Interview with Rebecka Milestad

by Ashley Colby/ SCORAI, Dec 2023

Dr. Rebecka Milestad introduces the Swedish Hub

In the third installment of our video series, Rebecka Milestad of KTH Royal Institute of Technology in Sweden describes the Swedish hub. Ashley and Rebecka discuss the role of cooperatives in Sweden, the history and background of the project, what the "diet for a green planet" is, and Rebecka's greatest hopes for the future of food supply chains in Sweden.

Rebecka is trained as an agronomist, but has taken an interest the people doing the farm and food systems work, specifically in local and organic systems, and is now focusing more on social science work. The local practice partners in the Swedish hub are a group looking to formulate an “ecodistrict” which is a European Union sustainable development concept that helps to enhance organic farming, access to local food, and sustainable food supply chains. In the Swedish case, they are working with a specific municipality just south of Stockholm that is looking to increase the amount of sustainably produced regionally produced food they can source.

Since the Co-SFSC project has a significant focus on cooperative business and governance models, it is important to understand the history of cooperatives across the different specific contexts in the five hubs. In Sweden, Rebecka tells us that it is an extremely common form of organizing economic activities. It is so common even many of the large food system for profit actors take a cooperative form. However there is also a burgeoning network of smaller cooperatives forming within the food system in Sweden.

The municipality in the Swedish case has developed, and been guided by the “diet for a green planet” for over 20 years in an attempt to align their meal services with sustainability goals. The framework has 5 components:

  1. Healthy and good tasting food
  2. More organic food
  3. Local, seasonal food
  4. Reduce waste
  5. Less meat products

Local food supply chains are important in Sweden because access to food is currently highly dependent on imports. In the case of war, drought, flooding or other crises, Swedish consumers may not have access to food. Rebecka suggests, we need to think not only about sustainable production but also resilience, and to not forget that we need to center healthy food in combination with the two.

The goal for the Swedish hub is to make transformations, guided by these three actions, which are already targets for the local practice partners:

  1. To spread the “diet for a green planet” framework to other municipalities
  2. Strengthen organic and local value chains in the region
  3. To implement and communicate the municipal food provisioning strategy

Beyond the scope of the immediate project, Rebecka hopes for the ecodistrict model to impact all parts of the value chain, make space for new actors to get involved in the food chain to increase leverage, and to increase sustainable production and consumption in the region.