Panel 4. Transdisciplinary research approaches for understanding and transforming food systems

Food systems are currently facing tremendous challenges and changes globally. On the one hand population growth, urbanization and increased affluence are expected to catalyse dietary shifts and broader changes to food systems in the coming decades. On the other hand food systems (and changes therein) have major environmental ramifications. As a result, fostering the sustainable transformation of food systems is seen as one of the major challenges for meeting the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). However, understanding food systems, and indeed transforming them in a sustainable manner, is far from straightforward as they have multiple intersecting economic, social, technological and cultural dimensions. Moreover, food systems encompass different stakeholders operating at different levels with enormously different interests and worldviews.

This special session offers a forum to gather and critically synthesize new insights on how transdisciplinary research approaches and processes can be mobilized to understand better and transform effectively and inclusively food systems. By definition, transdisciplinary research integrates insights from different academic disciplines and non-academic stakeholders in processes of knowledge production. Invited presentations will explore how transdisciplinary approaches can be mobilized effectively to understand and transform food systems in different global contexts. We welcome conceptual, methodological, and empirical studies that develop, employ and/or refine transdisciplinary research approaches that explore, among others (a) how to engage meaningfully and integrate inclusively the viewpoints of diverse stakeholders, (b) what mechanisms and processes can increase the inclusivity and effectiveness of transdisciplinary processes (c) how to translate effectively the outcomes of transdisciplinary processes into actionable responses, (d) what is the performance and potential of different tools, methods and models to enhance the inclusivity and effectiveness of transdisciplinary processes.

We are keen to include experiences, insights and good practices of transdisciplinary processes from different geographical, cultural and societal contexts, and levels of economic development and urbanization. Equally, we are particularly welcome to empirical studies that demonstrate clearly methods and tools to engage a diversity of stakeholders in a transformative manner, including multiple approaches such as (but not restricted to) scenario exploration, innovation platforms, and transformation labs, among others.