Platform for African – European Partnership in Agricultural Research for Development

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

The role of consumers for sustainable food and nutrition systems

11 October 2016. Brussels. In the context of the FOOD2030 conference "Research and Innovation for Tomorrow’s Nutrition and Food Systems”, the European Agricultural Research towards greater impact on global CHallenges (ARCH) jointly organised a Pre Event with other SCAR Strategic Working Groups AKIS and Food Systems as well as DGs RTD, AGRI and DEVCO on the role of consumers in the sustainable consumption and production in Europe and in developing countries.

The Pre Event show-cased examples of practical initiatives of the role of consumers from
which lessons may be drawn; investigate measures providing incentive to link various
stakeholder groups and also examine linkages between research and innovation policies both
at EU and national levels.
  • The role of consumers in different countries and regions will be highlighted to contribute to more resilient and sustainable food and nutrition systems.
  • The outcomes of the Pre Event will contribute to the DG RTD FOOD 2030 Conference and address the need to include the consumer’s perspective to create greater impact on global challenges by European Food and Nutrition Security research.
  • the SUMMARY REPORT ARCH European Agricultural Research towards greater impact on global Challenges CONSUMERS AND GLOBAL FOOD SYSTEMS Pre-Event to the European FOOD 2030 High Level Conference Date Tuesday 11th October, 2 pages
  • REPORT CONSUMERS AND GLOBAL FOOD SYSTEMS Pre-Event to the European FOOD 2030 High Level Conference, 7 pages 

  1. The most sustainable food or value chain choice is not necessarily the most obvious one. Discussions made it clear that there is a need for more diversity in the food system, for reducing food wastage, and for value chain actors to take more responsibility, including for impacts in low- and middle-income countries
  2. The assessment of the sustainability impact of food systems should be multi-dimensional. This means looking beyond the well-known ‘People, Planet, and Profit’ dimensions, and should include ethics, fairness, culture and other aspects that are not always taken into account. For example, a Life Cycle Analysis may be scientifically sound, but doesn’t address ethical aspects.
  3. While it is important to be clear about what needs to be measured, it is also challenging to know who participates. Sustainability impact assessment should not just be a scientific activity but a multistakeholder process. 
  4. There is a need to raise consumer awareness about where and how food is produced, and to go a step further, working on consumer empowerment. These will form the basis for subsequent behavioral changes, and possibly for change at system level. 
  5. Another type of research is needed, including harmonized models for measuring consumer behavior, sharing data, etc. Consumer involvement in research is welcome, although expectations should be realistic given the often limited resources available. In multistakeholder research, various private sector actors also need to be included (retailers, SMEs, MNCs). Examples of successful engagement of multinational companies were mentioned, though reality shows that this involvement has been less ideal in other cases. 
  6. To foster the sustainability of food systems, there is an important role for the youth. Educating young children and youth about food can be effective, if you do it properly. But, at the same time, people from all age groups can foster food system change - it is everybody’s responsibility.
Extract of the programme

Shifting Consumption: Lessons from market transformations by Daniel Vennhard, World Resources Institute

A new paradigm for sustainable food systems by Emile Frison, IPES Food

Are local food systems more sustainable than global food systems? by Gianluca Brunori, Glamor project

Making sustainable food choices easier for consumers by Camille Perrin, European Consumer Organisation

Serving food for change, by Jorrit Kiewik, Youth Food Movement

The case of reducing food losses and waste; Engaging Consumers for Change by Toine Timmermans, WUR

A Joint EIARD SCAR Strategic Working Group – ARCH - was established in September 2013 in order to improve linkages between Agricultural Research and Agricultural Research for Development aiming at identifying and working towards ways to increase the contribution of European Agricultural Research investments to the solution of global challenges.
  • Agricultural Research (AR) focusses on national needs within Europe whereas Agricultural Research for Development (ARD) is dedicated to collaboration with and in developing countries working towards the Millennium Development Goals.
  • European Agricultural Research must now also focus on global challenges such as food security and climate change. At national, European and at global level Agricultural Research and Agricultural Research for Development activities are fragmented and could benefit from better coordination. Cooperation between EIARD and SCAR through the Joint EIARD-SCAR Strategic Working Group will strengthen Europe’s position in solving global issues that are the common interest and commitment of Europe and the global community.
  • For brief information please use the following link:Brief information about ARCH
  • For a folder about ARCH please print from this link:Folder about ARCH

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