On 11 June 2021, an online interdisciplinary scientific conference “Latvia on the way towards sustainable food production and consumption” was organised by the scientific institute Baltic Studies Centre. It was held as part of the project “Social Innovation in Food Provision: Pathways to Sustainable Production and Consumption” (SINFO) funded by the Latvian Council of Science, Fundamental and applied research project programme (agreement no. lzp-2018/1-0344). The aim of the conference was to bring together Latvian researchers representing different local and foreign scientific organisations of various disciplinary backgrounds that currently undertake research on different aspects of sustainable production and consumption of food.
The conference programme featured presentations by Latvian researchers from higher education establishments and research institutes in Latvia and abroad, from a range of different disciplines such as sociology, economics, social anthropology, nutrition science, design, engineering and computer science. In total, 13 reports were presented (10 of these are featured in this report), attracting an audience of over 50 people, including researchers, public officials, representatives of the food industry and non-governmental organisations, as well as students.
The conference closely echoed the theme of recent policy initiatives of the European Union aimed at developing sustainable food systems as, for instance, strategy From Farm to Fork, initiative Food2030, European Green Deal, Circular Economy Action Plan, EU Biodiversity Strategy for 2030, Directive on the Sustainable Use of Pesticides, Common Agricultural Policy for 2021-2027, and others.
The main result of the conference was the interdisciplinary exchange of knowledge, the academic debate and the establishment of links between projects and research teams currently engaged in relevant studies on the functioning of food systems. The reports were based on preliminary or final results from different projects funded by national, EU or other international research programmes. An important benefit was the opportunity to bring together researchers of Latvian origin from the Institute of Agricultural Resources and Economics, BA School of Business and Finance, Central European University, Latvia University of Life Sciences and Technologies, Art Academy of Latvia, Rezekne Academy of Technologies, Riga Stradiņš University, Riga Technical University, Institute of Food Safety, Animal Health and Environment “BIOR”, Ca’ Foscari University of Venice, and Baltic Studies Centre, engaged with food-related topics. This contributed to strengthening the interorganisational communication and building a wider interdisciplinary community of food researchers.
This book of abstracts summarises the main ideas and points of discussion addressed in the conference papers. The reports were devoted to the analysis of local food chains in terms of their long-term resilience, the role of innovation in transitioning to smarter and more sustainable food systems, as well as provided insight into food- and nutrition-related consumer habits, and their health impacts. Other topics covered the development of new sustainable food procurement practices, including those present in urban settings, and the application of design and technological solutions in sustainable food provisioning. The discussions touched upon different collaborative arrangements in food systems under both Covid-19 and post-pandemic conditions, embedding those in a wider context of food production and consumption trends.
The messages covered by this book of abstracts closely relate to the core idea of the project SINFO on the role and potential of social innovation in building sustainable food systems. Provided that they are aimed at relevant sustainability targets, new collaboration and co-creation solutions involving different food system stakeholders (producers, processors, retailers, consumers, interest groups, politicians, funders, advisors, media, etc.) can contribute to making our food systems more sustainable and resilient.
The book of abstracts in both Latvian and English is available here.
The videorecording of the conference (in Latvian) is available on the BSC YouTube channel.