The Institut National de l'Économie Circulaire (INEC) unveiled its new White Paper at the 2nd edition of the "Circular Agriculture" conference organized by AFAÏA in Paris.
Chis publication aims to capitalize on the work of the working group launched by INEC in 2017. The group brought together experts from a variety of companies, cooperatives, NGOs, public institutions and research centres in a cross-disciplinary approach to help the circular economy move forward together in the minds and in the field. All of them seized this opportunity to create a common language and knowledge and to define shared priorities to be brought to public and private decision-makers.
The agricultural and agri-food systems of the 21st century face unprecedented challenges. They must feed 7.2 billion people, meeting societal expectations in terms of food quality at affordable prices. At the same time, the natural resources that enable production are dwindling (water, farmland, etc.) and the agricultural and agri-food sectors must contribute to efforts to combat climate change while ensuring fair value creation. Today, the circular economy appears as a major lever to meet these challenges: the French government has made it a priority and is currently working on the implementation of the circular economy roadmap through a law expected in April 2019.
This publication explores the solutions that the circular economy offers (sustainable supply, eco-design, recycling, industrial and territorial ecology, responsible consumption and material revalorization) in order to move towards more sustainable agricultural and agri-food systems while aiming at production of sufficient quality and quantity. In addition to these levers, the application of the circular economy to these sectors calls for specific reflections on the articulation of the uses of organic matter and on the valuation of ecosystem services. Particular attention must be paid to the preservation of the quantity and quality of water and soil resources.
This White Paper also presents good circular farming practices implemented by INEC members and partners. These actions by private, public and academic actors must be continued and amplified; this publication proposes several avenues of action in this direction. A national strategic vision of the circular economy is necessary, fully integrating agricultural issues and consistent with international commitments. However, the implementation of circular agricultural and agri-food systems must be carried out at the territorial level, recreating ecosystems at the relevant scales. A sustained effort in research and innovation, on the part of both private and public stakeholders, is also essential to develop more efficient models for resource management, while controlling the associated risks.