Elin Röös, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU), Sweden

Elin Roos

Elin Röös is an Associate Professor and Senior Lecturer at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences known for her expertise in sustainable food systems and environmental sustainability. She holds a Ph.D. in Natural Resource Management and has dedicated her career to studying the intersection of food, agriculture, and the environment. Röös is recognized for her contributions to understanding the environmental impacts of various food production systems, food product and diets and how to use such knowledge in policy aimed at steering towards more sustainable eating patterns. Passionate about promoting sustainable diets and advocating for changes in food consumption patterns, Röös actively engages in public discourse and policy discussions. She emphasizes the significance of considering both individual and systemic changes to achieve a more sustainable food future. Through her work, Elin Röös continues to influence academia, policy-making, and public awareness, aiming to foster a more environmentally conscious approach to food production and consumption.

Talk: Eating ourselves out of the environmental crisis – can potentials with dietary shifts be realised?

Abstract: Reductions in food waste and consumption of animal source foods (in high income settings where consumption is high) show great potential to substantially reduce greenhouse gas emissions and other environmental impacts (Willett et al., 2019). The question however remains to what extent these mitigation options could be realised in practice. Considering global trends, the prospects of substantially reducing the consumption of animal sourced foods looks bleak; the demand for animal foods is expected to increase by 40% until 2050 (Komarek et al., 2021). It could however be argued that consumption patterns could change if the right incentives were put in place. A range of governance mechanisms are available to steer consumption patterns, including regulations, taxes, labelling and information campaigns that all target different types of determinants of behaviour (van Valkengoed et al., 2022). Our recent systematic map found 263 cases of such public policy interventions. The majority were information-based, and 50% of evaluated labels. About 13% were market-based interventions and 8% of the interventions aimed at changing the choice making context. The question remains if these are at all effective, how and why they are effective and if they are effective enough to drastically change consumption patterns?

Our recent review of reviews target this question. We found mainly positive outcomes for many of the studied interventions (e.g. labelling, written cues, goal setting), indicating that there are available options to steer food consumption behaviour. However, sample sizes are often small and most studies looked at stated rather than revealed preferences decreasing the external validity of studies (Just and Byrne, 2020). In addition, eating patterns are shaped by automatic and heuristic behaviours which can be difficult to change (Verplanken, 2018), for example, those building social norms and feedback structures shaping our automatic decision-making, may not manifest themselves until much later (Valkengoed et al., 2022). It is therefore inherently challenging to find an answer to what policies and policy mixes are effective in changing consumer behaviour towards sustainable consumption. We encourage researchers, policy makers and relevant food system actors to jointly engage in implementing and testing different interventions in real world settings, tracking the results transparently and spreading the experiences to the world. Very drastic changes to current diets and trends are unrealistic, but prevailing trends in dietary patters are also not inevitable.

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