This publication is also available online in a web-accessible version at https://pub.norden.org/nord2021-008
An adept solver of problems
The call for concrete examples of how to encourage sustainable and healthy diets can be heard loud and clear from all corners of the globe.
We believe that by gathering different actors and sparking new conversations, we can conceive ideas and solutions that can create the significant change that is needed both locally and globally. That’s why you are seated around this table.
Everyday across the world, food policy experiments take place. Big and small, these policies address new frontiers and attempt to influence food systems. While what we often discuss is the front-end — the policy itself — we often forget to share what it takes to initiate impactful policies and actions, and the process behind it.
In 2017, the Nordic Food Policy Lab (NFPL) of the Nordic Council of Ministers was born. It was part of a larger vision, the Nordic prime ministerial initiative “Nordic Solutions to Global Challenges”. The lab was one of six flagships addressing the calls to action laid out in the UN Sustainable Development Goals. Although the scene was set, the content was emergent, adaptable and demand-led by design. The NFPL’s inaugural lab at the United Nations Climate Conference (COP23) was one of the first to put food policy solutions at the heart of the Nordic climate change agenda. Together with other movers and shakers, we brought the debate into the Nordic Pavilion. A lot — and we mean a lot — has changed since then.
As the lab’s network, agenda and activities evolved, we began documenting the diverse ways in which food policy can change society for the better. Standing on the shoulders of the co-operation on Nordic Nutrition Recommendations and the New Nordic Food Programme, the Solutions menu: A Nordic guide to sustainable food policy became the first ever exploration of 24 innovative food policies that have had important societal, cultural and environmental knock-on effects in the Nordic Region. This was no navel gazing exercise; the point was to stimulate conversation, share ideas and actions with other solutionists and innovators, and improve on the home front.
Since then, the understanding and acceptance of the impact of food systems on human and planetary health has grown significantly. There has also been increased outcry to radically augment our paradigms and an acknowledgement of the untapped role of policy in achieving this. Despite this progress, we still live in a tumultuous period, where a changing climate threatens our very existence, where multiple aspects of society are highly polarised, where pandemics disrupt food supply chains and where our modern eating habits compromise our health.
The Nordic prime ministerial initiative — and so too the NFPL — came to a close in 2021. As we — the team members of the NFPL — shift to new endeavors, we’re taking the opportunity to share some of the secret ingredients for building momentum through a policy lab approach. This is a reflection of the Nordic Food Policy Lab’s experiences and methods, paying tribute to what we learned and changed along the way, and to the people who dedicated their visions, knowledge and energy.
In the 21st century, disruption is on many people’s minds. In this guide, you will learn more about the Nordic Food Policy Lab’s journey and that of others working to ignite new conversations moving us closer to a tastier, healthier and more sustainable future for our food. This collection of reflections and approaches opens the door to new policy playgrounds and investigates some of the inner workings of innovative policy development. Whether in a programme setting or during pop-up events, “lab thinking” can be an important policy asset. Creating spaces to engage new and familiar voices and paving the way for unconventional ways of addressing multifaceted challenges are the new black.
The Nordic Food Policy Lab team
ONCE UPON A TIME...
Not so long ago, the primary aims of food policy were to make sure that no nasty bacteria spoiled your food, to advise citizens on how to make the right food choices to live a healthy life or to provide agricultural subsidies.
Today, food policy is an increasingly more complex space. Not only do policies need to address human nutrition, food-borne illness and farmers’ livelihoods, but also greenhouse gas emissions, biodiversity, destructive resource use, and food culture, among other things.
Because of the way our food systems influence many of our most pressing global challenges, food has started to move into the heart of policy discussions around everything from climate change, trade, the spread of zoonotic disease and public health. It has also taken on a more subtle role as a form of diplomacy also known as food diplomacy.
At the same time, the scientific evidence-base supporting the importance of food systems has grown dramatically. Voters have also grown increasingly concerned about the environmental and human impacts caused by the food we eat, both before and after it hits our plates. Companies are also under increasing pressure to consider the planet over profit. This all means that the world of food policy has had to undergo major changes to match the needs of society.
The imperative to change can be dizzying. Policy makers and civil servants – unless in a very unique situation – often have few opportunities or incentives to experiment with new approaches, swap ideas with counterparts around the world and to rapidly update their knowledge of the science evidence at hand. Many policymakers find themselves asking: where are the bold policies to follow, support or implement to lead the transition to healthier and more sustainable food systems?
In order to keep up with the pace of change, the role of policy in society and the ways we interact with decision-making processes need a makeover. In fact, the call to action comes not only from outside of governmental walls, but also from within. The appetite for more creative policy processes is growing.
What happens when you combine an interdisciplinary scientist, a communications specialist, a policy advisor and a food systems knowledge broker with the world’s oldest regional partnership and a mandate from the prime ministers of five nations? A food policy lab!
The Nordic Food Policy Lab (NFPL) was born out of the need to frame policy as a major engine of positive change in food systems as a part of the UN’s Agenda 2030.
Between 2017 and 2021, the NFPL team carefully created safe spaces to discuss the future of food policy. We had the mandate from the highest powers in the Nordic countries, the prime ministers. The Nordic Food Policy Lab was one of six flagships offering Nordic solutions to achieving the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals by 2030. Grounded in the acknowledgement that one had yet to find the answers, what made the concept unique was that we had the license to experiment.
We’ve witnessed the power of food policy — not just in the Nordic Region, but around the world. We’ve seen how entire food cultures can be uplifted and transformed. We’ve seen how smart policies and public-private-partnerships can help citizens make healthier and more sustainable dietary choices. We’ve seen previously siloed governmental agencies and ministries come together in a joined-up food systems agenda. And perhaps most importantly, we’ve seen huge interest in our way of re-framing discussions about the future of food, resulting in crowded event spaces and demand for sharing our way of working with food policy labs.
This guide is the conclusion to a conversation started by the Nordic prime ministers with Nordic Solutions to Global Challenges in 2017. Since then, the Nordic Food Policy Lab has staged dialogues, set the table for new encounters, co-produced knowledge and insights, and advocated for the potential of policy to change the world.
The information within the pages of this guide is meant to ensure that policymakers do not stand in a position where they see the daunting scale of the problem but feel unequipped to deal with it.
Prime Minister of Iceland
What do honey, bananas, beef and shellfish have in common? They will all disappear in the foreseeable future unless we start changing our habits and making alternative choices.
The Museum of Food simulates a future where some of our favourite foods from our daily lives are gone. This exhibition consists of nine time capsules that capture the essence of these endangered foods. By vacuum packing the products, the time capsules create a visually pleasing yet distancing environment — ultimately stimulating reflection and contemplation amongst the audience. The historic and symbolic value of these foods is communicated through various additional objects included in the time capsule, showcasing how the perception and interpretation of these foods has evolved over time.
The Museum of Food was an important element when staging the discussions at Nordic Food Day at COP23 in Bonn, 2017. By staging a pop-up think tank at the Nordic Pavilion, the Nordic Food Policy Lab welcomed dreamers, visionaries and enablers to the table and provided a tasting menu of initiatives and scientific knowledge supporting sustainable food systems.
A Nordic Food Policy Lab x ArtRebels collaboration.
Oranges used to be one of the more popular fruits, and perhaps even the most common of the whole citrus family. The taste of the orange had just the right balance between sweetness and acid, which made the fruit’s juice immensely popular. But a phenomenon called citrus greening disease infected orange trees worldwide, and it put a stop to global orange production.
In 1000 BC, citrus fruits were not juicy, and people mainly ate the rind rather than the fruit or used citrus rind to make perfumes.
Actually, we humans managed to exterminate the banana not once, but twice. In the 1960s, a fungal disease spread around the world and quickly got rid of what was called the Gros Michel banana. Shortly after, the banana industry had another go and discovered the Cavendish cultivar. Unfortunately, a new fungal disease started spreading among the crops around 1990. Since the banana industry was focused on one species, the disease had fatal consequences.
Cavendish bananas were named after William Cavendish, the 6th Duke of Devonshire.
In the past, everyone knew the saying ‘the land of milk & honey’ – but these days, the land is all milk. The sticky natural sweetener was a popular product in everything from cakes to tea and was even used as a natural medicine. Unfortunately, it didn’t survive the environmental changes caused by humans: honey became the glaring victim of the global colony collapse disorder, which was triggered by pollution, rising water temperatures and loss of habitat.
In the Araña Caves of Spain, one can find an 8000-year-old cave painting of a honey collector.
Back in the day, chocolate was everybody’s favourite guilty pleasure. But it, too, suffered the tragic destiny of falling victim to massive droughts around the world. Dry weather in West Africa, where most cocao was once produced, led to substantial price increases. By 2030, climate change was responsible for significantly reducing chocolate’s accessibility in the global food economy.
During the Aztec Empire, the cacao bean was a form of currency.
Once an integral part of morning routines in the West, coffee provided the caffeine kick we needed to get ready for the day. Although it was responsible for collective bad breath and sleep disorders, coffee also possessed the unique ability to catalyse social situations of any kind. Sadly, pest infestations, deforestation and changing weather patterns due to climate change exterminated coffee production.
During the Age of Sail, seamen aboard the British Royal Navy ships made a coffee substitute by dissolving burnt bread in hot water.
In the past, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches were an integrated part of almost every childhood in the North America. As the name suggests, the sticky and popular heart of these sandwiches – peanut butter – consisted almost solely of peanuts. Unfortunately, the peanut plant required constant warm temperatures and rain for five months a year to grow properly. Eventually, climate change made those conditions impossible to meet.
The people of South America made pottery in the shape of peanuts and decorated jars with peanuts as far back as 3,500 years ago.
A policy lab may sound a bit daunting, but in essence it is a space (physical or digital) where people with different skills and perspectives can come together to deep-dive into emerging topics related to policy. In our case, the common thread that ran through all of our policy labs was food policy. Each lab was different, covering topics like gastronomy and culinary identity, food-based dietary guidelines and public procurement of healthy and sustainable ingredients.
Some of our inspiration came from following a growing professional body of systems designers, innovation leaders and co-creation facilitators who were eager to open up and rethink policy processes. We also saw a growing interest within the public sector to explore new tools, methods and develop new skills to better support policy change and tackle complex, interconnected problems. Today we’re seeing an even more ambitious push to try to embed these new skills within public administration, building more diverse teams that can support new kinds of policy processes.
In chapter 2, you’ll learn about exciting approaches from around the world. You can pick and choose those that make sense according to your purpose. But before that, here are some tips and learnings from the NFPL.
Setting up a policy lab takes multiple ingredients... and one of them, in particular, is hard work. But equally important is a high level of ambition and a visionary mind.
It all starts with building your
Trust also applies to the institution that backs your activities. By financing the Nordic Food Policy Lab, the Nordic Council of Ministers made a conscious decision to invest in a project that may have, under different conditions, never seen the light of day. The backing of the prime ministers meant that we had full backing from all five of the Nordic countries that we represented. Since “lab thinking” was a new concept at the Nordic Council of Ministers, the Nordic Food Policy Lab was viewed with curiosity (and a healthy dose of skepticism). This was because the Lab had an exploratory and fluid structure that was hard to pin down. Without trust and
How you select, organise, and present your content is vital to hosting successful policy labs. This makes
When considering themes for your policy lab, dare to ask the challenging questions. This means openly discussing the elephant in the room. Pay close attention to framing your questions in a way that engages rather than alienates your policy lab participants. Another thing to keep in mind is to ensure that your themes are grounded in the scientific evidence.
Our approach when determining themes for our labs was to look at
This all takes
When doing something that has never been done before, you’ll need to draw on the
Don’t just invite unusual suspects because they’re a nice part of the decor. Be sure to integrate and involve alternative voices into the conversations. No matter who they are, go the extra mile and prepare your speakers and presenters with the right amount of information that they will require to make their messages loud and clear. We set the tone by calling everyone that decided to play with us a
Policy labs may be one-off events, but they should feed into a
Over the course of three years, the Nordic Food Policy Lab co-curated more than 30 digital and in-person labs and exchanges where 1200+ solutionists from around the world took the opportunity to rethink food policies by sharing their knowledge, actions, and what they learnt. Take a look below.
NOW FOR THE PRACTICAL BIT...
So how do you actually put lab thinking into practice? And what methods can you use to inform future food policy? When it comes to an initiative, we often hear about the outcome and not the process. But it’s also important to expose the inner workings of a policy lab so that others can take the idea and run with it.
We’ve done some of the hard work for you. The Nordic Food Policy Lab has hand-picked a diverse array of interesting methods for igniting dialogue, co-creating solutions or new directions and unravelling complex issues. Keep in mind that policy labs take different shapes and forms. Below, we look at eleven different methods and approaches that can be used by anyone innovating the future of food policy. Some labs are one-off events while others are the result of long-term engagement processes.
As you read more about the policy labs, you’ll notice some commonalities between them:
Participatory – Involving diverse groups and engaging different people in the process
Explorative – Trying to understand a complex challenge from different angles
Mutual respect – Acknowledging and appreciating diversity of opinion
Iterative – Past experiences and initiatives inform the development of future processes
Flexible – Adapting to the current context and shifting gears when needed
Nordic Food Policy Lab, NORDIC REGION
The overall aim of the Nordic Food Policy Lab project was to encourage the use of Nordic policy solutions to address the food issues identified as challenges in the UN Agenda 2030 Sustainable Development Goals. The Nordic Food Policy Lab established opportunities to advocate for innovative policies encouraging consumers to choose more sustainable diets.
At the United Nations Climate Summit in 2017, the Nordic Food Policy Lab joined hands with the cultural design studio, Art Rebels, to create the Museum of Food. The Museum of Food simulated a future where some of our favourite foods from our daily lives are gone. This exhibition consisted of nine time capsules that capture the essence of these endangered foods. By vacuum packing the products, the time capsules create both a visually pleasing yet distancing environment to ultimately stimulate reflection and contemplation amongst the audience. The historic and symbolic value of these foods is communicated through various additional objects included in the time capsule, showcasing how the perception and interpretation of these foods have evolved over time.
At the United Nations High-level Political Forum, the Nordic Food Policy Lab and the Swedish Government co-hosted an interactive event held in a restaurant. The attendees – from Mexico to Estonia – were asked to bring their solutions to the table and discuss tangible actions for the successful implementation of food policy through the novel lens of food culture. Each course of the meal fuelled a new topic of discussion around policy and how it influences and is influenced by food culture and gastronomy.
In 2019, the Lab teamed up with 31T and Restauranglabbet to create Taste the Transition: The 1.5°C Food Festival. Attendees co-created a climate-smart menu from a colourful spectrum of bite-sized foods. The combinations were then entered into an app and projected onto a big screen for others to see. The policy lab merged technology and gastronomy to demonstrate the power of dietary change.
One of the most inspiring take-aways from the Taste the Transition events was to see the engagement that was created when people were invited to be playful and create climate-solutions based on everyday food choices. What we ended up with were essentially deeply personal and future-proofed tasting menus, born out of a curiosity spurred by irresistible ingredients and a magical mix of chef + interaction design + policy inspiration.
Nordic Food Policy Lab
The Danish-Icelandic artist Olafur Eliasson once said that “Facts are one part; just as guilt does not inspire initiative, people will not act on facts alone. We are inspired to act by emotional and physical experience.” When it comes to complex issues, it is easy to feel numb to the startling statistics and daunting challenges that lie in front of us. According to Stephen Bennett from the UK government’s Policy Lab, art can help us engage with policy processes in three different waysBennett, 2018: https://apolitical.co/en/solution_article/role-art-policymaking:
Creative approaches to policy making by moving us away from conventional thinking.
The International Panel Of Experts On Sustainable Food Systems, Europe
In 2016, IPES-Food launched a three-year process to co-develop a Common Food Policy vision, a holistic framework. The purpose of the Common European Food Policy is to reinvent public policies and respond to challenges in European food systems. Policy labs were held at local and regional levels in order to collect the views of multiple stakeholders. The labs were supplemented with extensive research and scientific opinions.
A total of four local labs were held in four European cities. Each lab was co-ordinated by local partners such as research institutions, municipal governments, international organisations and foundations. The policy labs had three unique elements: 1) introduction to specific food systems challenges by invited speakers; 2) parallel working group discussions that would deep-dive into issues such as rural-urban linkages and scaling policy interventions; and 3) a discussion that brought all the different perspectives together.
Another cluster of five policy labs took place in Brussels as well as one at the EU Food and Farming Forum. Each lab took place over a two-day timeframe. A moderator kept the working group discussions going, collecting ideas from their table. These were then presented in plenary. From there, the proposals were carried over to the next labs for discussion.
At the labs, a traffic light approach was taken to reach consensus: Red light = not good, yellow light = improve, green light = go ahead. The process was iterative, enabling other participants to join in the discussions and add their opinions.
After collecting all the proposals, IPES-Food included the proposals that got the green light into the report. Background research was conducted on all the proposals. Afterwards, some of the yellow light proposals were considered. In total, the labs generated 83 proposals for a common food policy for the EU. At least 80% of the proposals came directly from the participants at the policy labs.
Stakeholders were invited based on IPES-Food’s request to involve local actors who had already participated in the debate around the Milan food policy and its implementation. The selection of participants also followed the principles of Responsible Research and Innovation, fundamental criteria also utilised to develop the food policy, involving actors from four different groups: local authorities, civil society, private sector, academia.
The Common Food Policy for the European Union’s vision was finalised in 2019. It presents a direction of travel for the whole food system, bringing together the various sectoral policies that affect food production, processing, distribution, and consumption, and refocusing all actions on the transition to sustainability.
A spin-out of the IPES-Food policy labs is the creation of a coalition of 60 organisations with an executive board that is now pushing for the implementation of the EU Common Food Policy.
Former Policy Advisor, IPES-Food
The labs and their participatory approach allowed a wide range of ideas to emerge, be tested and articulated. The labs' structure allowed all participants – including policy-makers, NGOs, and researchers, among others – to present and discuss their solutions in a horizontal way, eliminating hierarchies and structures they normally face in their daily work. This allowed ambitious proposals to be gathered while also testing their feasibility with a diverse and multidisciplinary group. Finally, the labs allowed consensus to emerge and have been a cornerstone that has underpinned the impact of the report.
IPES Food used a method called collective intelligence. Collective intelligence is shared or group intelligence that emerges from the collaboration, collective efforts, and involvement of many individuals. This method can be used in consensus based decision making in large groups of people. According to NESTA, an innovation foundation, collective intelligence depends on numerous thingsSaunders and Mulgan, 2017: https://media.nesta.org.uk/documents/governing_with_collective_intelligence.pdf:
Observation – The ability to see, hear and sense through data flows and feedback of all kinds.
Creation – The ability to imagine, innovate and design.
Attentio – The ability to focus on the right things.
Memory – The ability to remember (and not to repeat past mistakes).
Analysis – The ability to think and reason.
Judgement – The ability to judge, in conditions of uncertainty, and the ability to be wise.
Collective intelligence initiatives around the world have been used for the following purposes:
Food Systems Dialogues, INTERNATIONAL
In 2018 the Food Systems Dialogues (FSDs) were launched by the World Economic Forum, the World Business Council on Sustainable Development (WBCSD), the Food and Land Use Coalition (FOLU), EAT, and the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN). A small secretariat is based in Oslo, Norway.
Food Systems Dialogues provide a forum for systems-based problem solving among food systems stakeholders from different sectors. The dialogues offer opportunities to broaden understanding, identify new actions and encourage joint efforts around concrete solutions. They facilitate highly participatory dialogue and debate among small groups of diverse participants (usually 8-10 people) who would not usually have the chance to interact. This interaction increases trust amongst stakeholders and provides the conditions for greater alignment and systemic actions. In doing, so Food Systems Dialogues contribute towards greater convergence on the means to pursue food systems transformations and increase the likelihood for co-operative action towards achieving the agreed outcomes.
The approach of the Food Systems Dialogues has been chosen by the Special Envoy of the United Nations Food Systems Summit 2021 as the preferred means of enabling the engagement of multiple stakeholders in the transformation of food systems all around the world. In November 2020, all Member States have been invited to organise three stages of Food Systems Dialogues to shape pathways towards sustainable food systems in preparation for the Summit. Furthermore, all those who want to contribute to the preparation of the Summit are encouraged to organise independent Food Systems Dialogues. The ‘Food Systems Dialogues’ have therefore evolved into ‘Food Systems Summit Dialogues’, building on the experience and tools developed since 2018.
As of early 2021, 43 dialogues have been convened, in 23 countries, across 6 continents, engaging 2651 food systems practitionersThis does not include Food Systems Summit Dialogues..
From these events, an overarching vision for food system transformation has been developed and five themes, each with a set of recurring ‘red threads’, have emerged. Two Red-Thread Synthesis Reports have been prepared. The first report covered the period 2018 – 2019 where four themes where identified, with a second synthesis report covering the period January 2020 – July 2020. This second synthesis introduced a fifth theme and reflects interactions between COVID19 and food systems.
The Food Systems Dialogues have helped to connect local and global discourse on food systems transformation and to engage a wide range of stakeholders in this transformation. The method to prepare and run multi-stakeholder dialogues on food systems has been standardised to enable a franchised approach of the Food Systems Dialogues. In October 2019, a ‘Dialogues in a Box Toolkit’ was launched. This toolkit included key resources and a common reporting template. In May 2020, as a result of COVID19, this toolkit was modified to also allow for dialogues to be convened virtually.
Curator, Food Systems Dialogues
Inclusive – The FSDs are founded on a recognition of the importance of creating interaction between stakeholders. The FSDs aim to achieve diverse representation in a spirit of welcoming inclusivity.
Systematic approach – The FSDs believe that the transformation of food systems requires a systematic approach; no single actor or group of actors can achieve the change required, and transformation in all areas must be achieved simultaneously.
Science-based – The FSDs are committed to being a space in which proposals for food systems transformation are supported by data and scientific evidence.
Locally-anchored – FSD events and proposals should strive to reflect local culture, language and norms, and emphasise that people who are affected by the actions must be willing to buy into them.
A safe space – Despite a degree of consensus on what food systems transformation looks like, there is insufficient action; the FSDs are a space where roadblocks and disagreements can be openly explored.
Nordic Food Systems Transformation Dialogues, NORDIC REGION
In 2019 and 2020, a series of five interactive dialogues were held in Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden. This roadshow built on the findings of the 2019 Nordic food systems for improved health and sustainability report by the Stockholm Resilience Centre, which applied the findings of the EAT-Lancet Commission on Food, Planet, and Health in a Nordic context. A total of 115 actors representing 86 organisations participated in the interactive dialogues.
The Nordic Food Systems Transformations Dialogues were set up in three steps:
Step 1: Ahead of the Nordic Food Systems Transformations Dialogues, researchers from the Stockholm Resilience Centre designed a Nordic food system analysis in line with the EAT-Lancet report. The outcome of this analysis was a report that 1) synthesised the current evidence base on healthy and sustainable food in Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden, 2) proposed Nordic food system targets based on a translation of the global EAT-Lancet targets, and 3) benchmarked current food system performance in the Nordics against these food system targets.
Step 2: The researchers leading this development of the Nordic food system analysis met with different stakeholder groups that represented diverse parts of the food system to share findings from the analysis. This provided a key forum for the exchange of information where stakeholders were introduced to the latest scientific evidence on sustainable food systems, while the research team was able to learn about stakeholder perspectives and plans regarding sustainable food systems in the Nordic region.
Step 3: One-day dialogues were held in each of the five Nordic countries, bringing together a mix of policy makers, business representatives, civil society, researchers, producer organisations, consumer representatives, funders, and youth organisations in order to discuss four food system futures: reduced red meat intake, increased consumption of nuts and legumes, moves towards local food systems, and full integration into global markets. These four futures were chosen because they emerged from the discussions described in step 2 as highly contested issues among stakeholders. During the one-day dialogues, participants were assigned to small groups and given 40 minutes to discuss each of the four food futures. They were asked to capture their insights on a food systems grid. The goal of the dialogues was to understand the diverse perspectives and interests that stakeholders held about these specific food system futures.
Steps 2 and 3 were funded by the Nordic Council of Ministers.
Each of the participating countries was presented with a summary from their dialogue. These summaries highlighted the benefits, trade-offs, barriers and uncertainties related to the four food futures discussed. This was complemented in a Nordic analysis, in which the results of all five dialogues were examined together. This Nordic analysis highlighted potential pathways towards sustainable dietary and food system changes. This information can be used to influence national policy making in the five Nordic countries.
A series of four insight papers were published on the back of the dialogues, explaining in more detail the findings from the project. Stakeholders were also invited to join a series of online webinars to learn about and discuss the project’s findings.
Dr. Amanda Wood
Project Manager of the Nordic Food Systems Transformation Dialogues, Stockholm Resilience Centre
It takes significant time to build and maintain networks across different stakeholder groups, but the result of a co-created lab is so much richer than one that relies on a single knowledge source.
The Nordic Food Systems Transformation Dialogues co-produced pathways towards sustainable dietary changes in the Nordic Region. Co-production of knowledge is the contribution of multiple knowledge sources and capacities from different stakeholders spanning the science–policy–society interface with the goal of co-creating knowledge and information to inform decision-making.
Principles of successful knowledge co-productionWood, Halloran and Gordon, unpublishedNordström and others, 2020: https://www.nature.com/articles/s41893-019-0448-2.epdf?shared_access_token=7ZtjeGxdHenejwrW_dHPntRgN0jAjWel9jnR3ZoTv0PU1D54ZfzzNCx7gqZsmyU_5x0EF__gwF3mMBwBgRGdzqykq_MGI4gNajKKTyUJ7hJRHrgng8z24cpuaeoPSji8uvkHXULwoTOQMO5fmkWWmw%3D%3D :
Context-based – the process is embedded into the context that it aims to address.
Pluralistic – the process is appropriate and the participation by stakeholders is diverse.
Goal-oriented – the process has clearly articulated goals that are mutually beneficial for the participants.
Interactive – the process encourages trust and relationship-building.
Future Trends in Food in the Nordic-Baltic Region Project, NORDIC-BALTIC REGION
In 2020, the Nordic Council of Ministers’ Latvian office convened food systems experts from the Nordic-Baltic region to look into the megatrends influencing the region and its food systems. This exercise sought to highlight gaps in knowledge and awareness in the future of food, nutrition, health and sustainability
The megatrends were determined through a number of interactions with stakeholders in the project and externally:
Step 1: In February 2020, the project team took part in the 24-hour Hackathon on Future Food in Riga, Latvia. The hackathon provided a platform for connecting students, food innovators, start-up founders and leading industry experts to brainstorm, build and validate new ideas that could potentially transform the food sector. Hackathon participants developed project ideas within the following four sectors: food waste, circular shift, new food, and digitalisation. At the end of the event, the project team listened to the different groups pitch their final project ideas. Around 100 people attended the hackathon, mainly from Nordic and Baltic countries.
Step 2: Following the hackathon, the project team met for one day at the Nordic Council of Ministers’ Office in Riga to generate more ideas for megatrends. The first part of the workshop focussed on coming up with megatrends influencing the Nordic-Baltic region. From this list, each participant was asked to choose and rank what they felt were the top three megatrends. The second part of the workshop used Sitra’s 2020 megatrends updateSitra, 2020: https://www.sitra.fi/en/news/here-they-are-the-most-important-trends-of-the-2020s/ as a conversation starter to explore how these relate to the future of the Nordic-Baltic food system.
Step 3: A review of the current literature on the emerging themes generated during the hackathon and workshop helped to create eight distinct megatrends.
Step 4: After completing these steps, the megatrend descriptions were developed. Project members and external experts were invited to comment on the megatrends and suggest improvements.
Through the workshops, eight different megatrends influencing food systems in the Baltic-Nordic Region were identified:
Project Manager, Future Trends in Food in the Nordic-Baltic Region Project
Futurism is a necessary additive when talking about common goals and values in terms of our food systems. Thinking about the future can help to overcome barriers and prejudices as well as boost a productive ideation that leads to solutions. Such an exercise is great fun too, which is just as important in food policy as taste is in food.
In essence, a megatrend is a general direction of development, consisting of several phenomena, or a wide-ranging process of change. Megatrends illuminate familiar aspects of life. These are the changes we already see around us that are likely to continue happening tomorrow. Examining megatrends is just one of many anticipatory thinking and foresight toolsGrivins and others, 2020: http://norden.diva-portal.org/smash/get/diva2:1506755/FULLTEXT01.pdf.
Project Disrupt, INTERNATIONAL
The Project Disrupt consultative process used a modified Delphi technique — a qualitative, prospective research methodology from the field of futures studies. This method relies on expertise and intuition to brainstorm and filter a set of ideas about the future through three successive rounds of research to elicit insights about which of these ideas have the most promising potential to have a transformative impact. The aim of the study outcomes is to guide concrete strategic investments towards high-potential innovation areas that are suitable for local contexts, and to develop strategies to address the social and other barriers they will likely encounter.
Experts in the field of innovation and sustainable food systems were invited to comment on innovative thinking and the new ideas needed to propel the changes necessary to secure a future of improved nutrition in low-resource contexts. Project Disrupt addressed the main question: Which innovations can be game-changers in making affordable, safe and nutritious foods available in an environmentally sustainable way by 2030?
Three food system settings were chosen as entry points: urban Bangladesh, semi-arid rural Ethiopia, and tropical coastal Mozambique. These contexts were chosen because they are high-priority contexts where nutrition and environmental challenges pose particular barriers for development.
Each participant was asked to complete three online surveys over the course of three months. Project Disrupt was kicked off with an introductory webinar where the setup, survey, methodology and guidelines were set forth. A second webinar occurred four weeks later where results of the first round were presented and discussed and guidelines for the second round were provided. A third and final webinar was held at the end of the three months to present and discuss the results. The total time commitment for the participants was five hours over a period of three months.
85 innovations surfaced from the Project Disrupt Delphi study. In-depth assessments, including transition-to-impact maps, for 20 diverse innovations across technological, nature-based, and policy/ institutional themes were also developed. Essential actions along transition pathways were identified and can be used to inform action strategies. Cross-pollination between experts, innovations, and contexts was a motivating benefit of the process and resulted in a constructive exchange of solutions.
The Delphi consensus-building methodology did not lead to the surfacing of previously unimaginable solutions; rather, it emphasised that existing technologies, when contextualised in place and analysed across environmental, health, and social impact criteria, have significant potential to support positive transformation. The process also revealed that ‘game changing’ is also about building portfolios of synergistic interventions, creating enabling environments, facilitating flexibility, and supporting interactions across value chains.
Delphi study participant and President and Founder of Food Future Strategies
If groups of stakeholders like to engage in a “virtual lab environment” to generate consensus around the selection of game-changing innovations that address malnutrition and environmental impact relevant to a particular context, the partners have developed a “Delphi Toolkit”, available to everyone. It is possible to adjust the first step which asks the Delphi participants to source relevant innovations. They can find these on the new Food Systems Solution portal (IFSS portal), which contains descriptions of 100+ innovations from previous studies, from the Action Tracks of the Food System Summit and other groups. Additional innovations are regularly being added to the portal, as are concrete examples of solutions from various countries. This open-source catalogue of innovations can be used as a starting point for a Delphi study. In addition, the IFSS portal contains another consensus generating tools which can be used to define roadmaps for the implementation of innovations to influence diet in relation to a healthy planet.
Project Disrupt used the Delphi method. The Delphi method is a forecasting process framework based on the results of multiple rounds of questionnaires sent to a panel of experts. Several rounds of questionnaires are sent out to the group of experts, and the anonymous responses are aggregated and shared with the group after each round. The experts are allowed to adjust their answers in subsequent rounds, based on how they interpret the "group response" that has been provided to them. Since multiple rounds of questions are asked and the panel is told what the group thinks as a whole, the Delphi method seeks to reach the correct response through consensus.
WHAT MAKES PROJECT DISRUPT UNIQUE?
Southern Africa Food Lab, SOUTH AFRICA
The SAFL brings together diverse, influential stakeholders in southern African food systems in order to respond to systemic issues in creative ways and to inspire change in how we think and act on complex social challenges. The purpose of the SAFL is to facilitate interaction, communication, and collaboration between different stakeholders, including those with conflicting interests, in order to design, implement, and highlight the need for coherent, systematic responses to the food system through collaborative learning and experimental action.
The Future Food project TCP process consists of five steps. The first four steps of the five-step approach to TSP were navigated over the course of a year:
Step 1: Convene a team from across the whole system – The Southern Africa Food Lab recruited a scenario team comprising 25 influential people from government, agribusiness, farmers’ unions, nongovernmental organisations, social movements, and academia. Although each person only held a deep but narrow slice of perspective, this team was chosen because they collectively held a 360-degree perspective of what was happening in the southern African food system.
Step 2: Observe what is happening – To do this, the team asked three main questions: What is the most recent data saying about the food system? What perceptions do role-players from different parts of the food system hold? And what are the day-to-day experiences of ordinary South Africans? These questions were answered through a literature review, a series of interviews, and a series of interactions with people whose experiences the 25-person scenario team would not normally encounter first-hand.
Step 3: Construct stories about what could happen – In several iterations, the scenario team produced four scenarios. Each of these scenarios explored the possible interplay over the ensuing 15 years between the key uncertainties identified in the interviews. Storylines from the scenarios were produced, as well as multimedia materials developed to make the scenarios accessible to a wider audience.
Step 4: Discover what can and must be done – The Southern Africa Food Lab and the scenario team launched the scenarios at a workshop, where a wider circle of people from business, government, civil society, and academia together considered questions such as: What would it mean for me, personally, if any of these events, sequences of events, or outcomes came to pass? What would it mean for my organisation? What would it mean for South Africa? How could I exercise my leadership to influence the food system in a desirable direction? And what are the things I cannot do alone, but that we could do together, to create the kind of future food system we want?
Step 5: Act to transform the system – The scenario teams continue in their individual roles and use their newfound knowledge and experiences to influence the transformation of food systems.
The TCP process provided critical reflection of the implementation plan for the South African Food Security and Nutrition policy by situating the scenarios as the context and feeding into the process designed to develop the implementation mode. The TCP also informed a strategic discussion with the Free State Land Reform Committee to reach a clear, concrete, proactive, locally applicable and realistic plan for the co-operation and direction needed to address the real needs for land and transforming the agricultural sector.
The Southern Africa Food Lab has provided support to private sector representatives that have been involved in the construction of the scenarios to practically respond within their corporate strategies.
Southern Africa Food Lab
We used the TSP to help us focus on enabling open communication, honest speaking and genuine listening. This allowed people to take responsibility for their own learning and ideas and created a “safe-enough space” or “container” for people to voice their assumptions, question their previous perceptions, judgements and worldviews, and change the way they think as they looked towards the future. The TSP can generate new ideas or solutions that go beyond what anyone had thought of before and create a different level of understanding of people and problems.
The Southern Africa Food Lab used transformative scenario planning in some of their policy labs. Transformative scenario planning is an approach that brings together relevant stakeholders from different, often conflicting, perspectives. People work to discuss pressing sets of problems to build stories that illustrate a range of potential futures that could come from taking different paths. By doing this, the people involved learn more about their present situation, and what the dynamics in a specific situation are doing to help or hinder progress toward a more equitable and climate resilient future.
WHO Regional Office for Europe, EUROPE
The Expert Meeting on Dietary Patterns for Health and Sustainability in the WHO European Region was held in 2019 to support member states in formulating national dietary guidelines that consider the multiple dimensions of sustainability. The overall objective was to create a framework document that includes actions, tools and best practices.
In the first step, online interviews were conducted with 19 experts from European countries to discuss their views on multiple dimensions of food sustainability and health. Participants needed to be researchers with experience in the field of food sustainability or public health, or policymakers. These individual interviews were held in the lead up to the meeting.
During the participatory expert meeting, 29 experts participated in smaller nominal group technique (NGT) groups (5-6 people in each). Two questions were asked in the NGT groups: (1) In your opinion, what are the desirable characteristics of a healthy and sustainable dietary pattern, and what aspects should be included in food-based dietary guidelines? and (2) What actions and policies should be implemented for a healthier and more sustainable food system? By themselves, the experts were asked to write their own ideas about these issues. The participants then shared their ideas with the group. All the ideas generated by the participants were recorded verbatim on a flipchart. The participants were invited to provide either verbal explanations or more detailed information, and they also expressed their agreement or disagreement with the presented ideas presented by the other participants. After this step was completed, each group aimed to reach a consensus on the five to ten most important ideas for each issue and to rank them in order of importance.
Following the NGT, focus groups were held to learn more about the actions recommended in the NGT groups, the resources needed to implement those actions, and the stakeholders that should be involved.
The interviews, NGT and focus groups helped to identify various data gaps and necessary actions, including: feasible, evidence-based guidelines and policies developed by multisectoral expert teams; better co-operation between different stakeholder groups; sustainable public food procurement; capacity-building interventions; and well-implemented monitoring and evaluation systems.
Based on the expert meeting, a programme of work featuring seven different workstreams in the field of healthy and sustainable diets was developed by the WHO Europe NCD Office.
The Expert Meeting on Dietary Patterns for Healthy and Sustainability in the WHO European Region used the nominal group technique (NGT). NGT is considered an alternative to brainstorming that helps ensure that important information is not overlooked. NGT generally involves four key stages: silent idea generation, round robin, clarification and voting (ranking). This consensus method can be directed at problem-solving, idea-generation, or determining prioritiesMcMillan and others, 2016: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4909789/.
The Global Alliance on the Future of Food & Salzburg Global Seminar, INTERNATIONAL
The Salzburg Process was planned to bring together 300 diverse global stakeholders on “The Climate Emergency and the Future of Food” in Salzburg, Austria in May 2020. The Process was driven by the need to accelerate the actions, investments, and policies needed for healthy, equitable, resilient, and diverse food systems. Delivered as a series of online events rather than an in-person international dialogue as originally planned, The Salzburg Process aimed to create a space where ideas, issues, tensions, convergences and divergences related to food systems and climate change could be explored and discussed. The process centred on connecting individuals and networks and to, where possible, build strategic alignment on key areas for transformation at the nexus of climate and food. The process was made up of thought-provoking presentations and curated conversations with the exchange of knowledge and informal interactions.
Overall, The Salzburg Process sought to address five key questions:
The virtual process took place over a six-week period. The initial kick-off keynote event featured prominent global experts in the fields of food systems, climate, nutrition, environment, health, and agriculture.
In the days following the kick-off, facilitators led deep-dive discussions into five hot topics – nature-based solutions, just transitions, sustainable and healthy diets, industrial livestock production, and food loss and waste – as well as four cross-cutting levers of change: policy reform, financial reform, practice reform, and public narratives and strategic political communications.
All participants were given think-pieces/discussion papers written by thought leaders and researchers in advance of the event, helping create common ground by spelling out some of the key areas of contention and different perspectives on solutions that surrounded each of the topics up for discussion.
Participants were then asked to self-select their chosen topic. Present at the deep dive sessions were stakeholders from philanthropy, researchers, grassroots movements, the private sector, farmers and food systems workers, indigenous peoples, government and policymakers, communications, and others. The final day focused on levers of change, and participants from across the hot topics were brought back together for a dialogue on the next steps, including an exploration of the opportunities and challenges.
211 diverse changemakers, experts, and leaders from the local to global levels attended the virtual gathering. What began as a virtual gathering in 2020 continued over the following year to develop a reflection paper, which can be used by participants and others according to their own mission, resources, and capacity. This resulting outcome document – a synthesis of the process, the discussions, the feedback, and key take-aways from the convenors – highlights additional issues, opportunities, and areas of tension that require further dialogue and collaborative exploration.
Executive Director, Global Alliance for the Future of Food
In light of the pandemic, the organisers of The Salzburg Process needed to quickly shift their event to an online format. Here are their top six takeaways from the experience:
World Food Policy Center at Duke University, USA
The World Food Policy Center (WFPC) is a research, education, and convening organisation within Duke University’s Sanford School of Public Policy. Its mission is to advance connected and inclusive food system policy and practice in support of the equity and resilience of local and global food systems. Their theory of change is that relationships and community-led solutions are central to creating sustainable foodways. And, that food systems cannot be equitable at a global level if they are not equitable at the local level.
Relationships focused on leveraging the position of Duke while shifting power to community leaders are at the heart of the WFPC model. Previous research has shown that networks among people and organisations produce and maintain power relationships within communities, often excluding people or organisations led by people of colour. Access to networks can often be restricted as people in positions of power (either by intention or default) work with those who are already in their proximate networks. In instances where these networks are exclusionary, inequalities are often exacerbated at the detriment of projects and organisations. Research on interlocking directorates has shown how power is held within very small groups of people across a range of organisations nationally, and these processes translate to local communities as well. These patterns were also factors in the current project and needed to be addressed head-on to uphold the principles of justice and equity
Working locally in the United States in Durham, North Carolina, the WFPC supported a decolonised food justice planning process. The process began by convening a “Design Team”, intended to bring a Durham-based approach to problem solving and community planning that recognised intersectionality, layered systems, and the need to build common frameworks for lasting solutions. As opposed to bringing together traditional institutional leaders, the Design Team brought together a diverse set of Durham-based voices, including community organisers, food justice advocates, educators, strategic planners, evaluators, and racial equity trainers. This group worked collectively to take on key project elements: building trust, setting goals, creating an overall process, facilitating activity, and establishing terms to move forward with care, intention, and ability to adapt the work from an emergent and relational as opposed to a linear and transactional perspective.
Key elements of the Design Team’s decolonised approach included: 1) co-developing agenda for meetings; 2) beginning and concluding with “centering experiences” such as sharing of personal stories; 3) regular communications to keep connected but consciously not rushing the process (continuing to “move quickly and move slowly” with trust-building guiding the process); 3) leaning into discomfort and being self-reflective to cultivate another way of thinking, feeling and being in the shared space as a team; 4) sharing materials and facilitating discussions that informed the Design Team’s function (e.g. articles on race equity/research methods); 5) responsiveness to stakeholder voices; 6) embracing flexibility (e.g. timeline) and emergent strategies (embracing a shift from food systems to food justice planning); and 7) moving at the speed of trust when relationships need to be nurtured and processes interrogated.
The outcome of the community-led process was that establishing a “plan” for justice in Durham was antithetical to the principles of justice and community leadership. Instead, focusing on building trust and relationship across institutions and community leadership were the MOST critical aspects for long-term systems change. To build these relationships, the team needed to learn how the inequities in Durham came to be. As a result of this process, three key products were developed to understand the history of the inequities in Durham’s food system, how whiteness shows up in food systems efforts, and how relationship can begin to address some of the inequities through innovative equity-focused financing of community-led efforts:
Indigenous Australian activist, artist and academic
The WFPC would advise not to use the word “lab” or “model”, but to approach relationship with humility, seeking to listen and to learn, and to use the power and influence your own institution has for collective benefit.
The WFPC’s original intention was to start up policy innovation labs and to create a bridge between science and policy. They were interested in having policymakers and scientists in the same room and trying to identify disconnects and where policymakers needed more information. As the project evolved, so have their ideas about what is needed. They understood that institutions should use their power to support community leadership. Another evolution of their model had to do with ensuring people most impacted by policy decisions were leading discussions and decisions for equitable policy change, and that institutional leadership will need to continue to lean into shifting its influence from working “on behalf of” communities to working “in support of” and in relationship with communities.
The project A new recipe for school meals explores what a system that is socially, environmentally and economically sustainable can look like. The idea is that school meals can form a model for how the entire food system can be adjusted. In 2019 and 2020, several agencies in the Swedish government and other practitioners in the field identified important areas to address in order to make the system around school meals more sustainable.
Vinnova, the Swedish Innovation Agency and the Swedish Food Agency collaborated with a group of 20 experts that represented government authorities, chefs, producers, civil society organisations, students and businesses. The expert group participated in a number of workshops during the project and contributed with valuable contacts, and expert input. An external design firm was procured to facilitate the process and the design thinking methodology was used. This methodology is particularly successful to understand the user’s needs, obstacles and where there are possibilities to make changes and is seen to be helpful when trying to tackle complex societal challenges that involve several different stakeholders where there are contradictions. The method strengthens the conditions for collaboration between actors and identifies concrete obstacles and opportunities, which has been clear throughout the project.
In step 1 (2019-2020), background research, interviews and a series of workshops were conducted. The design firm facilitated four co-creation workshops, together with the expert group. During these workshops the actors worked on mapping the system in order to deepen the insights about the system and the target groups. The workshops were complemented by background research using published documents on the topic of school food in addition to 78 in-depth interviews with target groups to identify the needs, attitudes, obstacles and driving forces of the target groups. The plan was to also make a lot of observations in schools and its restaurants, but due to Covid-19 it was not possible.
Based on the outcome of the workshops, the background research and the interviews, the project team identified obstacles and patterns and how these patterns are linked to the challenges.
The system map then provided information on eight different places to intervene in the system, so called acupuncture points, that need to be addressed in order to produce and provide more sustainable school meals. As part of mapping the system, policies that affect the system started to be identified. However, the project realised that insights on policy issues will probably be more prominent in the testing phase, where new solutions are to be tested to address the acupuncture points (phase 2).
In step 2 (2021), the testing phase, solutions that address the acupuncture points will be developed and tested in four municipalities that will act as system demonstrators. The solutions proved successful in the demonstrators should be able to be scaled up nationally and should contribute to social, ecological and economic sustainability. To do this, municipalities were invited to apply to become demonstrators for sustainable school meals. Twenty-five municipalities applied and four municipalities were selected.
The insights from Phase 1 were analysed in detail and were made available to the public (see here).
Vinnova is currently working with four municipalities that have been selected through an open call to serve as testing grounds for sustainable school meals. With the support of the National Food Agency, Vinnova and several other national actors, these municipalities will test innovative solutions to make meals sustainable - from the farmer to the classroom and back again. The experiences of these four municipalities will be used to inspire all municipalities in Sweden to use school meals as a tool to approach the UN Sustainable Development Goals and the goals in other sustainability and food strategies.
Programme Manager, Vinnova
Vinnova uses a mission approach to their work on sustainable food systems. This is a way to direct multi-stakeholder innovation towards a common understanding of how best to solve our urgent grand challenges. Missions aim to bring about change across a system in a way that benefits society by addressing the complex, systemic and urgent problems that affect our lives.
Seeing the “big picture” is necessary in order to understand the scale and scope of our grand challenges. We also need to zoom in to understand how we can set goals for food system changes in particular contexts in order to tackle these challenges. Reaching these goals will take an “all hands on deck” approach, and systemic changes will be needed to tackle these complex and multi-faceted grand challenges. This means that we need to co-ordinate our action to achieve the desired change. Governments, particularly public innovation agencies, can play a key leadership role in co-ordinating this action.
For more information about a mission approach, check out the Cookbook for systems change – Nordic innovation strategies for sustainable food systems
The 1,5° food festival merged technology and gastronomy to inspire everyday climate activism through food. A democratic process to explore what sustainable diets can look like for different people in different regions of the world. Everyday food heroes were invited to choose between 64 sustainable food ingredients and design the best tasting food combinations. The experience was a real-life bite into a more diverse food future with 249,984 possible flavour combinations.
The 1,5° food festival on 5 December 2019, was part of the Nordic Climate Action weeks in Stockholm running in parallel to the UN Climate negotiations in Madrid. The Nordic Food Policy Lab also hosted and a series of talks on the theme “Taste the transition” and a policy lab investigating how new food policy tools can be used to translate climate ambitions into climate action.
A Nordic Food Policy Lab x Another New Design Studio x Restauranglabbet collaboration
The 11 examples of policy labs in chapter 2 demonstrate not only the range of methods that can be used to transform food systems, but also the diversity of actors involved. Food labs can exist at all levels – from the hyper local to international settings. Due to the contextuality of each of the policy labs, it’s important not to cut and paste but rather to draw inspiration and build on what others have done. You never know until you try.
Below, we have distilled some of the tips and tricks that can be used to further develop your food policy lab. And remember, you’re not doing a panel discussion – you’re designing the framework needed for progressive policy discussions. Digital or in real life, start with the content and form – and remember that communication can be the key driver in engaging your community, staging the agenda and sharing insights.
Agenda: what's your mission? How can we make this relevant? For who? You have to know what motivates the people you invite. Don’t think that your agenda is interesting to them just because it's interesting to you.
Cast your crew: who do you need to play with in order to make this happen?
Staging: create a wow effect – a safe and inspiration space that makes everyone shine! Collaborate with designers, artists and chefs.
Diverse line up of Solutionists: the combination of different perspectives, backgrounds and skills are important when you're inviting participants for the lab.
Difficult questions: you need to ask difficult questions in order to move forward. Spend time researching which methods and/or moderator to use in order to get the most out of the experience.
Learning: compile and share the new knowledge that has been produced directly when the session is still top-of-mind. This means that everyone can start new conversations and discussions in other networks.
Be generous, open-minded and kind!
Some great advice on how to set up, execute and conclude a policy lab:
Want to learn more? Read more about the Nordic Food Policy Lab’s work:
→ Solutions menu: A Nordic guide to sustainable food policy
The Solutions Menu includes 24 policies that aim to change food consumption and intends to inspire new and robust policy responses to the societal and environmental challenges caused by our current food systems.
→ What can the Covid-19 pandemic tell us about resilient food systems?
This think piece is intended to stimulate a discussion around the vulnerabilities of the Nordic food system and to highlight the importance of developing a systems-based resilience strategy to ensure that the Nordic Region can bounce forward after future shocks.
→ Eight megatrends in Nordic-Baltic food systems
This research paper uses megatrends as a way to reflect on the future of food in the Nordic-Baltic region. Here, futures thinking is understood as an informed reflection on the major changes that will occur in the coming decades in all areas of society.
→ Cookbook for systems change – Nordic innovation strategies for sustainable food systems
This strategy cookbook provides the ingredients you need to create your own recipes for food systems change. It contains templates for developing interventions, guides for how to get started and examples of cross-cutting projects. Focusing on the role of a strong public innovation system, this cookbook describes a so-called mission approach for deliberate food systems transformation.
→ Joining Forces: Takeaways from the Designing Your Menu of Food Policy Solutions
This brief is a detailed account of some of the discussions that took place during the ‘Designing your menu of food policy solutions for sustainable diets policy lab’ at the EAT Stockholm Food Forum in 2018.
→ Harvesting bold solutions: Ten takeaways from the policy lab ”Serving up solutions for agenda 2030” at the UN HLPF
This brief summarizes the co-production of new food policy insights at the ”Serving-Up Solutions for Agenda 2030” policy lab at the UN High-level Political Forum.
→ Setting the stage for a sustainable food future Seven takeaways from Nordic Food Day at COP23
This brief presents seven main outcomes from Nordic Food Day at COP23.
→ Democratising good food: Mapping Sustainable, Inclusive and Healthy Gastronomy Initiatives
This brief maps sustainable, inclusive and healthy gastronomy initiatives around the world.
→ In the spirit of collaboration: Transforming Baltic diets
This brief is an account of the outcomes of the "Towards healthy and sustainable food systems in the Baltic region” workshop held in Riga, Latvia in 2019.
Monocle’s The Foreign Desk:
Nordic FoodTech podcast series “Taste the transistion”:
This handbook was written by the team members of the Nordic Food Policy Lab:
Afton Halloran (author and editor) is an independent consultant in sustainable food system transitions and researcher at the University of Copenhagen. She was formally an external consultant to the Nordic Food Policy Lab. Afton is also the host of the Nordic Talks podcast, a podcast about innovative solutions to the UN Sustainable Development Goals in the Nordics and abroad.
Marie Persson (author) was the project manager of the Nordic Food Policy Lab. Marie now works at the Swedish Agency for Economic and Regional Growth (Tillväxtverket) with inter-agency and cross-sector coordination in the implementation of the Swedish Food Strategy. Governance innovation, knowledge development and knowledge dissemination is her focus.
Elisabet Skylare (author) was the communications strategist of the Nordic Food Policy Lab. She led on the design of the agenda-setting playgrounds and creative collaborations. Elisabet is a senior communication advisor at the Nordic Council of Ministers with significant experience in using communication as a driver for transdisciplinary innovation.
Mads Frederik Fischer-Møller (author) is a professor in food policy at Scotland’s Rural College and current head of the Future Food Systems Challenge Centre. He is a former senior policy advisor for food at the Nordic Council of Ministers and the Nordic Food Policy Lab. Mads was recruited to work in Scotland with the ambition of helping Scotland transition their food system with inspiration from Nordic food policy solutions.
Suggested citation: Halloran, A., Persson, M., Skylare, E., Fischer Møller, M. (2021) Setting the table: a story of food policy innovation. Nordic Council of Ministers, Copenhagen.
The authors would like to thank everyone who participated in Nordic Food Policy Lab labs, events and conversations. A special thanks to the follow people who contributed to the development of this guide: Francesco Ajena, Alexander Alvsilver, Scott Drimie, Johanna Franzén, Maija Kale, Kaisa Murphy, Arne O’Donoghue, Charlotte Pedersen, Jenny Sjöblom, Amanda Wood, Sarah Zoubek and Mette Agger Tang.
In 2017, the five Nordic prime ministers launched the initiative “Nordic Solutions to Global Challenges”. The objective of the initiative was to help meet the UN Sustainable Development Goals by sharing Nordic knowledge and experiences that touched on three themes: Nordic Green, Nordic Gender Effect and Nordic Food & Welfare.
The six flagship projects under the initiative translate words into action:
Prime minister of Norway
The Nordic prime ministers launched their outreach initiative “Nordic Solutions to Global Challenges” at the research centre run by the Institute of Marine Research in the tiny Norwegian fishing community of Austevoll.
Setting the table – a story of food policy innovation
Afton Halloran (editor), Marie Persson, Elisabet Skylare, Mads Frederik Fischer-Møller
ISBN 978-92-893-6921-3 (PDF)
ISBN 978-92-893-6922-0 (ONLINE)
© Nordic Council of Ministers 2021
Layout: Mette Agger Tang
Cover illustration: Prang Lerttaweewit, Another New Design Studio
Where are the bold policies to follow, support or even lead the transition to a healthier and more sustainable food system? This guide is the conclusion to a conversation started by the Nordic prime ministers with Nordic Solutions to Global Challenges in 2017. Since then, the flagship project, Nordic Food Policy Lab, has staged dialogues, set the table for new encounters, co-produced knowledge and insights, and advocated for the potential of innovative policy to change the world. Throughout the pages of this guide, you'll find a diverse array of 11 methods from around the world, for igniting dialogue, co-creating solutions or new directions and unravelling complex issues. The information within the pages of this guide is, therefore, meant to ensure that policymakers do not stand in a position where they see the daunting scale of the problem but feel unequipped to deal with it.
Nordic co-operation is one of the world’s most extensive forms of regional collaboration, involving Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden, and the Faroe Islands, Greenland and Åland.
Nordic co-operation has firm traditions in politics, economics and culture and plays an important role in European and international forums. The Nordic community strives for a strong Nordic Region in a strong Europe.
Nordic co-operation promotes regional interests and values in a global world. The values shared by the Nordic countries help make the region one of the most innovative and competitive in the world.
The Nordic Council of Ministers
Ved Stranden 18
Read more Nordic publications on www.norden.org/publications