Food systems research meets practice
During the meeting of the Dutch community of practice on food systems on June 18, 2019, research and practice exchanged on how food systems approaches have been brought into practice so far to identify lessons and future perspectives.
On June 18, 2019 a Food systems community of practice (CoP) meeting brought together 21 Food and Nutrition Security professionals from policy, research and practice to exchange on how food systems approaches have been brought into practice so far to identify lessons and future perspectives.
Food Systems Approaches (FSA) continue to be a key area of interest for Dutch knowledge institutions, Ministries and other stakeholders, as is reflected in the high number of events and publications referring to food systems or to food systems transitions. The recent policy letter “Op weg naar een wereld zonder honger in 2030: de Nederlandse inzet”, as well as the EAT-Lancet report are among the most relevant new papers. To explore how this currently translated into food systems practice the CoP meeting focused on three cases where the FSA is being piloted, exchanging experiences with the following three leading questions:
- How have Food Systems Approaches been applied in practice so far?
- What can a Food Systems Approaches add to the existing approaches and models of practitioners?
- What are lessons learnt in applying Food Systems Approaches for decision-making?
Three cases applying Food Systems Approaches
Frederike Praasterink of HAS University of Applied Sciences piloted the Food Systems Approach in a masterclass, with students from different disciplines and the Foundation “United Against Food Waste”. The objective was to test the Food Systems Approach in order to develop an intervention strategy based on a system analysis.
Nout van der Vaart of Hivos presented the experience of the Hivos-IIED-led programme “Sustainable Diets for All“ that takes a Food Systems Approach to policy making on food and agriculture in Bolivia, Indonesia, Uganda, Kenya and Zambia. The programme aims to change policies to deliver better food systems outcomes for the health and diets of low-income consumers by organization of ‘food change labs’, the generation of citizen evidence and lobby & advocacy activities.
Just Dengerink and Helena Posthumus of Wageningen Economic Research and KIT Royal Tropical Institute presented their experience with piloting a food systems decision-support tool that applies food systems thinking to policy. The tool was used to support the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in shaping strategies for food and nutrition security programming in Ethiopia, the Sahel and Nigeria.
Conclusions and follow-up
Based on two rounds of group discussions for the three cases various elements where a Food Systems Approach provided added value were identified, including (among others) by broadening the scope of factors that is normally taken into consideration for policy and programming, while also helping justify and strengthening multidisciplinary and transdisciplinary collaboration. A number of questions and challenges also still remained, including defining the boundaries of food systems or how to make this approach work at different levels. Such questions can be taken up as a knowledge agenda for future activities and exchanges. In the plenary discussion participants also recognized that further piloting of the Food Systems Approach is needed, by trying it in different contexts, with different actors and for different challenges.
The meeting concluded with a call to all participants to keep sharing their experiences and insights in using the Food Systems Approach; and to take the initiative to call this Community of Practice together if they have particular ideas. The F&BKP is available to facilitate this joint knowledge process and the knowledge sharing with the broader food and nutrition security community.