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Triggering transitions towards sustainable development of the Dutch agricultural sector: TransForum's approach

Veldkamp, A., Altvorst, A.C. van, Eweg, R., Jacobsen, E., Kleef, A. van, Latesteijn, H. van, Mager, S., Mommaas, H., Smeets, P.J.A.M., Spaans, L., Trijp, J.C.M. van
Agronomy for sustainable development 2009 v.29 no.1 pp. 87-96
sustainable development, sustainable agriculture, networks, systems analysis, innovation adoption, agricultural programs and projects, Netherlands
TransForum is an innovation program which aims to make a substantial contribution to the transition towards more sustainable development of the Dutch agricultural sector. This article describes the scientific foundation and architecture of this program. TransForum operates on the basis of five working hypotheses which together constitute one integrated analytical framework. These hypotheses are: (1) sustainable development is a dynamic system property; (2) sustainable development needs system innovation; (3) system innovation is a non-linear learning process; (4) system innovation requires active participation of relevant key players from knowledge institutes, governmental bodies, civil society organisations and the business community; (5) the program requires transdisciplinary collaboration of all players. TransForum identifies three new innovation strategies: (1) vital clusters; (2) regional development; (3) international agro-food networks; as alternatives to the current arrangements. Innovative projects are organised in these innovation strategies. The aim of the scientific program is threefold: (1) it addresses research questions raised in the innovative projects; (2) it investigates the need for system-innovations and the way in which they can be realized; (3) it designs research projects to test the 5 main working hypotheses of the program. The scientific program is organised in four themes following a cyclic innovation process which is constantly monitored. The cycle starts with people's preferences and images, followed by studies on which inventions are required to achieve a successful innovation. Subsequently, it is investigated how to organize new innovations and transitions and finally, how citizen/consumers behaviour and preferences mobilizes sustainable development, closing the loop.