Transition towards a sustainable food system: an explorative study using a transdisciplinary systems approach

  • Marchand, Fleur (Project Manager)
  • Van Lancker, Jonas (Former Researcher)
  • Hubeau, Marianne (Former PhD Student)
  • Lauwers, Ludwig (Former Project Supervisor)

    Project Details


    Main research question/goal

    TRANSFOOD is commissioned by the Flemish Environment Group (VMM) in the context of the Environmental Outlook (publication end of 2018). This environmental study assumes that system changes are needed to drastically improve the environment. The researchers' goal is to visualize which system changes can generate the larger environmental improvements in the most direct way possible, and with as many win-wins as possible on the socio-economic, health and spatial levels. The environmental exploration focuses on the energy, mobility and nutrition system. ILVO's assignment is to study the food system.

    Research approach
    The approach is limited to an exercise in system thinking and a transdisciplinary research. The first must identify the relationships and connections internally and externally to the (food) system and describe the nature of the relationships. During the transdisciplinary knowledge compilation, academic and social actors work together to bring together expert knowledge and experiential knowledge.


    In a nutshell, these are some of the observations from the final report: The current food system ensures a wide and varied range of adequate and affordable food throughout the year. It can therefore be called efficient and successful, but it seems to run up against limits in terms of production and consumption. To improve the environmental impact, the environmental potential and the possible levers and barriers have been mapped out of three specific solutions: (i) Changes to the eating pattern, i.e. fewer animal products, more local and seasonal products and fewer food losses, (ii) System improvements by increasing eco-efficiency through technological innovations, closing cycles and reducing food losses at production and distribution levels, and (iii) system changes through the application of agro-ecological principles, the implementation of multifunctional services and new food systems with minimal use of land. Five points of attention have been formulated: (1) the use of a long-term vision of the food system, (2) the revision of the current legislative and policy framework, (3) continued commitment to innovation and knowledge development, (4) the importance of cooperation and dialogue between the actors involved, especially at chain level and (5) better informing the consumer and society around food and nutrition.

    Effective start/end date1/09/1730/05/18

    Data Management Plan flag for FRIS

    • DMP not present


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