“At first it sounded complicated, but once we adopted the policy lab approach there were no problems whatsoever. On the contrary, it produced results that were better than what we would otherwise have expected.”
Torbjörn Axelsson, Senior Veterinary Inspector at Livsmedelsverket, is satisfied with the first attempt at working with a policy lab methodology made possible by support from Vinnova.
How did you find out about Vinnova’s policy lab initiative?
Vinnova visited us to talk about the policy lab approach. They asked if we wanted to try it and we were very much into the idea.
In what way did you feel that Livsmedelsverket could benefit from adopting a policy lab approach?
At the time we were developing a new regulation with rules concerning the pre-notification of slaughter for veterinary checks. During consultation we received a great deal of criticism from the reindeer herding industry, which didn’t think that the regulation was any good. We realised that it would be necessary to look more closely at the problems that had been put forward. And instead of simply pressing ahead as per our normal routines, we wanted to test something new and see if we could gain new insights and results.
What was the first project in which used a policy lab approach?
When reindeer are to be slaughtered, our personnel first inspect the reindeer before slaughter and then inspect the meat afterwards. The reindeer herding industry considered our proposed regulation to be a spanner in the works for them; they felt that we didn’t understand their situation. Given the tension between the industry and us as a regulator, we wanted to give the policy labapproach and methodology a shot. The hope was that we, as an agency, could get closer to and gain a better understanding of the actors of this industry and achieve a mutually beneficial outcome.
Received support from Vinnova
We applied for financing from Vinnova in June 2018 and received support and advice from them regarding the format of the work. After an initial planning phase, we had a half-day workshop in September in Kiruna to which we had invited representatives for reindeer owners, reindeer slaughterhouses and our own control functions. We began with the industry’s representatives speaking about their situation and needs, so that we could listen and learn and improve our insights. Another part of the meeting was devoted to attempting to generate new solutions and proposals together.
How did the first project go?
The consultant who led the process is still compiling the report, but based on its findings we will be able to assess what we can do going forward. It will be open for consultation by the turn of the year and then we are back to our usual routines.
What were the results?
We gained more insight into and knowledge about the industry. We also received a good response from the industry, and the tone of the discussion was better than it often tends to be.
How will you continue to work with the experience you gained from working with a policy lab approach?
Personally, I have realised just how much we have to gain from this approach. I’m a project manager for a major government commission which is about modernising meat control, and I intend to propose that we adopt this approach. Perhaps not every aspect of it, but the parts where we can expect the end results to be better when we work in this manner. It may not be suitable for all of the work we do, but where it fits I see only advantages.