Flanders Research Institute for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (ILVO) is an independent scientific research institute of Flanders Government. Its assignment from the government is to work on the sustainability of agriculture, fisheries and agri-food sector. ILVO's work is strongly anchored in Flanders and extends from there to Belgium, Europe and the rest of the world.
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The mission of ILVO is clear and remarkably contemporary: to build knowledge that will make it possible to produce enough healthy and varied food for the 10 billion people that the world will need to feed while staying within our planetary limits.
To perform this mission, ILVO performs multidisciplinary, ground-breaking and independent research. In this way, ILVO builds the fundamental and applied knowledge needed for improving products and production methods, to ensure quality and safety of the end-products and to improve the policy instruments at the foundation of sector development and rural policy.
The organization employs a strategy where systems thinking, integration of “tacit knowledge” with new technologies, co-creation and five organizational values all take center stage. The Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations form the compass that orients ILVO’s own operations as well as the researched performed here.
Using applied research, ILVO aims to provide answers for the challenges facing everyone involved in the greater food agri-food chain and the rural environment.
Concretely, ILVO studies new and existing tracks of optimization and sustainable development with a high degree of integrity and in a proactive and objective fashion. ILVO works for the following sectors:
Research vision: 8 themes
The ILVO vision document ‘2020 and beyond’ lists the benchmarks and ambitions of ILVO. This document was written together with a variety of stakeholders and is regularly revisited with a critical eye. From this document, 8 main research guidelines or themes arose:
- Healthy crops
- Societally acceptable animal production
- Healthy diets
- Efficient production systems and value creation
- Rural development in urbanized Flanders
- Exploitation of marine production
Co-creation in living labs
ILVO regularly enters into dialogue with policymakers, stakeholders and society. To further build on its role as a future- and demand-driven knowledge center, ILVO works with living labs – “ecosystems” where researchers, end-users, stakeholders, citizens and even cities or regions can meet up and work on co-creative research.
ILVO already has 6 living labs:
- Food Pilot
- Living Lab Animal Production
- Living Lab Agrifood Technology
- Living Lab Organic Agriculture
- Living Lab Plant
- Marine Living Lab
Systems thinking and interdisciplinarity
The agro-food ecosystem is a complex system with an incredible number of interconnected elements. Because of this complexity, ILVO doesn't want to look at interventions or changes solely at the level of one element - e.g. yield or nitrogen emissions. Good analyses require a close view of the interaction between all components and aspects of the system. Only by combining knowledge of all these facets in a systems-oriented, interdisciplinary approach can effective solutions be developed for the challenges facing the agri-food chain. Besides being a way of looking at ongoing and new research, systems thinking at ILVO is both a research topic and an expertise in itself.
This is one of ILVO's strengths: the combination of technical expertise in the hard (engineering) sciences with the more methodological and socio-economic expertise in the softer sciences.
Five essential values characterize ILVO employees and the organization. These values are the touchstone used by the management in all their decisions. Based in a personnel action plan, the workers - in all groups and all levels - repeatedly encouraged to develop these five ILVO values. These values also play a role in selection criteria and evaluations.
- Working together
- Being an example
In 2020, "Trust" was added as an overarching value.
We expect every ILVO employee to act in accordance with the values and standards of our organization. The 5 ILVO values are the common thread in the actions of all ILVO employees and a touchstone for management decisions. In addition, we are committed to an open culture of trust and communication, so that all work-related matters can be discussed openly.
All ILVO staff members share responsibility for the organization. Every ILVO employee must be able to hold colleagues and managers responsible for the agreements made through feedback and respectful communication. In addition to the general code of deontology for employees of the Flemish government (in Dutch) the Code of Ethics for Scientific Integrity guides our actions.
> Reports of alleged violations or questions of integrity related to ILVO can be forwarded to firstname.lastname@example.org.
> For other complaints, please contact email@example.com.