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Sustainable food and citizen participation Deliberative assessment and complementation of environmental policy intervention options in the food system

The food system plays a central role in meeting sustainability goals, especially in the areas of climate and biodiversity protection. In particular, the consumption of animal products, especially dairy and meat, is associated with negative externalities, such as high greenhouse gas emissions. Furthermore, there is a link between the current Western diet and the development of chronic, non-communicable diseases. A sustainable transformation of the food system can therefore only be realized with a change in dietary behavior. There is a growing interest in and willingness to act for food system change among the population. However, decision-makers often shy away from political measures that affect the private spheres of citizens. Participatory methods, such as citizen assemblies can help to strengthen acceptance for urgently needed sustainable changes in the food sector.

The project "Sustainable food and citizen participation" carries out a participatory process with randomly selected citizens, whose goal is the development of citizens’ advice concerning political recommendations for sustainable food systems. The thematic focus is on promoting a dietary shift towards plant-based diets. At the center of the project are the implementation of citizen workshops. Participants are selected randomly and representatively of socio-democratic criteria to guarantee democratic participation principles. The workshops are supported by experts who will provide thematic inputs.

The process is complemented by a trial phase in which some participants try out potential measures in everyday life with scientific support. In addition, outreach formats are used to involve groups of people who are not typically engaged in citizen participation processes. Ideas, considerations and proposed solutions from all participation formats will result in a citizens’ recommendation that formulates concrete proposals for political measures for transforming the food system. Finally, actors with expertise in political science and law will review the citizens' recommendations in terms of their feasibility and effectiveness.

IÖW Project Team