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Framing the system

This chapter is about the environment of food systems (the green ring around the system in Figure 1) with the examples of “supporting services” and “institution and environment”. During the course of discussions at a workshop, it was decided that the “bioeconomy” can be included, here. The next steps in the project will be used to add information on the bioeconomy.

Supporting Services

Supporting Services)

All services are meant here, including knowledge and research as services, all supporting services, and possibly also financial services. A general definition is: "Ecosystem services are the many and varied benefits to humans provided by the natural environment and healthy ecosystems." (Jeffers et al. 2015). Such ecosystems include, for example, agroecosystems, forest ecosystems, grassland ecosystems, and aquatic ecosystems. These ecosystems, functioning in healthy relationships, offer such things as natural pollination of crops, clean air, extreme weather mitigation, and human mental and physical well-being. Collectively, these benefits are becoming known as ecosystem services, and are often integral to the provision of food, the provisioning of clean drinking water, the decomposition of wastes, and the resilience and productivity of food ecosystems.


While scientists and environmentalists have discussed ecosystem services implicitly for decades, the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (MEA) in the early 2000s popularised this concept. There, ecosystem services are grouped into four broad categories: provisioning, such as the production of food and water; regulating, such as the control of climate and disease; supporting, such as nutrient cycles and oxygen production; and cultural, such as spiritual and recreational benefits. To help inform decision-makers, many ecosystem services are being evaluated to draw equivalent comparisons to human-engineered infrastructure and services.


Estuarine and coastal ecosystems are both marine ecosystems. Together, these ecosystems perform the four categories of ecosystem services in a variety of ways: "Regulating services" include climate regulation as well as waste treatment and disease regulation and buffer zones. The "provisioning services" include forest products such as timbers, marine products, fresh water, raw materials, and biochemical and genetic resources. "Cultural services" of coastal ecosystems include inspirational aspects, recreation and tourism, science and education. "Supporting services" of coastal ecosystems include nutrient cycling, biologically mediated habitats, and primary production. Others focus more on the reciprocal connection between humans and ecosystems, or introduce a concept of "Services to Ecosystems" (Comberti et al. 2015).

Food safety and traceability systems
Quality assurance and certification programs

Implementing systems to maintain consistent quality and obtain certifications for food products.


Supply chain optimisation and logistics management

Optimizing the movement of food products from production to consumption for efficiency.


Training and education in the food industry

Providing educational programs and training to improve skills and knowledge in the food industry. This includes training about systemic connections within the food system, sustainability and circular thinking.


Consulting and advisory services for sustainable food practices a new systems leadership

Offering expert advice and support for businesses adopting sustainable food practices. Providing educational programs and training can improve skills and knowledge in the food industry in general and add knowledge to services. This can be provided by agriculture parties, change agents, people who enter the farm, food advisors, EU projects. It can be much more focused on the farm that is necessary for the whole food system. We also need to learn how systems work and we need a new way of leadership that deals with systems in a holistic way. Food systems need to be transformed from ego to eco. This new way of leadership is based on systems thinking as developed by Donella Meadows - in which trust, system balances, commons and the way to work are interpreted in a different way, e.g. what is waste for one is a resource for others. See also the activities of the Earth4All initiative.

Sources:;;;;; Earth4All

Increased support for ecosystem services

Agricultural practices with more focus on protecting and aiding ecosystem services. Ecosystem services are the many and varied benefits to humans provided by the natural environment and healthy ecosystems. These ecosystems, functioning in healthy relationships, offer such things as natural pollination of crops, clean air, extreme weather mitigation, and human mental and physical well-being. Collectively, these benefits are becoming known as ecosystem services.

Sources: Project DAKIS:

A new (re-newed) appreciation of agricultural production

The increase in urban gardening and urban farming practices along with the demand for sustainable agricultural production leads to a new found appreciation of food and the farming methods, which are used for its production. The image of farmers and the general work in gardens and farms gets or has a highly positive image.

Source: Project DAKIS:;

Biodiversity services

Human activity has a negative impact on the world's biodiversity, as it increases the extinction rate of species. A continuation of current policies will further increase the problem. Possible solutions range from a minimisation of local environmental impact, an expansion of protection areas to achieving sustainability. Some solutions are mimicking biology to overcome biodiversity problems already visible in food systems (e.g. pollination with drone swarms)

Source: Project DAKIS:;

Eatable landscapes - including co-villages

Park-like landscapes with trees for fruits and other eatable plants are established as parts of cities. In some cities, co-villages directly in these areas with agriculture and full infrastructure are integrated. They are single and cooperative entities fostering the quality of life for people as well as direct food access.

Source: Stella Schaller; Lino Zeddies; Ute Scheub; Sebastian Vollmar (2022): Zukunftsbilder 2045. München: oekom verlag

Peer-to-peer-based consumption decisions

Networks of people around the world advising each other are the dominant factor in democratized consumption and purchasing decisions for products and services. Competing and complementary digital platforms provide access to detailed product information provided in a transparent manner.

Source: Project DAKIS:;

Co-Creation and user input

Currently users are mostly integrated through observational studies and data collection. Integration of customers in innovation processes happens rarely. Challenges of user integration include scepticism towards companies, loss of control through big data and shit storms online. Also: consumer engagement.

Sources: Project DAKIS:;;

Smart products as enablers

Intelligent and/or ubiquitous systems in the field of smart home/smart building enhance functionalities to meet the needs of the users. For example, smart products deliver information about current stock quantities of the usually purchased products. Handling and using big data is necessary. Seamless connection has to be enabled. The kitchen is connected with the rest of the house and the outside. Information about food and cooking recipes is delivered.

Sources: Project DAKIS:;

Ease of use

The "ease of use” is strongly related to the concept of usability. An understanding of the five characteristics of usability – effective, efficient, engaging, error tolerant, easy to learn – helps guide the user-centred design tasks to the goal of usable products (Ulwick 2003). There are three key requirements: (i) Usability means thinking about how and why people use a product: The first step in creating a usable product is understanding those goals in the context of the user’s environment, task, or work flow and letting these needs inform the design. (ii) Usability means evaluation: The usability relies on user-feedback through evaluation rather than simply trusting the experience and expertise of the designer. (iii) Usability means user-centred design: Users are satisfied when an interface is user-centred, when their goals, mental models, tasks, and requirements are all met.

Sources: Project DAKIS:;; Ulwick 2003:

Simplified solution

High Tech has become Shy Tech, which works quietly in the background. Complicated devices with switches, cables, and buttons are being replaced by intuitive interaction interfaces. The only thing that remains visible is the immediately accessible feature. This technology is integrating itself into our everyday objects. Surfaces are becoming user interfaces that enter into our surroundings.

Sources: Project DAKIS:;

Dissemination and usage of shopping apps

Apps offer support for the customer for private purchases. However, sustainability apps fail in displaying carbon and material footprints. The purchaser of the future will influence the production and design of products through digital interaction.


Sources: Project DAKIS:;;

Sales increase through Big Data

Retail companies start to collect data about their customers to generate customer profiles in combination with other available data. The data can be used for dynamic pricing and individual marketing to maximise profit.

Sources: Project DAKIS:;

Online Shopping E-Commerce

E-Commerce describes commercial activities via the internet. It includes purchase and selling as well as customer service and online banking. E-commerce does not have any technical or temporal boundaries and it offers a wide range of information on potential products. The importance of e-commerce in B2C and B2B sectors has risen exponentially over the last decade. The IoT could automatise many sales processes. Online Food retailing is currently only available in select cities. One obstacle in this area is, that the recipient has to be at home especially for refrigeration-mandatory products. Currently online food retailing is mostly used for non-perishable and special food products.

Sources: Project DAKIS:;"

New curricula and teaching

Many curricula are currently under examination and revised, and the ways of teaching are also changing. One example from India for example newly included the following: "In Agricultural Extension Education, new doctoral-level courses, such as Policy Engagement and Extension, Technology Commercialisation and Incubation, Risk Management and Climate Change Adaptation, Livelihood Development, and Facilitation for People-centric Development, have been introduced. At the Master’s level, outdated courses have been replaced with fresh ones like Extension Landscape, Capacity Development, ICTs for Agricultural Extension and Advisory Services, and Enabling Innovation & Gender Mainstreaming." In Europe, we also see some changes.