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Final Report Summary - TRANSMANGO (Assessment of the impact of drivers of change on Europe's food and nutrition security)

Executive Summary:
TRANSMANGO aimed at obtaining a comprehensive picture of the effects of the global drivers of change on European and global food demand and on raw material production. The research focused on the vulnerability and resilience of European food systems in a context of socio-economic, behavioral, technological, institutional and agro-ecological change with the aim to enhance understanding of the new challenges and opportunities that the food sector will face in the future.
TRANSMANGO has created several boundary objects to help reformulate the food and nutrition security debate and take a food systems approach, including a conceptual map of the food system, a vulnerability matrix linking external events to food system components, systems thinking tools addressing dynamic effects in the food system and future scenarios helping in making interventions future-proof.
TRANSMANGO aimed to explore the richness and heterogeneity of the fragmented contemporary European foodscape by examining a number of alternative food initiatives as local case studies. These initiatives are conceptualised as new routines and patterns of connecting and/or reconnecting FNS resources in new ways, leading to new routines and patterns (as well as new social relationships). They represent ‘assemblage’ practices and transition pathways for varied FNS outcomes. Over-arching research questions which guided the case study analysis included: how do the practices and pathways of the initiative reflect novel responses to FNS concerns? To what extent are these novel practices/pathways promising and successful? How relevant is EU-level policymaking in the initiative’s interaction with institutional settings?
Apart from local case studies, the TRANSMANGO consortium examined 5 European cases: (1) bioenergy as a cause for land use competition, (2) organic agriculture as a way to preserve natural and human resources, (3) food poverty as a lens for probing social cohesion and social security, (4) genetically modified organisms as an example of novel technologies, and (5) public procurement as a vehicle for examining governance of food. The analyses revealed that reducing vulnerabilities and enhancing resilience of food systems goes beyond intervention engineering. The systems thinking tools provide a basis for identification of systemic vulnerabilities and an integrated evaluation of interventions, that is, of how interventions acknowledge that there are delays, constraints, non-linearities and feedback loops that often lead to unintended food systems’ responses to disturbances.
Following an analysis of how the science-policy interfaces has functioned in the ongoing policy cycle related to CAP reform post 2020, entry points into this and other policy cycles are suggested and recommendation on how to improve science policy interfaces are formulated and integrated in the roadmap for improved communication between scientists and policy makers.

Project Context and Objectives:
According to the most recent FAO report (2012), over 870 million people (12.5 percent of the global population) are chronically hungry. At the same time, there is an alarming increase in the levels of malnourishment related to unhealthy food consumption trends, which is reflected in the spread of food-related diseases like obesity and nutrient deficiency. European citizens are generally food secure today, but this is not the case for all European citizens. In Europe, 80 million people live below the poverty line and among them, 30 million suffer from malnutrition (Source: Eurostat and European Congress of Experts on Nutrition, 2009).
Against this background, there are important signals that food and nutrition security (FNS) will be threatened by new global challenges linked to resource scarcity, environmental degradation and climate change. Europe is highly dependent on energy and protein imports to sustain its production methods on the one hand and its high – and unsustainable – levels of consumption on the other (Morgan and Sonnino 2010; Marsden and Sonnino 2011).
The vulnerability of European food systems has been explored by several recent foresight studies (e.g., Agrimonde – Paillard et al., 2011; UK Foresight, 2011; SCAR foresight – Freibauer et al., 2011), but there has been no comprehensive evaluation of the vulnerabilities of European food systems vis-à-vis future shocks and stresses, and how these may affect FNS. Generally, foresight studies have focused on aggregate food security, food production and forecasting, giving insufficient attention to the diversity of local situations within the EU and within regions.
Defining food and nutrition security
TRANSMANGO proposes a five-dimensions’ approach. Availability, access and utilization are attributes of food, while stability and control are second level attributes, affecting the first three.
If measured at global level, availability depends on supply and available stocks in relation to global demand. If measured at lower levels, it is related also to trade, as a country may increase its availability through imports, and national availability can be limited by export flows. Access of people to food depends on their entitlements. These entitlements are called direct entitlements when a family can produce its own food, indirect entitlements in case food is procured thanks to an income, transfer entitlements when food is procured without an economic exchange. Utilization is the process that goes from access to food to the benefits it produces. Stability, regards the configurations that the state of the three above mentioned dimensions assume over time. Control refers to the capacity of people or communities to influence the other dimensions.
Vulnerability can be studied in term of three components: exposure, sensitivity and adaptive capacity (Figure A). Adger (2006), for example, defines vulnerability as “the state of susceptibility to harm from exposure to stresses associated with environmental and social change and from the absence of capacity to adapt” (Adger, 2006). The TRANSMANGO model of vulnerability identifies three drivers of system(s)/people vulnerability: root causes, dynamic pressures, hazards (i.e. shocks and stresses), as in the PAR model. Root causes and dynamic pressures act on the system to shape the vulnerability context (the term replaces ‘unsafe environment’ of the PAR model, and it is taken from the ‘sustainable rural livelihoods’ framework). They influence the level of assets, exposure, sensitivity and adaptive capacity to hazards (i.e. shocks and stresses).

Vulnerability of the food system
Accepting that the food system operates in biophysical, socio-cultural, economic, political and technological context, we acknowledge contributions of different disciplines to development of comprehensive conceptual model to assess its vulnerability. We propose to adopt and advance the framework of Ericksen (2007, 2008) by combining insights from many other theoretical frameworks such as multi-perspective transition theory (Geels, 2004, 2011; Geels and Schot, 2007), resilience theory (Resilience Alliance, 2007, 2011), conceptual framework of the economy in the environment (Common and Stagl, 2005) and the sustainable livelihoods approach (DIFD, 1998). More specifically, we have made two contributions to the approach of Ericksen (2007, 2008) by addressing some open issues. First, we have included an analytical distinction of natural and human-made assets, on which the food system activities draws. Second, we have opened up the black box of regulative, normative and cognitive institutions by making the nature of institutional processes and their role in coordination of the dynamic interplay between food system activities, actors and assets an integral part of the analysis.

TRANSMANGO addresses the call “KBBE.2013.2.5-01: Assessment of the impact of global drivers of change on Europe's food security”. In line with the topics of the call, six objectives have been formulated, which correspond to Activity 2.2 Fork to farm: Food, health and wellbeing and the requests mentioned in Area 2.2.5 Environmental impacts and total food chain.
In addition, the project includes strands of research that will contribute to the assessment of the European agricultural research and innovation system and will enhance understanding of the effects of trade relations and certification schemes on agricultural systems in Europe and with trade partner regions. In this sense, the objectives can also be related to Activity 2.1 on Sustainable production and management of biological resources.
The project’s specific objectives include the following:
Objective 1: To design an integrated conceptual framework around FNS that encompasses the food system as a whole - from EU consumers to global ecosystems
• Objective 1.1: To capture the multidimensionality of FNS and the complexity of its drivers
• Objective 1.2: To develop a vulnerability matrix that aims to identify vulnerability dimensions and drivers of vulnerabilities and that facilitates the identification of food system vulnerabilities in a European context – both at the EU and the local level
Objective 2: To develop new system modelling approaches to capture the vast empirical diversity of food securities, vulnerabilities and sovereignties
Objective 3: To improve the assessment of food system vulnerabilities through three specific initiatives:
• Objective 3.1: An exploration of multi-actor scenarios and transition pathways towards improved FNS
• Objective 3.2: The development of a combination of futures methods to scope future contextual change (beyond forecasting) and transition pathways towards more desirable food system configurations
• Objective 3.3: The assessment of the impacts of these transition pathways on European and global food demand and production
Objective 4: To generate a comprehensive picture of the effects of global drivers of change on the European food system
Objective 5: To formulate recommendations for EU policy makers in order to promote social innovation that contributes to medium- and long-term FNS
Objective 6: To disseminate findings amongst a broad range of different stakeholders, including industrial key players in the EU food system, small-scale producers and the third sector.

Project Results:
Description of the main S&T results/foregrounds

1. Reformulating the debate on FNS

The concepts of FNS and vulnerability are variously defined and understood depending on the perspective of the involved stakeholders. In order to establish a consolidated understanding of FNS and associated vulnerabilities, it is necessary to acknowledge and understand how FNS and vulnerabilities are interpreted among a range of stakeholders and across disciplines. In this sense, a common framework aligns multiple meanings that are attributed to FNS and vulnerabilities and can be applied to evaluate the dimensions of vulnerability in different EU contexts and at different scales. TRANSMANGO’s approach differs in two ways from the dominant framework for analyzing vulnerability to food and nutrition insecurity: (1) our research focuses on vulnerabilities in the European food system, accounting for the socio-economic, behavioral, technological, institutional and agro-ecological changes in the European context, and (2) the framework adopts a systemic approach that emphasizes the role of both production and consumption and the interaction between the stakeholders in the European food system.

1.1. Meanings and controversies of FNS and vulnerabilities in Europe (Colombo et al., 2015)

Multiple crises affect European societies and threaten their food systems. The reference period of the TRANSMANGO media analysis is in fact a very critical one as it embraces years characterized by a domino of crises, ranging from 2007-‘08 (food crisis peak) to 2014 (unemployment peak in some EU countries). While these crises are not all the same, they seem to have several aspects in common. This is reflected by the media analysed in the the country reports: an impasse in the European dream: social and environmental degradation, rising poverty and inequalities, and inefficient mobilisation of resources as well as some stalemate in innovation in food and farming are frequently addressed in news and reports. Analyses differ in terms of approaches and exit strategies, but tend to converge on the inadequacy of governance systems when faced with complex problems.

The recent crises have triggered a new public debate on the nature and future of the food systems. Civil society interest groups have played a decisive role in this debate, seeking a systematic reformulation of policies. The media system sometimes echoes this quest and at other times unveils its naivety, but in both cases raises and feeds public dialogue on these issues. As resilience is increasingly gaining in importance in policy and scientific spheres, the emergence of a public discourse around exposure mechanisms and coping strategies underlines the need to translate discourse into action.

TRANSMANGO found a significant convergence across European media on the relevance of the food-society nexus. In this respect, frame analysis enables to capture of multiple polarities of the FNS debate. In total 72 frames were found in all countries combined. These were clustered into 12 EU-wide frames, including ecology, free trade, quality, social, solidarity, sovereignty, citizenship, technology, wholesomeness, individualism, regulatory and patriotism, which were then clustered into 4 cluster frames: regional sustainability, food for the poor solution frames, state-centred frames and global efficiency.

1.2. Conceptual framework (Brunori et al., 2015)

The need for a conceptual framework underpinning the creation of resilient food systems comes from the awareness that the huge literature on FNS presents a variety of approaches and terminologies that need to be selected and prioritised in order to generate an effective empirical research. The analysis we have carried out and the selection of themes and approaches we have made have been driven by the following questions: Is there the possibility of having a common frame for FNS in high-income and low-income countries, taking into account that our research is mainly focused on Europe? What is the connection between FNS and food poverty? When considering vulnerability, how to associate system vulnerability to people’s vulnerability, taking into account the diversity of interests among societal groups? How to deal with micro-macro relations, for instance between global FNS and local and regional FNS?

For tackling these questions, we propose a conceptual framework that is structured around six anchor points: (1) food is consumed and produced in systems, (2) FNS is the main outcome of food systems, (3) food systems are vulnerable, such that FNS is endangered, (4) food systems can be considered from different perspectives, (5) transformations toward better food systems can be created through reassembly and (6) new food system assemblages can be made more resilient through a dialogue with the future. The unpacking of these anchor points and their underlying concepts allows us to develop a repertoire of ideas and theories with which an interdisciplinary analysis of food systems can be undertaken. These elements form the foundation of all the work in the TRANSMANGO project.

1.2.1. Food is produced and consumed in systems

Food is produced and consumed in systems. We define food systems as coupled social-ecological systems (SES) formed by many internal and external factors linked through feedback mechanisms. The core of the internal food systems’ factors constitute activities related to food supply and food demand, such as providing inputs, producing food, distributing food, acquiring food and consuming food as well as managing food losses and wastes. Activities are performed by many actors, who draw on various combinations of natural and human-made assets.

Although actors have relative autonomy in their food systems’ activities and choices, there is always some level of coordination by different food systems’ stakeholders through a vast array of regulative (e.g. formal rules, laws, sanctions, incentive structures, reward and cost structures, governance systems, power systems, protocols, standards procedures, etc.), normative (e.g. values, norms, role expectations, authority systems, duty, codes of conduct, etc.) and cognitive (e.g. goals, priorities, problem agendas, beliefs, bodies of knowledge, paradigms, model of reality, categories, etc.) institutions. The different categories of institutions are not autonomous entities but frequently overlap and conflict with each other, determining the way in which actors perform activities and interact with each other in the food systems.

The food systems’ activities, in turn, lead to a certain level of FNS, along with a number of social, economic and environmental outcomes. These outcomes are a kind of control devices that convey signals about the food systems’ performance to the other food systems’ elements. The feedbacks are then translated into smaller or bigger changes in food systems’ internal structures and dynamics (throughout for example re-focusing of institutional strategies with regards to use of natural assets), but sometimes even shifts in regimes.

In addition to the aforementioned interacting internal factors, there are numerous external factors linked to biophysical environments, policy, society and culture, economy as well as science and technology, to name a few. The external factors determine how the food system activities are performed and in what kind of outcomes they result. And vice versa, the internal food systems’ processes feed back to the external context: this may lead to unintended consequences. Further, the factors interact at various scales (e.g., spatial, temporal, informational, etc.) and play out at different levels, that is at different positions on the scales (e.g., within spatial scale – FNS of individuals is affected by factors operating not only at the local level, but also at national, regional and even global level). Against this background, implications of the complex interactions and feedbacks need to be accounted for in the design and implementation of effective policy and management interventions. Such interventions thus cannot be treated as isolated changes in one part of the food system. Although efforts have often focused on only a part of the system (most often agricultural production), while neglecting effects on other parts, we take a holistic approach to account for the whole food system along with its internal-external interactions between processes and elements.

Insert Figure 1: Stylized representation of the food system

1.2.2. Food and nutrition security is the main outcome of food systems

Following the 2009 Declaration of the World Summit on Food Security, FNS is: “a situation that exists when all people, at all times, have physical, social and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food that meets their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life”. This definition can be applied at different levels: individual, household, village, regional, national and global. As a result, FNS research approaches range from the micro-level (such as the adoption of an ethnographic case study approach to investigate how individuals, households and communities cope with food and nutrition insecurity in the face of proximate drivers of change) to the global level (such as the elaboration of quantitative forecasts of food supply and demand in the light of the likely development of key global drivers).

Over time the focus of the FNS concept has been enlarged from a narrow production-centred approach to a more encompassing access-centred approach which necessarily includes all parts of the food system from production, through processing, packaging, storage, distribution, retail and consumption along with the environmental and socio-economic context. The current official FAO definition highlights four dimensions of FNS:

1. Food availability refers to the supply of sufficient quantities of food of appropriate quality. Globally this means that sufficient food of appropriate quality is produced.

2. Food access is understood as access by individuals to adequate entitlements to resources that are needed for acquiring appropriate foods constituting nutritious diets. Entitlements are defined as the set of all commodity bundles that a person can control given the legal, political, economic and social arrangements of the community in which s/he lives, including traditional rights such as access to common resources.

3. Food utilisation relates to utilisation of food through adequate diet and the availability of clean water, sanitation and health care to reach a state of nutritional well-being in which all physiological needs are met. Food is not an end in itself; it is a mean to obtain a set of benefits. Malnutrition can be linked to underconsumption as well as to overconsumption.

4. Stability relates to the ability of a system to maintain certain features in the face of disturbance. Food stability, as a dimension of FNS means that to be food secure, a population, household or individual must have access to adequate food at all times.

Following the Ryerson University’s Centre for Studies in Food Security we add agency to the list of dimensions. Agency directs attention to a key aspect which concerns people’s or communities’ capacity to control the other dimensions. If applied to families or individuals, control may be interpreted in terms of entitlements, which are resources that give access to food. For example, a transfer entitlement may give a lower level of control than a direct entitlement, as it makes an individual dependent upon someone else. If applied to community and national level, control refers to governance mechanisms that distribute entitlements over social groups and manage related conflicts.

1.2.3. Food systems are vulnerable, such that food and nutrition security is endangered

In the face of uncertain drivers of change, the endeavor of stabilizing, controlling and improving FNS, leads to the consideration of the notions of resilience, vulnerability and sustainability. Food systems are experiencing impacts of multiple adverse and favourable drivers of change. However, this is nothing new, as societies have always experienced rises, falls and shifts in FNS status. The differences in current and future changes are in their rate, magnitude, and origin, and in our capacity to possibly influence the trajectories of these changes.

Following from the Pressure-and-Release (PAR) model, we distinguish three types of drivers of change that influence food systems’ properties: root causes and dynamic pressures, which act on the systems to shape the ‘context’ (the term replaces ‘unsafe environment’ of the PAR model, and it is taken from the ‘sustainable rural livelihoods’ framework) as well as disturbances, ranging from rapid and dramatic shocks (e.g., pest outbreaks, economic and political crises) to slow stresses (e.g., climate change, soil degradation, changing consumption patterns). Drivers of change, can be found among both external (e.g., global energy prices, global population, climate change, etc.) and internal factors (e.g., soil fertility, farmer purchasing power, consumer dietary preferences, etc.). Whether a system is vulnerable or resilient to a disturbance is determined by the desirable and/or undesirable outcomes of the system to this disturbance along with an analysis of pathways leading to them, considering explicitly their root causes and dynamic pressures.

Insert Figure 2: Disturbance of the food system

Resilience relates to the response of a system to disturbance, no matter if that disturbance is sudden and shocking or more gradual. Holling’s seminal definition states resilience as the capacity of a system to absorb and utilize and possibly even benefit from disturbance. When a system is subjected to disturbance, there are only three possible outcomes: (1) it withstands the disturbance maintaining fixed values of the features of interest; (2) it does not maintain fixed values of the features of interest but is able to recover them in an acceptable time frame; (3) it does not maintain fixed values of the features of interest and does not recover them, but ends up in a different condition following disturbance. In the resilience literature commonly used notions are described in one or more of the following three types of behaviour:

1. Robustness / Resistance: absorbing the disturbance and maintaining the values of certain variables / properties; ability to resist change.

2. Stability / Recovery: recovering from the disturbance and returning to the original values of certain variables / properties.

3. Adapting / Benefitting: adapting as a result of the disturbance and moving to a new state that is at least as desirable as the original, potentially more so.

The only response to disturbance that is not considered resilient is when the system changes to a condition that is less desirable—in terms of its outcomes—than where it was prior to the disturbance. All three types of behaviour are still currently in use in isolation and in combination under the name of resilience. In order to communicate and collaborate in interdisciplinary, inter-sectoral and inter-agency settings, it is useful to adopt a definition of resilience that incorporates all three types of behaviour as ways in which a system can handle change without undesirable outcomes. Resilience is normative in that it relies on the definition of desirable versus undesirable features (either states, outcomes or system properties). The value judgement of what is desirable and what constitutes improvement or detriment is observer dependent. Changes that benefit one stakeholder may be detrimental to another. This raises some very interesting challenges to operationalizing resilience in practice, and directly points to the use of participatory methods for design of interventions aimed at promoting resilience.

Vulnerability is sometimes considered the antonym of resilience because with respect to a disturbance and relative to an observer, it is the system’s inability to respond to that disturbance without changing in a way that is considered detrimental by that observer. Resilience, on the other hand, is the ability of the system to respond to that disturbance without detrimental outcomes. Vulnerability is defined as a set of properties of a system that determine the undesirable change to the impacts of drivers of change on the system itself. The vulnerability of a system to a particular disturbance is a combination of its exposure, sensitivity and adaptive capacity. A system may be very sensitive and have limited or no ability to adapt to a particular type of disturbance but, if it is not exposed to it, it is not vulnerable to it. Also the system must be sensitive and not able to adapt in a way that is considered undesirable. If a system is exposed to a disturbance that results in beneficial change in that system, it would not be termed vulnerable. Similar to resilience, vulnerability is a normative concept that depends on peoples perspectives.

To assess whether a system is resilient or vulnerable we have to define the system’s boundaries. Where system boundaries are drawn, what is included in the analysis, which features of the system are allowed to change and which must be preserved, and what sorts of change constitute improvement within those boundaries, completely determines what is interpreted as resilience, vulnerability or collapse and so forth. What is included in the system boundaries depends upon the purpose of inquiry or intervention. The type of disturbance is also important. Systems can be very resilient to one type of disturbance but vulnerable to another. Further, the timeframe under consideration will impact on which types of disturbance are relevant to consider. In order to discuss resilience and vulnerability meaningfully, we have to talk about resilience/vulnerability of what, to what, from whose perspective (i.e., for whom and for what purpose) and over what time frame. These key issues represent a framing cycle, since the system boundaries indicate who is a legitimate stakeholder, and those stakeholders may reframe the relevant system of interest, and the time frame indicates the disturbances that are relevant; consideration of these factors may affect the system boundary judgements and so on.

Insert Figure 3: Resilience and vulnerability framing cycle

In any given situation, it will be necessary to clarify what is meant by resilience by specifying relevant disturbances (to what), the boundaries of the system of interest (of what), what constitutes desirable change to whom (which type of behaviour is relevant to which features of the system, what must be preserved, what must recover, what can change in a manner deemed beneficial) and what is the time frame for analysis. Note that figure 4 refers to framing both resilience and vulnerability as systems are only considered vulnerable to disturbances that have the potential to cause ‘negative’ changes, disturbances that cause positive changes would not be considered vulnerable. Since changes that would be considered negative to one stakeholder may be positive from an alternate perspective and so on, vulnerability also depends upon the same framing cycle of what, to what, for whom, over what time frame and for what purpose.

Sustainability, defined as the capacity to meet needs of the present generation without compromising the ability of the future generations to meet their own needs, has its origins in concerns related to environment as well as the future of humanity in the face of environmental change. As the word ‘sustainable’ is used in many different contexts, also here it needs to be specification what needs to be sustained, for whom and for how long. Sustainability, resilience and vulnerability relate to different values. Sustainability aims at balancing care for humanity and nature as our common future depends on both. The values of vulnerability are formulated around equity, justice and harm minimization. Resilience acknowledges uncertainty and unpredictability as well as interconnectedness, preservation and improvement of both nature and society. Therefore, integration of the three concepts allows for deeper understanding of the dynamics of SES and their outcomes.

A system is sustainable if, underpinned by social, economic and environmental factors, it is able to preserve its functioning in the future. This ability is also one of the conditions of maintaining resilience. Moreover, resilience, in the way it is used in this framework, implies the capacity to continue providing desirable outcomes over time despite disturbances, and thus forms an essential part of what enables sustainability. However, besides being able to produce balanced environmental, social and economic outcomes over a given time frame, resilience, conceptualized in an inclusive sense, strives also at adapting or transforming in order to do things better. Vulnerability, conversely to sustainability and resilience, relates to an inability of the system to continue to deliver desirable outcomes, because it fails to withstand or adapt to disturbances.

1.2.4. Food systems can be considered from different perspectives

The concept of FNS is a ‘consensus frame’ or an expression that finds broad acceptance and consent, but that is used to make different, even divergent claims on how to ensure FNS for all. Rooted in different cultures and strategies of different institutional and non-institutional stakeholders, such claims have important policy implications. Indeed, they shape discourses and paradigms that influence the ways in which FNS is approached, policy options are identified and, ultimately, power and resources are distributed. Several discourses have (directly or indirectly) contributed to shape the interpretation of FNS along with the food systems’ resilience and vulnerability over time. Each of these frames draw different system boundaries, have different values regarding what constitutes improvement and for whom.

The productivist approach is part of this 20th century modernization project, with its emphasis on the universal role of Western science and technology. The neo-productivist framework is focused on sustainable intensification, i.e., producing more food from the same areas of land while reducing negative environmental impacts and increasing contributions to natural capital and the flow of environmental services. The concept of food sovereignty has been developed in opposition to the central views of productivism, and sees globalization as the cause of food insecurity essentially due to unequal power relations. The livelihood security framework that has uncovered the complexity of demand strategies employed by poor and vulnerable people. The Right to Food framework elevates FNS from an optional privilege to a due entitlement, Recently, the notion of Right to Food has been expanded to include the right to access food production resources (such as land, seeds and water) as well as benefits accruing from an inclusive, participatory and bottom-up approach to decision-making processes. The concept of ‘food democracy’ is an important effort to shift the focus towards consumers from the individual to the collective level. By placing food at the heart of the democratic process, this approach emphasizes social justice as central to FNS. The importance of participation has been further stressed by the concept of ‘food citizenship’ which emphasizes active citizenship Community food security (CFS) distinguishes itself for its emphasis on re-localization and self-reliance – the idea that food systems should strengthen localities and communities by creating spatially closer links among two or more food system activities.

Despite the multifaceted processes and the complexity that characterizes the FNS dynamics, solutions and conceptualizations – envisaged by policy, academic spheres and lobby groups – they have mostly revolved around oppositional narratives that reproduce old dichotomies and dialectics. The conceptual foundations described above – including interconnectedness of factors affecting FNS across dimensions, scales and levels, the inevitably subjective and partial nature of the system boundary judgments, and the diversity of values and frames that ultimately produce conclusions and recommendations for policy and action – necessitates the use of theoretical and methodological pluralism, together with a multi-scale participatory process that integrates qualitative and quantitative analyses, and dialogical as well as instrumental reason.

1.2.5. Transformations toward better food systems can be created through reassembly

There is a need for transformative change in the European food system, because (1) it is not currently able to deliver food and nutrition security to all of Europe’s citizens; (2) it is not environmentally sustainable and (3) it is considered to be vulnerable to a range of future challenges and stressors. Therefore, there is a need to understand how the current food system can be changed to become more resilient in its delivery of sustainable food and nutrition security. Given the environmental and social challenges that humanity faces in the 21st century, interest has grown among researchers and in some policy and private sector spaces in notions of transformative change. There is an increasing need to understand how transformations to sustainability could be achieved. Typically, the word “transformation” is used to refer to fundamental changes in structure, functions and relations within (social-ecological) systems. Such transformations lead to new interaction patterns and have the potential for new, emergent outcomes. Transformations are complex, dynamic and multi-dimensional, involving social, institutional, cultural, technological, ecological and political dimensions. Therefore, transformations have to be examined through inter- and transdisciplinary lenses. Transformations tend to be political, involving winners and losers, which means that aspirations for transformational change are often contested. If we measure resilience by desired outcomes over a given period of time, rather than by a preservation of system characteristics, resilience and transformative change are compatible – a system can transform in terms of its traits in order to be better able to deliver FNS outcomes.

Various streams of theory on transformations exist. Political economists describe transformations as deeply political processes that involve strategic actions by actor coalitions to shape institutional structures. Researchers on social-ecological systems use the notion of ‘transformability’. This has been defined as “the capacity to create a fundamentally new system when ecological, economic, or social (including political) conditions make the existing system untenable”. The SES literature contains examples of actively navigated transformation processes. These examples have led SES researchers to think of transformations as requiring three steps: (1) actively preparing a system for change; (2) navigating a transition in governance when windows of opportunity open; (3) building the resilience of the new regime. Related research on social innovation in SES focuses on the role of agency within networks and institutions – conceptualising transformations as emerging from an interplay between institutional conditions and bottom-up innovation which is leveraged by institutional entrepreneurs and networks across multiple levels and scales.

Transition theory, by contrast, comes from research on socio-technical innovation. It seeks to understand how niche-level activities are up-scaled into broader socio-technical regimes, resulting in socio-technical transitions. Transitions are conceptualised as co-evolutionary change processes involving many societal dimensions. The central idea in transition management is a multi-level perspective that identifies niches, socio-technical regimes, and landscapes (as the contexts for socio-technical regimes). When shifts in landscapes or socio-technical regimes happen, this can allow niche practices to flourish and create new socio-technical regimes. Transition theory elaborates on a typology of different types of ‘transition pathways’ (TPs).

To explore transformation in the context of the European food system, we combine insights from the above fields of research on transformation, but our main focus is on exploring potential transitions from interacting niche practices. We use this focus because we recognize that (1) the food system is fragmented and contains a rich diversity of niche practices offering ‘pockets’ of potential futures and (2) these niche practices are not sufficiently included in policy and strategic processes at the European level. We use the notion of transition pathways, mainly to emphasize the possibility of many such pathways that may emerge from different niche practices in interaction with their contexts – but we recognize the context-dependency of such pathways and do not see it as necessary to follow typologies for the notion of TP to be useful.

The idea of the fragmented food system is derived from and inspired by assemblage theory – a perspective that combines very well with transition theory. Assemblages are composed of heterogeneous elements that may be human and non-human, organic and inorganic, technical and natural. Assemblage theory is an attempt to go beyond the social per se and to include the material as an object of study and to explore how social actors engage the material. From this perspective, the fragmented FNS landscape in Europe and elsewhere can be viewed as constituted by a range of various and often contrasting social practices that co-exist and interact with one another; continuously producing new practices. A practice refers to new routines, new patterns of connecting and/or reconnecting FNS resources in new ways, leading to new routines and patterns (as well as new social relationships).

Processes of assembly between different practices that transform features of the food system can be conceptualized as transition pathways (TPs). Socio-material and natural realities and practices are reassembled to form new ones that did not exist before. Different parts of the food system –in different parts of value chains, different geographical areas, et cetera- might be, or become, more dynamic or less dynamic, depending on how regime and landscape contexts are configured and how they might change over time. We complement the multi-level perspective (MLP) of transition theory with Social Practice Theory (SPT). In SPT, everyday practices are not regime-specific and it is emphasized that social practices mostly cut across multiple regimes (e.g. the food regime, the transport regime, the energy regime, the policy regime, et cetera). Hence, innovations are perceived as ‘regime-crossing systems of practice’. SPT underlines the relevance of these ‘horizontal’ relations of novel practices and complements as such the focus on hierarchical and ‘vertical’ relations emphasized by MLP. With its emphasis on interactions between practices, SPT helps to conceptualize assembly.

Analysing the links between regimes and practices in this understanding of transition processes demands simultaneous investigating along distinct but connected lines of enquiry: (1) transitions in regimes as they occur through interactions between niches, regimes and landscapes (‘the vertical’); (2) transitions in practices as they occur through change and continuity in different circuits of reproduction and assembly (the ‘horizontal’) and (3) how regimes and practices interconnect and bump into one another in the course of transition processes through points of intersection between the ‘vertical’ and the ‘horizontal’. In terms of scale, assembly-based transition pathways can be considered at different levels. The boundaries of the system in question determine what can be considered a transition in that system.

1.2.6. New food system assemblages can be made more resilient through a dialogue with the future

Resilience or vulnerability cannot be characterized without understanding what constitutes desirable or undesirable change to those involved. We also cannot characterize sustainability meaningfully without specification of what needs to be sustained. Visioning processes are used to characterize what constitutes desirable change, and back-casting processes are used to experiment with pathways to get to these visions – for which scenarios offer contextual challenges and opportunities, exposing different scenario-specific vulnerabilities of the changing system and prompting different possible responses. Transformational change is needed in the EU food system to make it better able to provide FNS in a sustainable fashion. Part of the reasoning behind this assertion is that there are those for whom the current food system is not delivering FNS outcomes, and that it is not sustainable. The other part of the argument is that the current food system is expected to be vulnerable to future changes. From an inclusive resilience perspective then, we are interested in facilitating transformative change that increases the resilience of the European food system with regard to its ability to deliver FNS outcomes for its citizens in a sustainable fashion.

1.3. Vulnerability matrix (Grando et al., 2016)

The TRANSMANGO Vulnerability Matrix has been designed, as an NxM matrix of vulnerabilities and their drivers. It crosses the dimensions of food system vulnerabilities (e.g. farming, ecological, health, social, economic, nutrition,...) and its sub-dimensions with drivers that may affect these dimensions. The Matrix design aims at giving a synthetic visual representation of the main areas of FNS vulnerability in the EU, in relation to the factors those areas are vulnerable to. The goal is to give policy-makers, experts and stakeholders a map for vulnerability mitigation where the main sensitive issues in relation to food and nutrition security can be identified and visualised. In particular, the Matrix is a tool for a rapid appraisal of critical intervention points for both food system actors and policy makers, to help them in carrying out a ‘vulnerability check’. Communication value and readability were hence among the objectives the Matrix was meant to achieve. Consequently, the number of rows (16 vulnerability factors) and columns (5 vulnerability areas) have been contained, in the aim of focusing on the key factors and the more relevant vulnerabilities. The use of icons is also aimed at giving the reader an easy and immediate visual appreciation of the contents of each cell and of the Matrix general contents.

Insert figure 4: Vulnerability matrix

2. New ways of system modelling

2.1. Multi-level case study approach

TRANSMANGO developed a combination of methods to scope future contextual change through explorative scenarios that test the feasibility of transition pathways towards more desirable future food system configurations. A key feature of TRANSMANGO is its multiscale participatory process, which aims to involve different stakeholders in the definition of problems, in the selection and validation of analytical tools, and in the design of simulation scenarios from the very outset of the project’s development. The inclusion of stakeholders in all phases of the research will ensure that the project’s outcomes will be more robust, socially-acceptable and policy-relevant but also meaningful to diverse actors. This is especially crucial in cases in which different stakeholder needs, and their different knowledge of local, social, economic, political, and environmental conditions, could originate conflicts. Cases were identified at both local and EU level.

First, a multi-method data collection strategy was used in the development of local case studies. This approach was aligned to our double aim of first, illustrating how the local level cases underpin the argument that FNS pathways together constitute the ‘national’ fragmented foodscape. And second, through the cases we discuss whether and how the FNS practices/pathways that emerge through processes of reassembling stand for new approaches to address FNS. In addition to these methods, the nine principal cases included additional data gathering through the development of scenario workshops. Through the scenario workshops the local case study researchers facilitated several system mapping and futures methods. Through these methods stakeholders articulated the perceived main drivers of change in the ‘local’ food system as well as the implications of different future scenarios on their initiative and the local food system. The local case studies can be clustered as follows: (1) Food entitlements (Dutch food bank practices; Food assistance in Tuscany; Food Cloud Hubs surplus food redistribution in Ireland; FNS in remote rural areas of Spain); (2) Consumer-citizen commitment (Dutch urban food initiatives; Cork Food Policy Council; Sustainable Food Cities Network in Wales; Community Supported Agriculture in Belgium; Consumer purchasing groups in Belgium); (3) Peri-urban land-access movements (Land access of the metropolitan area of Rome; New initiatives of peri-urban agriculture in Valencia); (4) Public procurement and preparedness: (Public catering in Finland; Healthy food for school-goers in Latvia; Small farmer involvement in school meal provisioning in Latvia; Home emergency preparedness in Finland).

Second, we selected EU-level case studies to understand how current and future vulnerabilities of the EU food system interact with FNS outcomes. The characterisation of these interactions allowed us to identifying the emergence of distinct vulnerabilities pathways. In this context, the case studies are defined as hotspots, that is, the result from the convergence of several factors or activities which represent a risk or problem for the food system. Five key hotspots were chosen: (1) competition for land use in relation to bio-energies; (2) organic farming; (3) genetically modified organisms; (4) public procurement and (5) food poverty.

2.2. Explorative scenarios at EU level (Vervoort et al., 2016)

TRANSMANGO aimed to obtain a comprehensive picture of the effects of the global drivers of change on European and global food demand and raw material production, and to analyse vulnerabilities and transitions at EU Level. We developed with key EU stakeholders explorative scenarios of future food systems change in the context of global drivers. In order to develop these EU scenarios we designed a three stage process: (1) building scenario skeletons; (2) developing scenario narratives and (3) analysis of results and
preparation to use scenarios in local and EU case studies.

The first stage comprised identifying a list the driving factors considered both most important and most uncertain in the future of European food and nutritional security. Online responses of 50 European food system stakeholders were compiled and compared with the factors identified through other TRANSMANGO work packages including an analysis of national media (Colombo et al., 2015), a vulnerability framework design (Grando et al., 2016) and a Delphi process (Moragues-Faus et al., 2015). From the combined lists of factors, a shortlist of the top eight factors was developed to be used as a frame to outline diverse scenarios: consumption patterns, environmental degradation, poverty and economic inequality, social and technical innovation, urban and rural population dynamics, power and market concentration, trade agreements and basic resource availability.

For each factor, stakeholders identified different factor states and also provided information around which combinations among states of different factors could plausibly happen at the same time. These compatibility
matrixes were inputted into the software program OLDFAR that outputted highly diverse subsets of 8 scenarios skeletons, that is eight different combinations of states of the eight factors selected. The TRANSMANGO team reviewed these scenarios for consistency, plausibility and diversity and chose a final set of 4 most diverse scenarios to be developed into full narratives through a multistakeholder workshop.

This work fed into a one day workshop with EU experts held in Leuven the 10th of September of 2015. The aim of this workshop was to develop the scenarios narratives and identify causal mechanisms. Participants created a future vivid world for each scenario, developing a picture of that particular world in 2050 and later back-casting to the present, identifying key processes and events that might lead from the present to that hypothetical scenario within 25 years. The four scenarios developed were named as follows: Fed-up Europe, The price of health, Retrotopia and The Protein Union. The second part of the workshop consisted on identifying the key elements at play on each scenario and their causal linkages, building fuzzy cognitive maps that allow further understanding of the scenarios.

The third phase of this process consisted on refining the four scenarios developed with stakeholders including the notes and material generated throughout the workshop. The TRANSMANGO team developed the narratives for the other four scenarios identified by OLDFAR, which are called: The Gravy train, Too busy to cook, Goodbye to all that and The grass is greener. The analysis of the workshop results also included working with the fuzzy cognitive maps in order to further define and specify the meaning of key factors at play in each scenario, the relationship between factors and the dynamics and feedbacks of the scenarios. The linkages between factors and FNS in each scenario were represented through causes trees.
2.3. Translating EU explorative scenarios to local contexts (Vervoort et al., 2017)

In each of the local case studies, a foresight process was conducted, using localized future scenarios to test either existing plans or strategies or develop, through visioning and backcasting, new strategies. The local workshop reports provide details on these processes. In each of these processes, the localized scenarios, based on a central European scenario set, offered a range of different challenges and opportunities in which to investigate the future of each case study.

TRANSMANGO researchers saw the foresight process in each case study as an integral part of that case study, because the ideas and plans that stakeholders in a case study have about the future(s) of their initiative/network play an important role in present activities. This means that foresight offers a complementary way to the rest of the case study research to offer insights on but another way to shed light on each case, and on social innovation across the European food system.

Based on the processes to generate local adaptation pathways, the case study leaders reflected on three types of insights on the basis of three questions: what new ideas emerged from visioning and back-casting? What insights about policy contexts for pathways were identified across the different scenarios? What scenario-specific ideas emerged for the pathways? What new types of ideas, or new elaboration of existing ideas, typically emerged about the initiative from the visioning and back-casting activities (or equivalent strategies used in the process)?

A very common theme in the local foresight processes is that in many cases, the diverse local actors relevant to a local initiative or challenge had not previously been involved in shared planning processes. The need for more integrated action from a food systems perspective was recognized among these groups, and concrete proposals for new multi-stakeholder action platforms were made, especially in cases where an organizing initiative was not the main focus. In cases that featured a specific initiative as a main focus, plans were made to integrate new stakeholders into the initiative in question. In many cases, plans were also made to connect local cases more to wider social innovation networks and relevant partners. Plans for greater coherence and coordination also included the establishment of local quality brands, and data needs, such as a survey of available land for activities. The coherence theme also included the establishment of neighborhood or local hubs for collaborative action, learning, food distribution, materials, et cetera. Another theme that was identified across a number of cases was the need to integrate education and training across demographics into stakeholder initiatives. In general, case study partners used systemic ideas like the food systems perspective or circular economy in their plans, where these ideas had not been used before. What insights did the scenario-based analysis provide across the case studies about how policy and institutional contexts could change, and how this would affect the feasibility of case study futures? Uncertainties about local, national and European agendas were worrying. The decrease of government support structures and/or the lack of government actions and leadership appeared as a threat to many local initiative plans or a prerequisite to their success. Alternatively, scenarios that saw active government involvement in food system organization but a lack of inclusivity in terms of societal stakeholders also proved problematic. Similarly, the level of available resources from the EU play an important local role. In terms of organization, regulatory frameworks need to be aligned from a food systems perspective, while being diverse and tailored to social innovation and new ways to organize the food system. More pressure from environmental policies would make a number of initiatives more competitive because of their sustainability benefits – as long as there is a greater recognition of the positive externalities of the case study initiatives. Public procurement was an important activity in many case studies where massive potential was seen, especially when combined with education.

What new types of ideas emerged through the scenario testing of the initiative plans that had not come up in the back-casting and visioning (or equivalent strategies used)? When applied to initiative plans, the scenarios highlighted the need for fast action to avoid undesirable futures in which initiative objectives would no longer be achievable – and urged initiatives to avoid long bureaucratic processes. The scenarios urged initiative organizers to find ways to expand/connect beyond their specific political and socio-economic communities - some of which could have a stigma of elitism (associated with relatively expensive local food channels, for instance) or marginal activity (for example, small-scale urban agriculture) that could become more of a problem in scenario which were not positively inclined to such aspects. More recombination of low-tech and high-tech approaches and a better mix with different socio-economic groups was recommended in several cases. The scenario processes also put emphasis on connecting with the next generation, engaging them and providing them with education and skills to be a part of better food futures related to the initiatives. All of this played into the insight in several cases that initiatives have to become more media-literate, and more politically connected to higher levels of governance, both national and the EU – and to global initiatives like the SDGs. Recommendations were also made to better learn to understand longer-term theories of change (for instance, transition thinking a la transition towns, or the development of new gastronomic cultures). Initiatives were seen as potentially key actors in the re-shaping of local policies and local economy in ways that would be more beneficial to social innovation – and an important mission for local food initiatives would be to build societal trust through their work to avoid less desirable scenarios.

2.4. Modelling new FNS aspects based on stakeholder inputs and quantified TRANSMANGO transition pathways (Depperman et al., 2017)
A comprehensive analysis of the global drivers of change and their impacts on European and global food demand and production are a main objective of the TRANSMANGO project. This also puts an emphasis on the vulnerability and resilience of European food systems. So far, different EU focused TRANSMANGO scenarios haven been developed by stakeholders and quantified with the global agricultural sector model GLOBIOM. Many different, mutually dependent drivers have been incorporated in this analysis to estimate their impacts on the European food system. However, several drivers that have been identified as important within the TRANSMANGO project are currently not implemented in most large scale agricultural sector models. Consequently, not all drivers could have been explicitly implemented in the quantification of the stakeholder scenarios. In Depperman et al. (2016), an overview of the potential applicability of different agricultural-economic modelling approaches to cover relevant drivers has been provided.

Based on the inputs from key European stakeholders, the review of modelling capacities, and an intensive discussion with TRANSMANGO researchers, it was decided to better represent regionalization attempts in food production in the GLOBIOM model. To this end, a mechanism to represent a regionalization of feed supply chains in livestock production is implemented. Different highly relevant issues – such as consumer preferences for regionally produced products and the level of integration across the food system – are closely related to the implementation of regionalized production structures in the model. The review of modelling approaches presented in Depperman et al. (2016) concludes that state-of-the-art models usually do not “explicitly show consumers preferences regarding specific methods of production”. With the implementation of an option to model regionalized feed supply chains, a first step is taken to represent different production structures and to make consumers’ choices more explicit. After the implementation of the new feature in GLOBIOM, the model has been applied to analyse the impacts of a regionalization of European feed supply chains against the background of different TRANSMANGO scenarios, as a transition pathway.

An implementation of regional feed supply chains requires that all feedstuff shall be sourced from the same region where livestock production is taking place. Since forage is considered to be a non-tradable product which is produced regionally anyway, the new regulations mainly effects concentrate feed, which is a mix of cereals, oilseeds and -meals, and pulses. Currently, large amounts of concentrate feed is being imported in Europe. This mostly refers to oilseeds and -meals which provide proteins to the European livestock industry. A low self-sufficiency rate in protein feed is reported for many European countries, particularly in western Europe. At the same time, consumers’ awareness of food production processes is increasing, as well as their concern about diets and food choices. Furthermore, a sufficient regional supply of protein feed is crucial for the production of organic animals. A regionalization trend is also recognized by large feed companies and some companies use 4 regional production as marketing tools, including the utilization of regionally produced animal feed, already. In the paper at hand, we analyse the potential impacts of the transition pathway “regionalization of feed supply chains” on the European agricultural sector.

The implementation of regionalized feed supply chains in GLOBIOM requires as a prerequisite that substitution of animal feed is enabled. So far, feed demand per livestock unit is expressed in tons of different feed crops and production functions assume fixed input-output relations. Substitution between feedstuff is taking place at the aggregate level by switching of production systems, but not within a given production system and thus, only a limited space of substitution options is given. For the implementation of regionalized feed supply chains, substitution options have to be extended to replace not regionally produced feed in the feed rations. For the representation of regional feed supply chains, in a second step, constraints are implemented in the model to allow only the utilization of feed crops that are produced in the same region where the livestock production is taking place.

For the implementation of regionalized feed supply chains in GLOBIOM, more substitution options of animal feed needed to be facilitated. In the original model version, feed demand per livestock unit was expressed in tons of different specific feed crops and production functions assumed fixed input-output relations. Thus, we first implemented a feed substitution module. In a second step feed utilization constraints were added to represent regional feed supply chains by ensuring that feed crops in Europe are being produced within the same region where the livestock production is taking place. Since large amounts of concentrate feed are currently being imported in Europe and a low self-sufficiency rate in protein feed is reported for many European countries, large impacts of a switch to regional feed supply chains are expected.

To test the transition pathway of regionalized feed supply chains, four different TRANSMANGO scenarios are used as background scenarios, representing a highly diverse set of potential future developments of European agriculture. Our results indicate that the implementation of regional feed supply chains leads to lower livestock production in Europe. However, huge differences in magnitude can be observed, depending on the background scenario. In scenarios with already high production levels, the drop in production is much more pronounced than in scenarios with comparatively low European livestock production. In the latter, the feed market is more relaxed and can absorb the feed regionalization constrain more easily and without major impacts on production. A clear relation between the initial production level and the significance of the impacts from regionalization could be observed. Observed impacts on prices mirror the production impacts. In scenarios with high initial livestock production, the available resources are used already to a large extend and huge amounts of feedstuff are imported in Europe. Consequently, price reactions are much more pronounced since the additional restriction on feed origins puts strong pressure on the market. In combination with a relatively inelastic European demand, a strong decline in production leads to a relatively strong increase in imports for livestock products (instead of feed crops), to compensate for the production shortfalls. However, the import of livestock products obviously undermines the concept of regional consumption.

Thus, our analysis shows that with a mainly meat based diet of the European population, regional supply chains are not achievable. Contrarily, with more plant based diets and less consumption of livestock products, the concept of regionalized feed supply chains would be feasible in Europe. We focused on the regionalization of feed supply chains, but we do not implement constraints on imports of livestock products, neither is the consumption of livestock products restricted by regionality. These shortcoming should be addressed in the future, to estimate the full impacts of a regionalized consumption and production of food. However, our analysis is a methodological step in this direction and gives insights into the processes that have to be taken into consideration.

3. Integration of new modelling approaches with transition theory

3.1. European case studies (Moragues-Faus et al., 2017)

TRANSMANGO aimed to obtain a comprehensive picture of the effects of the global drivers of change on European and global food demand and raw material production, and specifically aims to analyse vulnerabilities and transitions at EU Level. The European case study included 4 tasks: a Delphi method with experts to identify vulnerabilities and drivers of change in the European food system, analysing five EU case studies as key areas where different vulnerabilities to deliver FNS are expressed, the development of European scenarios and transition pathways.

The results of these four tasks taken together call for a place-based approach to progress FNS conceptualisations, but also to embrace the dynamic nature of vulnerabilities in current theoretical frameworks. A way forward is to progress further the concept of ‘vulnerability pathways’. A key contribution has been the identification of a rich set of policy recommendations. High-level experts participating particularly highlight the need to create a Food Strategy Council to inform, support and provide feedback on policy supported by a European Food Systems Knowledge sharing platform that gathers knowledge and examples of practices, assures data availability around nutrition and food environments, works towards greater policy coherence and provides greater support for social innovation.

In order to further our understanding of European food system vulnerabilities we first conducted an EU level analysis of FNS trends and their variation across European countries. For that purpose, we combined three different methods: (a) exploratory factor analysis to synthetize FNS indicators, (b) model (panel data) to identify trends in each country from the 2007-2009 crisis until nowadays; (c) GIS techniques to explore spatial heterogeneities of EU FNS. Results from these analysis depict a very heterogeneous FNS picture across EU countries. Existing FNS measures show a lack of reliable data and indicators to fully represent current challenges faced by the EU and existing threats within EU food systems that limit the delivery of FNS outcomes. This seems particularly relevant for the utilisation dimension, where, for example, there is a lack of indicators around food habits and their impact on health and safety. Observed trends highlight a strong reduction of concern for access dimensions, and moderate for availability and utilisation dimensions.

In order to characterise the vulnerability pathways that emerge within the five hotspots identified earlier, we addressed the following questions: (1) what are the main internal and external drivers of change affecting the hotspot (2) What are the causal mechanisms the result in vulnerability pathways? (3) Which FNS dimension is affected by each vulnerability pathway, the degree of impact, the time frame and the scale. Each vulnerability pathway also presents a list of external shocks and stresses that particularly affect the delivery of FNS outcomes.

The comparative analysis of the five case studies shed lights on sensitive factors of the food system, critical FNS dimensions and the drivers of change (exogenous and endogenous to the specific food) that are more likely to alter future provision of FNS outcomes. Results pinpoint that vulnerabilities may have different magnitudes and may affect different FNS dimensions. In the short-term the highest concerns relate to availability, while, in the mid-term and in the long-term all three FNS dimensions are affected. These concerns can be explained by a reduction in the adaptive capacities of the food system, mainly due to a reduction in natural and human resources as well as loss of diversity in the system (i.e. in terms of FNS outcomes). Results show that production and consumption spheres are deeply interrelated and without a provision of private and public goods by agriculture there will be higher exposure to shocks and stresses. The risks and stresses external to the food systems (e.g., migration, energy security etc.) highlight a very high exposure of European food systems to hazards and the negative effect of root causes of vulnerability. This high exposure to hazards, cannot be easily internalised by the European agri-food system and neither can be managed through existing common policy schemes. In fact, governing such pressures in the food system requires an adequate institutional environment and governance mechanisms that build resilience and enable successful adaptation to deliver FNS.

3.2. Local case studies (Oostindie et al., 2016)

The TRANSMANGO local case studies represent multiple assemblages practices with varied FNS security outcomes. Together these practices represent a part of the broader national and European fragmented foodscapes. We conceptualized in the beginning an FNS practice or pathway as referring to new routines, new patterns of connecting and/or reconnecting FNS resources in new ways, leading to new routines and patterns (as well as new social relationships). To cover and explore the richness of the fragmented and heterogeneous nature of our contemporary foodscape, the TRANSMANGO local cases engaged with two FNS practices per partner country. This allowed a better theorisation and empirical underpinning of the fragmented European foodscape.

The selection of cases was carried out using a purposive sampling strategy. The selection below was therefore considered to be the most informative and aligned to the project goals. According to the description of work the original task was to develop a set of 10 cases. However, in order to increase our coverage of the breadth of FNS concerns, as depicted in TRANSMANGO national media reports, we opted for eighteen cases. In order to successfully manage the workload implications of this choice, a distinction was made between principal and satellite cases, in which only the former involved additional data collection through scenario workshops. Furthermore, in some instances partners included cases that could partially build upon empirical material from earlier national or European research programs.

From the critical analysis of food systems and our TRANSMANGO case study sample the following practice-led redesign principles we distilled from: (1) re-enforcing food entitlements of traditional and newly emerging vulnerable groups; (2) re-connecting sustainability and health and (3) re-linking food systems that foster urban-rural synergies. Four clusters of clusters of practice-led FNS redesigning were identified: (1) food entitlements, (2) citizen-consumer commitment, (3) peri-urban land access movements and (4) public procurement and preparedness. The cluster based analysis showed that practice-led FNS redesigning is highly place specific in terms of leading actors, resource mobilisation, linkages with wider narratives of change, institutional settings, FNS interpretations, -thoughts, -debates, -disputes, etc. Consequently, its integrative and transformative capacity cannot be isolated from these place specificities. Finally, two complementary redesign principles were introduced relating to the governance features of practice-led FNS (1) re-balancing socio-technical engineering and and (2) re-thinking resilience building.

Our FNS redesign principles are imbued with boundary spanning practices, intentions, hopes and expectations. Hence, physical boundary spanning is omnipresent in the re-connection of urban and rural spaces; the reinforcement of food entitlements of traditional and newly emerging vulnerable groups is a clear expression of social boundary spanning and re-linking food system sustainability and public health has obviously a lot in common with cognitive boundary spanning. The fourth and fifth principle, re-balancing socio-technical engineering and the re-thinking of resilience building, introduce some complementary characteristics of boundary spanning by means of establishing stakeholder agreement regarding the normative and temporal aspects of promising FNS governance. As such overall case-study findings not just confirm but also complement insights on the role, meaning and significance of boundary spanning in relation to FNS governance futures. In its multiple manifestations boundary spanning turns out to be a crucial feature
of practice-led FNS redesigning, with the overarching ambition to contribute to the ‘better working wholes’ (systemic robustness) that will mitigate and alleviate place-specific manifestations of FNS vulnerabilities. The same case-study evidence reveals that practice-led boundary spanning continues to be work in progress. This certainly also includes overall institutional responsiveness, willingness and capacity to embrace, nurture and further explore their prospects in increasingly diverse European foodscapes.

4. Policy recommendations

The TRANSMANGO consortium based on research outcomes has developed strategic policy recommendations and accompanying massages to foster FNS in Europe (Oostindie et al., 2017):

Recommendation 1: Address the multi-faceted nature of contemporary food and nutrition security vulnerabilities by developing a comprehensive and integrated food policy for Europe which recognises these challenges as systems-wide
• Food policy responses should be designed at a systems level and policy-makers should recognise that food systems have no national boundaries
• Ensuring long term food and nutrition security in the face of food system change brought by investment, expansion, innovation and competition should become a key area of attention for policy-makers
• The importance of enhancing the collaborative agency of a range of directly and indirectly involved stakeholders must be recognised by policy-makers
• The variety and scale of food system vulnerabilities must be acknowledged and addressed, beginning first with those vulnerabilities which are framed as such by the widest range of perspectives
• Policy responses should have the goals of either reducing a food system’s exposure and sensitivity to vulnerabilities or increase a food system’s adaptive capacities
• Food poverty should be addressed through a range of policy measures which aim to tackle instability of incomes, affordability of healthy foods
• Policy efforts should be directed towards improving the level of access which vulnerable groups have to healthy diets, and their ability to fully utilize foods therein
• Policy proposals should be tested in the context of a variety of plausible future food scenarios

Recommendation 2: Incorporate broad social justice aims into food policy-making
• Policy actions need to be founded in a re-thinking of how contemporary food democracy should be enacted
• Although technologies and markets may offer substantial opportunities, policy responses for food security should concentrate on social engagement and commitment.
• The social and human rights priority of food must be re-incorporated into public policy-making, recognising cultural differences in determining what is good and adequate food.

Recommendation 3 : Alleviate and mitigate persistent policy fragmentation
• Policy de-fragmentation has to take place at multiple scales (Global, European, National , Regional, Local). This requires more active and direct involvement of urban policy actors
• As policy desiloing is not about straightforward and simple recipes, experimental space will be one of the crucial conditions to make progress in this respect.
• Therefore, developing cross-cutting policy is an absolute prerequisite for moving towards what food scholars call joined-up, comprehensive, consistent or coherent food policies.

Recommendation 4: Stimulate and substantiate integrated capacity-building
• Public policy making should nurture the agency that is displayed in the emergence of various food networks where FNS may be practiced in different ways
• Policy making bodies should endeavour to learn from these innovations
• Emerging food networks show that socio-cultural-economic and historical contexts are important to take into account, as should be the case in policy development
• Food policy-making requires more sophisticated methods for assessing and comparing integrative capacity building

Recommendation 5: Recognise and embrace Europe’s diverse food contexts
• Diverse food landscapes may contribute positively to overall resilience of FNS in Europe and as such policy should be made while mindful of embracing this diversity
• Approach current diversity in food landscapes as living labs for collective learning, exploring and practicing; owing, enabling and pushing integrative capacity building within place-specific manifestations and assemblages of FNS redesign
• Make exchange of thoughts, practices and performances between diverging food contexts a crucial component of food policy making

Finally, a roadmap for improved communication between policy makers and scientists was proposed (Mathijs, 2018). In order to solve complex, societal problems policy-makers call upon science to provide explanations and predictions about how the natural and the social world work. However, when doing so, they need to take into account the specificities of science. Conversely, scientists need to take into account the specificities of policy-making when they want to disseminate their results to policymakers. For this, interactions between science and policy have been conceptualized as science-policy interfaces (SPI). The concept of SPI has been well elaborated and investigated in the context of environmental policy-making, but less so in other areas, such as in the agricultural, food and rural policy domains. Therefore, the aim of this deliverable is to apply the SPI concept to these domains, drawing on the existing SPI literature in general and on experience in European environmental policy-making in particular. Reconciling the supply of scientific information with the demands of decision makers is not automatically performed leading to many frustrations on both sides. Well-functioning SPI require boundary work that ensures that information be credible, salient and legitimate through active, iterative and inclusive communication between scientists and decision makers, enhanced by translating scientific jargon into accessible language and involving multiple stakeholders through mediation. This requires dedicated actors who are accountable to their constituency and is organised around a set of boundary objects. TRANSMANGO has created several boundary objects to help reformulate the food and nutrition security debate and take a food systems approach, including a conceptual map of the food system, a vulnerability matrix linking external events to food system components, systems thinking tools addressing dynamic effects in the food system and future scenarios helping in making interventions future-proof. Following an analysis of how the SPI has functioned in the ongoing policy cycle related to CAP reform post 2020, entry points into this and other policy cycles are suggested and recommendation on how to improve SPI are formulated.


Brunori, G. et al., 2015. Conceptual framework. Deliverable 2.1, TRANSMANGO.

Colombo, L. et al., 2015. Report on EU meanings and controversies of FNS and vulnerabilities
in Europe. Deliverable D2.4, TRANSMANGO.

Depperman, A., et al., 2016. Review of modelling capacities of current models using TRANSMANGO stakeholder modelling outputs. Deliverable 4.2, TRANSMANGO.

Depperman, A. et al., 2017. Report on modelling new FNS aspects based on stakeholder inputs and quantified TRANSMANGO transition pathways. Deliverable 4.3, TRANSMANGO.

Grando, S. et al., 2016. N x M matrix on the multidimensionality of vulnerabilities and their drivers. Deliverable D2.5, TRANSMANGO.

Mathijs, E., 2018. Roadmap for improved communication between research and policy making. Deliver able 7.3, TRANSMANGO.

Moragues-Faus, A. et al., 2015. Report on Delphi Method. Deliverable D5.1, TRANSMANGO.

Oostindie, H. et al., 2016. Practice-led FNS redesigning in Europe. Synthesis report on FNS pathway-specific drivers, potentials and vulnerabilities. Deliverable 6.4, TRANSMANGO.

Oostindie, H. et al., 2017. Policy Recommendations. Deliverable 7.1-7.2, TRANSMANGO.

Vervoort, J. et al., 2016. Explorative EU scenarios. Deliverable 5.3, TRANSMANGO.

Vervoort, J. et al., 2017. Synthesis: From European and Local Scenarios to Transition Pathways. Deliverable 3.4, TRANSMANGO.

Potential Impact:
Socio-economic impact and wider societal implications of the project so far

From the initial proposal on, the TRANSMANGO consortium had the ambition to take a holistic approach on the food system. This approach is foremost illustrated in the conceptual framework, which was the backbone of the TRANSMANGO project. The framework encompasses the total food system, from consumer to ecosystem.

This approach also implies the close cooperation with stakeholders, both at the local and national level and at the European level. The organisation of very interactive scenario workshops has facilitated this cooperation. All workshops were proceeded by preparatory interviews with the various actors in society.

At the European level, we have been confronted with ‘stakeholder fatigue’ which forced the consortium to develop attractive workshops with a clear target. As outlined in the DoW, TRANSMANGO had the ambition to cooperate with policy makers in various relevant domains including for example agricultural policy, health policy and environmental policy. Apart from the envisaged output for the TRANSMANGO project, this gathering of experts from various domains helps to build bridges and adds to coherence across policy domains in the area of food.

Main dissemination and exploitation of results
Scientific audience
As can be derived from the dissemination and publication list, TRANSMANGO teams have been very active in terms of contribution to scientific events and publishing. Facilitated by the interdisciplinarity of the TRANSMANGO consortium, articles have been published in diverse scientific journals:
• Sustainability
• Journal of Cleaner Production
• Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers
• Food Security
• Journal of Rural Studies
• Environmental Science and Policy
• Journal of Agricultural Economics
• Local Environment
• Current opinion in Environmental Sustainability
• Advances in Food Security and Sustainability

In the third periodic report, we demonstrate that further publications are scheduled after the duration of the project, including accepted publications and submitted articles:
• Hebinck, A. J. Vervoort, P. Hebinck, L. Rutting and F. Galli (forthcoming 2018), Imagining transformative futures: Participatory foresight for food systems change, Ecology and Society, (Special Issue ‘Designing Transformative spaces for sustainability in social-ecological systems’).
• Wiebe, K, Zurek, MB, Lord, S et al., (2018). Scenario development and foresight analysis: exploring options to inform choices. Annual Review of Environment and Resources.

Furthermore, a special issue in Food Security is scheduled with the following contributions:
1. Introduction: Re-building food systems: Food and Nutritional Security in Europe and Food Policy Terry Marsden, Paul Hebinck, Erik Mathijs
2. Performing food and nutritional security in Europe: claims, promises and limitations Paul Hebinck, Henk Oostindie
3. Access to agricultural land in peri-urban spaces: local institutional frameworks and food-related social movements in Rome and Valencia Pedro Cerrada-Serra, Luca Colombo, Stephano Grando Dionisio Ortiz-Miranda
4. Reshaping urban political ecologies: An analysis of policy trajectories to deliver food security. Ana Moragues Faus,, Bridin Carroll
5 Food assistance systems: evidence of governance arrangements across three European countries Francesca Galli, Aniek (Hebinck, Bridin Carroll
6. Exploring alternative food networks contribution to deliver food and nutrition security. A comparative analysis Pedro Cerrada-Serra, Ana Moragues Faus, Dionisio Ortiz-Miranda, Tessa Avermaete
7. Manoeuvring between regulations to achieve locally accepted results: analysis of school meals in Latvia and Finland Mikelis Grivins, Talis Tisenkopfs, Ville Tikka, Tiina Silvasti
8 Market impacts from an implementation of regional feed supply chains in Europe Andre Deppermann, Petr Havlik, Hugo Valin, Esther Boere, Joost Vervoort
9. The Committee on World Food Security: politics under threat Jessica Duncan, Nadia Lambek, Priscilla Claeys

The consortium organised a number of workshops within European and international conferences such as:
- Organisation of a workshop at the IFSA (International Farming Systems Association) conference in Telford (July 2016)
- Organisation of a workshop at the Rural Sociology Congress in Krakow (July 2017)
- Organisation of a workshop at the EAAE conference in Parma (August 2017)

Furthermore, TRANSMANGO researchers participated in several conference outside Europe as well, such as the First Global Food Security Conference in Ithaca (US) in October 2015, the Second Global Food Security Conference in Cape Town (South Africa) in December 2017, and the IRSA World Congress of Rural Sociology, which took place in Toronto (Canada), in August 2016.

Policy makers
Policy makers have been involved from the start of the project, taking part in both the local case studies and in the European level workshops.
The local case studies, performed in WP6, provided interesting input for policy makers. In several cases, local and regional policy makers were involved in the development of the case studies, either as active participant in the workshop or through bilateral dialogue between the TRANSMANGO partner and the local government. We provide below some examples.

Example of Spain. A report, “Nuevas iniciativas de agricultura periurbana” [New initiatives of peri-urban agriculture] after the Valencia participatory scenarios workshops was prepared and disseminated in both a reduced and a complete full version, to more than 30 people from different backgrounds related to Valencian peri-urban agriculture, i.e. Producers & processors: small, local, in general directly linked to consumers through SFSC; Civil society organizations working for agroecology, food sovereignty, sustainable food systems...; Consumers: Responsible Consumer Groups (CSA) and parent-student association promoting organic & local food in school canteens; Different Administration levels (local and regional) working to boost sustainable agriculture and food systems; University professors and experts interested in sustainable agriculture related issues, Participatory Action Research...
Besides these dissemination activities, activities (interviews, focus groups and scenario workshops) have created several collaboration ties between the UPV team and some public bodies and civil society organization that go beyond the scope of the research objectives. In this regard, it is worthy mention three of them:
• The engagement in the process of creation of a Food Policy Council in the municipality of Valencia.
• The participation in the organization of a Social Summit in Valencia within the frame of the Valencia World’s Food Capital 2017.
• The participation in a project to design an agri-food related business incubator, as part of a comprehensive action plan for the promotion of the municipal agricultural activity.
• UPV members (as well as Ana Moragues from CU) collaborate as well with the Foundation Daniel and Nina Carasso in the launching of call for projects to support local food policy processes.
The involvement of UPV team in these processes is a direct implication of TRANSMANGO, and it is supported in the networking and knowledge gained along the research.

Example from The Netherlands. Although the dissemination to policy-makers in the Netherlands will concentrate especially on the outcomes of WP7, which is still work in progress, it is hereof relevance to refer to established close contacts with policy makers in the Eindhoven region during the various workshops and other meetings organized for the delivery of an urban food visioning policy document for Eindhoven’s urban administration by the Proeftuin40 consortium.

Example in Belgium. The TRANSMANGO local case study in Belgium was the initial driver for the involvement of the KU Leuven team in the agricultural council for the City of Leuven, which started off in 2015. More recently, it provided the opportunity for the KU Leuven team to become one of the leading partners in the development of the food strategy for Leuven.

Non-academic stakeholders, including citizens
Local case studies requested close cooperation with various groups of stakeholders along the food chain, from local producers to consumers. Developing the local case studies can therefore be considered as a first step in dissemination towards a broader audience. Engagement with stakeholders in the EU case study on the future of the organic sector, and both European stakeholder meetings, also represent significant engagement with stakeholder groups.

Further, UOXF took the lead in exploring the possibilities of the interactive tool. An initial assessment showed that suitable conceptual modelling tools already exist, and that there would be a challenge in engaging on-line publics with the use of such a tool. A much better approach to public engagement with food system issues was thought to be the development of games on the future of food. Games share many benefits with participatory modelling because they are essentially system representations that players can interact with and explore different strategies. Games are also closely related to future scenarios because they allow for the exploration of future worlds and the development of interactive scenario narratives.

Having asserted that games would be much preferred over an on-line conceptual modelling tool, TRANSMANGO researchers explored how engagement through games could best connect to the mission of TRANSMANGO to enrich and diversify what futures can be imagined for the future of food in Europe. It was decided that rather than constructing one game, a series of ‘game jams’, or game co-design workshops, would be organized, resulting in a wide variety of different game prototypes (video games, virtual reality games, board games, card games) that each offer different perspectives on the future of the European food system in a global context.

To this end, TRANSMANGO collaborated with the Horizon 2020 project JAMTODAY led by the Utrecht School of Arts (Games and Interaction), which focuses on the co-design of policy-relevant applied games, to organize four game jams (Glasgow, Florence, Utrecht, Brussels).

The TRANSMANGO Game Jam Movie ( visualises the involvement of youngsters in the project.

Furthermore and in line with the DoW, various activities were developed emphasizing the nutritional component of the project and its importance within a European context. The involvement of the bachelor education institute (UCCL) as partner in the consortium facilitated the outreach towards dieticians, dietician students and youngsters in general. Among others, this outreach included:
• Workshop at UCLL for student of professional bachelor nutrition
• Interactive session at Technopolis event (Belgium) to disseminate the work to teachers of primary/ secondary school.
• Bachelor thesis at UCCL on TRANSMANGO topics.
• Interactive session at Belgian Music festival (i.e. Pukkelpop)

Long-term impact of the project
The long-term impact of TRANSMANGO is diverse.
First of all, TRANSMANGO has been explicitly an interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary project. It has demonstrated the challenges and the opportunities of such cooperation to the involved partners and their stakeholders. This has been a learning process most relevant for future projects.

In terms of managing these projects, the evaluation on strengths, weaknesses and recommendation can be used for future project management. The entire evaluation table is included in the periodic report 3 making distinction between the cooperation between project partners, the content and the project management.

With respect to the cooperation between project partners, we highlight for example the potential of such European projects for cooperation between young researchers. As a weakness, we noticed unequal distribution of workload across partners, and in terms of recommendations, ‘obligatory’ feedback from all partners on deliverables might enhance involvement of the teams.

An evaluation on the content showed the added value of a diversity of cases, and – as a weakness – the difficulty of comparing diverse cases. Furthermore, we experienced that it is better to tackle policy recommendations in a very early stage of the project.
In terms of management, the consortium agreed on the need for clear and good leadership, and – as a weakness – the fact that the project ends with a task in which only a limited number of partners is closely involved. Finally, a specific person on communication issues would be advisable. This is in line with the outcomes of the multi-actor day, organised by DG AGRI in Brussels, 8th March 2018.

Several starting and ongoing European projects have been inspired by TRANSMANGO with partnerships that build on the TRANSMANGO consortium. Examples are SUFISA, SALSA, SUSPLACE and SUREFARM. Furthermore, other proposal have been recently submitted building among others on TRANSMANGO.

Also at the local and national level, TRANSMANGO has been a driving force for new partnerships. One example is the project ‘Voedsel voor de Toekomst’, in which KU Leuven in involved.

The TRANSMANGO project has experimented ‘outside the box’ through the integration of IT youngsters in the development of interactive games. It has showed the added value of bringing scientists and experts together with youngsters.

Several TRANSMANGO researchers are also involved or have been contacted as experts for the IPES FOOD platform. The results of TRANSMANGO are valuable for the development of a food policy for Europe.

Furthermore, Roberta Sonnino (Cardiff University) was a Vice-Chair of FOOD 2030 Expert Group and act as rapporteur for the conference on “Harnessing Research and Innovation for FOOD 2030: A science-policy dialogue” that took place in Brussels in 16th October 2017. In this role, she is in charge of writing a report on the main EU R&I achievements in the area of “climate and environmental sustainability”. The outputs of TRANSMANGO will further feed the debate within the FOOD 2030 platform.

List of Websites:
Project website:
Project blog:

Contact persons
• Prof Erik Mathijs (project coordinator),
• Dr. Tessa Avermaete (project manager),
Division of Bioeconomics, Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences
KU Leuven
Celestijnenlaan 200 E box 2411, 3001 Leuven, Belgium
tel: 0032.16.372.175

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