Bringing the public into the food security debate

Will we have enough fertile land to grow the food our increasing population needs? Is it possible to adapt food production to climate change? How do we define responsible research and innovation in relation to food security? An EU-funded project, which aims to encourage people to debate the issues and articulate their views, has just published a toolkit settig out the steps to maximise grass-roots engagement.

The BIGPICNIC has just announced their Blueprint toolkit for co-creation, which helps organisations develop effective and relevant activities to engage local communities and stakeholders with responsible research and innovation in relation to food security.

The toolkit combines the principles behind the co-creation of a movement with findings from the domains of marketing and behavioural science. The kit was developed by one of the project partners, Waag Society, which has been developing creative technology and methods for social innovation or the past 22 years. Adopting the ‘users as designers’ approach, the toolkit sets out five steps that can be adapted to foster public debate and awareness in other domains.

The five steps to public engagement

The project identifies that there is a need for both in-depth familiarisation with the issues surrounding food security and for a deep understanding of the context in which grass-roots engagement is being fostered. Project partners and other stakeholders need to get a clear sense of the information that is already circulating, what people are interested in, and what their possible channels of communication are. They call this first stage ‘Open your mind’.

Step two, ‘Enabling environment exploration’, encourages partners to try out new approaches, including the exploration of different environments that may have generated change in other contexts. This enables stakeholders to understand what influences their target audiences and to develop their own guidelines on how to identify what environments will most help them reach their public.

Closely related to step two is step three, the clear identification of their target audience and their goals, ‘Movement mission, stakeholders and audiences’. This then informs step four, in which partners recruit their co-creators. BIGPICNIC maintains you can’t sustainably change behaviour without exploiting co-creation to the full. Co-creative methods start from the idea that everyone is an expert on one issue or another, first and foremost on their own life. Step four, ‘Co-creation with users and stakeholders’ is an innovative and participatory process that aims to create shared ownership of a project between institutions and community partners.

Stage five, ‘Enabling environment design’, addresses the need to stay flexible as the project develops, peoples’ behaviour changes and new target audiences emerge.

Grass roots movements informing policy-making

BIGPICNIC is setting out ways to generate grass-roots debate on all these topics by involving the public, scientists, policy-makers and industry. An international network, the project brings together botanic gardens; universities; an institute for art, science and technology, and an international NGO. BIGPICNIC is co-ordinated by Botanic Gardens Conservation International and its partners span 12 European countries along with Uganda.

For more information, please see:
project website

last modification: 2017-05-04 17:15:02

Privacy Policy