The 11 FIT4FOOD2030 Policy Labs are working towards the alignment of research and innovation policies and programs on Food and Nutrition Security. They do this by building on and expanding existing national and regional networks. Each Policy Lab is unique as all organise different activities and focus on the most relevant food system challenges for their location. The Norwegian Policy Labs has been highlighted in a recent interview, found below.


In short:

The Norwegian Lab has organised several meetings for a broad range of actors from the food system. They play the role of the facilitator and organiser of dialogues between stakeholders and stakeholder groups relevant for food, health, sustainability and food system transformation. The stakeholders that participated in the Policy Lab meetings have produced their vision for a new sustainable and healthy Norwegian food system. They also drew a roadmap with important milestones of research and innovation to achieve the prior. In addition, the Policy Lab successfully established collaborations with several relevant institutions to transform the Norwegian and Nordic food systems. Despite there many achievements, they also faced the challenge of engaging certain stakeholders, such as consumers groups.


Read the interview below:

Why did you choose to join the FIT4FOOD2030 project? What were your expectations when joining?

The participation of Norway and the Research Council Norway (RCN) is a natural follow up of national funding of Research and Innovation (R&I) on food and health, and in particular the work in the Joint Programming Initiative – A Healthy Diet for a Healthy Life (JPI HDHL). One of the main ambitions is to improve the R&I system, by creating collaboration between the “silos/sectors” of food R&I, health R&I, and to include sustainable development issues into the equation. The participation was also on the condition that the three relevant ministries (agriculture and food, health and care services, and industry and fisheries) were united in supporting the participation, and this was (is) the case in Norway.

Expectations: We started off with humble expectations of contributing (in Norway) to the very important challenge of food, health and sustainability, and the need for transforming our food system. During the project we have managed to involve/engage numerous stakeholder groups, first and foremost in the R&I-system, but lately we have also made progress in engaging other interested R&I-funding actors, and not only in Norway, but in the Nordic countries. We are thereby about to create the type of synergies that the FIT4FOOD2030-project envisions – namely a platform of engaged stakeholders and processes that may continue the work and become self-sustainable after the end of the FIT4FOOD2030-project. Ultimately, we hope to publish calls for proposals within the topic food system – food, health and sustainability.

Could you please give a description of the activities you perform as a policy lab?

The main tasks imply activities such as stakeholder involvement, raising awareness, agenda setting, visioning, roadmap building, identifying research and innovation topics. It implies being a facilitator and organizer of dialogues between stakeholders and stakeholder groups relevant for food, health and sustainability and food system transformation. This in turn implies identifying stakeholder and stakeholder groups, inviting them to policy lab meetings and facilitating dialogue between them. The objective has been to engage as many stakeholder groups as possible in the food system. This is quite challenging, in particular to engage the demand/consumer side. The most interested and active stakeholders are research actors and the biggest innovation actors (firms).

A more and more important activity is to establish synergies between projects that have similar and overlapping objectives to ours. In the Nordic region, most of the most important research and innovation funding actors have food system transformation, food, health and sustainability, on the agenda. So, creating a network of actors that have similar objectives is of utmost important, in order to prepare for impact throughout in the society.

It is important to engage stakeholders from the research communities as well as from industry, citizens/consumers, policy and the civil society.

Agents from the Norwegian food system during the second national meeting on March 22, 2019

Could you briefly explain what you have accomplished up to now? Were you able to achieve concrete results? If yes, please describe.

There have been around six “core” policy lab meetings and additionally we have organised several more informal meetings with different stakeholder groups. In the “core” policy lab meetings the participants have produced output, such as a vision for a new sustainable and healthy Norwegian food system. Different elements for R&I have been identified, for example in terms of the most important target groups (e.i., youths and elderly people) and in terms of the most important research topics (such as legal/regulatory policy and policy measures). We have thereby been able to draw a roadmap with important milestones of R&I, that ultimately can be used as a guide to write/launch R&I calls for proposals.

In correspondence with the mentioned activities of creating synergies (last paragraph in point 2 above) we have succeeded in establishing concrete and formalised cooperation with actors such as the Norwegian Institute of Public Health, the EAT foundation, and service designers and facilitators of dialogue, such as Comte Bureau. Please see the project Matdugnaden (in Norwegian). Through this cooperation we have established another contact/collaboration with the Stockholm Resilient Centre. A couple of the policy lab meetings have been facilitated in collaboration with the Research Council Norway (RCN) and the mentioned actors. Another process has also been kickstarted, as a result of the different initiatives/activities. It is a process of establishing a network and gathering Nordic research and innovation funding actors, with the ambition to influence the creation of the new EU framework programme Horizon Europe, and the ambition to work on the level of Nordic Food Systems transformation.

Agents from the Norwegian food system during the second national meeting on March 22, 2019

What obstacles were you confronted with? What has facilitated your work?

The most severe obstacle that we have experienced, is the problem of engaging certain stakeholders and stakeholder groups, and hence stakeholder groups that are and will be crucial for impact. The most important ones are those on the demand side: consumers and organisations/actors that represent consumer groups. Examples are public actors such as municipalities, and public or private actors (service providers within health care or education etc.) that function as interface between the supply side and the demand side in the value chain. One of the ways to overcome such obstacles, is to engage in collaborations with actors that can link to consumer groups, for example consumer organisations and public procurers.

The Norwegian society is relatively small and transparent, and RCN, with responsibility for R&I-funding of all sectors, is well positioned as node in the food system. There are other actors in Norway that work for the good cause of food and health. It is, as already mentioned, an objective to establish contact with these actors and thereby reach synergies through common network building.

What are your plans and expectations for the near future, within the FIT4FOOD2030 project?

The task is to continue the good work on food, health and sustainability that has already been going on in Norway for some time. The objective is to improve R&I Policies for food, health and sustainability, and if possible, to expand the initiative beyond Norway and into the Nordic sphere. In line with the overall objectives of FIT4FOOD2030 and Policy Labs, the outcomes will be policy briefs, methodologies and new R&I instruments, in addition to the crucial network and synergy building that can make sure that the work continues after the end of the FIT4FOOD2030 project.