A short update on the results of the latest monitoring of the FIT4FOOD2030 Labs has been released. It includes an overview of the different stakeholders that the City and Policy Labs have engaged with until now. It also discusses the efficiency of using a systems-oriented approach when the Labs design their strategies of change. The monitoring process also focused on characteristics of the FIT4FOOD2030 project that were beneficial to the work of the Labs, such as granting them autonomy and encouraging collaboration with stakeholders from the food system.
Who are involved with the Labs?
The FIT4FOOD2030 City, Food and Policy Labs engage with a wide variety of relevant stakeholders. Regular, systematic monitoring by the FIT4FOOD2030 consortium seeks to identify gaps and opportunities for more diverse engagement efforts. As of the most recent count, the City and Policy Labs were actively engaging with the following stakeholders:
In 2020, increased engagement of citizens, students, and school children will take place through the implementation of the 15 educational modules from the City Labs.
System orientation as a strategy for change
A central principle of the theory of change underlying the FIT4FOOD2030 project is the acknowledgment that change must be produced within or relative to an already existing system. Therefore, one of the main priorities of the Lab coordinators’ training has been geared towards system analysis and system understanding. They have been encouraged to see themselves as change agents within this system.
Moreover, they were invited to base their strategies for change on an understanding of their systems’ barriers and resources. Results of the monitoring process indicate that this has been a productive starting point.
A survey sent to the Lab coordinators in the autumn 2019, confirms the above. When asked to what extent they think they have achieved their learning outcomes in the project so far – with a specific emphasis on food system understanding – roughly 70% of the policy Lab coordinators responded “to some degree”, while 30% responded “to a high degree”. Among city Lab coordinators, the numbers were 60% and 40%. In addition, in a survey sent to stakeholders that had been involved in Lab activities:
More than 60 % stated that “I now understand my local and/or national food system better»
More than 70 % stated that they now understand better «how I may contribute to change the food system»
More than 80 % stated that they now «have established new useful contacts»
More than 70 % stated that they now «feel more empowered to work for the necessary change in the food system.
Note: The numbers summarize those who stated this “to a large degree” and “to some degree”
The appreciation of autonomy
The autonomy granted to the Lab coordinators, is a very strong aspect of the project, which is almost unequivocally supported by the Lab coordinators. Within the general framework of the project, they can decide for themselves how to design and run their Labs.
The main reason why the Labs are granted such autonomy is related to the diverse local, regional and national contexts. What might be a successful model for a Lab in one context, is not necessarily replicable in another. Other arguments to give the Labs such autonomy are the unpredictability inherent to the process of setting up and running a Lab, and the necessity of being able to make quick revisions and adjustments on the way.
Stakeholders as resources
As part of the system analysis that the Labs were carrying out in the initial phase of the project, they identified stakeholders (individuals and organizations) that could function as allies in the process of setting up the Labs and realising their visions/goals. Several Labs report success in this respect.
In one of the countries, the Lab identified several clusters, both at the national and regional levels, organizing farmers and other food producers, including some major national enterprises. These clusters responded positively to invitations from the policy Lab, offering their interest and support. For instance, they promoted the policy Lab amongst their members, and they organized some of their meetings in close proximity to the meetings and workshops organized by the policy Lab, thus making it easier for their members to attend both. This also helped the policy Lab to establish a dialogue with major, private enterprises within food production.
All in all, the Labs report that they have received substantial help and input from stakeholders.