Currently different parts of the food system are represented by specific networks. IKnowFood aims to bring together these disparate networks of farmers, industry and consumers in a new multi-stakeholder food resilience network.
This research theme will integrate the learnings of working with different stakeholders. It is important we bring different interests together to see if tensions and shocks can be managed more effectively at a food system level. By facing up to the tensions and trade-offs we aim to develop novel tools to enhance resilience
Professor Bob Doherty, Principal Investigator, IKnowFood
Global systems of food production, trade and consumption are shaped – and threatened – by complex interlinked factors, including climate change, ecosystem service provision and degradation, industry practice, rapid consumer lifestyle change and geo-political volatility. To date research on resilience in the food system lacks an interdisciplinary approach and has failed to account for multi-stakeholder perspectives.
We therefore aim to build up a shared understanding of resilience in the food system. This crosscutting work package will integrate and synthesise the findings of research themes 1-3 and by working with farmers, industry and consumers will aim to bring together different stakeholders to test and develop practical tools to enhance resilience in the food system.
Summary of objectives
Drawing on findings from the research themes 1-3 which are working with farmers, industry and consumers the objectives of research theme 4 are to:
- Undertake multi-stakeholder discussions focused on the role of structure, institutions and information in food system resilience
- Identify mechanisms to reduce the tensions in the food system and to see if novel approaches can be developed which are complimentary between stakeholders
- To synthesise a new concept of food system resilience
- To identify an agenda for future inter-disciplinary research and define policy objectives for a resilient UK food system.
We adopt structures, institutions and information as a common analytical lens, drawing out findings from the three research themes along these axis, to allow synthesis and to identify, at different scales, the tensions, trade-offs and potential mechanisms for creating a more resilient food system.
Objectives in Detail
We will establish, from our existing networks and links, a multi-stakeholder Food System Resilience Network. This will comprise of UK farmers and farmer groups (e.g. NFU, LEAF etc.), food processors and retailers, industry boards, via various groups such as the Knowledge Transfer Network for Food, Institute of Grocery Distribution etc. plus consumer representatives and groups to disseminate our findings and tools. Crucially, this forum will bring together different parts of the food system in; a series of workshops, exhibition stands at conferences such as Food Matters live and presentation’s to various groups, including agricultural societies, the Food and Drinks Federation and consumer panels.
The practical tools created, namely:
- Innovation methods, sensor technologies and adoption interventions for producers (research theme 1)
- Decision support tools for processors and retailers (research theme 2)
- Consumer focused apps (research theme 3), will inform and enliven the integration between different stakeholders.
This will provide opportunities to identify new complimentary mechanisms to build resilience in food systems.
- What is interdisciplinary research?
Interdisciplinary research is when you combine two or more disciplines to investigate an issue to achieve a new level of integration which has the potential to break down barriers.