Transdisciplinary Integration

Which instruments are suitable for the management of biodiversity? How can biodiversity be communicated?

The aim is to bring together the knowledge from the three research modules regarding the project’s goal of contributing to increasing biodiversity along product life cycles and to develop it further together with the living lab companies and other companies.

A transdisciplinary research project needs a theoretical framework that enables the synthesis of the different perspectives and at the same time considers the iterative approach of the transdisciplinary research process. The BioVal research project is concerned with food production and consumption and biodiversity, which are considered “particularly endangered and threatening societal relationships to nature”. In particular, the regulation patterns of the global crisis phenomenon of “biodiversity loss” are being considered.

The network of relationships between society and nature encompasses different levels of action – also in relation to biodiversity and food. In order to be able to integrate the different levels of action and thus perspectives adopted in BioVal, the multi-level perspective (MLP) is used as a theoretical synthesis framework. The MLP differentiates three levels: niche, regime and landscape .

BioVal investigates how changes by companies in the niche can stimulate transformations in food systems in order to increase the value of biodiversity along value chains and reduce biodiversity losses. In this context, BioVal focuses on the role of companies and consumers in transformations in food systems. Possible drivers for transformations at the consumer level include purchasing behaviour and the demand for products that protect biodiversity. At the company level, the drivers are to provide such products – in our case food – and to communicate about them in order to enable “informed choices” by customers. his is exactly where BioVal comes in, developing practical measurement and management tools at company and product level and researching how B2C communication can be successfully designed. To this end, various instruments are being developed, applied and tested with regard to their potential impact in food systems.

Valuation of biodiversity

Another objective of BioVal is to analyse the normativity associated with the protection of biodiversity and to discuss it with experts. Based on the findings on normative values on biodiversity from Module 1 and the methodological findings on biodiversity impact assessment from Module 2, an expert workshop will be carried out with ten to twelve representatives from different perspectives (for example, representatives of environmental organisations, the farmers’ association or from science). Supported by visualisations, the experts discuss from different perspectives how different forms of land use can be assessed with regard to the promotion, conservation or impairment of biodiversity. The results of the expert workshop are used in the method development in Module 2. The results of Module 4.1 are findings on the normativity of biodiversity from an expert perspective, which are incorporated into an interdisciplinary scientific publication and discussions with the biodiversity working group Module 4.4.

Communicating biodiversity

How can a company communicate to the outside world that it operates in a way that protects biodiversity and thus also reaches its customers? The module “Communicating Biodiversity” deals with this question. The aim is to analyse customer preferences for biodiversity-conserving foods and their willingness to pay in order to derive communication recommendations. Methodologically, the module relies on an online conjoint analysis with a sample representative of the German population (age: 18-69 years). In conjoint analysis, consumers evaluate different product alternatives with combinations of different features and characteristics (such as prices, brands, biodiversity, or sustainability labels) or products that are provided with different information on biodiversity. In this way, decisions in purchasing situations are simulated more realistically than it is possible with traditional surveys. The results are, on the one hand, customer types that are differentiated by their preferences for biodiversity and their willingness to pay. On the other hand, it is worked out which concrete contributions to the protection of biodiversity food companies can make good use of in their communication with customers. The results will be incorporated into recommendations for target group-specific communication on biodiversity protection.

Practicability of biodiversity recording

The aim of the module on the practicability of biodiversity assessment is to test the biodiversity impact assessment methods developed in Module 2 with regard to their practicability for companies and their implementation in life cycle assessment soft-ware and databases.

In this context, several workshops will be held with the living lab companies to discuss the extent to which the method can be integrated into sustainability management, which data can be collected in the company (at what expense) and which technical and organisational hurdles have to be overcome when applying the impact assessment. The findings from the workshops will be integrated into further method development and testing in the living labs. Furthermore, software and database providers will be involved in order to discuss how the impact assessment methods can be integrated into existing systems.

Biodiversity working group

The aim is to continuously present the (interim) results and experiences of the project to other companies in the food sector (and beyond), to discuss them with them, to enable the participating companies to test (interim) results themselves and to report on their experiences in further working group meetings.

Five working group meetings will take place during BioVal – interested parties are cordially invited to attend

  1. 1st working group meeting (digital): 17 March 2022
  2. 2nd working group meeting: 10 November 2022
  3. 3rd working group meeting: May/June 2023
  4. 4th working group meeting: October/November 2023
  5. 5th working group meeting: May/June 2024

Contact: Alicia Seifer, ZNU – Center for Sustainable Leadership (alicia.seifer@uni-wh.de)

Instruments & Recommendations

In this module, the findings from the project are synthesised and prepared in order to be usable for the respective target group.

Recommendations will be made for target group-oriented communication on biodiversity protection, as well as concrete instruments on how biodiversity protection can be integrated into the management of companies.

The results will be presented at the end of the project at a conference in September/October 2024.

Die BioVal-Module und Integrationsmodule im theoretischen Syntheserahmen

Social values

The aim of this research module is to collect social values on biodiversity and food production and the awareness of the connection between food production and biodiversity in Germany.

Impact assessment of biodiversity

The aim is to optimise the impact assessment of biodiversity in LCA in a practical way and to add diffuse effects and aquatic biodiversity.

Biodiversity in companies

Together with the companies FRoSTA AG, Alfred Ritter GmbH & Co. KG and Seeberger GmbH, living labs are being used to work out how the effects of corporate and production processes on biodiversity along the food value chain can be better recorded and taken into account in decisions.

Transdisciplinary integration

The goal of transdisciplinary integration is to bring together the knowledge from the three research modules and to develop it further together with the living lab companies and other companies, for example in the biodiversity working group.