The Nordics are on a mission to transform food systems
The new Cookbook for systems change is about the role that a strong public innovation system can play in enhancing the sustainability of food systems. The cookbook lays out a method for deliberate food system transformation – a mission-based approach – that can support people, planet and society.
Mission-thinking often overlooked
While missions have received increasing attention in policy circles at national and EU levels, they are still rather loosely defined and there are very few examples of the implementation of mission approaches. Moving from intent to action has been slow as there is no existing playbook (or cookbook) to go by. This in turn means that mission-thinking is still often overlooked in new policy proposals.
As we set out an ambitious path for our continued sustainable food systems work between the Nordic governments, we can draw a lot of inspiration from this collaboration by Nordic innovation agencies.
A strong public innovation key in reaching the Paris Agreement
Drawing inspiration from a Nordic innovation alliance, this cookbook suggests that the Nordic countries’ most important global contribution to achieving the Paris Agreement and the UN Sustainable Development Goals may not be a specific technology, business model or policy innovation. Rather, this contribution can come in the form of demonstrating how a strong public innovation ecosystem is the missing link to overcome the complex societal challenges defining our times.
As Finland takes over the presidency over the Nordic cooperation, we asked Sebastian Hielm, Food Safety Director, Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, Finland and Chairman of the National Nutrition Council, for his reflections about this work and the opportunities it provides:
“As we set out an ambitious path for our continued sustainable food systems work between the Nordic governments, we can draw a lot of inspiration from this collaboration by Nordic innovation agencies. We have the political commitment, the question now is how we go about structuring our collaborations and processes for maximum impact. This is where the Cookbook for systems change could contribute with very important Nordic inspiration in this area alongside the work of the Nordic Food Policy Lab and the Stockholm Resilience Center’s Nordic dialogues and analysis.”
Recipes for change
The cookbook provides non-experts with accessible ingredients – templates for developing interventions, guides for how to get started and examples of cross-cutting projects – that can be used to create recipes for change. The cookbook can be read in parallel with the Vinnova's forthcoming missions playbook, which provides a more in-depth description of methodologies for practitioners.
The primary target audience for the Cookbook for systems change is national and regional innovation agencies, as the government has both a mandate and more authority than any other entity to lead the change needed to achieve sustainable food systems. However, because innovation ecosystems include a variety of different actors, this strategy cookbook also provides valuable insights into the roles that entrepreneurs and civil society and research organisations can play to cultivate change from the bottom-up.
We are thrilled to have this Cookbook for systems change released into the world. In the Nordics, it will be used as a starting point for a continued cross-country and multi-agency effort that explores what a mission approach in food systems work can look like.
Great potential to inspire at EU and global level
The Cookbook for systems change is the result of a collaboration between the Nordic Food Lab of the Nordic Council of Ministers, Stockholm Resilience Centre and EAT, and forms part of the joint initiative with the following organizations to establish a first shared Nordic mission: Design and Architecture Norway, Danish Design Centre, EIT Climate-KIC, EIT Food, Formas, Innovation Norway, Nordic Innovation, Matis, Research Council Norway, Sitra and Vinnova. The cookbook is funded by EIT Climate-KIC as a part of the Deep Demonstrations on Resilient Food Systems and Diets.
“We are thrilled to have this Cookbook for systems change released into the world. In the Nordics, it will be used as a starting point for a continued cross-country and multi-agency effort that explores what a mission approach in food systems work can look like. But we also see it has great potential to inspire at EU and global as well, not least in our Deep Demonstration of Resilient Food Systems initiative which aims at creating test-bed environments for systemic innovation and learning that can accelerate change, and provide policy inputs,” says Pernille Martiny Modvig, Innovation and Engagement Manager, Deep Demonstration of Resilient Food Systems at Climate-KIC Nordic.
Watch the Launch online
If you are interested in learning about the mission approach, and how Nordic research and innovation agencies are collaborating to apply it in practice, you can watch the live-streamed launch from January 26.