The role of local communities in the development and maintenance of traditional, local knowledge is priceless. Different practices, assets and approaches are available at a local/regional level and exhibit both differences and similarities with the ones available in local communities in other locations. This is a highly important aspect in the agrifood sector where various related use cases exist, such as in the case of the preservation of local plant (and animal) varieties and breeds, agricultural practices adapted to local micro-environments, food production processes adapted to the specific needs of rural population in specific contexts etc.
Such knowledge reflects on the lifestyle, food production and consumption patterns and its accumulation is based on participatory democratic processes, passing from one generation to the other, openly shared among the community members. On top of that, such knowledge may provide the solutions to issues faced by other communities. The issue is that all this valuable information and knowledge usually remains unavailable to people outside these communities. At the same time, solutions to issues faced by such local communities may exist out there but remain inaccessible by people inside these communities. Various global initiatives are working on the preservation and sharing of such knowledge; Slow Food’s Indigenous Terra Madre network is a great example.
The European Commission has also identified the need for supporting local communities in knowledge exchange and innovation based on this knowledge. In this context, the Collective Awareness Platforms for Sustainability and Social Innovation (CAPS) is an initiative facilitated and funded by the European Commission that aims at “designing and piloting online platforms creating awareness of sustainability problems and offering collaborative solutions based on networks (of people, of ideas, of sensors), enabling new forms of social innovation“. More practically, these platforms aim to combine data of interest to specific communities, such as social media, distributed knowledge as well as data from real environments (Internet of Things) in order to create awareness of problems and possible solutions requesting collective efforts, enabling new forms of social innovation.
CAPS projects are activated in the following thematic areas:
There have been two CAPS calls so far: one in the FP7 ICT Work Programme 2013 (objectives 5.5 and 1.7b) and one in the H2020 ICT Work Programme 2015 (topic ICT-10). A total of 12 projects from call 1 is running at the moment and will be complemented by 24 more from call 2, starting on 1st January 2016. You can find more information at the EC Digital Agenda for Europe website on CAPS projects. Additional information can be found on the Horizon 2020 webpage about CAPS.
The last call for proposals for CAPS was launched in 2014 with a total budget of 43M euro. Nearly 200 proposals were submitted, out of which 24 have been selected for funding; one of the selected ones is CAPSELLA: “Collective Awareness PlatformS for Environmentally sound Land management based on data technoLogies and Agrobiodiversity“, a project that aims to support local communities in the agrobiodiversity sector all over Europe to establish a mean for online collaboration and a central point for open knowledge sharing and retrieval both from own sources as well as from external ones. We are glad to be a part of the project consortium and we expect that we will be able to implement some nice ideas that we have regarding the engagement of local communities in the agrobiodiversity sector.
If you want to learn more about the CAPS project, you can check out the website of the Digital Agenda for Europe on Collective Awareness; if you want to learn more about our CAPSELLA project, you will have to stay tuned on our blog for the project description and Agroknow’s contributions. 🙂