Pathways for sustainable food

Envisioning the future of our livestock system

Pathways is a 5-year (2021-2026), EU Horizon 2020 project, contributing to the EU Farm to Fork Strategy, at the heart of the European Green Deal. It is coordinated by the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU) and comprises 30 partners from 12 countries, including the Biodynamic Federation Demeter International.

Ensure the sustainable future of the European livestock industry

With the aim of reducing environmental impacts while addressing societal demands for safe, nutritious, and affordable meat and dairy products, the Pathways project is about identifying and increasing sustainable practices along the supply and production chains of the European livestock sector.

Using a participatory approach, the Pathways project aims to co-develop visions, scenarios and transition pathways for sustainable livestock husbandry and food systems based on innovative practice hubs, living labs and interactions within a European multi-actor platform and wider community of practice.

Pathways will inform policy, research, and business strategies to support the transition to more sustainable livestock production and consumption, thus contributing to the EU Farm to Fork Strategy which is at the heart of the EU Green Deal.

One year in: from the core vision to video hubs

One year into the project, the core visioning work has been completed from the practice hubs and the Pathways multi-actor platform. From these visions, initial scenarios are being developed on what the future of livestock farming could look like by 2050.

The three core concepts revolve around 3 themes: sustainability trade-offs and synergies (exploring the interactions and trends between costs and indicators), one welfare (looking into the inextricable link between animal welfare and social and environmental wellbeing) and enabling transition (leading to an effective change through deeper leverage points of design and intent). To learn more, see the Pathways Leaflet.

You can also access Pathways’ Video Hub to find interviews of actors engaged in the project, and several past seminars presented by Pathways on animal welfare, life cycle analysis, greenhouse gas emissions in livestock and much more.

“Clearly, livestock system redesign is required at all levels to stay within planetary boundaries whilst supporting the needs of growing populations. PATHWAYS will support
this transition by demonstrating best practice, and providing smart tools, levers, and metrics. We bring together leading experts in food systems research and innovation, to develop timely and effective recommendations for policy and practice.”

– Prof. Harry Blokhuis and Dr. Laurence Smith, PATHWAYS Project Coordinators, SLU

Demeter farms: best practices examples for Pathways’ practice hubs

The Pathways practice hubs – covering dairy, pork, beef, poultry, sheep and goat livestock sectors – aim to share and test innovations in living labs that employ a holistic sustainability assessment, while engaging a community of practice that will validate the project’s findings on the road to sustainable livestock systems.

Here, the aim is to facilitate dialogues between farmers all over Europe. In these national practice hubs, they discuss ideas and innovations, are given the option of testing innovations in living labs and feed their ideas to other stakeholders from farm to fork, to support sustainable livestock production and consumption.

In this regard, the Biodynamic Federation Demeter International’s main contribution is to provide case studies from our own biodynamic farming experience. For example, Demeter farmers conducting pioneer work on sustainable livestock farming and animal welfare were able to share their knowledge within the working groups. Animal welfare has always been a core principle for Demeter farmers, which is why Demeter cows get to keep their horns, and some Demeter farms are taking the extra step to make on-farm slaughter possible. At the last Biofach in Germany, we also hosted a conference on Sustainable livestock farming management.

Find out more about Pathways on the project’s website.

Contact: Clara Behr, Head of Policy and Public Relations

Brussels, 15.03.2023

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