Imagining transformative food futures: starting with people on the front lines   

By: Joost Vervoort

When the future of food in Europe is discussed by policy makers, conversations traditionally focus on large-scale economics and on agricultural production. At the same time, however, people in initiatives and organizations all throughout Europe are actively experimenting with new ways to organize European food, often at local and national levels. The people involved in these initiatives have diverse and transformative ideas about what food in Europe’s future could be, and these ideas drive them to work hard to achieve their desired futures. But this lively and diverse world of food system experimentation fails to connect, for the most part, to national and European policy dialogues.

In the FP7 TRANSMANGO project, we aimed to explore the future hopes and worries of people working in such highly innovative and transformative projects and networks. This exploration of different futures was done in close collaboration with the people involved in such initiatives. TRANSMANGO researchers aimed to offer different futuring tools – visioning, back-casting (planning backward from the future) and the use of challenging scenarios – to transformative food initiatives. These approaches were offered in the first place to help such initiatives think more strategically about their own goals and how they could be reached in the face of the pressures that a changing future might offer. By focusing on using different approaches for engaging with the future on the specific plans and strategies of food initiatives, we aimed to make sure that future explorations were concretely useful to all involved.   Continue reading “Imagining transformative food futures: starting with people on the front lines   “

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TRANSMANGO: The project that is *not* about mangoes

Four years into the project, roughly 30 country level food systems reports and about 18 deliverables later… And many of us will have had a question about mangoes at some point in time while at a conference or a local meeting. To clear the air and clarify what TRANSMANGO is all about; I’ll give a brief (as possible) overview of the project’s interdisciplinary, multi-layered and multi-sited work and some of the key deliverables and interesting reports produced throughout these years. Sad to say, this will not involve any mangoes… 🙂

As we set out on this ambitious project, our aims were to firstly, reformulate the debate on FNS. A second, more methodological objective, was to develop new ways of system modelling by combing quantitive and qualitative approaches. And lastly, through his new methodological approach we aimed to connect EU-level dynamics and local-level dynamics regarding food systems. The idea behind all these objectives was to connect the work on quantitative and indicator-based assessments of food systems to the vast empirical diversity regarding the securities, vulnerabilities and sovereignties around food, and as such build a comprehensive picture of EU food systems.

Continue reading “TRANSMANGO: The project that is *not* about mangoes”

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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