Flemish Environmental Agency publishes systems analysis of food and agriculture system

Nov 19

The Flemish Environment Agency (VMM), supported by the Agriculture and Fisheries administration of the Flemish Government, published a ‘topic report’ dedicated to a systems analysis of the Flemish food and agriculture system. The report was the result of a collaborative process between Prof. Erik Mathijs (KULeuven), Frank Nevens (Flemish Institute for Technological Research, VITO) and Philippe Vandenbroeck from shiftN. This kind of study, with a cross-sectoral and systemic scope, was a first for the VMM.

The timing of the research coincided with a broad-based and participatory (pre-)transition process, initiated by a mixed group of stakeholders (including representatives of key NGOs, public authorities, the food industry, the farmers association and the research community). shiftN’s Philippe Vandenbroeck was one of the initiators behind this exporation of a ‘New Food Frontier’. A synthesis document (in Dutch) was published with the key insights from this visioning process and is recommended reading for anyone interested in the future of our food systems.

The VMM topic report falls into three key parts. A first part discusses the landscape pressures on the global, and by extension on the Flemish, agrifood system. A middle section is devoted to a diagnostic analysis, based on a heuristic systems model that recaptures the essence of a ‘limits to growth’ archetype. This analysis results in a list of 10 hotspots that are causes for concern. A final section is devoted to a discussion of niches that interact with the agrifood regime and provide opportunities for reform and adaptation.

The report was officially presented on November 5th 2012 under lively attention from many representatives from the regional food and agriculture system.

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