Beyond food for thought – Directing sustainability transitions research to address fundamental change in agri-food systems

Hebinck, Aniek; Klerkx, Laurens; Elzen, Boelie; Kok, Kristiaan P.W.; König, Bettina; Schiller, Katharina; Tschersich, Julia; Mierlo, Barbara van; Wirth, Timo von


Dominant agricultural and food systems lead to continuous resource depletion and unacceptable environmental and social impacts. While current calls for changing agrifood systems are increasingly framed in the context of sustainability transitions, they rarely make an explicit link to transition studies to address these systemic challenges, nor do transition scholars sufficiently address agri-food systems, despite their global pertinence. From this viewpoint, we illustrate several gaps in the agri-food systems debate that sustainability transition studies could engage in. We propose four avenues for research in the next decade of transition research on agri-food systems: 1) Crossscale dynamics between coupled systems; 2) Social justice, equity and inclusion; 3) Sustainability transitions in low- and middle-income countries; 4) Cross-sectoral governance and system integration. We call for a decade of new transition research that moves beyond single-scale and sector perspectives toward more inclusive and integrated analyses of food system dynamics.