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Open AccessArticle

Transforming Research and Innovation for Sustainable Food Systems—A Coupled-Systems Perspective

Athena Institute, VU University Amsterdam, De Boelelaan 1085, 1081HV Amsterdam, The Netherlands
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Sustainability 2019, 11(24), 7176; https://doi.org/10.3390/su11247176
Received: 30 October 2019 / Revised: 3 December 2019 / Accepted: 11 December 2019 / Published: 14 December 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Systems Approaches to Complex and Sustainable Food Systems)
Current research and innovation (R&I) systems are not equipped to fully serve as catalysts for the urgently needed transformation of food systems. Though research on food systems transformation (first order: ‘what?’) and transformative research (second order: ‘how to’) are rapidly gaining traction in academic and policy environments, current efforts fail to explicitly recognize the systemic nature of the challenges associated with performing transformative second-order research. To recognize these manifold and interlinked challenges embedded in R&I systems, there is a need for a coupled-systems perspective. Transformations are needed in food systems as well as R&I systems (‘how to do the “how to”’). We set out to conceptualize an approach that aims to trigger double transformations by nurturing innovations at the boundaries of R&I systems and food systems that act upon systemic leverage points, so that their multisystem interactions can better support food system transformations. We exemplify this coupled-systems approach by introducing the FIT4FOOD2030 project with its 25 living labs as a promising multilevel boundary innovation at the cross-section of R&I and food systems. We illustrate how this approach paves the way for double systems transformations, and therefore for an R&I system that is fit for future-proofing food systems. View Full-Text
Keywords: food systems; complexity; sustainability transitions; societal transformation; transdisciplinarity; research and innovation; boundary innovations food systems; complexity; sustainability transitions; societal transformation; transdisciplinarity; research and innovation; boundary innovations
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Kok, K.P.W.; den Boer, A.C.L.; Cesuroglu, T.; van der Meij, M.G.; de Wildt-Liesveld, R.; Regeer, B.J.; Broerse, J.E.W. Transforming Research and Innovation for Sustainable Food Systems—A Coupled-Systems Perspective. Sustainability 2019, 11, 7176.

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