Ruoka murroksessa -podcast, jakso 6 - Maaperän päästövähennyskeskustelu käy kuumana, tekstiversio

Äänitteen nimi: ruoka murroksessa jakso 6

Äänitteen kesto: 00:48:50

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Hanna Jensen [00:00:02]: Millainen on kestävä, terveellinen ja ilmastoviisas ruokajärjestelmä? Siitä keskustellaan nyt. Ajankohtaisen Just Food -hankkeen tavoite ei ole vaatimaton. Siirtymä reiluun ruokajärjestelmään täytyy voida tehdä kestävästi ja oikeudenmukaisesti. Kuusivuotinen hanke käynnistyi kesällä 2019, ja on ajankohtaisempi kuin koskaan. But today, we will talk in English. We have a special guest with us. Dr. Theresa Tribaldos, head of just economies and human wellbeing impact area from center for development and environment. I am very impressed by your title. Welcome.

Theresa Tribaldos [00:00:46]: Thank you.

Hanna Jensen [00:00:47]: And then we have researcher professor of Just Food project, Minna Kaljonen. Welcome again [?? 00:00:55].

Minna Kaljonen [00:00:54]: Thank you, Hanna.

Hanna Jensen [00:00:56]: And I am Hanna Jensen, hosting today's discussion on how to build a fair food system in a global warming situation. And just a reminder for us, when 30 to 40 percent of greenhouse gas emissions are related to food systems. But today we will talk about the future and some hot science topics. Get your academic antennas out. The meaning of transdisciplinary research and sustainability science. I cannot wait to get into this. Theresa, when I was preparing this episode and I was searching and reading your work and what you have done, I was happy to find out that Finland and Just Food project were named as an example. So, why is that? What is going right over here?

Theresa Tribaldos [00:01:48]: So, this Just Food project we all collaborate in, is a really great opportunity to study these things, to study transition and food systems and really have a focus on justice and sustainability questions. And also, this broad framing of the project that we can include a whole bunch of stakeholders from different places and different researchers, different disciplines, and that you get funding for such a project in Finland. I think that this is really extraordinary. And even that you have funding for a foreign institution like C.D.E and so, I can participate as well. I think we would not get that in Switzerland. So, I think this whole setup of the project and how we can conduct the project is really great and special. I do not think you get that in other countries.

Hanna Jensen [00:02:41]: So, Minna. When we mentioned that transdisciplinary research and Finland is now doing in and Just Food. So, tell us more. What does it mean? The transdisciplinary research.

Minna Kaljonen [00:02:56]: I would understand transdisciplinary as one aspect of so-called cross-disciplinary research. Which means that in the good old times, when science kind of developed its foundation, we got into this very disciplinary mode of doing research. Meaning that in each of disciplines, we looked at one question in a very detailed manner and got deeper and deeper. Which is good. And this is the very essence of science. But then in the meantime, we also lost something. That it is very hard to go across. To think about how the same research questions can be approached with different methods from different scientific disciplines. For example, how we can look at the, let's say, food system, how it functions from environmental point of view, from economical point of view, or what the food means to each one of us. And we need to understand this all if we want to understand how to build it into more sustainable forms. And this is what cross-disciplinary means. And transdisciplinary is then that you also involve and engage and invite the practice [?? 00:04:17] in doing the research. And you try to kind of create solutions while you are doing research. And this is what we are doing in Just Food in multiple ways.

Hanna Jensen [00:04:31]: So, the same time when you are working on the area of food, you have everyone [?? 00:04:38] scientific world is working on this one to get across disciplinary system working. When you both started your academic careers, did you work more in a way that Minna described at first? Like, one narrow problem?

Theresa Tribaldos [00:04:56]: Yeah. I think you start in disciplines. And I think there is a justification for that because, somehow you need to know some details. You need to know how disciplines function before you can actually start to make the bridges to other disciplines and also to people outside academia. And so, I think it makes sense to really go deep into disciplines and basically know your business before you start going across that. But I think also nowadays, the sustainability questions [?? 00:05:28] topics, they are growing and they are much more important and much more urgent to address. And these are all questions that are somehow related to society. And so, we cannot go about these issues just amongst our scientists, our colleagues in science. We really need to engage other people because a lot of these questions in here and the problems are related to normative issues, how we value different things. And so, we could of course discuss how we value something. But if this is actually then relevant for society, and if people in society see it the same way as we do, that's another question. And so, I think, if we do not take this dimension into account, we will not be able to create good solutions to the problems we see. Because we will basically talk outside what matters for people, what they are interested in.

Minna Kaljonen [00:06:29]: Can I give another example? I was trained in sociology, in social sciences. And they are good at looking in how the society functions. But they have been very neglectful, dismissing the environmental boundaries of our society. And this has been the very weak point in the social sciences. And now a lot of good things are happening there with this respect. And with regards to food system, then again, why we are always talking about the food system, there again that we cannot only study what is happening in the production at the fields. We also need to understand the demand and the consumption. Because they hang together. They go hand in hand. But our disciplines are kind of trained in such a manner that it is very hard to go across, even today, when thinking about the food system and the sustainability of it.

Theresa Tribaldos [00:07:33]: I also come from social sciences and I do not remember the environmental... It was in the '90s so... Just to add, I also think that the problems nowadays reach such a dimension that we really need all the collective and joint knowledge we can get to really address these problems. And to really try to collect them in an integrative way. If we just go about them like we did in the past, then these [?? 00:08:01] and we just address certain issues, we will most probably create new or other problems with it. So, it is really important that we have such project like the Just Food that we really try to take all the different dimensions into account. And then we still have enough complexity in it.

Hanna Jensen [00:08:23]: So, what about the urgency of it? If this is an odd example or a comparison, but if we think about the corona vaccine and how fast everything went when it was urgent. So, we feel that it is urgent when it comes to the environment. So, does it help with the time span and how fast everything is going? Because it is always slow. So, if it is cross-disciplinary.

Minna Kaljonen [00:08:54]: It will be slower. The research will be slower. I am sorry. And thinking about the corona also, that a lot of attention and effort was put on vaccine. And we developed it. But there are many side effects from the corona in the society and we do not know them yet. So, it means alertness. It means kind of ability to look beyond and think about the side streams as well.

Hanna Jensen [00:09:29]: So, when it comes to modeling, which you also do in this project, how does it help in modeling?

Minna Kaljonen [00:09:38]: I will give you an example. This is very the core of the Just Food. We are thinking in transition pathways. So, we are creating these different pathways by which we can build more sustainable food systems and even in more concrete terms, answer to the climate change. So, what are the mitigation potential in different parts of the food system and with different actions. And our model is, they come together to assess these transition pathways. So, for example, the first one concentrates on the land use changes where, for example, the organic soils in Finland is a big thing for the mitigation of the climate impact. So, what can be done there. And then the second transition pathway looks at the dietary transition, if we shift our diets into more plant-based. And the third one thinks about the technology [?? 00:10:40] change within our food supply chain. But also, with regards to new foods and so forth. And all these nutritionists, economic modelers and environmental modelers come together and investigate what happens in these transition pathways. The pathways are scenarios. And then the models have the data, the understanding, how our current food system functions. And they play with the buttons in the model and they see what happens in these pathways. And when they come from these different multiple disciplines together under these same pathways, so we get the deeper understanding of understanding of what the future might look like and how we can react upon it.

Hanna Jensen [00:11:34]: And Theresa, you said that it is incredible that there is funding for this. So, Minna, how did you do it? How is it possible that we now have funding for something like this?

Minna Kaljonen [00:11:46]: Thanks for our government and our research policy that we have this funding instrument called strategic research funding, which operates under the Academy of Finland. So, they support this kind of research which aims to answer to the great societal challenges that build these kind of wider research programs, which bring together different disciplines to study certain issues together. And this has been in place now for less than 10 years or so. Plus five years. And for example, for us, the funding means that we have three plus three years. So, we are also kind of granted a bit of a longer period. Which is very important when you are building this kind of a cross-disciplinary setting. You build the basis first and then there is room for innovation in the process. Which means that the research team needs to function in order to get any novel results as well.

Hanna Jensen [00:13:07]: How does this sound in your ears? The three plus three and funding.

Theresa Tribaldos [00:13:12]: We also have three plus three years funding programs. But I think what is really great about this funding program is that they really fund transdisciplinary research, and that they also assess the projects according to this. And they leave a lot of freedom. 15 or 16 pages full proposal which we handed in. For such a huge project, I think you would need much more and you would explain much more in Switzerland, and the problem is often that transdisciplinary projects are still assessed according to disciplinary guidelines. And this is really difficult. So, sometimes, you do not then get the funding for something because people do not really understand [?? 00:14:02] really understand what transdisciplinarity means. And then they want everything ready in the proposal. But in transdisciplinarity, one of the pillars is really that you develop also questions and designs together with stakeholders. And so, it is difficult to have this ready at the proposal stage because you do not have really have this interaction. And so, it [?? 00:14:26] that's what Minna said. You need more time for this kind of research. Because you need to discuss much more with a whole group of people. Either you have some funding instruments that allow to have this collaborative, participatory process before you actually hand in the full proposal, but then you also need funding for it. We as researchers talk always about the funding, but I think also for stakeholders, it is really important because all of these people have jobs. They have responsibilities, full agendas. They take some of their precious time to participate in such a project. So, I think it is really important that we also value this and somehow take it into account, also maybe funding wise. I think what is really special about the project is that we have all this opportunity to do that.

Hanna Jensen [00:15:25]: Yes. So, we also have a term that is very important in this decade. And that is sustainability science. So, if we start with you, Theresa. That is in Finnish, if I have understood right, kestävyystiede. And why now? Has it not always been important? Why is sustainability science now becoming more and more important?

Theresa Tribaldos [00:15:54]: I think it has been important for quite some time. But I think the problems we face today reached an urgency, which we can no longer neglect. So, I think, for example, climate change. I guess there is only a very small minority nowadays who thinks that climate change is not happening. We have so much science about it and about the consequences of climate change if we do not really act quickly now. I think it is not really a surprise anymore. And I think we have a lot of problems. Like water management, food systems. We still have a lot of people who go hungry everyday. At the same time, we have a lot of people who are obese, have health-related problems because of bad nutrition. And so, we have all these problems. And I think nowadays, it is so urgent that we really cannot neglect them anymore and this is what gives sustainability science also some support, I think. And so, over the last years, maybe 20 years, it really established as an own field of research. But people who engage in these questions do research for many years.

Hanna Jensen [00:17:21]: Minna, you are a part of a group that is writing a book about it that's coming out next year. Tell us a little bit about the book.

Minna Kaljonen [00:17:30]: Yes. It is called Kestävyystiede, I think, in Finnish. It is edited by Jari Niemelä and Tarja Halonen, for example. Jari Niemelä is the rector of the University of Helsinki. And the book aims to collect together the understanding of it as we have it now. And bring it to the Finnish audience, so to say. Because it is a very heterogenous field. So, we try to map what is taking place there and also, kind of explain the key concepts for the public. And also, for example, for the university students and so forth. So, we are missing this kind of a book in Finland at the moment. So, this will be maybe the first one in Finnish for the Finnish audience. And going back to the sustainability science, really the basis is maybe the three words. First one was the cross-disciplinary, again, which we already talked about. And the second one is really the systems. That having this system perspective on the sustainability, understand it from different angles. And the third one is maybe change or transition or transformation. So, that something needs to be done. So, there is this normative element. So, the science tries to kind of help societies to answer, to find ways in which to build a more sustainable future. In this respect, it is a bit different than the conventional, basic science which does not have the normativity in it. Somebody says, but I would say that, maybe always there is some normativity in it. [laughs 00:19:22]

Theresa Tribaldos [00:19:24]: I like that.

Hanna Jensen [00:19:27]: Me, too.

Theresa Tribaldos [00:19:28]: We think about ourselves as being objective about certain things. We can never really be objective. We all come with our social backgrounds. We all come with our experiences, our knowledge. And that always puts us into one or the other direction.

Minna Kaljonen [00:19:45]: And this is what feminism taught us. That we are all subject. That we need to reflect on the things that we are doing. But of course, the method in science matters. And it is very important that the method is switched and it is sound and so forth. So, it is not only just common knowledge.

Hanna Jensen [00:20:05]: Yes. Let's have a small study break and go to the issues or concerns that people that do not work in this field, like me, worry about today. For example, most of us have already learned that we should eat less meat. And in July, this was said in Spain, where the [?? 00:20:30] ham culture is of course very in their culture. But they eat a lot of meat. And they were shocked by it and their prime minister Pedro Sánchez said that, if you put me in front of a medium rare rib steak, I cannot resist. And there was a discussion after that. Theresa, you have said that the meat discussion actually is not the most important one. So, what did you mean by that?

Theresa Tribaldos [00:21:02]: It seems, at the moment, that it is always the question, should I eat meat, yes or no? And I think that is the wrong question. I do not want to deny that we eat too much. I think we do and we really need to bring that consumption down. Because it has all these negative consequences. But I think we should look to production systems that work in a sustainable way. So, what kind of examples do we have for sustainable production of, not just meat, but also milk products, animal products in general. And I think we should try to push these systems and support these systems. If we do that, that means automatically that we have to eat much less meat. Because we cannot produce as much meat in these sustainable ways as we do now. And so, of course, the whole discussion about reduction of meat consumption is very important. But I think, at the moment, it goes more like this [?? 00:22:06] decision. Either you eat it or you do not eat it. And I think that is maybe the wrong question. I really think, how can we support sustainable systems? And also, if you look at sustainable farming systems, then usually there are some kind of animals in there. And have been in there for centuries and thousands of years. And so, this is also some kind of cultural question. And I do not think we should abandon all the animals from our systems. But rather, we should think how we can live together in a decent way and actually treat our fellow beings, non-human beings, with respect. And so, then, I do not see a problem with consuming animal products if these animals are kept in a good way and if they support sustainable and diverse systems. And I think this is what I meant. And then also, I think the other side of the question is really the health question. And also, from that side, all the science tells us that we eat too much meat. And it is really unhealthy for people. And so, we actually have a win win if we go towards less meat and animal product consumption. [?? 00:23:31] what is left and what we still consume, that we do that in a good way.

Hanna Jensen [00:23:37]: And so, another one is huge, monocultures. That is a problem that we are worried about. Like the biodiversity laws and decline of pollinators. So, is it so that not even a complete plant-based diet is a good thing? Minna.

Minna Kaljonen [00:23:58]: Yeah, it can be, if it does not support multiplicity. I would say that the multiplicity is something that we should all strive for. Either talking about the plants or animals or whatever. And it is also a question of scale, I would say. That our food systems at the moment function on a very global scale. You talked about monocultures. But what would they look like if we looked at the functioning food system on a more regional scale? What would be needed there and how would it function? We have somewhat lost that, quite a lot, I would say. And thinking that in a new manner might help us to envision maybe the more sustainable food systems as well. As Theresa was talking about.

Hanna Jensen [00:24:51]: Yes. Theresa, I need to ask you about the one case. Finland and Brazil have collaborated [?? 00:25:01]. So, you know about that. Could tell us about what was going on? What the case is.

Theresa Tribaldos [00:25:09]: So, we have some great research partners in Rio de Janeiro. And the whole idea was that Finland still imports soy, like many European countries do, for meat and milk production. And a lot of it comes from Brazil because it is produced in a very cheap way. So, I think this is the whole reason why we consume so much soy. Because it is cheaper than other forms of [?? 00:25:39]. And so, we said , when we designed the project, that it would be great to have an international component there. Coffee would have been another option. Then we discussed to focus on soy production in Brazil because it has many negative consequences in terms of the environment, society and economy. And so, we had these partners in Rio and we asked them whether they would like to join in the project. And so, we collaborate now for two years and look at the whole soy production and the company problems that come with it. And also, we think about ways out.

Hanna Jensen [00:26:34]: So, what was their interest in the collaboration or the co-operation?

Theresa Tribaldos [00:26:41]: Maybe that is a bit different from Europe, but these partners are all in a way also activists. Because they see and suffer a lot of these consequences everyday. Or they know people in their family or friends or whoever. And so, they are really concerned about what is going on in their own country and they also want to do something about it. And of course, this was a good opportunity to really join the debate and contribute to the discussion.

Hanna Jensen [00:27:14]: What are some of the concrete problems that the soy production brings in Brazil?

Theresa Tribaldos [00:27:22]: I would say, the biggest problem is deforestation. And of course, that is linked to a whole bunch of other problems. We start with the deforestation. Because you can make a lot of money and because you have a weak state. Or, at the moment, the state which actually even supports deforestation instead of stopping that. Deforestation is growing again. And so, it goes into the Amazon, which is probably the most prominent example of deforestation in Brazil. But there are also other areas like the Cerrado which is kind of a savannah [?? 00:28:04], which is also heavily affected by deforestation. And then of course, we know the Amazon is like the green lung of our planet. So, this even worsens the climate change if we should actually reforest areas and not deforest them more. But also, it is a biodiversity hotspot in the world. So, the more of these areas are cut, the more we have problems with biodiversity loss. So, this is the environmental part of this problem. But there is also a social dimension to it. Because people live there. And also, in the Amazon, there lives a lot of indigenous people. Also, in the Cerrado. They are more traditional. They are called traditional people who have their traditions for many years. And all of these populations live in very sustainable ways. They produce their food in sustainable ways. They live with the environment instead of against it. And these people lose their basis for living. They lose their lands. And often, it is a problem that they do not really have the land titles. But often, it is also a problem of displacement. And we talk here about violent displacement of people. If I put it onto your face, I say, either you leave or I shoot you. Then there is the question of, what options do we have? Besides these environmental problems, there are a lot of social inequalities and injustices, until violent conflicts. And so, instead of stopping this development, at the moment, it is even more supported by the government because there is a president who actually says, "Well, what a waste of time if we have all this forest there when we could have soy fields which bring us some currency." And so, as long as there is such a huge demand for this soy, and there is no strong policy and government in Brazil to fight against this, then this problem just gets worse and worse.

Hanna Jensen [00:30:34]: Just food or Finland or our part now, what have we suggested or what should we do?

Theresa Tribaldos [00:30:45]: We have also a trade study in the Just Food project, where we look at what kind of options do we have through trade. So, what kind of trade policy or measures can we introduce to regulate those kind of imports. But then, it goes back to the meat consumption. The less meat we consume, which is fed by such imports, the less demand is there for such soy. And this is why I find it so important that we talk about how we produce the meat that we eat. And this should really be without the soy imports. And I really think that other times, I really think we need an exit strategy for this soy consumption. And then of course, in Switzerland, this is the discussion, and you can say, okay, Switzerland and Finland. If you look at the whole soy trade in the world, this is just a really small proportion. But then, I think, at least Finland is in the European union, and if the European union decides to do something about it, I think this is a much bigger leaver than for other places.

Hanna Jensen [00:32:03]: Can small countries be examples nowadays? Is the world like that, even if it is a small country that does something, can it be an example that a big country notices?

Theresa Tribaldos [00:32:14]: I think it can. I mean, we see that in other... Maybe [?? 00:32:17] [laughs 00:32:18] I give you the word afterwards. I think it can. We see that in many other areas where Switzerland, for example, has much more influence than what you would think just based on the population it has. But I also think that more countries can actually go into coalition, if you want a coalition of the willing, and look for other partners and work together. I think we really have to do what we can here and not just say, "Well, we are small and this is why we do not do anything. Because it does not make a difference." I think, in the end, every bit makes a difference.

Hanna Jensen [00:33:00]: Minna, I will give you the word. But also, add how we are going to replace the soy if we get an exit strategy.

Minna Kaljonen [00:33:12]: Thanks, Hanna. This was just the issue that I was going to talk about. I think in Finland, we need to think about Finland as part of European union agricultural policy. European union does not have a food policy. It should have. Which goes again back to this systemic thinking. But both, in the European union and Finland, there is this rising acknowledgment and will to improve our [?? 00:33:46] based production and [?? 00:33:50] value chains. And there is a lot happening on that at the moment. Meaning, how we can produce our own protein feed, but also the [?? 00:34:01] for consumption. The E.U has policies for that. There are measures taken to support that there is [?? 00:34:18]? Tonava?

Hanna Jensen [00:34:20]: Is it not [?? 00:34:21]?

Minna Kaljonen [00:34:21]: The big river in Europe.

Theresa Tribaldos [00:34:23]: Danube.

Minna Kaljonen [00:34:24]: Danube. Yes. [?? 00:34:25] coalition and whatever. [?? 00:34:27] what are the kind of possibilities to grow our own soy in Europe. In Finland, the soy does not grow. So, in Finland, it would mean the [?? 00:34:36] and peas and other [?? 00:34:39]. But there is a lot to be done there. And also, the private companies have a role to play there. For example, in Finland, the meat houses have their own strategies to get rid of soy and replace that with the domestic feed. But it is not so easy. Because the soy has some good qualities for the feed. So, it does not happen overnight. But it is important that the whole system and the whole chain works for it. Again, it is a very good example of [?? 00:35:14] problem. That it is so much in the structures and inequalities that are kind of built in there. It requires work in multiple fronts for a longer period. Not just the Just Food.

Hanna Jensen [00:35:30]: I wanted to ask you about the role of the big corporate and the companies. Because it is transparent. We are living in transparent times. They have to build their company citizenship and be sustainable. But are they? Are they going to be collaborating and co-operating with us or is the profit always leading and making things difficult?

Minna Kaljonen [00:36:04]: The companies have a big role to play. I want to support that. They can even be more agile than the politics of today. The politics tend to come behind. And this is a lot to be said from a social scientist and a political scientist who believes in public policies. [laughs 00:36:23] But again, I am having [?? 00:36:26] systemic perspective. We need both. But we also need the public eye on the companies.

Hanna Jensen [00:36:34]: Definitely. And Theresa? You think?

Theresa Tribaldos [00:36:37]: Yeah, I agree. We cannot leave them aside. But I also believe that there has been too much power concentration in these value chains. And I actually think we should ask for states to think about how we can split these power concentrations or how we can work against that. If we talk about free market, I have to say that there is really no free market in this discussion. There are too few big players in it who can just control too much of it. I think we need more diversity in this. And I think this is then again a task of the state really to put some kind of limits to how big a company or a corporation can grow.

Minna Kaljonen [00:37:30]: And this is where the sustainability science can play a role. In a sense that it can really investigate and go deeper into these inequalities that we are having at the moment and making them visible, bring them to the public. But then also, help to envision the alternative, more sustainable production and consumption systems, as Theresa was talking about earlier. So, we also need those. We need to imagine those futures that are not yet here. And there the cross-disciplinary research can have a role to play.

Hanna Jensen [00:38:08]: Lastly, what are you both looking for the most in the future? In your work. What do you expect or wish to happen or wish to do? We start from Theresa.

Theresa Tribaldos [00:38:22]: Of course, I wish that my work has some kind of impact and that we can contribute to a better food system in the future. But also, what drives me personally is really these great collaborations. And I hope we can have many more in the future. Because in a way, I think it really makes you work better if you like to work with the people you collaborate with, and if you have fun. I think this also sparks creativity and innovation. And I think this is really also what we need for these problems. To come up with great new ideas. And I think that it is easier with people you like.

Minna Kaljonen [00:39:05]: As a leader of this particular project, I wait for the moment... It is already here, but I wait to get deeper when the environmental scientist and the nutritionist find themselves. And they kind of work together hand in hand. But then I am also kind of thrilled by a very kind of an accidental route that our research has taken. We have gone to the young people and youth to ask about their opinions about the sustainable food futures. And there are some very interesting insights arising there. That inspires me.

Hanna Jensen [00:39:48]: Great to hear. Minna Kaljonen and Theresa Tribaldos, thank you very much.

Theresa Tribaldos [00:39:54]: Thank you.

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