Every global citizen has access to carbon-neutral dairy that was produced in a circular and regenerative model by 2050
Describe your relationship to the place you’ve selected.
Nextstep is a team of social entrepreneurs based in Copenhagen Denmark, developing a positive local and global impact through simple, innovative and concrete solutions. The company has been working on both Nordic and Global projects for over 18 years creating action-orientated strategies, building innovative concepts and prioritising speed and simplicity in the process.
At Nextstep we have been fortunate enough to play a pivotal role in placing the Nordics on the map for climate change, sustainability and food system transformation. We have been a part of many successes and even failures that have helped us understand the social, economic and environmental sphere that is the Nordics. We understand what can be done and who we must engage to create social value and impact. Moving words into action so that the vision can become a reality.
The Nordics and Denmark in particular, are in the epicentre of the Nordic food movement, where sustainable food practices are placed in the centre of business actions. No social, political or economic climate is more suited to test, cultivate and expand a C02 neutral dairy industry. By piloting the project in Denmark, we see the opportunity to build on the network with political, civil and financial engagement to transform the food system and develop a sustainable proof of concept that can be scaled and replicated out into the world. Therefore whilst the project may begin in the Nordics, the output will have a global impact and the relationship to people and planet extended beyond Danish borders. Thereby paving the way forward to a global CO2 neutral dairy industry by 2050.
Describe the People and Place: Provide information that would be helpful for an outsider who has never been there and may have no context about this Place to better understand the area.
The Nordic people and culture are recognised for their ability to cross collaborate and take innovative approaches to all aspects of society - political, environmental and economic. From civil society to the politician there is a vital support network to create a positive impact, not just in the Nordics, but also out into the world.
The Nordics place climate change, sustainability and food system transformation for all, at the forefront of their thinking. Denmark, in particular, was recognised for its know-how and dedication to create sustainable change in a recent list of the most sustainable companies in the world. In the list by Corporate Knights, the top two spots were held by Danish companies and 6 nordic companies were found in the top 20. However humbling the awards, the recognition further ignites the conversation around sustainable systems changes in the Nordics. Setting into motion the realization that change still needs to be made, with particular focus on the meat and dairy industry.
Recent studies show that Danes are the people in Europe who buy the most organic produce - with a market share of 11,5% in 2019 - an increase of 14% from the year before. For dairy, every third carton of purchased milk is organic. Over two decades, organic agriculture has gone from a small niche to representing over 13% of all agricultural production in 2019.
Even though parts of the agricultural industry of Denmark has been traditionally regressive to change and may focus on non-regenerative farming models, more and more producers are committing to changing their operations. For 20 years, the conventional farmer has felt pressure with international competition and discount demands, resulting in 116 farmers declaring bankruptcy just in 2019. On the other hand, Denmark has seen an increase in the number of organic farms over the past twenty years. The resistance to change is apparent and all projections suggest that the growth in organic and regenerative agriculture will continue over the next decades.
People want the ability to make more conscious food choices. To move away from a diet based on unsustainable agriculture to one that is CO2 neutral, organic & regenerative. Having presented itself as a world leader within both food - the Nordic Food Movement based on local and seasonal produce - and agriculture - animal welfare - leaching of fertilizer - Denmark and the Nordics are supported by a public appeal to act against climate change. With support from both public and private actors, Denmark and the Nordics are ready to take on this challenge and lead the way forward.
The possibility of moving words into action is real. The project of Dairy Demonstrations will contribute to solutions that push forward the agenda of sustainable food production with a vision of transforming the global dairy industry to work in a circular and regenerative model by which carbon-neutrality and systems thinking are the status quo by 2050.
Challenges: Describe the current (2020) and the future (2050) challenges that your food system faces.
We face a global challenge to transform our food systems and our food consumption patterns. Our current practices are negatively affecting many aspects of life across the globe, therefore fundamental measures must be taken to secure a more sustainable future.
Agriculture has been identified as a major contributor to global warming and the pressure it places on limited planetary resources such as freshwater and biodiversity. Growing concerns from both the public and political sphere highlight the need to find solutions related to food production, consumption and waste.
Dairy is an essential source of nutrition and healthy diets. However, it’s CO2 footprint ranks 3rd after sheep and beef production due to its high density of CO2 emitting cows and use of water, energy and land in production. The global population and the demand for dairy products are both increasing, and even if the consumption of dairy were reduced, only a fundamental change in and around the dairy industry has the capacity to create sustainable transformation and systematic improvements. Current and future challenges are suggested as such with the understanding that there is an inseparable network of relationships between them all.
Environmental 2020: Agricultural practices cause land degradation, production of excess carbon & create long-term environmental damage
Environmental 2050: Un-usable land space for agricultural use leads to limited growth of healthy food, biodiversity & soil replenishment.
Diets 2020: Overconsumption of cheap processed foods leads to unhealthy diets, increased obesity rates and preventable diseases
Diets 2050: Lack of access and availability to healthy food sources, causes a rise in both the cost of healthy food and health care
Economic 2020: Waste of food products throughout the value chain, price models endorse consumers to buy low-quality food & lack of investment into sustainable production
Economic 2050: Processed food dominates the food system, and economic powers control the market. Natural products are pushed out of the market and only available for niche groups
Cultural 2020: Civil societies desire for change, but lack of enough political leadership to invest in creating a sustainable food system which empowers people and planet
Culture 2050: Lack of food literacy and connection to the food system from all sectors of society - lack of knowledge, traditions, and connection to nature.
Policy 2020: Political sphere lacking responsibility to provide initiatives, funding or policies that support sustainable changes
Policy 2050: Lack of sustainable influence and impact on measures that represent the people’s interest in the food system
Technology 2020: Inefficient technological solutions to food production
Technology 2050: Technology used as a tool in increasing processed foods - both in agriculture and production, as economic levers pushed technology towards processed food and industrial agriculture. Food production is seen as an automated linear process.
Address the Challenges: Describe how your Vision will address the challenges described in the previous question.
The Project will address the challenges by collectively working towards a common goal of systematic change in the food system, specifically within the dairy industry. Bringing society together to Identify and innovative solutions through a result-oriented and practical process.
Initially, the project will develop a focused case on dairy producers in the Nordics to build a collective understanding and transformational potential which can then be scaled and replicated, on both a local and global level. Developing solutions that act as levers of transformational change in developing a carbon-neutral dairy industry.
The spotlight will be placed within the environmental, dietary, economic, cultural, technological and political spheres of the dairy industry value chain. Within a cross-sectional and collaborative setting consisting of key stakeholders from each of the challenge arenas and complementary projects within the Rockerfeller food system map and Climate-KICs community hub, participants will identify the interlinked challenges, themes and structures and develop potential solutions along the circular value chain.
The results will be locally developed concepts and solutions that can generate a fundamental change in the food system. The solutions will be developed into a proof of concept. Both the concepts and methodology have the potential to be replicated and scaled further out into the world and provide sustainable business models for people and the planet.
Examples of probable outcomes could be
Environmental: Carbon neutral food system in which agricultural practices regenerates the land, replenish the soil and increases biodiversity.
Diets: More accessible and available healthy food for all animals and the people
Economic: less waste, better food for more people, investment by challenge owners to provide more sustainable solutions that are available to food producers of all sizes.
Cultural: Greater mind shift towards sustainable food production, increased food literacy, greater connection to land and understanding of systems thinking.
Policy: Carbon neutrality pushed in the political agenda and acted upon within numerous food system policies. People and planet at the heart of each decision.
Technology: Development of technology that increases the efficiency of the production chain and minimises the use of unsustainable practices
Full Vision: How do you describe your Vision for a regenerative and nourishing food future for your Place and People for 2050?
Fundamental transformations in the current social, economic, political, technological and environmental systems need to occur simultaneously and on multiple fronts in order to strengthen climate resilience and create an exponential change in the food system as a whole. Decarbonization of the food system is a potential leverage point to envisioning the path forward to an ideal food system
To address the challenges at hand, we need a multidisciplinary and coherent systematic approach to finding solutions together. A concept for redesigning the system in a way that enables people to act differently and be part of an inherent food system transformation, that will benefit both people and planet alike.
The project’s objective is to develop a concept/methodology that will create innovative solutions to the identified challenges. Working collaboratively with the entire value chain of relevant stakeholders in co-creating solutions, amplifying the conversation, building awareness, and future partnerships for collaborating on a full value chain transformation towards carbon neutrality.
To bring these words to action, we need to be concrete and chose regions for implementation. We suggest the concept be piloted in Denmark because of the social, economic and environmental support for food system transformation. Thereafter, the concept /methodology and solutions can be replicated to other countries.
The following is an outline of the methodological and systems thinking approach suggested for the pilot program in Denmark. The concept/methodology will be replicated around the world to develop a global CO2 neutral dairy industry that works in a circular and regenerative model by which carbon-neutrality and systems thinking are the status quo by 2050.
The following is an initial mapping of food value chain actors and system influencers that can co-collaborate in identifying and innovating on a full systems approach in decarbonising the dairy industry.
Full Value Chain Actors
Producers / Challenge owners: Thise Mejeri
Food Workers: Thise Mejeri employees
Distributor and Processor: Thise Mejeri
Retailer: Coop (Super Brugsen, Dagli’ Brugsen, Kvickly, Irma)
Consumers: Civil Society
Waste Recovers: Winfood, Bio-waste recovery by Copenhagen Municipality
Investors: Innovation Fund Denmark
Policy Makers: Ministry for Environment and Agriculture, Nordic Food Policy Lab
Food Innovators: Danish Technical University
Large Food Cooperates: Coop inc. Irma
Scientists and Researchers: Bioeconomy expert: Lene Lange
Food Writers / Chefs: Sustainable Chef: Kamila Seidler, Farm of Ideas: Christian Puglisi
Organisational/ Governance: Food Nation Denmark, EAT forum, CONCITO (Danish Green ThinkTank)
Behavioural understanding: Behavioural Design Institute of Copenhagen
The methodology would occur over a 12 month period and based on the 4 step NEXTSTEP methodology. The first 3 core steps identify, innovate and accelerate will structure and direct the project in progressive work packages with an initial focus on addressing the six interconnected themes. The result of which has the ability to directly feed into the 4th step: Catalyze where words turn into action.
The structure and methodology would then be applied to different countries around the globe, with an average of 2 countries per year replicating the process and implementing solutions thereafter. It should also be noted that a sustainable business model would be implemented in which the dairy producers who have been through the methodology and implemented the process would later help to fund the future summits.
The 3 core principles, action, communication and organisation are imprinted in each activity to ensure a clear process which results in a constructive action-orientated output. A clear core narrative that connects and motivates multiple stakeholders to work together towards a common goal. Lastly, a clear organisational structure which unites cross-disciplinary stakeholders across the common goal, thereby growing the network, relationships, connections and ability to create larger and longer-lasting impact.
The following is an example of the first 3 work packages identify, innovate and accelerate.
Work Package 1: Identify
Identify: Align the intent and purposes of the project and identify the main challenges in the value chain ecosystem. Build a foundation for innovation.
1.1 Strategy meeting (1)
Action: Clearly defined project objectives and methodology. Alignment on roles, responsibilities and project tools.
Communication: Development of 1 core communication narrative and defined communication strategy. Internal and external communication channels established
Organisation: Led by Nextstep with participation from coordinating board
1.2 Strategy Meeting (2)
Action: Mapping of cross-sectoral stakeholders, identification of the 6 interconnected themes, challenge owners, underlying challenges and coordination on the identify workshop event material
Communication: Development of graphic identity that connects the core narrative and stakeholders.
Organisation: Led by Nextstep with various participants and challenge owners.
1.3 Identification Workshop
Action: Facilitated workshop that deep dives of the challenges, identifies underlying gaps in the value chain ecosystem, focus areas that we can use to shift the system and develops key questions and targets.
Communication: Development of draft charter principles that share the core narrative. The output of the day’s development on social media through the participant’s channels
Organisation: Participation of 20 key stakeholders from primary production, food processing and food supply chains, retail and consumer behaviour, cities, policy and public procurement, specific challenge owners. Led by NextStep.
Work package 2: Innovate
Explore and learn about potential new lighthouse concepts with cross-disciplinary stakeholders to create breakthrough possibilities. Connecting multiple stakeholders with a common purpose and drawing the first sketches of the solutions, where and what to leverage.
2.1 Strategy meeting (3)*
Action: Harmonized actions for the next work package with a key focus on 2-day innovation camp strategy and coordination on camp event material
Communication: Alignment on the communication material and dissemination plan to ensure increased visibility and participant engagement
Organisation: Led by Nextstep
2.2 Two-day innovation camp
Action: 2-Day camp gathering identified stakeholders to explore, innovate and develop 5 lighthouse solutions to the determined challenges. Cross-disciplinary groups consisting of both private and public sector representatives, academics and civil society will explore challenges, create target-driven light-solutions, identify actions and business models, risks and opportunities, develop draft roadmaps to mitigate the identified challenges and seek committed stakeholders.
Communication: Increased visibility of the camp through identified communication channels, materials and partners.
Organisation: Led and facilitated by Nextstep. Participation of 50+ key stakeholders. Inclusion of participants from both the supply and demand chain of the value chain ecosystem.
2.3. Strategy meeting (4)*
Action: Revision of camp and resulted lighthouse focus which results in the camp catalogue that directly feeds into a portfolio brief.
Communication: Alignment on the communication material and dissemination plan to ensure increased visibility and participant engagement
Organisation: Led by Nextstep.
Work package 3: Accelerate
Accelerate: Extract the new lighthouse concepts that are concrete and scalable. Develop a portfolio brief that accelerates the practical solutions into reality, focusing on strategic direction and development with the right partners to move the words into actions.
3.1 Strategy meeting (5)
3.2 Accelerator workshop
3.3 Accelerator sessions
3.4 Innovation Launch
*Please note that whilst we have detailed material for the 3rd step Accelerate and a brief for the 4th step Catalyze we were not able to submit it as the system would not allow us to submit the content despite being within the proposed 10,000 character word count.