Published 2020-03-19

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SEK 64m for research on sustainable food system

Mistra’s Board has decided to approve the Food Futures proposal, with the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU) as the lead applicant, submitted in response to the ‘Food Supply and Sustainable Food Systems’ call. The purpose of the programme is to bring about a sustainable, resilient food system that delivers healthy food.

Mistra Food Futures will work out targets to achieve sustainability — economic, social and environmental — in the Swedish food system by 2045. These targets and the measures required will be analysed in a global context to ensure that national solutions help us to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The programme is to be awarded up to SEK 64m over four years, with co-funding of 20 per cent.

’We’re so glad to get the chance to implement Mistra Food Futures. This is a unique programme, in which we’ll gather operators in the food system. Then we’ll jointly create a platform that enables knowledge to be developed for the transition to a sustainable Swedish food system. And the programme will initiate the transition,’ says Helena Hansson, a professor at SLU and one of the two planned directors of the new research programme.

The programme will develop scenarios for how the objectives are to be attained, and indicators to evaluate progress. Mistra Food Futures will also identify and develop measures to enable the Swedish farming sector to reach net zero emissions of greenhouse gases by 2045, and also to make progress towards other environmental objectives.

‘The food sector has increasingly come into focus in the past few years. There’s a growing realisation that our food production and consumption affect the climate, and have other environmental effects as well. But people are also realising, more and more, that we’re dependent on a food supply that functions properly and gives us healthy food on the table. That’s obvious, especially in times of crisis like this,’ says Thomas Nilsson, Programmes Director at Mistra.

Mistra Food Futures seeks to reform the Swedish food system

To succeed in making sweeping changes in the Swedish food system, Mistra Food Futures will identify implementation strategies, in both the near and a more distant future. The purpose is to step in promptly to help bring about a change, but also long-term transformation.

Close cooperation involving academics and key operators throughout the Swedish food system, retail sector and consumers will be development. The objective is for this to become a platform that rests on current research and fosters collaboration and innovation.

‘We hope the new research programme will boost our knowledge and yield practical solutions to the challenges we face,’ Nilsson adds.

The Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU) will be the programme host, and the work will be carried out in an interdisciplinary consortium, jointly with the Stockholm Resilience Centre (SRC) at Stockholm University and RISE Research Institutes of Sweden, and also with other stakeholders in academia, the food industry, government agencies and regions.