurgical industry as well as related research and education almost disappeared from the present European Union, making our economies totally dependent upon imports.

Demand for these minerals and metals is likely to increase dramatically. Much of this new demand will come from rapidly growing, highly populated emerging countries, such as China, which have attracted large parts of the world industrial production due to cheap labour, regardless of raw minerals and energy issues. Already strong competition for access to natural resources, including mineral resources vital to any economy, is likely to accelerate further in the coming years with possible severe environmental and social impacts. The EU economy is more than any other exposed to these developments, as it produces very little of the minerals it consumes and almost none of the critical minerals it needs to develop its green technologies.

Against this background, the creation of a new research and innovation context in Europe has become essential, not only to reduce the EU’s dependence on imported minerals and metals but also to chart the road ahead, to develop a win-win cooperation with developing countries and to stimulate the competitiveness of EU technology, products and service providers to the global economy.

However, these solutions can take a long time to be implemented, and it is important to identify today’s priorities for knowledge generation and innovation so that action can begin. This in turn creates a need for a foresight approach that brings together the knowledge and interests of the main stakeholders. It is in this context that the FarHorizon project invited leading experts in the area from government agencies, industry and academia to take part in a success scenario workshop. The aims of the exercise were

  • to identify the key challenges for raw materials supply in Europe;
  • to identify breakthrough technologies or other innovations that could transform the picture, including substitution, new sources, ways to change demand and new applications; and
  • to define in broad terms the research and innovation strategies needed to develop and make use of such technologies.

Success Scenario Approach

The “Success Scenario Approach” is an action-based approach where senior stakeholders develop a shared vision of what success in the area would look like, together with appropriate goals and indicators, which provide the starting point for developing a roadmap to get there. The purpose of having such a vision of success is to set a ‘stretch target’ for all the stakeholders. The discussion and debate forming an integral part of the process leads to developing a mutual understanding and a common platform of knowledge that helps to align the actors for action.

Important outcomes of these workshops are the insights they provide in terms of the level of maturity in policy design and development and the viability and robustness of long-term policy scenarios to guide policy-making. The workshops also provide indications on whether there is a need for further discussion to refine thinking and policy design and/or to bring additional stakeholders into the discussion.

The theme was developed in partnership with the French geosciences institution BRGM. The workshop brought together twenty representatives of scientific organisations, industry and government agencies to identify the role of technology in addressing the socioeconomic and political challenges facing Europe in this sector. Briefs on key issues were prepared before the workshop, and participants took part in an exercise to identify key drivers using the STEEPV framework (social, technological, environmental, economic, political and values). Common themes were increasing demand and growing sustainability requirements. Geopolitical themes were also touched upon.

The basic structure was to identify the key challenges facing the sector and then to explore the potential role of breakthrough technologies in addressing those challenges. A third main session examined the key elements needed for a sectoral strategy for innovation.

The figure below gives an outline of the methodology:

Challenges in Three Dimensions

Informed by the drivers, participants were tasked to identify the key challenges for raw materials supply in Europe and to prioritise these. If these challenges can be met, we can expect to achieve a situation as defined by the successful vision for the sector in 2030 and realise its benefits to Europe. Three dimensions of the challenge were addressed:

Geology and Minerals Intelligence

  1. Access to data on mining, production and geology
  2. Knowledge of deeper resources
  3. Better knowledge due to improved models of how deposits are produced
  4. Better exploration
  5. Systematic data sharing
  6. Exploitation of ‘exhausted’ mines

Mining, Ore Processing and Metallurgy

  1. Exploiting deeper deposits
  2. Accessing seabed deposits
  3. Better health and safety; prediction of seismic events and natural or man-made hazards
  4. Using less water and energy
  5. Reducing CO2 footprint
  6. By-product handling
  7. Social and business organisation

Sustainable Use, Efficiency, Recycling and Re-use

  1. Downstream resource efficiency
  2. Better citizens’ understanding/attitude
  3. Building capabilities and providing training
  4. Transforming waste into mines/urban mining
  5. More systemic view of different critical minerals
  6. Better use of other resources, e.g. water and energy
  7. Global governance of new extractive activities

Against these challenges, breakthroughs were sought in four areas: new applications, substitution, new sources of materials and rare metals, and changes in demand.

Four Key Actions toward a Comprehensive Policy for Securing Raw Materials Supply

Policy recommendations geared toward securing the supply of raw materials in Europe were summarised in terms of four necessary key actions:

Key Action 1: Establish an integrated strategy for raw materials supply and support it by providing continuous funding.

Research in the area of raw materials supply needs to be clearly linked to creating the right conditions for successful innovation. There is some concern that the European Commission has no competence in minerals as such but rather in matters of environmental protection, trade or economic competitiveness. This limits the development of a holistic, complementary approach needed to tackle the various issues related to securing Europe’s mineral resources supply within the sustainable development context. The sector needs a more horizontal approach – otherwise we may do research, but there is no innovation behind it. An innovation-friendly market can be created by developing stringent environmental and recycling regulations. Europe is at the forefront of a number of technologies in these areas. Regulators need to understand that part of their job is to stimulate innovation if not for today at least for tomorrow. Engaging them in foresight, along with technologists and users, is important for developing this horizon. There is a 7-8 year challenge to develop a new lead market.

Key Action 2: Move from stop and go to a lasting approach with three central aspects for a research, technology and innovation programme.

Support up to now has been project-based and provided only to a limited extent on a stop and go basis while continuous policies and knowledge development would be necessary.

2.1 There are three broad research priorities:

  • Research dealing with mineral resources intelligence. This is research of a totally different kind, i.e. mainly interdisciplinary. It is needed to keep up with a dynamic situation where even what minerals and metals are critical changes over time.
  • Research leading to new or better technologies with a focus upon whatever is needed by industry. The large scale South Korean national initiatives provide a good example of speed, scale and pragmatism and also represent the competition that Europe has to face. The US investment on rare earths in the Ames laboratory is another example.
  • Research on mitigation and understanding of environmental impacts.

2.2 Adopt a holistic approach to the innovation cycle. Support for research should be long-term and structured so that most publicly funded research is open and shared internationally. The full range of mechanisms is needed: basic R&D, integrated projects or their equivalent and joint technology initiatives. However, 80% of the effort should be in large applied projects and the rest focused on longer term work. Partnership with the US, Japan and possibly South Korea could be meaningful in a number of areas.

2.3 Adopt a joint programming approach. Currently there is little or no coordination between European-level and national research. Some governments are in a position to take the initiative in this area – notably Germany, the United Kingdom, France, Finland and Poland.

Key Action 3: Increase the flow of trained people.

A supply of trained people is a significant constraint. The lack of investment in research and teaching in this area over the past 20 years has depleted the availability of expertise to undertake the necessary research and teaching. Training initiatives are needed and within the European framework a pool of excellence should be developed – a platform that coordinates the supply and demand for education and training in the area with some elements being in competition and some complementary. There is also a need to attract interest from researchers outside the area; many of those doing research in this field have a background in the minerals sector, but breakthroughs may be more likely to come from people currently working in other fields.

Key Action 4: Governance issues are critical.

Securing raw materials is a task that goes beyond the competence and capability of the individual member states and is inherently European. Even current European initiatives in other fields are dependent on action in this sector – rare metals are behind all the EU’s proposed Innovation Partnerships. Collaboration beyond Europe is also necessary, but a collective voice for Europe is more likely to be heard in the international arena. There are also opportunities to exert a positive influence to halt environmentally damaging or politically dangerous approaches in other parts of the world, notably in Africa and parts of the CIS. The momentum from the current EU Raw Materials Initiative, aiming to foster and secure supplies and to promote resource efficiency and recycling, needs to be carried forward into the EU’s Eighth Framework Programme, its innovation policies and also its wider policies including those concerning interaction with the African, Caribbean and Pacific States.

Authors: Luke Georghiou luke.georghiou@mbs.ac.uk, Jacques Varet j.varet@brgm.fr, Philippe Larédo philippe.laredo@enpc.fr
Sponsors: EU Commission
Type: EU-level single issue foresight exercise
Organizer: FP7 FarHorizon Project Coordinator: MIOIR, Luke Georghiou Luke.georghiou@mbs.ac.uk
Duration: Sept 08-Feb11 Budget: N/A Time Horizon: 2030 Date of Brief: Apr 2011

 

Download EFP Brief No. 181_Technologies for EU Minerals Supply

Sources and References

Georghiou, L., Varet, J. and Larédo P. (2011), Breakthrough technologies: For the security of supply of critical minerals and metals in the EU, March 2011, http://farhorizon.portals.mbs.ac.uk

European Commission (2010), “Critical Raw Materials for the EU”, Report of the RMSG Ad Hoc Working Group on defining critical raw materials, June 2010

European Commission (2011), Tackling the Challenges in Commodity Markets and on Raw Materials, Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions, Brussels, 02/02/2011 COM(2011) 0025 final

EFP Brief No. 176: Foresighting the Agri-climate Ecology

Tuesday, May 24th, 2011

This exercise was part of an EU FP7 Blue Skies Project aimed at piloting, developing and testing in real situations a foresight methodology designed to bring together key stakeholders to explore the longer term challenges that face their sector (or cut across sectors) and to build a shared vision that could guide the development of the relevant European research agenda. This approach was applied to the first theme selected, namely “Application of Breakthrough Technologies to Adaptation to Climate Change in Agriculture”. This met the criteria for a sectorally driven topic, was research-driven and involved a clear and vital European policy challenge. Moreover, from an early stage, there was strong stakeholder engagement from the Standing Committee on Agricultural Research and the Directorate-General for Research in Agriculture, Forestry, Fisheries, Aquaculture.

Urgency of Agri-climate Challenge

There is a general consensus that agriculture in Europe will confront major challenges related to rising global temperatures, an increasing number of extreme climatic events and a series of consequences which may occa-sionally be positive but the sum total of which threaten food security, health and well-being, particularly but not exclusively in rural regions. The urgency of mitigation measures should not be minimised, not least because of the substantial contribution agriculture itself makes to greenhouse gas emissions. Nonetheless, the reality is that such measures at this stage are only likely to offset what is to come. In consequence, thinking is already focusing on strategies for adaptation. The exercise built on the foresight work of the Standing Committee on Agricultural Research (SCAR) and the Directorate-General for Research and Innovation (DG RTD), Agriculture, Forestry, Fisheries, Aquaculture, which had generated two important reports. A strategic link was also established with the group working on the Joint Programming Initiative developing in this area. Sev-eral meetings were held with DG RTD to improve the mapping of the research and ‘innovation ecology’ or ‘eco-system’ (an underpinning concept of the project which emphasises flows and interdependencies in the innova-tions system) and to discuss the appropriate tactics for interfacing with this community. An initial description of the ecology was prepared as background for the workshop, and the event was held in Brussels on 14 December, 2009 with the participation of 26 senior experts in agriculture and related technologies, policy and foresight.

Purpose

The purpose of the workshop was to bring together these experts from the domain of agricultural research and associated policy and user areas with thinkers and specialists from outside to explore a foresight vision of the contributions that breakthrough technologies could make. Since such technologies could have profound socioeconomic consequences or even demand major socioeconomic change as preconditions, the socio-economic dimension must also be prominent. To open up scope for innovative thinking, the first part of the workshop focused on articulating the challenges of ad-aptation in the form of a “functional specification”, for example the level of salinity tolerance that a major crop would have to achieve or the need to increase cloud precipitation in a cost-effective way. A second session considered the potential of breakthrough technologies for adaptation, whether in isolation or through convergence. Workshop participants were then asked to co-construct a success scenario for the year 2050 in which European agriculture (or its functions) will have made the best use of potential breakthroughs to adapt to climate change scenarios. On the basis of the success scenario, attention then focused on the steps needed now and in the coming years to achieve the desired outcome.
In this case, the tailored structure was based upon identi-fication and prioritisation of challenges in the domains of pests and diseases, water and land, and socio-economic dimensions. With an intervening wild-card exercise, the second main step involved identifying potential solutions to the challenges resulting from breakthrough technolo-gies in bio and non-bio domains. The timescale was 2050 in recognition of the rate of change of drivers and effects.

Linking Success Scenario and Ecosystem Mapping

The aim of the exercise was to pilot and test in real situations a foresight methodology designed to bring together key stakeholders to explore the longer term challenges that face their sector (or cut across sectors) and to build a shared vision that could guide the devel-opment of the relevant European research agenda. This includes identifying the changes in the European research and innovation ecosystem that would be needed to take forward that agenda. The target is not the Eighth Framework Programme in isolation or the specific case of the Joint Programming Initiatives but rather embedding them as core elements of wider cooperation and coordination mechanisms and proc-esses around the challenges facing the sectors exam-ined. The project combines the core approach of the “Success Scenario Workshop” with the mapping of the research and innovation ecosystem to address differ-ent types of research and innovation challenges.

The “Success Scenario Approach” is an action-based approach, which helps to generate a shared vision among senior stakeholders of what success in the area would look like, specified in terms of goals and indicators, which provide the starting point for developing a road-map to get there. The purpose of having such a vision of success is to set a ‘stretch target’ for all the stakeholders. The discussion and debate involved develops mutual understanding and a common platform of knowledge that helps to align the actors for action. In practice, the struc-ture of a workshop begins with a consideration of key drivers or challenges, builds a vision of success, and then focuses on actions to make the vision a reality. The work-shop helps to flag hidden bottlenecks and constraints pre-venting progress as well as windows of opportunity for joint policy coordination and action. Important outcomes of these workshops are the insights they provide in terms of the level of maturity in policy design and development and the viability and robustness of long-term policy scenarios to guide policy-making. The workshops also provide indi-cations on whether there is a need for further discussion to refine thinking and policy design and/or to bring additional stakeholders into the discussion.

The workshop approach is supported by a mapping of the research and innovation ecosystem, a concept that stresses the interdependencies between actors in re-search and innovation – here understood broadly to include policy as well as industrial innovation. The map articulates the identities and roles of key actors, the networks in place and the flows of money and knowl-edge. It also provides an overview of existing initiatives and the level of maturity of the system, how well it is working and whether networks need to be re-aligned or re-configured. Towards the end of the process, road-maps or implementation plans are developed identifying the key steps to be taken to put European research in the area on the appropriate footing.

Challenges in Three Key Areas

The Farhorizon Agri-climate Workshop working group discussions were structured on the challenges arising from climate change impacts on agriculture in three key areas, namely pests and diseases, water and land, and socio-economic aspects (including events outside Europe). Each cluster of challenges is explored in more detail below.

Cluster 1: Pests and Diseases

Early warning systems: Among the key impacts identi-fied in the first cluster were the migration of pests from hot countries and the need to detect and control the spread of invasive species. This requires action on a number of levels, including efforts to improve detection of invasive plant species or crops bringing new pests and diseases into Europe. Accuracy and timeliness of detec-tion systems is key for effective responses, hence the need for robust monitoring and early warning systems for picking up signs in initial phases. Sophisticated ICT-based expert systems together with smart technologies can detect weeds (and hidden pests) in imported plants.

Genetic engineering and genomics: In Europe monocul-tures represent a major problem due to additional risks relating to pests. There is a need to plan a shift to polycul-ture for a more diverse set of animals and plants. Genetic engineering has focused on one particular challenge while it also needs to address other challenges, such as adapt-ing existing crops quickly, genetic traits for animal health and the potential of genomics for enhancing plants’ ca-pacity for survival in stressful environments, requiring a focus on a broader genetic strain.

Territorial diversity and local, traditional knowledge: Re-search challenges range from experimentation with di-versified cropping to research on viroids and the spread of pests and human allergies. Despite territorial diversity in climate impacts, regions do not operate in silos result-ing in cross-impacts on bordering regions. This highlights the need for closer cooperation between disciplines in-cluding ICT, GIS, ‘omics’ (refers to disciplines that have the omics syllable in common, e.g. genomics) and taxon-omy. There are concerns about a shortfall of plant spe-cialists and taxonomists and the loss of traditional knowl-edge due to the growing attraction of genomics.

Cluster 2: Climate change impacts on water and land

The second cluster relating to climate change impacts on water and land can be divided into (i) ‘general impacts’, i.e. changes in temperature, solar radiation, rainfall, changes or increases in toxic air(borne) pollutant levels, water shortages, changes in plant types, changes in carbon dioxide levels and impacts on ecosystem(s). The speed of change in systems and their (and our) ability to respond is a key issue now (i.e. from traditional national systems and cultures to new global set-ups). (ii) ‘Water quality impacts’ – i.e. groundwater being affected by changing quantities of rainfall, potentially allowing the concentration of pollutants etc. to increase; changes in the relative priorities for water use compared to the cur-rent priority of drinking water quality over agriculture water quality. Increased biological activity is proportional to temperature increases, which could reduce water quality. (iii) ‘Water quantity impacts’ – i.e. droughts, floods and the generally shifting availability of water in space and time. Climate change could generally decrease the resis-tance and resilience of species (plant and other). (iv) ‘Impacts on land’ – i.e. mineral transport processes will be affected; soil dynamics will change (change of soil fertil-ity); desertification will alter land use; there will be a modi-fication in soil flora and fauna; where people live (have to live) may change; ‘ecosystem’ goods and services supported by the land will change; there is a changing sus-ceptibility of a variety of these things due to temperature.

Cluster 3: Socio-economic impacts

The foreseen impacts range from the urgency to de-velop new economic and agriculture models to invest-ments in technologies that are cost-effective, reliable and acceptable to society. These impacts can lead to ten-sions, insecurity, instability, especially in developing countries, due to scarce resources to address these con-cerns. This poses a general challenge of how to detect the tipping point in these situations and take action to reduce these tensions. Free trade discussions are ne-glecting climate change due to potential conflicts with the objectives of WTO negotiations. This calls for cli-mate change issues to be given a higher profile on the WTO agenda. Europe needs to develop an integrated response to economic growth, free trade and climate change based on improved communication between institutions and policy sectors, and ultimately new mod-els of economic growth decoupled from fossil carbon.

A potential impact with socio-economic effects is the emergence of local threats to agricultural systems lead-ing to the abandonment of sectors. Sectors of activity are in this scenario threatened by diseases, lack of water and other effects caused by extreme weather events. The challenges involve adapting to novel situations by new breeds and/or new technologies, investing in new tech-nologies, supplying information, educating and training people to adapt to necessary changes in lifestyle, and improving communication on climate change issues. In such situations, an increase in climate change refugees is envisaged, creating a dual challenge of prevention and integration. The means identified were international co-operation, technology transfer and education. Another key challenge is to identify effective means for keeping the environmental impact of intensification to a minimum through a new model of sustainably competitive agricul-ture based on: 1) profitability at farm level, 2) marketabil-ity of food products, 3) environmental sustainability, 4) coping with climate change, 5) energy efficiency and 6) coping with competing land uses. Developing and imple-menting this new model will require a very high level of policy coordination at the national, EU and global level. This model would address land management through transparent, effective processes for mediating conflicting uses, the introduction of new climate and agri-technologies based on public acceptance and the adaptation of educa-tion systems to promote change in lifestyle.

Agri-climate Success Scenario for 2050

Drawing on the insights gained from the analysis of challenges and suggested responses, a success sce-nario was constructed to illustrate an aspirational path by which these could shape the future:
The scene for the success scenario was set with refer-ence to future historical events including a Second Great World Food Crisis in the early 2040s, in which Europeans will have been forced to change their diet but where prescient actions taken to prepare the agricul-tural system from 2015 onwards will have insulated the Continent from the worst effects of climate change. A review written from the perspective of 2040 of the past 40 years illustrated how two generations of researchers were able to engage with a series of challenges and bring with them Europe’s timely actions to provide impor-tant insights on how proactive, forward-looking ap-proaches can be realised through joint transnational re-search initiatives. It referred to how farmers will have become increasingly used to facing the impacts of climate change reflecting the risks identified in the work-shop.

Elements of the foreseen policy approach included:

• European early warning and response strategy and facility
• Capitalising on existing knowledge
• Networked specialisation (a trans-European network of institutions synthesizing a large pool of knowledge).
A research agenda for agriculture included:
• Energy adaptation based on a mix of approaches including reduction of transport in production and dis-tribution, design of greenhouses that capture energy rather than use it, and breakthroughs in bio-energy from trees alleviating stresses on land use.
• Fertilisers that use less material input (potassium and phosphate) and less energy in their production.
• New varieties of plants with a reduced need for fertilisers and new varieties of fertilisers from manure and nitrogen fixing in grasses. Opposition to geneti-cally modified crops was dissipated by creating plants designed to be low risk (for example without the ability to spread pollen).
• Water use and drought resistance are critical factors particularly for Mediterranean regions. A multifaceted strategy includes the selection of plant varieties to con-serve water and breeding of drought resistant varieties.
• Soil fertility and dynamics provide an important re-search theme. The network supported a more robust and sustainable agriculture model and locally adapted systems. Its links to local farming communities and
researchers placed it in a strong position to spearhead change at the European level.

In summary, as a result of an early investment in capacity-building to cope with the climate impacts on agriculture from a range of perspectives (policy design, implementa-tion, knowledge capture and transfer), the success sce-nario describes an agricultural landscape in Europe 2050 that is highly diversified and yet robust to climate change effects. The success scenario also includes a retrospective on policy describing a situation where societal challenges dominate the bulk of effort and resources in the European research and innovation ecosystem. Reference was made to a situation in the early part of the century where the research and innovation constituencies is largely separate and the public viewed researchers as an isolated elite interested mainly in securing a continuous flow of funding. In this scenario, the financial crisis causes researchers to be much more explicit about how their work will contribute to economic recovery and major societal challenges. At the same time political, business and social leaders will have reassured the scientific community that substantial funding will be reserved for investigator-driven research but that much more effort will be made to ensure success-ful translation of the results of that work. Building the con-stituency to address the grand challenge of adaptation to climate change in agriculture will have been aided by or-ganisational innovations, including policy platforms that bring together a range of stakeholders responsible for policies relating to agriculture, climate change, research, and innovation, as well as the players in the field (re-searchers, farmers, business and intermediaries), who will have been sensitised to the challenges at a very early stage. Foresight actions will also have been used to help build a common vision and mobilise the participants.

Foresight Helps Adapt to Climate Change

This approach was intended to provide a practical dem-onstration of ways in which foresight involving key stake-holders can help develop new initiatives at European level. In practice, the Farhorizon workshop was placed in the context of a sequence of foresight activities, and it is fair to say that the net effect of all of these activities helped the agriculture and climate change research com-munities to become one of the first to engage realistically with the Joint Programming Initiative and to position itself for further opportunities within the Innovation Union framework. In terms of content, the workshop reinforced and extended certain conclusions of its predecessors and made a distinctive contribution by demonstrating the po-tential of breakthrough for non-bio-based technologies to contribute to the adaptive response to climate change in European agriculture. Within the bio-based list some more controversial issues were also made explicit.

Download EFP Brief No. 176_Foresighting the AgriClimate Ecology

Sources and References

European Commission [EC] (2009), ‘New challenges for agricultural research: Climate change, food security, rural devel-opment, agricultural knowledge systems’, 2nd SCAR Foresight exercise, DG Research, Brussels: EC.

EFP Brief No. 161: Roadmap Environmental Technologies 2020 Integrated Water Management

Tuesday, May 24th, 2011

In the project “Roadmap 2020”, funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research, seven fields of environmental policy were investigated in order to explore to which extent research and development activities will be able to foster future environmental innovations. The purpose of the project was the identification of strategic options for research and development and their transfer into practice in the field of environmental technologies by 2020. The results were gained by literature and Internet research, an expert opinion survey and four workshops on different topics.

EFP Brief No. 161_Roadmap Environmental Technologies

EFP Brief No. 159: ForeSec: Europe’s Evolving Security

Tuesday, May 24th, 2011

The objective of ForeSec is to tie together the multiple threads of existing work on the future of European security in an attempt to provide a more coherent guidance, orientation and structure to all future security-related research activities. It aims at enhancing the common understanding of the complex global and societal nature of European security in order to pre-empt novel threats and capture technological opportunities. The project takes a participatory approach in an attempt to facilitate the emergence of a coherent and ho-listic approach to current and future threats and challenges to European security. ForeSec builds a pan-European network around the European security foresight processes and helps foster a societal debate on European security and security research. As this brief is published, ForeSec still has a few months of project work lying ahead. Accordingly, all results presented here are merely intermediate.

EFMN Brief no. 159_ForeSec

EFP Brief No. 155: A Roadmap for the Commercial Development of Medicinal Plants of the Andean Region of South America

Tuesday, May 24th, 2011

The main objective of the project was to establish a future vision (2020) and define the best means for the production, commercialization and innovation of products on the basis of medicinal plants of the Andean region of South America that would contribute to its social and economic development.

EFMN Brief No. 155_Andean Medicinal Plants

EFP Brief No. 149: EU-Africa Energy Partnership: Implications for Biofuel Use

Sunday, May 22nd, 2011

This brief intends to provide an overview of the rationale underlying the EU-Africa Energy Partnership, in addition to an analysis of the potential implications of this policy on the development of sub-Saharan African nations. It is posited that the partnership could have potentially negative repercussions if critical uncertainties are not sufficiently taken into account, and that it is in the EU’s best interest to ensure that outcomes are genuinely equitable. The research also has implications for other developing nations around the world seeking to further their economies and raise living standards by means of engaging in the global biofuels industry.

Europe, Energy Security and Biofuels

It is widely acknowledged that the energy security of the EU, as a whole, is deficient with respect to meeting future energy requirements. At the same time, the EU has resolved to de-crease its carbon footprint and wean itself off from environ-mentally damaging fossil fuels. A further concern is that even if the developed world manages to arrest the proliferation of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions the developing world will still continue to pollute.
To address these important issues, the EU has developed the EU-Africa Energy Partnership. The rationale, broadly speak-ing, is twofold:

  • Secure the EU’s energy supply and allow its member states to meet challenging emissions reduction targets.
  • Provide sub-Saharan African economies with a further export market, in addition to allowing these nations to leapfrog to lower-emissions technologies.

Although the partnership deals with renewable energy in its broadest sense, there appears to be great emphasis on the cul-tivation of biomass used in the production of renewable fuels such as ethanol and biodiesel, for which there is increasing demand within the EU. Despite the ostensibly sound intentions of the policy, it remains to be seen whether the energy partner-ship will truly be mutually beneficial.
The aim of this brief is to examine the critical uncertainties that could potentially damage the workability and equitability of the energy partnership. A key consideration, here, is that the partnership has seemingly been formulated under ceteris pari-bus conditions. Thus, the partnership’s success is predicated on the continuation of existing trends, such as growth in bio-fuel demand and the ability to cultivate biomass at market-friendly prices in the future. Yet, the increasing complexity of technological systems, the advent and potential adoption of new technologies, in addition to climate change, means that it cannot be assumed that all things will indeed remain equal.

EU Biofuel Policy

The EU has set targets for biofuel usage within the member states. Policy measures designed to stimulate biofuel use were introduced in 1992. The overall aim has been to reduce the cost of biofuels in comparison with conventional petroleum products, which otherwise would be higher given the produc-tion costs and economic risk associated with fluctuations in oil price and the value of biomass-derived by-products (Cadenas and Cabezudo, 1998).
The EU Commission set a political target of substituting 20 percent of conventional biofuels by 2020 (European Commis-sion, 2001, p. 45). The even more ambitious COM(2006)845 proposed that biofuel targets for transport fuel should be 20 percent for the same year. The EU Biofuels Directive (2003/30/EEC) requires member states to ensure that a mini-mum proportion of fuels sold are biofuels (see Faaij, 2006). The aim is to ensure that 5.75% of conventional fuels are re-placed by biofuels, although the Biomass Action Plan (BAP) has concluded that these targets will not be reached (Commis-sion of the European Communities, 2006, p. 6).
There is thus a growing requirement for biofuel production within the EU and indeed a growing demand for biofuels (es-pecially biodiesel). Since the EU member states do not have the capacity to increase biomass cultivation without causing an increase in food prices (a politically unpalatable outcome), it has been deemed necessary to look for alternative ways to satisfy this demand.

Energy Partnership

In this context, the EU-Africa Energy Partnership emerges as an important component of the EU’s aim to increase the use of bio-fuels for transport within the member states, thereby allowing the EU to meet challenging biofuel targets, contribute to global GHG mitigation strategies (such as Kyoto), and address concerns regarding energy security. The partnership is argued to be mutually beneficial, since it will also promote economic and social improvement in sub-Saharan African countries and allow such nations to switch to more environmentally friendly patterns of energy use.
The partnership is intended to promote greater interconnectiv-ity between energy systems and ensure a diversity of energy options (Commission of the European Communities, 2006, p. 15). Although there is reference to alternative energy sources, such as hydropower (ibid.), there is clearly an emphasis on greater biomass cultivation and biofuel production, perhaps to the detriment of other energy solutions.
Energy security is obviously an important component of the partnership. Sub-Saharan Africa thus has the ability to sup-plement volatile supplies (and pricing) of OPEC oil with bio-mass cultivated in the region. Although the sub-Saharan re-gion is also clearly not especially stable, it at least has the ca-pacity to offset some of the risk associated with dealing with OPEC countries.

Production Processes

Given the current high cost of second-generation biofuel pro-duction processes (which use the whole organic matter as a feedstock), it can be assumed that the bulk of the biofuel feed-stocks grown in sub-Saharan Africa would be used in arguably inefficient first-generation production processes. Here, only the sugars and starches (rather than the whole plant) are used for ethanol production, while only the extracted vegetable oil is used in biodiesel production (Charles et al., 2007).

Critical Uncertainties

It is necessary to look at the critical uncertainties that could impact on the success of the EU-Africa Energy Partnership.

Climate Change

The energy partnership, in as much as it relates to promoting sub-Saharan Africa as a source of biofuel feedstock, assumes that current climatic conditions will prevail. Yet climate change could mean that climatic conditions in areas currently suitable for agricultural endeavour might militate against prof-itable biomass cultivation.
There are a number of critical factors associated with climate change that need to be taken into account:

  • Increased uncertainty with regard to rainfall patterns: This will problematize when to plant and place pressure on water use, with potential social repercussions.
  • Increased and more severe meteorological phenomena: Floods could wipe out entire fields; storms could damage or destroy harvests, while uncontrolled fires (resulting from co-factors of drought, thunderstorm activity or hu-man action) could do likewise.
  • Increased incidence and severity of pestilence: Changed climatic conditions could make crops more susceptible to pests, thereby increasing the need to employ pesticides (with cost penalties and potential impact on the local envi-ronment and human health).

These factors, when taken together, suggest that it will be more difficult to plan for weather-related phenomena into the future. Thus, claims of increased energy security within the EU resulting from the partnership need to be tempered with the realization that traditional agricultural techniques do not guarantee constant and predictable harvests, while climate change may exacerbate uncertainty.

Environmental Impacts

Agriculture has brought about widespread environmental deg-radation around the world. Thus, it is important to bear in mind the potentially negative impacts that intensified farming practices will have on ecosystems in sub-Saharan nations, in addition to the region as a whole.
The possible factors that could lead to negative environmental impacts are as follows:

  • Increased use of fertilizers: Run-off from fertilizers in-creases the incidence of algal bloom in aquatic environ-ments; fertilizers lead to an increased level of atmospheric N2O harmful to the ozone layer; and fertilizer production and distribution is energy inefficient and contributes to greenhouse gas proliferation.
  • Increased use of pesticides: Pesticide run-off pollutes local watercourses, results in a loss of biodiversity when food supplies for higher organisms are reduced, can flow throughout food-chains, thereby leading to chemical build-up in higher organisms, especially avian fauna; pro-duction processes and distribution incur GHG penalties, can be harmful to human life and can contaminate water supplies (of particular importance in developing nations).
  • Increased threat of deforestation: Expanding biofuel mar-kets may prompt changes in land-use, potentially leading to deforestation, entailing significant biodiversity and CO2 penalties.

These factors could be aggravated if a greater demand for bio-fuels in the EU member states is occasioned and if changing weather patterns result in a need to ‘make hay while the sun shines’. Such a demand could effectively see the EU exporting local environmental degradation from its member states to sub-Saharan Africa. Environmental degradation could also lead to opportunity costs resulting from a loss of potential eco-tourism income.

Technological Change

Biofuels, at best, will be an important component in a future energy mix. There are no indications that biofuels will ever replace petroleum-derived products on a one-for-one basis (Di Lucia and Nilsson, 2007). Biofuels enjoy a clear advantage over other potential energy solutions, especially since they take advantage of existing infrastructural systems (Foresight Vehicle, 2004). This ensures that switching costs are reduced.
On the other hand, there is the threat that biofuels will be ren-dered redundant by other technologies. There is much evi-dence throughout history to suggest that over-reliance on a single natural resource for a nation’s prosperity is not sustain-able over the long-term. For example, Chile, which prospered on the basis of its export of sodium nitrate (saltpetre), lost this advantage when scientists developed a synthetic alternative.
Some threats to the increasing importance of biofuels are as follows:

  • Increase in use of nuclear energy (and thus ‘clean’ elec-tricity).
  • Switch to cleaner second- (and third-) generation biofuel production processes.
  • Development of a hydrogen economy (predicated on the availability of clean, renewable energy, such as from the sources listed below).
  • Other energy paradigms, for instance, geothermal, hy-droelectric, photovoltaic, wind etc.

Thus, over-capitalization in biomass cultivation for first-generation production processes (in particular) may lead to un-sustainable increases in foreign debt, in addition to severe job losses and resultant social upheaval. In a worst case scenario, more efficient technologies, if they become widely adopted around the globe, could lead to the biofuel industry’s collapse.

Opportunity Costs

Even if the biofuel industry remains important, over-emphasis on biomass cultivation could result in a failure to develop in-dustries that have the potential to contribute greater value added to sub-Saharan African economies. This would espe-cially be the case if insufficient attention were paid to process-ing the feedstock in sub-Saharan Africa, as could occur in na-tions traditionally focussed on exporting natural resources.
Biomass cultivation, in the event of an ever-increasing de-mand for biofuels, would not merely translate into sub-Saharan African countries gaining an OPEC-like significance on the world stage. This is especially the case given a) the potentially wide dispersal of biomass cultivation and b) the high likelihood that biofuels would remain one of several al-ternative energy solutions. African biomass would also have to compete with that cultivated in North and South America, and also in South-East Asia and the Indian subcontinent. Given that these regions are already more highly industrialized than most sub-Saharan African nations, it is plausible that greater value added would occur in these regions.
There is also a danger that biomass cultivation in sub-Saharan Africa could engender an increased dependency on multi-national corporations involved in agribusiness. There are al-ready substantial links to agriculture in developing nations and the research-intensive products, including seeds, support sys-tems and expertise, being offered by multinational agribusi-ness entities.

Export Commodity Dependency

Sub-Saharan Africa has a long history of supplying European nations with raw materials to be used in value-adding produc-tion processes. There is thus the potential for this situation to continue if Europe resolves to view the region merely as source of inexpensive feedstock for biofuel production, rather than as a knowledge-intensive producer in its own right.
Many of the economic and social problems faced today in sub-Saharan Africa are deeply rooted in history. When the Euro-pean colonial powers partitioned Africa, they viewed the colo-nies as suppliers of raw materials for their factories. Farmland traditionally used for food cultivation, even after the inde-pendence of the former colonies, was turned over to cash crops such as cocoa, cotton, coffee and rubber. The result was that Africa exported what it did not need, and imported what it did, thereby leading to substantial trade deficits and continued indebtedness (Carmody, 1998). This is because the low price obtained for cash crops rarely if ever matches the relatively high price paid for imported food, in addition to luxury goods and hardware desired by affluent members of society.
It is important to be awake to the potential for ongoing com-modity dependence to occur, especially if the EU pays insuffi-cient attention to developing sub-Saharan Africa as an energy producer rather than merely an agricultural supplier.

Investing in Sub-Saharan Future

It is possible to formulate a number of potential policy impli-cations that would add rigour to the energy partnership.

  • Moving away from first-generation biofuels: A continued emphasis on first-generation biofuel production processes reinforces sub-Saharan Africa as a supplier of cash crops.There are inherent problems with first-generation biofuel production processes. A failure to address these and move demand towards more efficient second-generation proc-esses could lead to a global undermining of confidence in biofuels as a source of renewable energy.
  • Ensuring environmental sustainability: This is tied closely to the previous consideration, but also with the necessity of preventing local and regional environmental degrada-tion as a result of poor farming practices or indeed wide-spread change in land-use. There is a need to develop mechanisms to ensure that increasing demand for biofuels within the EU does not lead to catastrophic environmental impacts in sub-Saharan Africa.
  • Investing in sub-Saharan Africa’s future: The energy partnership should be used as a component in an overall strategy to enhance economic development in the region. A failure to do so will result in greater amounts of envi-ronmental degradation (including greenhouse gas emis-sions) over the long-term.

In short, the nations of the region need to acquire their own energy security and processing infrastructure. The EU-Africa Energy Partnership must serve as a vehicle to promote these ends. To achieve this end, sufficient political will over the long-term to propagate cleaner biofuel production processes is required. If not, the biofuels market could be irreparably com-promised and the partnership with it, with grave implications for not only the EU and sub-Saharan Africa, but also the planet as a whole.

 

Authors: Michael Charles michael.charles@scu.edu.au
Sponsors: Southern Cross University, Australia
Type: Single issue, energy policy
Organizer: n.a.
Duration: n.a.
Budget: n.a.
Time Horizon: 2018
Date of Brief: July 2008

Download: EFMN Brief No. 149_EU-Africa Energy Partnership

Sources and References

  •  Cadenas, A., and Cabezudo, S., 1998. Biofuels as sustain-able technologies: perspectives for less developed coun-tries. Technological Forecasting and Social Change 58(1–2), 83–103.
  • Carmody, P., 1998. Constructing alternatives to structural adjustment in Africa. Review of African Political Econ-omy 25(75), 25–46.
  • Charles, M.B., Ryan, R., Ryan, N., and Oloruntoba, R., 2007. Public policy and biofuels: the way forward? En-ergy Policy 35(11), 5737–5746.
  • Di Lucia, L., and Nilsson, L.J., 2007. Transport biofuels in the European Union: the state of play. Transport Policy 14(6), 533–543.
  • European Commision, 2001. Green Paper: Towards a European Strategy for Security of Supply. Directorate-General for Transport and Energy.
    http://ec.europa.eu/energy/green-paper-energy-supply/doc/green_paper_energy_supply_en.pdf
  • European Commission, 2006. Communication from the Commission: An EU strategy for Biofuels—Impact As-sessment. Commission Staff Working Document COOM (2006) 34 final.
    http://ec.europa.eu/agriculture/biomass/biofuel/sec2006_142_en.pdf
  • Faaij, A.P.C., 2006. Bio-energy in Europe: changing technology choices. Energy Policy 34(3), 322–342.
  • Foresight Vehicle, 2004. Foresight Vehicle Technology Roadmap: Technology and Research Directions for Fu-ture Road Vehicles, Version 2.0.
    http://www.foresightvehicle.org.uk/public/info_/FV/TRMV2.pdf

EFP Brief No. 143: Teagasc 2030: Reinventing the Irish Agri-Food Knowledge System

Sunday, May 22nd, 2011

Teagasc means ‘teaching’ or ‘instruction’ in Gaelic. It is the name of the food and agricultural research, education and advisory body in Ireland. By 2006, fundamental changes happening to the Common Agricultural Policy in Europe were already being felt throughout the Irish agri-food sector. New and emerging issues were gaining importance and looked likely to have an impact on the sector. It was necessary to ask how Teagasc could maintain its relevance to clients and stakeholders as it moved ahead. The study builds upon previous foresight exercises and long-term strategic studies undertaken in Ireland and the EU.

Employing Knowledge for  Developing a Positive Vision  and Creating Opportunities

Teagasc 2030 was designed to establish a broadly-shared vision of what the Irish agri-food and rural economy would look like in 2030 and a vision of what Teagasc could become as the leading science-based knowledge organisation in the sector. It set out to develop the strategic capabilities of Teagasc, improve its ability to provide proactive leadership on complex issues, identify strategies and mechanisms to maximize the impact of its knowledge generation and procurement, technology transfer and education activities through innovation support and to develop an internal culture of continuous renewal.

The Steering Committee (SC) included key Teagasc managers, high-level representatives from relevant organisations, such as the university system and the Environmental Protection Agency,influential business leaders from both the farming and food sectors, as well as international experts. The members of the SC played a decisive role in the process in that they were fully engaged and provided constructive input each time the group convened. The Working Group (WG), consisting of Teagasc employees aided by two international consultants, was responsible for the detailed planning and execution of the exercise. The Foresight Panel (FP) consisted of experts from Teagasc, representatives of the farming and food sectors, as well as experts from the research community, including a commercial research service provider. FP members participated in and contributed to workshops and other activities organized by the WG.

Early consultations with the SC reinforced the need for a structural approach that went beyond the traditional sectoral view. The SC emphasized the need for new strategic capabilities that would enable the organisation to operate in a rapidly changing context. One of the first tasks of the WG was to review foresight exercises on food, agriculture and the rural economy that had been conducted previously, whether in Ireland or around the world, start a discussion on the scope of the exercise and get agreement on the nature of the results it should provide. The first observation of the WG was that previous foresight exercises on food, agriculture and the rural economy tended to focus on problems related to commodity markets and the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) system of payments. It was resolved at an early stage that Teagasc 2030 would have to do more than this by identifying how knowledge could help create opportunities for young people in the sector and by developing a positive and realistic vision of an innovation-led rural economy.

The work itself was organized in two phases. A Divergent Phase, where the main purpose was to study issues relating to the organisation, the sector and the broader economy in a creative and exploratory fashion, brought in outside knowledge and expertise, as well as relevant case-studies from abroad. The second Convergent Phase focused on choices to be made about desired outcomes, long-term visions for the future of Teagasc and the context in which it would operate, as well as the practical immediate steps to be taken on the basis of an action plan. Just before the end of the Divergent Phase a Radical Thinkers Workshop was organized to challenge peoples’ thinking and try to overcome any remaining inertia or scepticism as regards new ideas and the necessity for change.

The Divergent Phase

This consisted of paper writing on a number of key topics that provided important background to the members of the Foresight Panel. The papers were especially important as they allowed people who are not experts in a domain to get an overview of what is happening. The real action, however, was in a series of four workshops (WS).

Turning Towards a
Knowledge Based Bio-Economy

WS1 consisted of a scoping and profiling activity to determine the boundaries of the Teagasc 2030 exercise and to verify that the FP included a sufficiently broad range of actors. Important discussions arose concerning how agriculture and food related to the use of land in Ireland, the relationship between this and both the rural and national economy, how both the theatre and the actors might be changing, and how there was a need to revisit ideas of who the typical Teagasc client was, is now or would be in the future. The immediate output of this workshop was strongly criticized by the SC as not being radical enough. It was thought too traditional or sentimental in its attachment to ‘land’. The modern reality consists of urban agriculture, gardens on the sides of buildings, forests, marine and lake habitats, greenhouses and bio-reactors, as well as a food industry that has long outgrown a dependence on local production and that in some sectors relies almost entirely on imports for raw material inputs. This workshop started a process of reflection that lasted until the end of the exercise.

The feedback of the SC on the results of this first workshop was very important. Its intervention ensured that some of the issues addressed in the workshop did not conclude pre-maturely, but stayed open and continued to be debated for the best part of a year. New ideas need time to mature. The workshop started a process whereby traditional and ultimately limited thinking about farming and the rural economy were replaced with entirely new thinking about the knowledge-based bio-economy or KBBE.

WS2 focused on trying to understand relevant drivers of change, the factors shaping the future of Teagasc and the environment in which it operates. The focus was on identifying the drivers and the impacts that they could have on the economy in 2030. The discussion included references to trends and trend breaks. The exercise was intended to help people develop their ‘intuition’ about 2030.

WS3 focused on strategic issues and started the process of formulating the opportunities and challenges that the various sectors and stakeholders would face in 2030. By this stage the concept of the ‘Sustainable KBBE’ had started to come into focus.

WS4 was about developing scenarios to further develop thinking about the ‘Sustainable KBBE’ in 2030, to further explore and define the issues and challenges, and to identify the big questions, whose answers would impact on the structures and programmes of Teagasc going forward.

A Radical Thinkers Workshop was timed to take place between WS3 and WS4 to provide new ideas to the ongoing foresight process. This consisted of a series of talks followed by discussions, involving speakers from a variety of areas who were capable of presenting challenging views on relevant topics. It involved scientists, geographers, venture capitalists and policy makers. For some participants it was an opportunity to hear for the first time about a renewable chemicals industry based on crops grown for their chemistry rather than for food, feed or fibre. For others, it was an opportunity to hear what foreign experts think. A venture capitalist provided his vision of where important opportunities for investment would arise in future. A Danish speaker raised important questions about the organisation of research and innovation when he explained that, while Denmark performs about 1% of all global research, Danish industry requires access to the other 99% of global research if it is to achieve or maintain global competitiveness.

The Convergent Phase

This consisted of a series of three workshops involving the FP and had to provide an actionable plan for the transformation of Teagasc. Such a plan would require the commitment of Teagasc senior managers. It had to be something they would own and act upon. To make sure that they were adequately prepared, a series of internal meetings was arranged involving senior managers and representatives of the WG to help them understand the implications of the exercise, identify the main axes of change for the organisation and anticipate the detailed requirements of the last workshop. Although the foresight workshops were usually animated by members of the WG with help from the external consultants, the goal was for key sessions of the final workshop to be led by members of senior management with support from the WG. At the same time, an internal dissemination or consultation process took place involving all parts of the organisation. The goal was to explain what was happening and gather feedback on the changes required for moving forward. An external consultation process separately involved farming and food industry representatives. It too explained the ideas that were emerging. It gathered feedback and inputs from Teagasc clients as inputs to the final stages of the foresight exercise.

WS5 was dedicated to the development of scenarios about the Sustainable KBBE. In particular, the goal was to develop more specific thinking about the role of knowledge, learning, research, innovation, training and advice in the sector in 2030.

WS6 was used to finalize the scenarios and flesh out a vision for the sector in 2030 along with an identification of its knowledge requirements and the role that Teagasc would occupy in the system.

WS7 was devoted to the issue of organizational transformation and the directions of change for Teagasc. The senior management meetings played a significant role in determining the structure of this last meeting. Based on their discussions it was decided to focus on transformation under the major headings of leadership, partnership and governance.

The issue of leadership originally emerged in meetings of the SC and was echoed in discussions with industrial stakeholders. Leadership gaps emerged on long-term scientific and technological issues not only for small and medium-sized enterprises, but for larger companies as well.

The Vision of a  Sustainable Bio-Economy

One of the most important results was the development of a vision for the Agri-Food and Rural Economy in 2030 as a knowledge intensive, innovative, internationally competitive and market-led bio-economy. This helped to place the sector at the centre of something big and positive, with significant opportunities that would play a role not only in the rural economy, but also in the general knowledge economy, via its contribution to climate change, energy security, sustainability and the transition to a post-petroleum era.

Recognizing that countries with excellence in agriculture have opportunities for moving up the value-chain by selling not only their products but their know-how, the final report speculated about a time when the most important export of the dairy sector in Ireland might no longer be its milk, cheese, yoghurt and functional foods, but its management expertise and its technical knowledge about the organisation of competitive dairy production systems.

The Four Pillars of the KBBE

From an Irish perspective it made sense to complete this vision by distinguishing four pillars of the KBBE:

  • Food Production and Processing, which mainly represents mature industries where competition is relentless and global, where competitiveness often relies on efficiencies of scale, automation and process technologies, as well as scientific management and competitive sourcing.
  • Value-Added Food Processing, which includes advanced food processing and food service, functional foods, as well as food-additives and ingredients, bio-actives, nutraceuticals and cosmaceuticals. This sector is fast moving and innovative. There is continuous adoption and improvement of technologies for production, processing, distribution and preparation. Supply chains are constantly changing and considerable attention is given to intangibles such as patents,brands, provenance and traceability.
  • Agri-Environmental Goods and Services includes foodsafety and traceability, animal welfare, energy security, climate, clean air and water, fertile soils, bio-diversity, areas of public amenity, natural beauty and those of importance for cultural heritage. Although these are normally treated as spin-offs from other activities based on multifunctionality, they are given a separate identity in recognition of the overall role they will play in the quality of life of citizens, in energy and climate security as well as in the overall sustainability of society and the economy.
  • Energy and Bio-Processing includes the production of feedstock for bio-fuels and bio-polymers. This sector makes substantial investments in harnessing knowledge. It places great importance on knowledge as a factor of production. It corresponds to new and emerging areas of science and to entire new markets. It is characterized by a high level of risk and provides opportunities for government support to lead markets. This sector is where highvalue-added and commodity sectors of the future are being created.

Demographics Facilitating Change

A key observation concerning the future of Irish agriculture was the observation that approximately 40% of farmers in Ireland would retire in the next 10 years and that almost all farms would change hands at least once by 2030. This pointed to an opportunity to use the unavoidable dynamic of retirement and property transfer to restructure the farming sector so that land as a natural resource could make the greatest possible contribution to the economy. This would include enabling successful farmers to increase the area they manage and less successful ones to move on perhaps using models based on leasing.Discussions arose about ‘future farmers’ and ‘foresight farmers’. It is possible that the land transfers that will happen in the coming years will give rise to a younger, better educated and more international generation of farmers. Armed with agricultural MBAs, or degrees in bio-technology, many will approach farming as a business more than a family tradition or vocation. Their approach would be less sentimental and more scientificentrepreneurial. Such farmers represent very different clients for Teagasc than those it has served before.

Leadership, Partnership and Governance

One of the most important currents of debate throughout this foresight exercise concerned the traditional push-approach to technology transfer, the so-called ‘linear model’. The old approach was summarized as follows
143_bild1

whereas Teagasc in 2030 would need to focus on innovation support that would resemble something more like this:
143_bild2

One challenge that emerged was the need to become more demand-led as an organisation. Another challenge emerged from the recognition that no organisation can meet all of its research or knowledge needs internally and that an increasing share of these would need to be sourced outside. This is something that traditional research organisations are not used to doing, and, in future, they will need to engage both private and public service providers, as well as cooperate with international knowledge networks.

The vision that emerged for Teagasc as an organisation in 2030 was that of an organisation suffused with a culture of support for innovation by its clients, capable of:

  • providing leadership where necessary on innovationrelated issues,
  • developing and maintaining the partnerships required for research, innovation, technology transfer and education,
  • employing governance mechanisms to assure relevance and accountability to its clients and stakeholders.

Creation of a Permanent Foresight Unit

In many ways, the implementation of the action plan started even before the exercise was finished. A part of the action plan is a natural continuation of consultations with major stakeholder groups that was started as part of the foresight process. The most immediate and tangible result was the creation of a permanent foresight unit within Teagasc to oversee the implementation of the Teagasc 2030 action plan and to support other foresight activities as needed within the organisation.

The action plan is outlined in the Teagasc 2030 report. It includes steps to create a broader culture of innovation within the organisation and to intensify systematic interaction with client groups and stakeholders. It addresses reform of personnel structures to enable greater mobility of staff within the organisation, facilitate transdisciplinary work and align incentives with the needs of clients. Other structural reforms include a focus on network-based activities, as well as timelimited project-network-like interventions such as technology platforms and commodity working groups that pool the resources of partners and involve stakeholders in management.

The general message of Teagasc 2030 is a positive one based on the opportunities offered by the KBBE, not only for actors currently involved in the agri-food and rural economy, but for a whole new generation of bio-entrepreneurs who may have no prior link to the land.

The key to success continues to be innovation. What is new is the pace of innovation and the need for organisations such as Teagasc to operate simultaneously on several fronts in a more international context and in shorter time frames. The challenge for Teagasc in the future will be to increasingly channel its efforts and resources towards support for innovation, in particular for the development of the knowledge-partnerships required by clients for innovation in the KBBE.

Authors: Patrick Crehan – Patrick.Crehan@cka.be, Lance O’Brien – Lance.Obrien@teagasc.ie, Gerry Boyle – Gerry.Boyle@teagasc.ie, Owen Carton –  Owen.Carton@teagasc.ie
Sponsors: Teagasc the Irish food and agricultural research, advisory and training body
Type: Structural foresight
Organizer: Teagasc, CKA and SEZ
Duration: 1.5 yrs
Budget: €300,000
Time Horizon: 2030
Date of Brief: July 2008

Download: EFMN Brief No. 143_Teagasc 2030

Sources and References

All background papers, scenarios and proceedings as well as the final report are available from the Teagasc 2030 website at www.teagasc.ie/foresight/index.htm. The papers and presentations of the Radical Thinkers Workshop are available at http://www.teagasc.ie/publications/2007/20070725/index.htm.
Lance O’Brien is the head of the new Foresight Unit. He can be contacted at lance.obrien@teagsc.ie.

EFP Brief No. 138: Results of Lab on ‘Old and New Energy’

Saturday, May 21st, 2011

The Club of Amsterdam set up an ‘Old and New Energy Lab’ designed to generate novel and potentially viable plans of action for dealing with energy issues by leveraging brainstorming methods to produce innovative thinking and bypass preconceived ideas and assumptions. The process tapped into the expertise of ‘thought leaders’ chosen for their diversity so as to maximise the fertility of discussions.

Lab Challenges to Think Outside the Box

Diminishing reserves of fossil fuels, climate change, geopo-litical factors and a wave of technological advances are bring-ing complex pressures to bear on the landscape of energy gen-eration and consumption. Change seems inevitable, but react-ing appropriately is a challenge. This is especially so when limited modes of supply and consumption have been en-trenched for extensive periods, as is the case with the energy landscape. This can make it very hard for people to think ‘out-side the box’ – arguably much needed at the moment.Thus the challenge addressed at ‘The Lab’ was to bypass pre-conceptions and traditional ways of thinking. Participants were called upon to brainstorm possibilities and then validate the resulting ideas with some tangible, realistic scenarios.

Conceiving Future Scenarios – the Methodology

Principal approaches employed were Socratic discourse and a future scenario method. Participants were asked to identify a set of driving ‘values’ deemed desirable (e.g. equal access to resources, freedom, quality of life, stability etc.). Socratic dis-course and other techniques were applied to open up discus-sion to the broadest possible level. The outcome was the ob-servation of numerous facts, trends, constraints etc.
The resulting ‘facts’ were then fed into an analysis based on the future scenario method. The values identified earlier were used to drive the scenarios, which were to envision a positive future ten years hence (the goal being to identify possible so-lutions).
Four scenarios were created by choosing two drivers of change: governance and economy. Note that there is nothing absolute about the choice of drivers or even the number of drivers con-sidered, but these were the ones considered most important.
These drivers define the axes of a graph depicting four different environments (symbolized by the numbered circles in the diagram)derived from the possible combinations of extreme cases of both drivers. These environments provided the basis for the scenarios.

138_bild1

Keep in mind that these scenarios are not predictions but simply tools to guide discussion from exploration to identification of potential solutions and analysis of important trends and factors (political, cultural, technological, etc.) and their interactions.

Participants

Four ‘thought leaders’ brought expertise to help keep discussion realistic, whether on technological, economic, political or social levels. Their backgrounds included

  • analysis of new technologies and their commercial and social impact;
  • understanding corruption and conflict resulting from exploitation of natural resources and international trade systems;
  • energy resource analysis and prediction in the context of the International Energy Agency;
  • nuclear policy and law.

Energy Futures – the Four Scenarios

Observations on trends and forces will be split into socioeconomic and cultural, and technological and sectoral. The four scenarios based on these trends and forces will then be outlined before looking at identified opportunities and challenges, which are in turn fed by the scenarios.

Scarcity of Supply, Potential for Conflict, and Environmental Concern – Socio-economic and Cultural Trends/Trend Breaks
  • Rising energy production costs.
  • Concern about climate change (global warming).
  • Increasing sensitivity to energy supply disruption.
  • Concerns over energy dependence and vulnerability.
  • Impending scarcity of fossil fuels with increasing demand from rapidly advancing nations such as China and India.
  • Increasing global tension relating to energy supplies and the possibility of resulting conflict.
  • Environmental concerns about nuclear energy.
  • Increasing interest in alternative energy sources.
  • Increasing interest and efforts in energy conservation.
  • Development of carbon trading schemes.
More Choices and Technological Advances –  Technological and Sectoral Trends/Trend Breaks
  • Capability (in some markets) for energy purchasers to also sell to the grid.
  • Choice (in some markets) over source of energy bought.
  • The nanotechnology ‘revolution’ impacting multiple, interacting energy-related technologies.
  • Multiple parallel and rapid advances in solar technologies promising greater efficiency and/or lower cost.
  • Advances in fuel cells (in many sectors).
  • Advances in batteries and ultracapacitors.
  • Developments in thermoelectrics offering promise for waste heat reclamation and geothermal energy.
  • Availability of smart energy-saving materials (electrochromic or anti-IR window coatings etc.).
  • Lighter/ stronger metals, ceramics and composites.
  • Efficient lighting (especially nanostructured LEDs).
  • Improvements in coal/gas/biomass-to-liquid processes, often driven by improved technology (e.g. nanocatalysis).
  • Advances in hydrogen production and storage.
  • Potential developments in artificial photosynthesis.
  • Potential for low-loss electrical transmission.
  • New CO2 separation technologies.
  • Improved nuclear fission technologies.
The Four Scenarios

Four scenarios were framed assuming environments as described in the methodology section. Remember that they are designed to be optimistic views of a situation ten years hence. Their creation allowed disparate ideas to be brought together in a framework where interactions and socio-economic and political realities could be considered.

Not all the scenarios were recorded in the same degree of detail. Different groups of participants chose different styles of presentation.

 Scenario 1 – ‘Harvesting Energy’ (emerging economy, minimal governance)

The environment envisaged was a poor, sub-Saharan country with village communities as the dominant settlement pattern, poor access to resources and minimal infrastructure. The village in this scenario was assumed to be remote but not overly far from a principal city.

The one plentiful resource is sunshine. New cheap photovoltaics and microloans allow the village to produce electricity. This gives rise to increased productivity and enables more flexibility in trading of staples such as vegetable and meat produce through refrigeration.

The small economic boost and decreasing costs of photovoltaics allow expansion of generating capacity. Direct energy sales become attractive in a future where fossil fuel is expensive and supplies unreliable and the village becomes a supplier of power from solar energy. Improved battery technologies and high fuel prices lead to more electric or hybrid vehicles. Households in and outside the village increasingly use batteries and pay for recharging.

The village has effectively shifted from subsistence agriculture to ‘farming’ sunlight, with batteries as the means of distribution.  The availability of power for transport attracts more vehicles and infrastructure improves. Then cables are laid to directly supply electricity to the nearby city. After all, the village now has the generating capacity, the expertise, and plentiful lowvalue land for expansion. Infrastructure experiences another boost, including communications. The village buys computers and the community now has Internet access. Educational opportunities increase dramatically. Over time the community becomes generally well-educated and thus capable of engaging in even more diverse and complex commercial activities.

Some time in the future (although maybe not in the ten-year frame), solar energy could be captured in a fuel created by artificial photosynthesis, allowing wider export of energy and opening up the solar farming model to more remote communities. This would require importing water (limiting displacement of battery use), but importing water is certainly preferable to importing oil in this (future) day and age.

Scenario 2 – ‘Central Energy Planning’ (emerging economy, strong central governance)

This scenario assumed a top-down, centrally-organised society with an emerging economy. China was offered as an example, on the assumption that much of the traditional communist philosophy still permeates the government, which regulates the allocation of resources. Short-term (business) thinking is constrained for the benefit of the collective when it comes to something as fundamental as national energy supply.

The immediate need for more energy to support growth is urgent. Coal is abundant and coal-fired power stations proliferate, with little thought given to environmental concerns. But this is only the first, quick fix, part of the plan, which is also influenced by oil imports for vehicles, the need to transport energy over great distances and the fact that even coal resources have limits.

Coal-to-liquid processes are used to produce clean diesel to help ease the dependence on oil imports, while a massive research effort creates low-loss electrical transmission based on high-temperature superconductors (doubly important because of the chosen alternative to coal – photovoltaics).

Huge solar ‘plains’ grow in the country’s remote, arid and impoverished west, bringing employment and commerce. Ultimately, the technology becomes simple plastic sheets that can be rolled out and clipped together. They contain nano-engineered structures that exploit the highly-efficient initial step of photosynthesis but feed the liberated electrons into the superconducting transmission lines and on to the energy-hungry coast. China soon becomes a major exporter of these technologies.

In the cities of the East, electric and hybrid cars are encouraged and manufactured. Coal is increasingly used only to produce diesel and dependence on foreign oil now rapidly disappears.

 Scenario 3 – ‘Energy Caps and Taxes’ (strong economy, strong central governance)

Sweden, which aims to become oil-free by 2021, might be an example.

A progressively increasing carbon tax is introduced for individuals and corporations. A flexible power supply network allows individuals to avoid a carbon tax by purchasing energy from sustainable sources. This encourages development of such sources – from the logging and papermaking industries using waste to produce electricity, heat and biofuels, down to individual households generating energy and selling any surplus to the grid.

Central support and legislation for energy-saving technologies in housing and transport increases their uptake through various means. The carbon tax imposes a cost on manufacturers for the lifetime emissions of their products.  The tax alone triggers substantial change, but more comes through governmentdriven, large-scale geothermal, hydroelectric and combined heat and power schemes.

 Scenario 4 – ‘Communicating Energy’ (strong economy, minimal governance, individual action)

This scenario is one of change through popular movements. Analogies might be seen in the growth in the popularity of ‘organic’ produce or that of ‘fair trade’ products, both of which evolved out of grass roots concern. For instance, we can help the environment by buying local produce rather than that shipped great distances, or eating less meat (such unlikely action probably highlights limits to this approach). Other individual contributions are switching lights off, car-pooling, capturing rainwater to water one’s garden or carbon offsetting schemes.

The key is understanding what can be done and creating a culture of willingness and responsibility. Communication is key and the Internet makes this possible as never before.

To some extent this scenario is happening now, but there are clearly limits to how much it can achieve without some topdown initiatives (or economic imperatives) added to the mix.

Top-down Action and Technological Advances are Critical for Seizing Opportunities

The fact that all but one of the scenarios could conceivably address all the main energy issues points to much opportunity. Exploiting this rapidly enough is a major challenge. Another obvious challenge is highlighted by Scenario 4, which suggests that, at least in the developed world, ‘people power’ is not enough and top-down governmental action may well be necessary. Economic and practical pressures would achieve the necessary changes eventually, but it is probably not advisable to wait for the hurricane to prove that you should not have made your house of straw. As for opportunities, the scenarios explored highlight those best. Scenario 1, ‘Harvesting Energy’,
perhaps best illustrates the dramatic achievement that might be had given only certain technological advances. Many other scenarios are possible, of course, and those developed were deliberately positive. But the consensus at The Lab was that all the scenarios were credible, so they probably do represent real opportunities.

Diverse Solutions, Proactive  Government and Advances  in Technology Are Key

In view of policy implications, the full two days of discussion and debate might be briefly summarized in the following manner.1

Oil dependence is a danger that needs addressing

Despite much disagreement about how close ‘peak oil’ is, all seemed to agree that action is needed now to reduce the developed world’s dependence on oil.

Solutions to the problems being faced will be diverse

Different environments are likely to beg different solutions and the diversity of technological developments that bear on the issues prevent simple answers and argue for multiple alternatives to be investigated.

The variation across the scenarios developed suggests that multiple approaches will be needed in parallel, covering conservation, alternative forms of generation, and storage and transmission technologies. The best solution or combination of solutions for a given region will vary with external factors (climate, population density, access to water, etc.) and with developments in numerous interacting technologies. The appropriate focus can vary dramatically depending on the existing situation. For example, a focus on coal in the short-term is sensible for China, if the aim is energy independence, while France might see nuclear in a similar light. In lower latitudes, solar energy will be more quickly economically viable than in higher latitudes, where geothermal may be a better choice. In all cases, conservation makes sense as a priority and gives the most rapid return on investment.

Given this diversity and uncertainty, it seems sensible to recommend broad investment in energy-related R&D and a systematic, inclusive, and iterative analysis of the energy situation at regional scales.

It is worth noting that only two currently achievable sources of energy are sufficient for global needs in the long-term and truly sustainable. They are solar and geothermal energy.

Areas of technological focus to be considered are just as diverse – see section 2 on technological and sectoral trends.

In the developed world government action is probably essential

The ramifications of energy supply disruption and the time needed to change our infrastructure suggest that appropriate change cannot be expected to arise from market and social forces. Accordingly, governments need to be a key player in developed countries. Proactive action from government is almost certainly necessary to avoid the risk of severe economic disruption.

Much of the rest is down to technological developments and their impacts on the economic competitiveness of certain technologies. Though solar emerged from the Lab as the winner in terms of chief long-term global energy sources, the means of capturing it, transporting it and using it produced no clear favourites. The range of possibilities from domestic to industrial to automotive applications in a diverse range of environments suggests that all avenues of research should be actively explored. Since solutions will likely be more complex than the current rather monolithic systems, flexibility, interoperability and rapid adaptability are critical success factors.

In the under-developed world, small changes or actions may have a large and lasting positive effect

When tackling the issue of poverty on a global scale, there may be a possibility of achieving much with little (Scenario 1), given certain technological shifts.

 

Authors: Paul Holister                  paul9@holisters.net
Sponsors: Club of Amsterdam
Type: Field/sector specific
Organizer: Humberto Schwab, humberto@clubofamsterdam.com, Felix Bopp, felix@clubofamsterdam.com
Duration: April 2007
Budget: n.a.
Time Horizon: 2017
Date of Brief: April 2008

Download: EFMN Brief No. 138_ Energy Lab

Sources and References

Club of Amsterdam, Lab on Old and New Energy, April 17 and 18, 2007, in Girona, Spain.

http://www.clubofamsterdam.com/content_list.asp?contentid= 655&contenttypeid=9 

The participating thought leaders were:

  • Nathalie Horbach – Centre for Energy, Petroleum and Mineral Law and Policy, University of Dundee;
  • Simon Taylor – director and co-founder, Global Witness;
  • Christof van Agt – independent participant, formerly at the International Energy Agency;
  • Paul Holister – technology impact consultant.

Humberto Schwab, director of the Club of Amsterdam and innovation philosopher, led the process.