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DYNAmic seed networks for managing European diVERSITY

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - DYNAVERSITY (DYNAmic seed networks for managing European diVERSITY)

Reporting period: 2019-05-01 to 2021-04-30

While it is recognised that plant genetic resources for food and agriculture (PGRFA) are critical for achieving and maintaining global food security and nutrition; unsustainable practices, climate change, conventional agriculture have posed a threat to PGRFA diversity as highlighted in the State of the World’s Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture reports published by the FAO in 1996 and 2010. A third report is under preparation.
One of the key issue is related to exchange of knowledge and networking between the actors conservation PGRFA. Such conservation and sustainable use of PGRFA is an arena populated by a large variety of social actors (i.a. farmers, gardeners, natural parks, seed craftsmen, community seed banks, researchers, ex situ actors, consumers) playing a more and more dynamic role in the valorisation of genetic resources.
Acknowledging that social diversity DYNAVERSITY was set-up with the objective to further develop a dynamic management and governance aiming at enhancing interactions, complementarities and synergies between all actors building on the civil society initiative ‘European Coordination -Let’s Liberate Diversity’. In addition, by creating the Sharing Knowledge and Experience Platform (SKEP), representing actors coming from research, ex situ networks and communities of practice, and respecting the singularities of each of the actors, DYNAVERSITY facilitates exchange and integration of scientific as well as practical knowledge on how to best manage diversity in agriculture and in the entire food chain, restoring evolutionary and adaptation processes.

To achieve the above, DYNAVERSITY has the following specific objectives:
• Generating a knowledge base on the characteristics of genetic resources used in in situ conditions, good practices on conservation and management issues
• Mapping actors and stakeholders
• Promoting new sustainable partnerships between European conservation stakeholders
• Integrating natural parks activities within the conservation realm of action
• Raising public awareness on the importance of genetic resource
• Promoting an enabling institutional framework for new dynamic seed systems
DYNAVERSITY kicked-off on November 2017 for a period of 36 months, extended to 42 months due to the COVID-19 situation. During the first two years, DYNAVERSITY developed several baseline analysis in order to map, review and analyse the relevant terms and concepts used within PGRFA communities which help explain critical controversies in the PGRFA communities. The mapping relies on SKEP contribution, various exchanges between partners which have allowed deciding and agreeing on the major concepts to be tackled in this research filed, and on their description. Results have been the basis for upcoming activities, in particular, to be illustrated with interviews, case studies, and in situ communities. Such concepts have been applied to 21 case studies which have consisted of field research and exchanges with practitioners in the fields. The results of the case studies have led to the identification of best practices, challenges, obstacles and bottlenecks in the conservation and sustainable use of PGRFA.

In parallel to the running of case studies, significant efforts have been devoted to increase the use of diversity in the overall food chain, including and starting from breeding activities. These activities took the form of demonstrating added value of diversity to the different stakeholders in field demonstration trials and showcasing diversity to the wider public as well as sustaining collective actions and networking on PGRFA, promoting community seed banks and databases.
Conservation and sustainable use of PGRFA deserves a suitable institutional framework which still needs to be establish. DYNAVERSITY has made propositions to decision and EU policy makers by outlining and promoting an enabling institutional framework for developing new dynamic seed systems and strategies for new governance systems keeping in mind the needs and expectations of all the different involved communities.

In support to all these activities, innovative communication strategies, tools and products both traditional (website with project description, print and digital leaflets, booklets, manuals, presentations) as well as modern cross-media and more experimental products (artistic photo exhibition, graphic concept cards, video scribing and digital animations, online training modules) have been developed and deployed. All these products have been disseminated through the most appropriate communication channels: workshops, face-to-face events, meetings, institutional, web, printed materials during face-to-face events, related projects and social media, and specialised publications.

All these activities have successfully been implemented over the project period even if the COVID-19 sanitary crisis has not allowed the project to implement all face-to-face events that were initially planned. This has particularly been the case for the final conference that was organised online.
DYNAVERSITY has led to the following impacts:

• Better comprehension of the overall environment regarding conservation and sustainable use of PGRFA by a detailed mapping of all actors, a clarification of the concepts on PGRFA and a deep analysis on how PGRFA use increases diversity in food systems;

• Identification of good practices in conservation and dynamic management of PGFRA. These actions will also help to understand the social dimension of the existing networks. All these results are expected to establish more durable partnerships between in situ conservation stakeholders;

• Further implementation of a dynamic approach, which frames genetic resources within a more general questioning of the agricultural and science paradigm and constructing, rights-based governance approaches to agricultural biodiversity conservation leading to a greater knowledge of the status and characteristics of in situ genetic resources in Europe;

• The SKEP aims to become a long-term European platform for local, national and European in situ conservation strategies;

• The project results should contribute to diminishing the divide between in situ and ex situ conservation efforts and secure the approach and strategy of each group of actors which are numerous in this field;

• Through a series of dissemination events, DYNAVERSITY increased awareness of the wider public as regards the wealth and importance of genetic resources for agriculture and consumers;

• By becoming a relevant channel to spread good practices accumulated to date by various communities of practices DYNAVERSITY increased the use of genetic material form in situ sources in multiple breeding activities and in the food chain.