FOSTER – Fostering food system transformation by integrating heterogeneous perspectives in knowledge and innovation within the European Research Area
FOSTER is an ambitious Horizon Europe-funded project that will build food system capabilities, knowledge and new governance mechanisms for scientists, citizens and policymakers.
The vision of FOSTER is to build a foundation from which a new Knowledge and Innovation System (KIS) for Europe’s food system can emerge to better address the emerging challenges of providing healthy diets from sustainable food systems. The key objective of FOSTER is to gain insights into how a new KIS can be built to address this challenge in a more inclusive, transdisciplinary, and effective way, addressing food system challenges from an integral food systems perspective rather than by looking at its different components separately. FOSTER will help transform Europe’s food system outcomes and will achieve this by building a FOSTER Platform and establishing the FOSTER Summer School. For the platform food system, state-of-the-art knowledge will be gathered, and new knowledge will be included by semi-automated Horizon scanning, foresight trend and threat analysis, and new multi-dimensional scenarios of EU food systems for 2040. Summer schools will be held on a yearly basis and will focus on various aspects of the food system as well as provide access to external stakeholders. The project also includes trend and threat analysis foresight, as well as an exploration of policy support and governance options for food systems KIS. In all of this, FOSTER will work closely with six Citizen Driven Initiatives (CDIs) across five countries, through which new knowledge, strategies, and Action Research Agendas will be gained. As a result, new approaches and solutions for various R&I policy support mechanisms for mission-oriented R&I policy will be developed. This way, FOSTER aims to develop insights into how the KIS can be broadened from an agricultural-KIS to a food system-KIS. To inspire the adoption of FOSTER learnings, over 20 workshops and a final conference will be conducted, and scientific position papers and policy briefs will be widely communicated.
Since the beginning of FOSTER, the different partners have been working together on the horizon scanning of Food Systems, building context scenarios, and establishing a FOSTER knowledge platform. Also, laying the foundation for a European Food Systems Academy based on assessing current food systems understanding across the CDIs, will guide a series of Summer Schools drawing together citizen and “mainstream” scientists. FOSTER started the engagement with the CDIs to gain further insight into their organisational structure, their main objectives, and their integration into networks and political structures as the basis for the development of tailored recommendations on food system innovations. FOSTER mapped the European policy landscape for food systems K&I and created an inventory of recent European research projects focusing on the governance of food systems transformation.
FOSTER was launched on September 1, 2022, and includes a multidisciplinary and multi-stakeholder consortium with 18 different institutions, including representatives from the CDIs and leading scientists from 7 European countries. The FOSTER kick-off meeting took place in Brussels on September 20 and 21, 2022, and the second full project meeting is set for March 28 and 29, 2023, in Serbia.