Current challenges of the research and innovation system on food and nutrition security 2018-02-24T12:41:28+00:00

In view of the global food and nutrition security (FNS) challenges and the goals set in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the European Commission has established the FOOD 2030 policy framework [1]. The objective of FOOD 2030 is to contribute to the transformation of European food systems to make them ‘future-proof’, i.e. sustainable, resilient, responsible, diverse, competitive and inclusive.

There are a number of challenges that Food 2030’s transformative vision needs to tackle and the current research and innovation (R&I) system on FNS is inadequate for several reasons.

First, food system R&I is currently a fragmented landscape of separated disciplines and sectors both regarding its policy and scientific dimension. It has successfully dealt with individual compartmentalised parts of the food system such as agriculture, food safety and nutrition, but rarely takes an integrated perspective.

Second, the active involvement of Civil Society Organisations (CSOs), users (e.g. farmers), consumers and citizens, is rare and often has low priority. Many researchers and policy makers hardly value the knowledge of users and do not know how to organise stakeholder interactions during the research process [2]. Moreover, the academic incentive structures and R&I funding programs often do not support the use of inter- and transdisciplinary research approaches, which implies a lack of short-term return (appreciation, rewards) on investment (time, effort) for such approaches.

Furthermore, private sector R&I investments are modest [3]. Many Member States (MS) and Associated Countries (AC) fund research mainly through open calls instead of system-oriented calls, making it more challenging to establish R&I priorities for FNS. Despite member-state driven programming initiatives such as the Joint Programming Initiatives (JPIs), there still is a need for appropriate tools and incentivesto support an innovation culture both within R&I policy programs, and food related policies and regulations [4]. Thus, increased communication and training on the impact and value of R&I is key, both to foster the paradigm shifts and for investments towards FNS [5].

References

  1. As a response to the Milan World Expo process (with its theme ‘Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life’, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) resolution of the UN, and the COP21 (UN Climate Change Conference 2015) commitments.
  2. De Jong, M. et al. (2015). Exploring Responsible Innovation as a Guiding Concept. In: B.J. Koops, et al. (eds.) Responsible Innovation 2: Concepts, approaches and applications. Springer International Publishing: 57-84.
  3. FoodDrinkEurope (2016). Data & Trends of the European Food and Drink Industry 2013-2014.
  4. European Commission. (2016). Evaluation of Joint Programming to Address Grand Societal Challenges. Final Report [Online].
  5. European Commission. (2015). The Role of Science, Technology and Innovation Policies to Foster the Implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs): Report of the Expert Group “Follow-up to Rio+20, notably the SDGs”.