Co-SFSC: Co-Creating Sustainable Transformations of Food Supply Chains through Cooperative Business Models and Governance

Project description

Grafische Projekt-Darstellung
Source: ITAS

Co-SFSC coordinates transdisciplinary research on sustainable food supply chains across five research hubs and six teams in Turkey, Thailand, Taiwan, Sweden, Germany, and the US, building a community of practice for mutual learning (Lave & Wenger 1998). It aims to assess current food supply structures (incl. policies, financing, training) and to develop sustainable alternatives through innovation and transfer of cooperative business and governance models. Following existing work on sustainable food supply chains (e.g., Weber & Wiek 2021), the research process will be organized in four steps:

  1. transdisciplinary sustainability assessment (system knowledge)
  2. transdisciplinary sustainability visioning (target knowledge)
  3. transdisciplinary strategy building and action planning (transformation knowledge I)
  4. transdisciplinary design, monitoring, and evaluation of pilot projects/experiments (transformation knowledge II)

The research hubs co-create knowledge, visions, plans, and small-scale experiments on how to innovate, convert, and strengthen food supply chains in different socio-cultural and political contexts. While all studies explore entire supply chains, the cases are stratified with respect to the specific supply chain issues addressed, the stage of the supply chain open to transformation, the range of food products, and the governance elements of the supporting entrepreneurial ecosystem. The objective is to generate empirically supported insights into food supply chain transformations toward sustainability. The main focus is on the potential of cooperative business models and the importance of a supportive entrepreneurial ecosystem, including cooperative governance through food policy councils and community-supported initiatives. The project will demonstrate how science can support such sustainability transformations by realizing transdisciplinary transformational research on pioneering efforts to transform food supply chains in line with sustainability criteria. Results of this research are expected to provide researchers and practitioners with inspiration and guidance on how food supply chains can be successfully transformed toward sustainability.

The project consortium consists of 10 research partners (from sustainability science, social sciences, natural sciences, economy, engineering, humanities, geography, planning) and practice partners from different sectors (private sector, NGOs, administration, public). The international network SCORAI (Sustainable Consumption Research and Action Initiative) supports the internal and external communication and policy transfer.

The project is funded by the DFG as part of the Belmont Forum’s “Systems of Sustainable Consumption and Production” program.

Project website:

Weber, H.; Wiek, A. (2021)
Cooperating with open cards – realizing sustainable international coffee supply. Frontiers in Sustainable Food Systems, 5, 663716


Pia Laborgne
Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT)
Institute for Technology Assessment and Systems Analysis (ITAS)
P.O. Box 3640
76021 Karlsruhe

Tel.: +49 721 608-24869