Press release An ENFASYS on sustainable food systems: policy and business strategies to support sustainable transition


The ENFASYS Horizon Europe project, standing for “ENcouraging FArmers towards sustainable farming SYstems through policy and business Strategies”, aims to support the European Green Deal and, in particular, the Farm to Fork ambitions. The project is coordinated by Institute for Agricultural, Fisheries and Food Research (ILVO) based in Belgium and it brings together Partners from 9 European countries that will cooperate between September 2022 and August 2026 to implement a systemic, behavioural and experimental approach to understand current systemic lock-ins, farmer decision making on sustainable practices and the impact of policy and business interventions.

Agriculture is highly vulnerable to climate change impact. The 2022 summer heatwave caused the worst drought in Europe in 500 years, with crop stress visible from space. It is, however, a two-way relationship: agriculture is also major source of greenhouse gas emissions (over 10% of total EU emissions), and can pollute air, water, and soil. As such, more sustainable food systems are key to ensure resilience in the face of a changing global climate, but also to avoid further emissions which drive climate change.

This fact and its urgency are recognised by the European Union’s Farm to Fork Strategy at the heart of the European Green Deal. The Strategy outlines a policy direction to promote sustainable food systems, seeking to address its many complex challenges. It aims to deliver environmental, health and social benefits, as well as offer economic gains that benefit all participants across the food supply chain. The changes required are fundamental. They require acceptance from a large number of farmers, food companies, crop breeders, equipment manufacturers, and other stakeholders involved in the food supply chain. Consensus building at this scale is a large challenge.

ENFASYS is fully aligned with these landmark European policies. The project aims to better understand farmer behaviour and decision-making as it relates to adopting farming practices beneficial to the climate and the environment. In turn, it aims to develop improved policies and business strategies to stimulate and accelerate transition: delivering farm resilience, productivity, climate-neutrality, and promotion of biodiversity.

The project will assess 160 agricultural case studies from across Europe and will explore how different food systems lock farmers in unsustainable farming systems. For 10 of these cases, interventions and strategies on how to incentivize farmers to shift towards more sustainable practices will be studied in-depth. ENFASYS will identify a comprehensive set of behavioural factors related to farmer decision making. This allows the project to develop and assess different systemic and behavioural “interventions” – that is: regulation, nudges, voluntary arrangements, subsidies and other economic incentives, and business strategies – to see what can be effective for different contexts.

ENFASYS will test the different interventions through a range of experimental research and through advanced modelling approaches. This will include, for example, exploring consumer buying behaviour for sustainable food products through focus groups and surveys.

The research results will then be applied to formulate relevant policy mixes and business strategies to transform European agriculture in line with the goals of the Farm to Fork Strategy. Policy design will discuss changes under the Common Agricultural Policy and other relevant European and national level policies. It will also propose new sustainable business strategies and social innovations to engage farmers and promote sustainable food systems.

Project Name: ENFASYS Grant Agreement ID: 101059589


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Fleur Marchand

Scientific director of Social Sciences department

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