Yes, it's getting warmer. What are we going to do about it?
The climate affects living conditions for humans, animals and plants alike. Which types of plants will we be able to cultivate in the future? Will fish have to find new habitats? How can we best utilise our fields? In order to develop production systems that can function well in the future, we must understand the ways in which plants, production animals and fish adapt to climate change.
Genetic resources for food and agriculture in a changing climate were the focus in Lillehammer on 27‒29 January, when four of the Nordic researcher networks under the programme Climate Change Impacts, Adaptation and Mitigation in Nordic Primary Industries presented their results along with a number of international researchers.
“Genetic resources for food and agriculture are critically important for food security in both the short and long term,” asserted Pål Vidar Sollie, Director General of the Department of Forest and Natural Resource Policy at the Norwegian Ministry of Agriculture and Food, in his opening address. Preserving these resources is ultimately a responsibility shared by the entire international community. Every country produces crops originating from some other part of the world and is therefore dependent on genetic material from other countries for improving its plant genetic resources.
Growing maize in Svalbard
“Will we be growing maize in Svalbard someday?” asked Jørgen E. Olesen, chair of the programme's steering committee and a professor at Aarhus University. “We are about to exceed what our planet can tolerate when it comes to climate change and the loss of biodiversity.”
Different climate models predict a variety of imminent changes in climate, but the overall message is the same: mankind will have to adapt to new risk factors and seize new opportunities.
A number of Nordic and international scientists at the conference contributed to the ongoing dialogue about genetic resources by sharing their research conclusions in the fields of fisheries, forestry, agriculture and food production.
The conference helps to set the standard for how the programme’s results will be used – as a knowledge base for developing a climate policy for this sector. Mr Sollie also stressed the significance of this knowledge for enabling politicians and government administrators to take the right decisions and set good priorities for the future preservation, use and development of genetic resources.
Written by Lisa H. Ekli
Translated by Darren McKellep/Carol B. Eckmann
Main photo by Karin Beate Nøsterud/norden.org
Photos in text by Terje Heiestad
Photo 1: Grain field in Teckomatorp, Southern Swedeb
Photo 2: Pål Vidar Sollie, Norwegian Ministry of Agriculture and Food and Odd Arne Rognli, Norwegian University of Life Sciences, NMBU
Photo 3: Jørgen E. Olesen, Aarhus University
Photo 4: Chair of the programme's steering committee, Jørgen E. Olesen, in dialogue with the project leaders of the four researcher networks that organised the conference in collaboration with NordGen; Sigurður Guðjónsson from the Institute of Freshwater Fisheries, Iceland, Rikke Bagger Jørgensen from the Technical University of Denmark, Theo Meuwissen and Odd Arne Rognli from the Norwegian University of Life Sciences, NMBU.