Summary and Introduction

Summary

The Foresight4Food Initiative was initiated by a group of international organisations, research institutions, business networks, and donor agencies. It seeks to improve foresight and scenario analysis for the global food system, and strengthen the links between science and forums for dialogue. The May 2018 workshop was a follow-up to the successful first Foresight4Food workshop held in Oxford in April 2017. This year’s event was hosted by the Montpellier University of Excellence (MUSE) with support from ACIAR, GFAR, CIRAD, and the University of Oxford.

Alongside a space for networking and sharing between organisations interested in food system foresight, the workshop focused on developing a clear strategy for how food systems foresight could better meet the needs of policy, business, and civil society at different scales. The workshop was attended by over 60 people representing more 40 organisations.

Over 25 different inputs were given by participants on their foresight related work.

Participants strongly supported the objectives and of the Foresight4Food Initiative and work to developed action agendas for six themes:

  1. Communities of practice for food system foresight users and providers
  2. Synthesis and analysis of existing foresight work
  3. Foresight resource portal, dashboard and communication materials
  4. Bridging hub for linking foresight users and providers to support global, regional, and national foresight and dialogue processes
  5. Identifying and brokering new foresight work on gaps and emerging issues
  6. Capacity development for enhanced foresight

It was clear from the meeting that there is a huge need and interest in designing narratives for food systems transformation for addressing the whole 2030 Agenda, at all scales from local to national, regional and global. Consequently, a forward-looking approach to food systems is necessary because of the shocks, stresses, and disruptions food systems will experience into the future - foresight methods can help us explore and respond to this turbulent future.

There are many different ways to consider foresight methods and the diversity is a richness and a wealth. Foresight4Food now needs to engage more widely as we move to ensuring improved foresight that can contribute meaningfully to the global dialogue and potentially support normative exercises on desirable paths for the transformation of food systems. Foresight4Food needs to be anchored with existing arenas of dialogue and policy convergence that have legitimacy. The initiative is seeking to provide intelligence and literacy about the future; thus must recognize the political dimensions of any forward thinking process.

Key concluding points were:

  1. To collectively continue with the Foresight4Food Initiative. It is needed and a good number of individuals and institutions appear ready to commit themselves to follow-up.
  2. Adopt a step by step process of planning and progressing, building on what exists and avoiding reinventing of wheels. This implies moving beyond the provision of knowledge by demonstrating the capacity to provide intelligence through synthesis and meta-analysis based on transparency and valuing the diversity of foresight works.
  3. Better identify the boundaries of how Foresight4Food will contribute in connection with stakeholders engaged in decision making and policy convergence.
  4. Work towards a substantial rendezvous in 2020 that would draw on work and initiatives that can be mobilized over the coming 2 years and use the 2020 convening as a point to consider the merits, legitimacy, and viability of a larger scale normative foresight exercise.
  5. Given the above it is possible to envisage the following activities being carried out over the next 2 years (resources depending):
    • Continuing with the sharing, networking, and learning we have begun through an emergent community of practice
    • Further developing a portal for collating and providing easy access to core foresight work (e.g. resource portal),
    • Providing synthesis of existing work,
    • Supporting or fostering spin-off initiatives (application at regional, national, local levels, and hotspots), as the ones suggested by GFAR
    • Working to anchor the initiative to legitimate decision making and policy convergence institutions and forums;
    • Exploring how to look at the monitoring and evaluation of foresight processes

The implication for governance is that in the shorter term there can be a light advisory committee, and perhaps some associated science groups, to guide directions with legitimacy being given by others who are willing to associate with Foresight4Food as partners.

Introduction

The May 2018 workshop was a follow-up to the successful first Foresight4Food workshop held in Oxford in April 2017. This year’s event was hosted by the Montpellier University of Excellence (MUSE) with support from ACIAR, GFAR, CIRAD, and the University of Oxford.

The Foresight4Food Initiative was initiated by a group of international organisations, research institutions, business networks, and donor agencies. It seeks to improve foresight and scenario analysis for the global food system, and strengthen the links between science and forums for dialogue. 

The Initiative emerged due to the recognition that foresight work is often fragmented, one-off, and often not well synthesised or organised in ways that can meet the needs of users within the broader foresight community. Foresight4Food aims to help provide a more integrated food systems perspective that better connects concerns of environment, economy, and health, across production, distribution, and consumption, while taking a global view of issues for emerging and developed economies. The niche for Foresight4Food is to help strengthen global and regional capacities for food systems foresight, so as to complement and not duplicate the efforts of other food and agriculture related initiatives. A core function of Foresight4Food will be to create a community of practice for providers and users of foresight that contributes to a better understanding of food systems.

This workshop built on last year’s event. Alongside a space for networking and sharing between organisations interested in food system foresight, the workshop focused on developing a clear strategy for how food systems foresight could better meet the needs of policy, business, and civil society at different scales. It examined key dimensions of food systems change and different approaches to foresight. Outcomes from the workshop are being used to develop an action plan, governance arrangements, and a resource mobilisation strategy for taking forward the Foresight4Food Initiative.

Programme

The workshop programme was designed to enable participants to explore wide diversity of foresight initiatives and programmes and share knowledge and experience on methodological and operational issues of foresight within food systems. This workshop differed from the Oxford workshop in 2017 with having a key focus on developing detailed planning for the Foresight4Food Initiative going forwards (Click here for the workshop programme, and see below on the overall workshop process).

Participants

Sixty participants attended and actively participated in the workshop (see Appendix B for the participant list) representing more than 40 key international organizations, scientific institutions, donor agencies, foundations, business communities, and youth groups. With a broader representation than the 2017 workshop, the diversity and depth of expertise allowed for broadening the experience to other stakeholders, and wider input for future planning of the Initiative. (Click here for the participant list).

Navigate to Day 1, 2 and 3 below: