Promising insights into local pathways to food and nutrition security

A major part of the TRANSMANGO project, was the interrogation of locally enacted pathways to address food system vulnerabilities and ensure food and nutrition security. Although food system vulnerabilities have been subject to a variety of global and national interventions, programmes and policies, these have not been able to fully address these challenges.

The starting point for WP6 was the assumption that food systems cannot be understood as uniform. ‘Local’ actors too attempt to address food system vulnerabilities within their locality and in doing so may offer promising and resilient practices. The recently published local food and nutrition security (FNS) pathways reports showcase a rich diversity of practices found at the local level and can serve as insights for policy-makers at EU and local level. The cases have been synthesised in D6.4.

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Brexit: Towards building a new consensus for an Integrated Food and Rural Development Policy?

TransmangoJust as increasing calls and debates occur regarding the need for a more integrated and comprehensive Food and Agricultural policy across Europe we now have the Brexit result, which  whilst not changing the urgency for the need  to debate the shape of European policy beyond 2020, certainly adds another dimension and potential ‘opportunity space’ for such developments. Whilst specific instruments and policy programmes might indeed increasingly vary across Europe, this result does not quell the need to debate what sort of founding and common principles upon which such policies should be based.

Here I would like to set out some of the issues and reactions to the Brexit vote for the agri-food policy arena, some of which I presented and discussed at the recent UK Food Research Consortium held at City University, London in July. I also draw upon the recent policy paper we have written, entitled ‘Food Policy and Public Policy’ for the Welsh Minister for Farming and Food [1]. In addition these arguments here draw upon the research and discussions associated with the ongoing (and increasingly policy relevant) EU funded research project, TRANSMANGO [2] . Continue reading “Brexit: Towards building a new consensus for an Integrated Food and Rural Development Policy?”

Towards a Common Food Policy for the EU – a 3 year reflection led by IPES-Food

Rural Sociology Wageningen University

March 17 2016 IPES-Food (Twitter @IPESfood) launched a three-year process of reflection and research entitled: Towards a Common Food Policy for the European Union. IPES-Food will convene scientists, civil society groups, grassroots organisations and policy-makers from various governance levels in order to identify the policy tools that would be needed to deliver sustainable food systems in Europe. Kick-off meeting will be on April 17 in the European Parliament. A concept note Towards a Common Food Policy for the EU can be downloaded. Olivier De Schutter, co-chair of IPES-Food, will lead the process and explained the need for an EU food policy in an address to the European Economic and Social Committee on March 11th in a video:

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Experiences from Latvia: Local foresight workshop on school meal systems

The status and development of the Latvian school meal system was the main focus of the first local workshop by the Baltic Studies Centre-team. On the 18th of February we welcomed 19 participants to discuss the current status and developments within the school meal systems. The participants ranged from high level Ministry officials to end users  faced with changes in the school meal system; the high school pupils.

The timing of the workshop was somewhat complicated, as the beginning of 2016 saw a dramatic increase of controversy over new regulations of school meal quality aspects issued by the Ministry of Health. Thus the scenario workshop had the added value of providing the much needed safe and non-partisan meeting place for various stakeholders to try and align the diverse perspectives and agendas. Many participants noted that in the course of their professional activities they do not get the opportunity to meet some of the groups represented at the workshop and this opportunity was much appreciated. This workshop focussed on the desired goals in the school meal system, possible paths to attain those goals, and the downscaling of three EU-level scenarios to the level of the food system and school meals in Latvia. Continue reading “Experiences from Latvia: Local foresight workshop on school meal systems”

The TRANSMANGO Vulnerability Matrix: a conceptual & communicative tool

Food security is a complex domain; in Europe, it may appear less relevant and evident, while it’s more insidious nature reveals several symptoms. How to translate this opaque intricacy into an intelligible and logical synthesis? The Vulnerability Matrix which is part of WP2 is a conceptual and communicative tool to condense these complex phenomena into a visual summary that flags possible areas for policy action. The TRANSMANGO Matrix is inspired by the outcomes of the media content analyses carried out at national level in WP2 (found here).

The aim of the matrix is to give a synthetic representation of the main areas of food and nutrition 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 food and nutrition vulnerability mitigation where the main sensitive issues (priority mitigation areas) can be visualised. The Matrix is intended to support prompt identification of critical and emerging vulnerability elements. The use of icons is aimed at giving the reader an easy and immediate visual appreciation of the contents of each cell and of the Matrix general contents. Continue reading “The TRANSMANGO Vulnerability Matrix: a conceptual & communicative tool”

Reflections on the STEPS Centre Summer School 2015

As part of her training program within Transmango, Aniek Hebinck attended the STEPS Summer School in Brighton last Spring. In this blog she and a fellow attendant reflect on those two weeks of training.

PhDs In Transitions

This post was co-authored by Fredric Bauer (Lund University) and Aniek Hebinck (Wageningen University).

The Summer School run by the STEPS Centrehas become one of the centre’s annual highlights by bringing together young researchers to explore the intricate world of pathways to sustainability. Co-owned by the Institute for Development Studies (IDS) and the Science Policy Research Unit (SPRU) at the University of Sussex, the centre combines topics of development and innovation in its research and teaching.

During two very intensive weeks in Spring, we and 40 other PhD students and young researchers coming from 31 countries spent our time studying, thinking, discussing, and debating ‘pathways to sustainability’. Central to these debates were the politics and framings of sustainable transitions in global settings, e.g. cases discussed were agriculture in sub-Saharan Africa, water in India, and renewable energy in Europe. Between lectures given by distinguished academics such as Ian Scoones, Andy…

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The bumpy road to transdisciplinary research

Prof. Erik Mathijs, coordinator of TRANSMANGO, wrote about transdisciplinary research on the blog of KU Leuven: Multi-actor approaches and the necessity of giving space to do ‘boundary work’.


In today’s world, the wickedness, complexity and uncertainty of societal issues requires that traditional disciplinary approaches of science be complemented with what is often called transdisciplinary approaches. Transdisciplinarity first of all entails interdisciplinarity. Interdisciplinarity goes beyond multi-disciplinary approaches by designing integrated frameworks that cut across disciplines. Secondly, the ‘trans’ in transdisciplinarity refers to the active engagement and participation of stakeholders on equal par to the scientists. In Horizon 2020 it is called the multi-actor approach. However, as most scientists have disciplinary backgrounds and many may not be accustomed to giving so much power to stakeholders, any transdisciplinary endeavour is bound to be a learning experiment. In other words, doing transdisciplinary research requires that some boundary work be done, as the boundaries between science and non-science get blurred. However, much more is at stake than just creating common language.

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View Original post on kuleuven.be: The bumpy road to transdisciplinary research | Erik Mathijs

Embracing and exploring diversity in sustainable transition pathways to food and nutrition security

Through the project TRANSMANGO we hope to contribute to a better understanding of sustainable transition pathways to changing food systems. Especially in WP6 we put focus on the diverse food practices performed on the local level all over Europe and their contribution to food and nutrition security[1]. The European ‘fragmented foodscape’[2] is constituted by a range of various and often contrasting social practices that co-exist and interact with another. Hence we have selected a diverse range of food practices all over Europe in order to explore whether and if so how they enhance food security. These practices range from urban food (policy) initiatives in the UK to food assistance in Italy.

The 18 diverse case-studies that have been selected for WP6 illustrate the European[3]  heterogeneity in Food and Nutrition Security (FNS) practices and transition pathways. The selection covers predominantly ‘counter movements’ and more radical FNS transition pathways of which most have a focus on ‘bottom up’ initiatives around the consumption of food (rather than the production) as this field is still underrepresented when it comes to food system transition research. As can be seen in the figure, all of our partners have selected two case-studies. This was done based on the requirement that these social practices cover entitlement- and/or self-reliance issues. Using this divide amongst the cases allows us to zoom in on the contradictions in European food governance. Foremost, it provides us with a good insight into the complexity and heterogeneity of food practices, but also shows the need for ‘macro-level’ actors (e.g. the EU) to embrace these diverse interactions on a ‘micro-level’. Continue reading “Embracing and exploring diversity in sustainable transition pathways to food and nutrition security”

TRANSMANGO participating in Transformations2015 conference

A group of the TRANSMANGO consortium was present at the Transformations2015 conference in Stockholm, Sweden. This conference focussed on transformations towards sustainability: the challenge of solving problems in the Anthropocene and creating conditions for good lives for people, today and in the future, while strengthening Earth’s life support system. The aim of the conference was to build a better understanding of large-scale systemic changes and fundamental redirections in people-planet relationships that can have an impact at scales that match the challenges of the Anthropocene, in both developed and developing country contexts.

Transformations2015

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