Recovery in times of crisis: Regions at the forefront to prepare for a digital and greener future


Lydie Bernard

Vicepresident of Pays de la Loire region in charge of Agriculture and Agrifood Industry.

European Regions have been at very active to respond to the challenges that arose because of the Covid-19spread and especially, they have worked hard to support their local food systems and farmers. In the Pays de la Loire Region especially, the issue is now about taking this dynamic further in order to be ready for the greener and digital recovery roadmap proposed by the European Union.

Since March 11th, theWorld Health Organization has referred to the global situation due to theCovid-19 as a pandemic. In France, starting March 17th, the Government implemented many emergency measures, imposing among others a lockdown on the French population for almost two months.

From the upstream to the downstream of the agrifood value chain, all actors did not wait to organice themselves.

This dialogue, this solidarity between the members of the agrifood sector helped with the emergence of new initiatives and projects which would not have happened without this context of crisis. It is this collective work, supported by the Regions, that permitted the food chain to resist despite the difficulties encountered.

Now that the worst of the sanitary crisis seems to be behind us, it is time to capitalize on the good practices and the collective energy that emerged, in order to answer the unprecedented social, economic and environmental impacts likely to develop in the years to come.

In these times of negotiation of the next Multiannual Financial Framework (2021-2027), the challenge will be to build coherent and complementary policies in service of the territories. The Pays de la Loire Region is willing to support this economic recovery relying on all the tools at its disposal: European structural funds, cooperation, research and innovation...

We bear responsibility for answering the challenges highlighted during this period: to secure the agri-food chain, especially local supply, to foster a sustainable, environmental friendly and resilient food production that ensures a fair income to all the actors of the value chain, by means of a co-construction process connecting public and private actors, and giving a larger voice to the citizen-consumer.

The Pays de la Loire Region is characterized by numerous assets to take up this challenge: a diversified agricultural sector, processing industries, well-structured short and long food supply chains, and an ecosystem of entrepreneurs, researchers and education providers that fosters innovations. Digital technologies will be key to move from test to action since their uses turned out to be crucial during this period of crisis as they provided with multiple solutions:

Ranging from the geolocated pictures in order to check the grants allowed to farmers, to the online shopping of local food, to a multitude of applications for videoconferencing and other collaborative tools.

Digital technologies are tools that can benefit to everyone when it comes to make the food chain safer, more qualitative and respectful of the environment and more competitive.

Beyond this digital transition to come, the support given to the building of a sustainable food system will also be a priority. Echoing the European Green Deal and the future CAP that is intended to be greener, the Pays de la Loire Region will continue to promote low carbon solutions in the agri-food sector, and support the development of projects in order to build safer, more qualitative and competitive food chains.

However, the development of secure, dicarbonised and accessible digital tools will undoubtedly require collaborations between the economic sector and other actors, between the member states and the European Regions. Therefore, the Pays de la Loire Region wants to stay involved at the European level, especially within the platform S3Traceability and Big Data one. The reinforcement of these partnerships through new communication tools and new actions in 2020 will ease the recovery and transition towards safe and sustainable food systems.