Periodic Reporting for period 3 - SUSFANS (Metrics, Models and Foresight for European Sustainable Food and Nutrition Security)
Reporting period: 2018-04-01 to 2019-03-31
SUSFANS focuses on a number of core questions: How can we improve the food system of the EU, especially from the perspective of social, environmental and economic sustainability? How can we balance and encompass different views on balanced consumer diets and food and nutrition security in the EU? The research approach is built around the development of a set of metrics, models and foresight tools, which can be used to navigate through decisions on measures for achieving sustainable food and nutrition security. This approach results on a holistic, integrated and coherent vision of what entails sustainable food and nutrition security in the EU and globally. It underpins a perspective on how EU policies on farming, fishing, food and nutrition could contribute to that vision with greater efficacy than today.
How SUSFANS works:
The research work in SUSFANS is divided in three pillars, aiming at:
1) Assessing sustainable FNS in the EU using conceptual mapping and innovative metrics for the food system;
2) Modelling sustainable FNS, its outcomes and possible innovation pathways;
3) Foresight and policy guidance for European diets and food systems at large
Based on the main findings from the research project SUSFANS (Metrics, models and foresight for sustainable food and nutrition security in the EU), this policy brief presents recommendations for policy reform and innovations that contribute towards solutions. This brief has benefited from discussions with stakeholders on March 7, 2019, Brussels. SUSFANS (Metrics, models and foresight for sustainable food and nutrition security in the EU) has assessed the sustainability performance of the EU food system, and created foresight on future food production, diets and sustainability impact. SUSFANS worked in and with four EU case study countries: Czech Republic, Denmark, France and Italy.
SUSFANS major findings:
1. An integrated assessment of the sustainability performance of the EU food system should include nutrition & health, and social, economic and environmental sustainability domains. Sustainability of the EU food system requires: balanced and sufficient diets, reduced environmental impact, equitable outcomes and conditions and viable agri-food business. See figure 1.
2. The sustainability performance of EU food system is qualified as “insufficiently future-proof"" (Figure 1). Diets in the EU have to become more environmentally and economically sustainable, as well as more healthy and nutritious. The environmental imprint of EU food production systems is too large –although EU ranks high in a global comparison of technical efficiency.
3. EU food consumption and production reveals nutrition and environment trade-offs. If Europeans would consume 200 kCal less energy from food, it will reduce diet-related disease burdens and possibly 9-10% of global land use and greenhouse gas emissions from the diet. Impacts in the EU are much smaller due to international trade in agriculture and food products.
4. Economic sustainability and social justice are under pressure in the EU food system. For many dimensions of equity and social justice, policy information is on the performance of food systems in the EU is missing.
5. Transformation: Agenda 2030 provides opportunities for moving the EU food system from quantity-driven to quality-driven. In an ageing and wealthier future Europe, new windows appear for sustainable food supply and diets. This provides opportunities for a systems transformation involving food consumption, distribution, trade and production in the EU.
SUSFANS main policy recommendations:
• Develop an EU policy protocol to monitor the health and sustainability impact of food consumption and intake.
• Better enable market decisions that support a transformation to sustainable and healthier food supply and consumption
• Employ intervention strategies which involve experimentation, market intervention and social innovations. Instruments with impact on consumption and production should be combined and maintained long term.
• Reconnect different policies, under an aligned multi-level and multi-dimensional food policy framework in the EU and Member States for a sustainable Europe.
The SUSFANS framework can enable evidence-based decision-making on such integrated food visions and policies, and support the direction of R&I and international collaboration needed to implement such policies.
Cumulative impact of the project
SUSFANS aspires to achieve the following three overall impact outcomes:
1. An analytical framework for a comprehensive assessment of food and nutrition security (FNS) in Europe, centred around the implications of the current diet for the sustainability of agro-food production and consumption in the EU, supports standardised monitoring of FNS in EU;
2. Strengthened capacity of policy makers to formulate longer term policies on the basis of advanced quantitative tools;
3. High-level foresight on the challenges for FNS in the EU in the near future (up to 5 years) and on the longer term (one or more decades ahead).
These impacts reveal that the ambitions of SUSFANS are to inform and change a discourse on sustainable food systems and diets. Rather than providing clear-cut future policy and business solutions in the government sector and the food chain, SUSFANS aims to contribute to a process of social innovation and behaviour change by engaging with government, private sector, civil society and practitioners.
Several principles from responsible research and innovation (RRI) have therefore been implemented in the SUSFANS design in order to ensure that the research is defined in a way that makes it most useful to the end users. Thinking about the ultimate applications of the research in the early stages of the research programme is critical. SUSFANS was not designed as a multi-actor project because of its complexity in going across scientific disciplines. It was considered that the substantial challenges in achieving multidisciplinarity would not benefit from a full joint ownership of the project result with stakeholders. The co-creation and joint learning required within the consortium is an impact in itself and consequently shared at multidisciplinary platforms. The learning from the research process is shared with the wider society through targeted communication and engagement.
Three generic routes for achieving impact have been defined in the report on the SUSFANS Impact Pathways (D11.7). Here, the impact report is developed as case studies on the most prominent routes for each of the three impact outcomes. Table 1 provides the overview of case studies on the impact outcomes.