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Drylands Facing Change: Interdisciplinary Research on Climate Change, Food Insecurity,Political Instability, DFC

Project Description

The drylands surrounding Europe are among the most food insecure and politically unstable areas in the world. This includes Sahelian and East African countries, which are plagued by poverty and increasingly frequent and more extreme weather events and, inhabited by a population with little formal education, have up to now limited development potential. The North African and Middle Eastern drylands, though better off in economic terms because of oil revenues, are highly dependent on food imports, which makes them dependent on fluctuations of prices on world markets that may undermine political stability in the long run. West and Central Asia are suffering from increasing climate variability and persistent political turmoil. The agricultural potential is limited and most countries are facing long-term water shortages. Most dryland countries have a predominantly young population, high unemployment rates and high levels of political tension based on religious and ethnic divisions.
In the EU, emphasis is currently given to immediate solutions regarding the political conflicts in the drylands and their effects. This includes military interventions, the reduction of the numbers of incoming refugees and migrants, the provision of security in Europe by increasing border control and by integrating refugees in the region of origin. However, it becomes increasingly clear that attention has to be given to long-term solutions that will address the economic, political and ecological problems in dryland areas. A credible multi-pronged strategy has to be developed to foster economic and institutional development, and to seek solutions to the political conflicts. Solutions must also provide a basic standard of food production and food security to reduce the population’s vulnerability to the vagaries of climate variability, economic exploitation and political oppression.
Long-term solutions have to be worked out in close concertation between policymakers, practitioners and researchers. Over the past decades, many efforts have been made to work on more productive agriculture, economic growth and institutional development, but too much on a piecemeal basis. The results of these policies and programmes fell short of expectations because they did not address the fundamental problems of drylands, rooted as they are in inequality and vulnerability, and therefore have not been able to prevent the current crisis.
This COST Action will bring together expertise on a number of interrelated issues to develop a long-term research and policy trajectory that aims to address these fundamental problems. The inhabitants of the drylands surrounding Europe, i.e. in Africa (the Sahel, North Africa and East Africa), the Middle East, and West and Central Asia, are facing complex challenges regarding the development of their economies and productive agricultural systems in the face of increasing climate variability and future climate change, adverse market conditions, political instability and rising religious extremism. Drylands are currently among the most vulnerable areas in the world and are home to vast numbers of food insecure people who often lack basic services such as education, health care, water and energy supplies and access to markets. In addition, many of these areas are experiencing migration, violent conflicts and political instability and have malfunctioning states and political institutions that prevent dryland inhabitants from creating their own path to development.

The main objective is to achieve better research coordination between disciplines (natural sciences, agriculture, environmental sciences, social sciences, political sciences, geography), and across institutional boundaries - European, International and African institutions - in order to create research networks that work together on strategic research agendas to develop long-term solutions for problems in dryland areas.

This will be achieved through four thematic Working Groups: 1) The climate - food security - population nexus; 2) The conflict - institutions - natural resource governance nexus; 3) Human development; 4) Insecurity - youth - global-local linkages in policymaking. Working Group 5 will coordinate and safeguard interdisciplinarity.

The Action will produce short- and long-term policy briefs and state-of-the-art reviews of the identified domains. It will exchange with policy-makers and target strategic research actions for the future. The Action will organize training schools for junior researchers and it will form strategic research coalitions for further collaboration with European and international partners.

You will find more information on the Action´s website ...more

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