Diverse experience in support of the Just food project

News 2020-05-04 at 8:55
Sebastian Hielm from National Nutrition Council opening the stakeholder event in October 2019. © Katja Lepistö

Already when preparing the Just food project, it was obvious that the project needed an advisory group in its support. Experience relevant to the project was seen to be found among food system operators as well as different sectors of public administration.

Therefore, representatives of the Ministries of Agriculture and Forestry, Environment, and Social Affairs and Health and the National Nutrition Council were invited to the advisory group. Similarly, invitations were sent to the Central Union of Agricultural Producers and Forest Owners, Finnish Food and Drink Industries' Federation and Finnish Grocery Trade Association. In addition, the practical consumer expertise of the Martha Organisation and the Expert Panel on Sustainable Development’s more extensive understanding of the environmental and sustainable development were considered necessary.

Dialogue between the different parties

Already during the first months of the project, it has become clear that talk about a just transition gives rise to a multitude of questions and expectations. Anna Vainikainen of the Finnish Food and Drink Industries' Federation, who is a member of the advisory group, reminds us that the implementation of a just food transition involves several dimensions and questions of which some can be sensitive.

“I expect the project to strengthen the dialogue between different parties and to take an open, unprejudiced and even bold approach to discussing the topic of the research project from different points of view. Moreover, I expect that we can create a shared definition of this multifaceted and multi-layered topic as well as an insight into how the food sector can best progress towards a lower-carbon society through the transition,” she says.

Projects funded by the Strategic Research Council emphasise societal interaction and impact. The advisory group also plays an essential role in this work. Without direct contacts with other players in the field and government, many important issues or political processes would remain unnoticed amid the research. Similarly, distributing information about the progress and results of the project solely with press releases would be boring.

Anna Vainikainen confirms that the advisory group concentrates diverse expertise, and the group can mentor the research team instead of mere unilateral project reporting. On the other hand, the group can contribute to ensuring that the key themes and questions are addressed.

“In the best-case scenario, the advisory group can promote important interaction with regard to the research questions in its own roles and networks”

Vainikainen adds. At the same time, related knowledge, questions and other greetings to the research team are also transmitted.

The experience obtained in the project cooperation with the advisory group so far is encouraging. The project has received valuable tips and feedback. We expect an uncomplicated exchange of information and mentoring going forward as well.

Members of the advisory group of the Just food project:

More information

  • Principal Investigator of Just food project Minna Kaljonen, Finnish Environment Institute SYKE, firstname.lastname@ymparisto.fi
  • Head of Interaction of Just food project Kaisa Karttunen, e2 Research, firstname.lastname@e2.fi

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