Policy Boot Camp helps Swedish Government improve its public food policy
On March 2nd, the Government of Sweden together with EAT (a global, non-profit start-up dedicated to transforming global food systems) organised a Policy Boot Camp. Led by Dr Nazia Mintz Habib from the University of Cambridge, the boot camp was held in the lead-up to the UN Food Systems Summit and addressed consumption patterns among vulnerable adolescents in Sweden.
Dr Habib, a policy systems expert, developed the innovative boot camp structure by combining engineering systems thinking tools with policy analysis methods. With her expert team from the Resilience and Sustainable Development Programme (RSDP), the online boot camp, which lasted four hours, brought together a diverse group of stakeholders including 50 young people aged between 15-25 from 26 countries, as well as prominent experts from across academia, culinary arts, retail, non-profit organisations and government. The boot camp helped improve participant’s appreciation of the challenges related to driving policy and systems level changes; and how best to drive forward solutions.
Among a number of valuable solutions proposed by the young people, “Cool Meal Science”, an interactive course to be made mandatory for high school students, caught the attention of the participating stakeholders and experts. The proposed course will connect school lunches with the science course to educate adolescents about the science of food, nutrition, preparation and selection of food. As a part of the next step, the winning group will meet Swedish Secretary of State, Per Calleberg, to discuss the idea further. Following the event, all of the ideas generated from the boot camp were taken back to the Swedish Ministry of Enterprise and Innovation.
Experts praised the young people for their engagement with such complex problems and for their consideration of the importance of participation, inclusivity, and diversity. According to Professor Lucia A. Reisch, a behavioural economist and social scientist at the Copenhagen Business School: “Besides creating actionable output for policymakers, it is also fun, inclusive, easy to implement, attractive, social, and timely. It adds a new and effective approach to the toolbox of innovative policy making that can also be applied during times of social distancing.”
The Policy Boot Camp is a tried and tested virtual method that addresses a wide range of complex policy challenges including geopolitical ones such as the safe repatriation of Rohyinga refugees. EAT and Cambridge University plan to hold more of these types of boot camps on topics of interest to stakeholders in the coming months, in the context of the Food Systems Summit and beyond.