TRACK Sustainable Food Systems


S27: Towards public acceptance of wastewater reuse under the current EU framework: what role of technology

Anna BERTI SUMAN (Tilburg Institute for Law, Technology and Society), Sveden; Attilio TOSCANO (University of Bologna), Italy 

This contribution aims at reflecting on the current political and social framework surrounding the debate on wastewater reuse at the EU level. The starting point is the acknowledgement that water scarcity is a serious concern for many EU countries. In response to this challenge, in the last decade numerous initiatives and policies have been launched with the aim of overcoming the issue of water scarcity.
The session’s goal is to illustrate a possible answer to this issue by discussing the potential of technology to improve the public acceptance of treated wastewater reuse. The relevance of the topic within international, European and national strategies is underlined. Follows the illustration of the main advantages of wastewater reuse as recognized by the debate ongoing at the EU level. Subsequently, the sessions plans to analyse the reasons for the unfulfilled potential of the use of treated wastewater in agriculture at the European level. The discussion targets in particular the barriers perceived by citizens hindering the reuse on a large scale. The barriers are outlined following the results of the Public Consultation conducted with EU citizens, namely awareness and perception-related barriers. How to enhance public acceptance of wastewater reuse in agriculture is the central research question of the session. In particular, the focus falls on the development of smart technologies and their possible uses for facilitating public acceptance of wastewater reuse practices. A reflection on the way forward is provided, with a particular attention to the development of certain smart technologies arguably usable for facilitating public acceptance of wastewater reuse practices. Among these technologies, those developed within the European Innovation Partnership (EIP) on Water, such as the Real Time Water Quality Monitoring (RTWQM), are discussed. The potential of combining smart technologies with users’ engagement as a catalyst to foster trust and public acceptance of wastewater reuse practices is inspected. Examples of participatory (or better citizen-led) water monitoring initiatives are presented. Recent examples of smart technologies-enabled water monitoring are considered.
A special attention is devoted to the potential of a European initiative (based in the Netherlands): the Akvo Caddisfly smartphone-based water quality testing system (more information available at The format of the sessions will be an interactive presentation, followed by discussion groups and a workshop on the Akvo case study.

KEYWORDS: water scarcity, wastewater reuse, public acceptance, technology



S28: Moving from thinking in silos to thinking in systems - opportunities and barriers for socio- technical integrated sustainable food systems?

Morten LARSEN & Mette WEINRICH HANSEN (Aalborg University), Denmark
Niels KRISTENSEN (Umeå Universitet), Sveden

The structural developments of mainstream agriculture of the last half century towards centralization and specialization seem to have produced its own embedded logic and rationality. The productivistic approach often found within organizations and business associated with mainstream agriculture seems to have an inherent preference for increased specialized production, not infrequently, on behalf of environmental concerns and/or plant diversity, for instance (Lang & Heasman 2004) This development has been supported by strong political structures and the implementation and funding of for instance the ‘Common Agricultural Policy’ in Europe and the ‘Farm Bill’ in the USA. But over the last three decades we have also witnessed the growth of so-called new agri-food initiatives or alternative food networks etc. In the USA these micro-movements are often collectively referred to as the ‘Food Movement’ in singular, despite essentially being: ‘mini-movements aimed at improving specific aspects of the health of the people, farm animals and the environment’. (Nestle & McIntosh p. 164 2010) Also the rise of organically produced food has provided diversity to both production, as well as discussions regarding the socio-technical elements of sustainable agriculture (Murdock & Miele 1999, Meadows 2008).

What is clear, however, is that further changes and integration both in production, consumption and even post-consumption (re-use), can not be contingent on technological innovations solely, but must take into account the existing policies, governmental structures (on both national, international and local levels), as well as societal/consumer wishes and everyday practices. These considerations seem expedient in order to facilitate “resilient” change where agricultural production is integrated into a larger system (or millions of small local systems rather) of natural services that strengthens and supports a sustainable social and environmental development.

This session therefore seeks papers/presentations that can contribute to the further understanding of different food systems, its actors and organizations and their possible (dis)integration. Contributions could, for instance, include case studies, meta-analysis, theoretical analysis or historical perspectives (and many more).

KEYWORDS: agriculture, governance, change, food systems, people


S29:  Reducing resource consumption in food distribution systems – research and practice in a transdisciplinary discussion

Johanna KRAMM & Lukas SATTLEGGER (ISOE – Institute for Social-Ecological Research, Frankfurt am Main), Germany

The dominant industrialised food system is based on high consumption of material resources and energy, enforcing different sustainability problems like resource scarcity, climate change and marine litter. There is widespread research in different disciplines about more sustainable food systems. We want to invite STS-related researches working on resource consumption and sustainability of food distribution systems to present and discuss their work in our session. Relevant topics regarding this intermediary space between food production and consumption are for example food miles and transport, packaging, cooling and storage or food waste.

Meanwhile, several ideas for alternative forms of food production, distribution and consumption are developed and practiced in society. On the one hand, many  of these attempts stuck to societal niches, being too radical to become part of the mainstream food system. On the other hand, once mainstreamed these alternative concepts often lose their emancipatory claim; thus fail in their attempt to transform the current unsustainable system. Hence, the tension between radicalness and connectivity seems to be a reasonable starting point for discussions – How can we (radically) change unsustainable practices without losing the connectivity to people’s lives?

This session provides space for discussion between researches and practitioners to generate practical knowledge for a sustainable transformation of food systems. Therefore, we will use two practical examples of different food distribution as starting point for our discussion: “Zero-Waste-Shops ” and “Foodcoops ”.
The session should consist of two parts of 90 minutes each.

Part 1: Input from Theory and Practice: Current State of Food Distribution Systems The first part of our workshop aims to exchange recent developments and findings between researchers and practitioners of alternative food distribution systems. There will be four slots for researchers and two for practitioners, each 10 minutes presentation and 5 minutes question & answer.

• Lukas Sattlegger (ISOE): Packaging as Supermarket Actor

• N.N.

• N.N.

• N.N.

• Zero Waste Shop: Sarah Reindl (Das Gramm, Graz)

• Foodcoop: Samuel Wintereder (d’Speis, Wien)

Part 2: World Café Discussions: Towards a More Sustainable Food Distribution System The second part of our workshop provides open space for discussing practical issues of transforming food distribution. In world cafés, we connect researchers with practitioners and activists to discuss practical challenges for sustainable transformation.

For this attempt we want to invite not only researchers “investigating” alternative practices but also people engaging in the “doing” or “propagating” of these practices. Ideal would be a fifty-fifty composition between scientists and practitioners. The discussions should take place in an open word café format, allowing people to flexibly change between tables discussing different aspects based on the topics of Part 1.

Footnotes: Zero-Waste/Packaging-Free shops sell groceries in bulk without single-use packaging. Foodcoops are self-organized consumer cooperatives where the members decide what food to buy and how to purchase and distribute it

KEYWORDS: food distribution systems, transdiciplinary discussion and workshop

S30: Imaging sustainable food systems

Linda MADSEN (University of Freiburg), Germany

This session provides a space for inquiring the wide spectre of images, models and other means through which food systems are being imaged, and visualised, such as for example historical or contemporary art, schoolbooks, marketing material, technical manuals and drawings, barcodes, popular media images and film.

The sites of agri- and aqua cultural production are changing: Farms grow in size; they become increasingly automatized and technology intensive; they become less work intensive in regards to on-site human labour; and they become more closed, e.g. due to safety regulations and biosecurity measures. In extension to this, farms, factories, distribution networks and markets are growing, and high risk towards food systems relates to microscopic agents such as pathogens. Furthermore, absence of biodiversity and the implications thereof in regards to food systems and their sustainability gain attention.

As farms are being withdrawn from daily life of the human public at large; as farming practises, farm animals and the “inside” of farms, are becoming less visible; as food systems become larger and more (technologically) complex, and as microbes, climate change and declining biodiversity pose (for the bare eye) invisible though high risks, the role of images and models and other visualizing technologies are gaining importance in regards to enacting the matters and practices of sustainability within and beyond food systems.

In this session we aim to draw attention on how the remote, withdrawn, invisible, incomprehensible and absent (parts) of food systems become present and is presented, and on how images and models are presenting; we call for attention upon the processes through which the (in)visible is visualised, on the effects and politics of visualization and on the relations between aesthetics and ethics.

An overall ambition of this session is to enable a joint venture; to mobilize research drawing on relevant resources from science and technology studies at the same time as we strongly encourage scholars of media- and image- studies, architecture, engineering, geography, museology and others fields to present and demonstrate the variety of analytical means at hand for studying and understanding the role of images and models and the processes and effects of visualisation of sustainable food systems.

KEYWORDS: bio-security, effect, images, models, (in)visible