Biodiversity and agri-food sustainability: CMCC researcher wins the Bologna Award 2021

Posted on

Understanding the link between biodiversity and resilience of the agricultural sector in European Mediterranean countries: Lea Nicita, researcher at CMCC Foundation and Yale School of the Environment, wins The International Sustainability and Food Award – Bologna Award 2021.

Estimating the impact of climate change on the agricultural sector by assessing the importance of preserving biodiversity to increase the resilience of agroecosystems in Mediterranean Europe. This is the subject of the study of Lea Nicita, researcher at CMCC Foundation and Yale School of the Environment, awarded on World Food Day 2021 at the 6th edition of the Bologna Award, the International Sustainability and Food Award.

Conceived and promoted by CAAB, Centro Agroalimentare di Bologna, in collaboration with Fondazione FICO, the award aims to promote a new and widespread culture and to support scientific and technological research on agri-food sustainability.

Lea Nicita is Principal Investigator of the project “Climate change Resilience of Agricultural Systems”, funded by the European Commission with an individual research grant under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions program. The researcher was awarded ex aequo with Alessandro Matese, coordinator of the  Institute of Bioeconomy – National Research Council, who, in his studies, tests technologies and methodologies of digital agriculture to optimize the management of irrigation according to actual crop water requirements.

“Biodiversity at every level, from genetic to ecosystem diversity, supports the capacity of agricultural systems to provide ecosystem services and to cope with stresses and shocks, including climate shocks,” explains Lea Nicita in an article in Il Manifesto. “Adaptation measures based on biodiversity conservation are a viable and feasible option to minimize risks and ensure agrifood sustainability, given also the high diversity and high ecological value that characterize the agroecosystems of Mediterranean countries.”

Bologna Awards 2021 (Roberto Serra / Iguana)

From Nicita’s studies, focused on the Mediterranean basin – referred to as a hotspot for climate change due to the increased risk of drought – it is clear that biodiversity contributes significantly to the value of land and to the profitability of farms. These data provide policymakers with a measure of the potential benefits to farms and allow the distribution of these benefits to be mapped over the territory.

“Lea Nicita’s studies highlight the importance and intrinsic value, including the economic value, of biodiversity for agrifood production,” explain the motivations of the international jury, chaired by agroeconomist Andrea Segrè, president of CAAB and Fondazione Fico. “Greater biodiversity in agricultural land means greater “ecosystem services” and greater resilience to climate change. Lea Nicita […] with her studies shows that preserving biodiversity allows to have an influence on the economic aspects of food production: an evaluation that is essential to determine policies and regulatory interventions to strengthen biodiversity”.

“The interest in issues related to climate, biodiversity and agri-food sustainability is growing,” said Lea Nicita. “Receiving this award, in addition to being a great acknowledgment for my work, is a great opportunity to share with a wider audience knowledge that, despite being of common interest, often remains confined to academia. A privileged moment of encounter between science, the public and the world of policy, in which research is at the service of society to design the best solutions for our future”.

Start typing and press Enter to search

Shopping Cart