Stakeholders discuss SUSFANS methods, metrics and models

Stakeholders discuss SUSFANS methods, metrics and models

Stakeholders discuss SUSFANS methods, metrics and models
First SUSFANS stakeholder core group workshop held in Prague, Czech Republic, October 30, 2015.

 

Around 40 experts in the field of food and nutrition security met at SUSFANS first Stakeholder Core Group workshop in Prague, Czech Republic on October 30, 2015, to discuss, review, refine and give feedback on the SUSFANS project. The stakeholder group at the workshop were “food-system actors”, such as primary producer and representatives of the food processing industry as well as so-called “food-system influencers” representing civil society organizations and advocacy groups working on food issues. In addition, a small number of EU “policy-makers” joined the workshop.

 

Stakeholders and their role in SUSFANS
So-called stakeholders are to play a key role in the SUSFANS project. Their interests and perspectives are essential for developing scenarios for sustainable and secure food and nutrition production and consumption patterns in Europe and beyond.  

The stakeholders selected for SUSFANS are involved in food systems at all levels. A so-called Stakeholder Core Group was created, consisting of 30 selected experts and decision-makers. They represent a wide range of stakeholder communities and hence ‘worldviews’ such as primary producers, food industry, retail, consumer groups, investors, regulators, policymakers and academics. This Core Group will advise the SUSFANS consortium on key topics during four workshops scheduled between October 2015 and mid-2018.

This first workshop in Prague introduced the SUSFANS project to the Stakeholder Core Group with a special focus on SUSFANS Work Packages no. 1 ‘Conceptual framework and food and nutrition security sustainability metrics’ and no. 6 ‘Stakeholder interaction and scenario review’. During four parallel working groups, around 40 experts reviewed, helped refine and provided feedback on:

  • the SUSFANS Conceptual Framework that serves as an overall project guide;
  • a set of metrics to assess the overall sustainability of the food system, balanced across the range of world views on the assessment of the environmental, social and economic dimensions of sustainable food;
  • case studies that will include
    a) proteins from livestock-fish supply chains and
    b) micronutrients from fruits and vegetables supply chains;
  • existing explorative scenarios, so as to identify their most salient features for exploring sustainable diets and food systems in the EU, within a global context of food security and climate change.

Stakeholders discussions and recommendations
The stakeholder group at the workshop were “food-system actors”, such as primary producer and representatives of the food processing industry as well as so-called “food-system influencers” representing civil society organizations and advocacy groups working on food issues. In addition, a small number of EU policy-makers joined the workshop.

Stakeholders discussed a wide range of drivers for exploring scenarios of sustainable food systems for the EU in the next 30 years. They also formulated a number of policy questions that the scenarios could help answer. Some of the questions addressed the whole food system while others focus on a particular food system actor or activity, such as consumers or agricultural production. The majority of the questions focused on policies that could move the EU food system towards achieving sustainable FNS.

Specific issues raised by stakeholders were:

Stakeholders approved the basic ideas, elements and layout of the SUSFANS conceptual framework. Yet, they suggested some additions such as recognizing social outcomes of the food system (e.g. labour conditions or socio-cultural wellbeing) and other specific additions to the different elements of the framework (drivers, food systems activities, linkages in the system/arrows). They also recommended considering how to capture the dynamics of the food system while developing a theory of change for where the food system should be heading.

SUSFANS’ basic ideas of bringing together agriculture with the nutrition community to think about how to achieve food and nutrition security in a coherent manner at an EU and country level were endorsed too;

  • Achieving sustainable Food and Nutrition Security and reducing health burdens related to food consumption should go along with less environmental costs by a thriving agri-business sector without neglecting the EU food system impacts on the globe;
  • Stakeholders acknowledged that bringing together these various goals required a clear set of metrics and analytical tools to assess progress toward these goals;
  • Stakeholders saw factors currently blocking the EU food system in moving towards sustainable FNS in three areas: on the consumer side, within the food system and with respect to public policies.
  • Stakeholders also recommended keeping track of important upcoming policy milestones or cycles (e.g. reviews of policies), so becoming “policy watchers”, in order to feed in impact at very timely moments and make sure that the project pro-actively seeks policy buy-in and channels for uptake of its scientific results in public or private information systems and monitoring cycles.
  • Stakeholders stressed the need for finding a set of metrics that is technically sound but then also choosing a sub-set of metrics that are easy to communicate to decision-makers.
  • Conducting country level modelling would allow covering blank spots and metrics at the household level are recommendable where possible and appropriate. Producing a few, clear and easy-to-communicate metrics at the EU-level, aggregating up from country level data would be good too.
  • Stakeholders explored various issues specific to each value chain case study that SUSFANS is currently preparing (innovations in fruit and vegetable chains and in livestock and fish supply towards sustainable protein intake), such as environmental impacts of livestock and crop production system or their health outcomes.

They also discussed innovation pathways that each case study should explore, for example on bringing in consumer perceptions and behaviours for guiding the food chain actors’ work and how to change consumer behaviours with respect to new sources of protein.