Thoughts on the impact of research and those who need information

News 2021-06-02 at 10:35
© Just food/SYKE

The goal of strategic research is to produce information to support decision-making. For this reason, research topics are selected so that they shed light on topical issues in society. Furthermore, it is important that research-based information reaches those who need it. These are some of the things that we have discussed in the Just food project during the year this far.

As a project, we are responsible for ensuring that research progresses and that those who prepare and make decisions receive information in a suitable format. In addition, it is important to involve stakeholders in research activities – even groups that would not otherwise be heard. A good example of this is the planning of climate menus together with schoolchildren in City of Muurame, Finland.

Engaging different groups is essential also because research and decision-making do not always proceed at the same pace. However, participating in an interview or a webinar at just the right moment can help policy planners, for instance, notice fairness aspects that are important for their work, even if the final information produced by the project would not yet be ready to serve.

During its execution period of little over 18 months, Just food’s research packages have taken giant leaps forward and results ready for publication will be available soon. Nevertheless, there have been difficulties as the coronavirus pandemic has complicated work both in Finnish schools and among Brazilian soya producers. Efforts have been made to find workarounds but still some of the work requires in-person encounters. Perhaps the situation will already be better next autumn.

In the project, we have also thought about who are the decision-makers who need the information produced by us. They are not necessarily in the Finnish Parliament or in the top positions in ministries. When it comes to food, important decisions are made not only by national decision-makers but also by many other parties: municipalities, companies, counselling and advocacy organisations and also households.

Due to the wide range of our information customers, we also test different ways of distributing information. There are now five episodes of a Just food podcast called “Ruoka murroksessa” (in Finnish) and more are under way next fall. A new policy recommendation created jointly by several research projects has been completed and we recently discussed Community Supported Agriculture and field diversity research with members of the Martha home economics organisation in the Just food Talks webinar. Municipal elections discussions and introductions for the general public are also on our agenda.

In nutrition-related questions, we joined forces with other projects and research institutes and organised an international symposium, which attracted more than 200 participants. The project’s experts also shared experiences in the European JPI HDHL conference as the EU-level decision-making is essential in food-related matters.

A global perspective is added to the project by the work of the University of Rio de Janeiro in Brazil and different forms of participation in the preparations of the Food Systems Summit. In addition, our partners at the University of Bern study fairness-related questions in international trade.

The Just food team is driven by strong motivation for their work. The consortium meeting in the spring was attended by 40 researchers and other parties from Finland, Switzerland and Brazil. Although the online meeting technology worked well, we all had a shared wish: to see in person soon!

Researcher Kaisa Karttunen, Head of Interaction of the Just food project, e2 Research

  • Print page