WCSG incubator projects

Four projects have been established as a result of funds made available to stimulate and support research collaborations among the chair groups of the Wageningen Centre of Sustainability Governance.

Consumer-facing information tools for food system practices

Project title: The use of consumer-facing information tools for healthier and more sustainable food system practices (CFIT-Food)The ability to alter current consumption practices is considered key for the success of a food system transition. At the same time, changing practices is difficult due to their highly routinized character and their intrinsic linkages with a range of other practices which together form the institutional context to the practices under study. Many consumer-facing interventions draw upon information, but the evidence base about information-based tools remains ambiguous. This inter-disciplinary incubator project therefore aims to develop an innovative research program on the question of in what way and under what conditions can information-based tools be made more effective on the basis of improved understanding of consumer and business practices? Project coordinator: Jeroen Candel (PAP) / Kai Purnhagen (LAW)

Governance of practices and practices of governance

Project title: Governance of practices and practices of governance: Theoretical and practical applications of practice theory and practice-based approaches at the WCSG PresentationThe aim of the incubator is to further develop the relations between the notions of ‘governance practices and practices of governance’ and to identify possible areas of collaboration on this topic between the different chair groups. We want to understand how governance, practices, and specifically practice theory, are related and can help us understand routines and events in daily life. These insights contribute to a better understanding of how society can best be steered in a more sustainable direction.  In order to do so, we engage scholars in our cluster in two intertwined activities: (1) A workshop with practitioners on the topic of transition processes towards green energy in which local and national governance practices of the energy transition will be connected to every day practices through visualizations-techniques.(2) Take stock of the different practice and governance approaches within the WCSG. A literature review and workshops on the topic of governance and practice theory will further contribute to creating an overview on practices and governance. Based on the literature review in combination with the data from the practitioner workshop, a publication will be written.

Coordinator: Mattijs Smits (ENP)

Co-production and digital platforms for sustainability governance

Project title: Co-production and digital platforms for sustainability governance: Approaches, implications and lessons


Researchers in various domains of the Wageningen Centre of Sustainability Governance (WCSG) have a rich experience in co-producing knowledge with stakeholders involved in different forms of sustainability governance. Increasingly, processes of co-production revolve around the study or development of digital infrastructures and platforms, the nexus between digital platforms, environmental knowledge and the (assumed) information needs of practitionersand decision-makers is a central concern. These researchers participate in the development or evaluation of these systems, each with their own sets of concepts and questions. However, what we share are valuable experiences of working with various co-production methodologies and of the implications of digital platforms for knowledge co- or counter production. This incubator aims to make an elaborate inventory and to reflect on methodological approaches to co-production of ICT-enabled environmental information systems and their implications across various domains of the WCSG.

Coordinators: Machiel Lamers, Sanneke Kloppenburg, Koen Arts, Art Dewulf

Accountability and knowledge

Project title: Accountability and (contested) knowledge in global environmental governance

Project presentation

This incubator project is intended to boost collaborative research across the four chair groups of the WCSG on learning-based accountability mechanisms in global sustainability governance, and the role of (contested) knowledge herein.Topic description and aims: What we refer to here as ‘learning-based’ accountability mechanisms, together with protocols to improve transparency, are increasingly central within multilevel sustainability governance arrangements. These are evident, to varying degrees, in the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, the Convention on Biological Diversity, and the Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development. In these governance arrangements, there is often no (direct) legal framework to hold actors formally accountable for their agreed-upon aspirational goals and policy measures. Learning-based accountability and transparency is premised on a dominant assumption that information and knowledge, together with procedural agreements, will make it possible for governance actors in a network to ‘correct’ each other and encourage mutual learning for more effective goal achievement. This presumed role of knowledge and information in fostering accountability poses various challenges to furthering sustainability objectives, given the contested political contexts within which knowledge for sustainability is produced, disclosed and used. This suggests an important research agenda on accountability, transparency and contested knowledge. Pilot activity: This incubator project seeks to extend conceptual and methodological innovation on this topic, through undertaking a pilot study on state-to-state accountability and transparency mechanisms/processes being negotiated and operationalized during the 23rd Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP-23) in Bonn (November 6-18, 2017). The aim of the pilot is to generate common questions, and design and test appropriate methodologies, by which to analyse development and deployment of learning-based accountability mechanisms in this governance context.  Expected outputs:- Development of pilot methodology on analysing learning-based accountability mechanisms in the climate realm that can subsequently (in future follow-up research) be applied to other global sustainability governance arenas with aspirational goals  (e.g. the Convention on Biological Diversity with its Strategic plans and targets, and the Agenda 2030 on Sustainable Development) - Enhanced academic (and practitioner) networks in preparation for funding proposals- A co-authored "research agenda-setting" article on learning-based accountability mechanisms and processes in multilevel sustainability governance. Coordinator: Aarti Gupta (ENP)