photo: Sven Torfinn


The Food Change Labs are designed to create space for dangerous thinking, to generate disruptive transitions, to explore complex ideas and to search for innovative solutions in the food domain.

The knowledge and experience of a wide range of stakeholders in research, experimentation and practice is combined. Founding partners Hivos and IIED together form a strong team combining each organisation's expertise and partner networks:

  • Hivos is an international organisation that seeks new solutions to persistent global issues. Over the past 40 years it has supported cooperatives and smallholder farmers organisations in food commodities to improve sustainable entrepreneurship, sustainable (micro)financing and knowledge centres. Additionally, Hivos has a track record of supporting social innovation and civil society organisations in over 30 countries.
  • IIED builds bridges: between local and global, policy and practice, rich and poor, government and private sector, and across diverse interest groups. Our strength lies in our combination of research and action — generating robust evidence and know-how that is informed by a practical perspective acquired through hands-on research with grassroots partners and has a track record of 35 years of policy influence through environment and development research in partnership with local organizations.

To support citizens to shape a green and inclusive food system, Hivos and IIED, in cooperation with their local partners, set up several Food Change Labs. The Food Change Labs are based in relevant countries in Africa and Asia such as Uganda, Zambia and Indonesia.

A Food Change Lab is an open space, hub or platform that allows people to co-create innovations that address the complex challenges of the present and future in an equitable way. At the same time, it provides the space to catalyse innovations that puts citizens at the centre. These innovations can be in public policy, new business models, framing of cultural values and behaviour change. A ‘lab’ can help local organizations to collect evidence that is robust and convincing and to present it to policymakers and other relevant stakeholders.

In each ‘lab’ process there is a core requirement for design and implementation:

  1. A target policy
  2. A local organization such as a municipality or a vendors’ association
  3. A national civil society organisation (CSO) partner – to provide support for and link with lobbying and advocacy at the regional or national level
  4. A research partner to assist local organization and CSOs in evidence generation
  5. Interactive media-channels so as to enable the local citizens to participate in the process
  6. A creative perspective that reflects from a different view point. At the same time, it provides the space to catalyse innovations that puts citizens at the centre