The EU-funded project "Sustainable Consumption Research Exchanges" (SCORE!) consists of around 200 experts in the field of sustainable innovation and sustainable consumption.
The SCORE! philosophy is that innovation in SCP policy can be achieved only if experts that understand business development, (sustainable) solution design, consumer behaviour and system innovation policy work together in shaping it.
Sustainable technology design can be effective only if business can profitably make the products and consumers are attracted to them.
To understand how this might effectively happen, the expertise of systems thinkers must be added to the mix. The publication in 2008 of System Innovation for Sustainability 1 was the first result of a unique positive confrontation between experts from all four communities.
It examined what SCP is and what it could be, provided a state-of-the-art review on the governance of change in SCP policy and looked at the strengths and weaknesses of current approaches.
System Innovation for Sustainability 3 is the second of three books of case studies covering respectively the three key consumption areas of mobility, food and agriculture, and energy use and housing - responsible for 70% of the life-cycle environmental impacts of Western societies - with the aim of stimulating, fostering or forcing change to SCP theory in practice. The availability of healthy food for all is a basic human need.
Yet, primarily due to higher food prices, the overall number of undernourished people in the world increased from 923 million in 2007 to 963 million in 2008 - the vast majority of whom live in developing countries.
Experts estimate that close to half of the human impact on the environment is directly or indirectly related to food production and consumption.
Food production, distribution, consumption and disposal are important in terms of land and resource use, pollution and emissions, biodiversity and landscape design.
Also of key importance are health issues and issues surrounding the satisfaction of citizens' basic needs: more than 200 million adults in the European Union are overweight or even obese due to unhealthy diets and too little exercise. Sustainability issues are now clearly on the agenda for food producers and market actors, politicians and regulators, as well as being increasingly important in the decisions consumers make about food.
A large number and variety of efforts to stimulate sustainability have been instigated and numerous studies, research programmes and publications have addressed such issues.
Agri-food issues have also been prominent in the evolving definition of what sustainability means. This book focuses largely on providing answers to the question of how food production and consumption systems can stay within the limits of the carrying capacity of our natural environment.
But it also considers the challenges of food security and nutrition in the context of sustainability and a growing world population. The book first analyses the state of the art in sustainable agriculture and food production in Europe.
Eleven case studies follow, examining issues such as food policy, greening mainstream agricultural systems, organic farming, farmers' markets, sustainable food networks, eco-labelling, consumer behaviour, slow food and fair trade.
Finally, a concluding chapter summarises what has been learned by the 60-plus experts active in the SCORE! food project. In brief: bottom-up and top-down processes have to be linked, industrialised nations must reduce their meat consumption, and agriculture should become a multifunctional sustainable system not only producing food but also delivering other services such as energy and material production, CO2 storage and recreation - which would have the added benefit of improving farmers' socioeconomic situations. The System Innovation for Sustainability series is the fruit of the first major international research network on SCP and will set the standard in this field for some years to come.
It will be required reading for all involved in the policy debate on sustainable production and consumption from government, business, academia and NGOs for designers, scientists, businesses and system innovators.