FOODLEVERS - Leverage points for organic and sustainable food systems

Sustainability transitions are complex processes. In addition, many sustainability interventions focus on “highly tangible, but essentially weak, leverage points”, thus they do not address key problems. Based on the framework of leverage points for sustainability interventions, FOODLEVERS follows a research agenda based on three realms of “deep leverage” to address sustainability transitions, such as those required to transition towards resource-efficient, circular and zero-waste food systems: firstly reconnecting people to nature, secondly restructuring institutions and thirdly rethinking how knowledge is created and used (the latter referring to both communities of practice co-creation of knowledge, and how is knowledge shared and validated). By focussing on these realms this project aims to identify key leverage points to further develop and scale up existing innovative organic and sustainable food systems (referring to products, technologies and marketing practices) in order to promote higher resource-efficiency, highlight inefficiencies and specify the reasons for decision-making processes that led to the configuration of the food systems.

Rethinking the organisation of sustainable and organic food systems value chains in this way (i.e. reconnecting production and consumption by innovative cradle to crave approaches) is necessary to increase the sustainability and efficiency of food systems and to reduce trade-offs between production/distribution stages. However, sustainable and organic food systems are diverse, resulting in differently organised systems that vary in their efficiency. Therefore, the project will analyse several European case studies of innovative organic food systems and innovative sustainable systems and identify best practice processes from multiple perspectives of resource efficiency: environment, economy, social and governance.

Project management
Michael den Herder,
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