FOOD programme for a sustainable, healthy, safe and climate-neutral food system

News 2020-02-20 at 14:52
© Unsplash, Anya Rokenroll

The Strategic Research Council (SRC) at the Academy of Finland grants funding to socially impactful, high-quality science. The approach of SRC’s programmes is transdisciplinary, and they aim to find concrete solutions. Cooperation between those who produce the information and those who benefit from it plays an important role in the programmes. Programme duration is 3–6 years each one comprising projects on similar themes. The Government decides the focus areas for the thematic programmes annually.

One of these programmes is called FOOD. Launched in 2019, FOOD looks for solutions for fostering a sustainable, healthy and climate-neutral food system. The food system refers to the complex of multifaceted connections between people, organisations, technologies, the environment and other production aspects, as well as biodiversity. The future food system must be part of the solution to—not the cause of—climate change.

Developing a sustainable, healthy, safe and climate-neutral food system requires research on, for example, agriculture and retail trade, interaction between different stakeholders, regulation, and the steering power of policy makers. In addition to these, research is needed on topics such as new food production methods, changes in soil and land use, the flow and circulation of nutrients, and the social questions related to food systems, for example, changes in consumption habits, food shortage, and the effects of income and scarcity on healthy eating.

FOOD programme comprises three projects

Just Transition – Tackling inequalities on the way to a sustainable, healthy and climate-neutral food system (JUST-FOOD) is managed by the Finnish Environment Institute. It explores means for making the food transition just and socially acceptable. The project conceptualises just food transition and supports policy making by generating knowledge and tools for promoting it. Just food brings the ethical dimension to the forefront and engages stakeholders in knowledge co-creation and practical case studies.

The MULTA project coordinated by the Finnish Meteorological Institute explores multi-benefit solutions in agriculture. Climate-smart agriculture supports soil health and its ability to store water and nutrients, increases resilience, crop size and biodiversity, and improves food quality. MULTA examines means of enhancing carbon sequestration and develops verification methods. The project also tests beneficial agricultural solutions on farms and develops instruments for implementing these solutions on a wider scale. The change is all-encompassing, and farmers, enterprises and decision-makers cooperate in the development.

The Leg4Life project is managed by the University of Helsinki, and its aim is to promote the transition to a climate-neutral food system by increasing the cultivation, processing and use of plant-based proteins. The project covers the entire food chain from primary production to consumption. It focuses on legumes that flourish in the Finnish climate, such as peas, faba beans and lupins. The project explores legume-based primary production, develops tasty and healthy legume products and examines how the increased use of legumes affects nutrition, health, the economy, the environment and society at large.

Academy of Finland promotes science and research

The Academy of Finland supports the renewal, diversity and internationalisation of Finnish research through its actions. The Academy funds high-quality scientific research, serves as an expert in science and science policy, and promotes science and research in all disciplines and fields of research. Through its projects, the Academy emphasises impactful research and innovative scientific initiatives. The annual research funding by the Academy covers 2,700 person years at universities and research institutes. In 2019, it granted EUR 458 million of funding, of which approximately EUR 71 million came from proceeds from gaming operations.

More information

  • FOOD programme
  • Professor Helena Kahiluoto, FOOD Programme Director,

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