Inauguration of the International Centre for Development and Innovation in Agroecology and Agrobiodiversity


On 31 March 2023, in the Huelvan municipality of La Palma del Condado, known for its agricultural and wine-growing activity, the office of the International Centre for Development and Innovation in Agroecology and Agrobiodiversity (CIDIA) was inaugurated. CIDIA aims to become an internationally-relevant cutting-edge centre in the innovation and development of sustainable agricultural practices, in line with the EU Green Deal, the Farm to Fork strategy, the EU Biodiversity Strategy 2030, the new EU Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) and the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

CIDIA’s general objective is the development of studies, tools and demonstrative experiences that foster the transition towards specific agroecological practices with special emphasis on protected areas and areas that allow for the balancing of socio-economic development with the objectives of environmental conservation and European policies. Agroecology researchers from ​LifeWatch ERIC will work together with researchers from the Agroecosystems History Laboratory at the Pablo de Olavide University, in Seville.

LifeWatch ERIC is promoting CIDIA within the SmartFood initiative, which is one of the ongoing ERDF projects in collaboration with the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development of the Junta de Andalucía, through Agricultural and Fisheries Management Agency of Andalusia (AGAPA). The subtitle of SmartFood is “biodiversity, ecosystem services and digitisation axes of agricultural, forestry and fishing activity in Andalusia”. Its objective is to make technological monitoring infrastructures available to the sector to carry out innovative monitoring of the effects they have on the environment the different practices of exploitation of natural resources, and the generation of new knowledge for the sustainable management of the ecosystems involved.

At the inauguration, LifeWatch ERIC CTO, Juan Miguel González-Aranda, thanked the regional and local authorities for their collaboration, as well as the involvement of the Universities of Huelva and Pablo de Olavide, in making the start-up a reality. He stressed that the initiative “puts advanced technologies and knowledge at the service of farmers and ranchers, which must be accessible to all citizens”.

Among CIDIA’s lines of action, the following stand out:

-Developing the evaluation methodologies and the latest-generation ICT tools necessary for ecological evaluation, including the socioeconomic valuation of agro-ecosystem services based on the developments carried out in SmartFood and applying cutting-edge technologies such as blockchain (LifeBlock);

-Defining good sustainable agricultural practices adapted to the selected experimental sites as well as those designed for monitoring and evaluation of their results through the use of ICT;

-Developing demonstrative experiences in the Doñana environment that allow for the balancing of agriculture development with conservation objectives, oriented to the problem of water overexploitation;

-Developing standards and procedures for optimised land use and farm management in association with habitats and species of special conservation in protected areas and the eco-scheme certification methodology of the EU CAP.

The inauguration was headed by Juan Miguel González Aranda, LifeWatch ERIC CTO; José Carlos Álvarez Martín, Managing Director of AGAPA, and Manuel García Félix, Mayor of La Palma del Condado. Together with them were Bella Verano Domínguez, Delegate of the Junta de Andalucía in Huelva; José Enrique García Ramos, Director of Research at the University of Huelva; Antonia Jiménez Rodríguez, Vice Chancellor for Research, Transfer and Doctorates at Pablo de Olavide University; Manuel Jiménez Sánchez, General Director of Research at Pablo de Olavide University; Manuel González de Molina, Professor at the Pablo de Olavide University, where he directs the Agroecosystems History Laboratory; José Manuel Ávila, LifeWatch ERIC Agroecology Coordinator, and Rocío Moreno Domínguez, LifeWatch ERIC ICT-Core Federtech ERDF Project Executive Coordinator. 

LifeWatch ERIC presents its endeavours in remote sensing and support for indigenous knowledge at UNOOSA meeting


This week has seen the participation of LifeWatch ERIC in the UNOOSA COPUOS STSC 60th Session 2023, which is taking place at the Vienna International Centre in Austria from 6–17 February 2023.

COPUOS is the Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space, set up by UNOOSA, the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs, to govern the exploration and use of space for the benefit of all humanity. It reviews international cooperation in peaceful uses of outer space, studying space-related activities that could be undertaken by the United Nations, encouraging space research programmes, and studying legal problems arising from the exploration of outer space. STSC stands for the Scientific and Technical Subcomittees, which are holding plenary and technical sessions, in which LifeWatch ERIC is taking part:

On Wednesday 8 February, Jaime Lobo Domínguez-Roqueta, LifeWatch ERIC Satellite & HAPS Operations Manager, participated in the SCTC Plenary Session, presenting LifeWatch ERIC’s close collaboration with CANEUS International as well as the infrastructure’s efforts in the Remote Sensing field, using the example of the launch of AGAPA-1 nanosatellite for the SmartFood project in October 2023 and related mission operations.

In the STSC Technical Session the following day, Milind Pimprikar, Chairman of CANEUS, and Jaime Lobo Domínguez-Roqueta held a presentation entitled “Indigenous Knowledge Research Infrastructure (IKRI) and Remote Sensing for Sustainability Applications”, co-prepared with LifeWatch ERIC CTO and Director of the ICT-Core Common Facility, Dr. Juan Miguel González-Aranda. IKRI is a Global Research and Knowledge Repository initiativerun with the participation of LifeWatch ERIC, CANUS, FILAC, UNOOSA and AERAP Science, which aims to develop a global collaborative infrastructure using Public-Private-Partnership. It does this by seeking to leverage the power of Earth observation and AI to capture, process, analyse, and present indigenous knowledge from multiple sources, to achieve implementation of UN SDGs and 2030 Agenda targets and action items. Watch here from 1:22:00.

LifeWatch ERIC and Andalusian Government Announce Details on SmartFood Nanosatellite Launch

SmartFood nanosatellite launch

The Councillor for Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development of the Junta de Andalucía, Carmen Crespo, was welcomed to LifeWatch ERIC’s ICT-Core office in Seville yesterday, accompanied by the director of the Andalusian Agricultural and Fisheries Management Agency (AGAPA), José Carlos Álvarez, to discuss trailblazing agroecology initiatives which will have wide-ranging impacts. 2023 is an exciting year for LifeWatch ERIC, as it gains traction in the EU research and innovation sector.

LifeWatch ERIC has a strong historic collaboration with the Junta de Andalucía, one such synergy being with the AGAPA on the ERDF SmartFood project, for which a nanosatellite equipped with a very high resolution multispectral camera will be launched in October this year from a Space X base in the United States. The aim of the SmartFood project is to monitor the impact of agriculture, livestock and fishing on the sustainable management of biodiversity and ecosystems ­– LifeWatch ERIC has the technological lead here, and is creating the nanosatellite mission control centre “eBRIC” (eBiodiversity Research & Innovation International Centre) in the Doñana National Park, in partnership with the University of Huelva. Among other things, the centre will focus on interconnected sensorisation at the terrestrial, atmospheric (observation stations, drones) and spatial level (satellites); the study of invasive species; aquifer conservation; native flora and fauna protection; and virtual laboratories for scientific research in the Cloud, using ICT such as Big Data, Artificial-Deep Intelligence “Deep Learning”, and especially Blockchain, through the LifeWatch ERIC LifeBlock tool. The infrastructure conceives the e-BRIC as an international reference centre for Europe, Africa, and Latin America and the Caribbean, aligned with the United Nations through the UNOOSA Office for Biodiversity and Climate Change.

Crespo also congratulated the infrastructure on being chosen to play a key technological role in the AELLRI EU Partnership initiative proposed by the European Commission, as part of the Horizon Europe topic provisionally entitled “Accelerating farming systems transition: agroecology living labs and research infrastructures”, to pioneer the EU’s agricultural transition towards sustainable agroecological models. She highlighted “the importance of the research work carried out by Lifewatch ERIC, offering important data that allows better decisions to be made in the pursuit of sustainable agriculture and preserving biodiversity”, citing how these technological innovations will support Andalusia in reaching and maintaining EU ecological agricultural objectives, both on land and at sea.

CTO Juan Miguel González-Aranda underlined the importance of the agricultural, fishing and livestock sector within the green and blue development paradigms, in coordination with the Green Deal and Blue Growth policies of the EU, and expressed his gratitude for the institutional support, especially from the Ministry of Agriculture, pointing out that “biodiversity cannot turn its back on the primary sector, which is so important for the Autonomous Community of Andalusia”.