Tuesday 22nd May 2018
Welcome to MUSE and the Foresight4Food Initiative
Patrick Caron kicked off the proceedings with a formal welcome to the Montpellier University of Excellence (MUSE) and explained the reasoning behind hosting the follow-up event in Montpellier. Dr Caron emphasised the key purposes of the meeting:
- Offering an opportunity to engage as a community of practice, and present a space to exchange ideas
- Taking the Initiative forward by starting detailed planning on necessary activities
The diversity and range of food system foresight work was indicated, and the desire to complement and not duplicate existing and past efforts. The unique organizational presence and support in Montpellier was highlighted and the strong mandate for taking the Initiative forward was reiterated.
Saher Hasnain, a researcher with the Foresight4Food Initiative and the Environmental Change Institute’s Food Systems Group thanked Patrick Caron and Jim Woodhill for their crucial role in taking the Initiative forward since Oxford and went through the workshop process (see Figure 1 above). She introduced the background materials that had been shared with the participants and presented an institutional and organizational map of key foresight players. Input on the map was invited and the complexity and diversity of the food system foresight landscape was examined.
Figure 2 Framework for Understanding Foresight
Following on the methodological themes identified in the 2017 Oxford workshop, Jim Woodhill discussed a framework for understanding food systems foresight and scenario analysis (see Figure 2 below) focusing on aspects of prediction vs exploration, quantitative vs qualitative, risk vs opportunities, social vs scientific processes, scale and time, policy and political influences, and the context of complex systems. He explored ‘steam trains’ and ‘black swans’ in the context of systemic risks and transformational opportunities and set the stage for a panel of experts to discuss their work in the context of the key methodological aspects. Marie de Lattre-Gasquet (CIRAD), Petr Havlik (IIASA), Robin Bourgeois (CIRAD), Xiaoting Hou-Jones (IIED), and Fabrice deClerck (EAT) presented briefly on their organizations’ methodological approaches to foresight, which provided a useful grounding before the day’s sharing of foresight initiatives.
Sharing Foresight Initiatives
Following on the success of the sharing sessions in the first Oxford workshop, representatives from different organizations and institutions shared their initiatives in food systems foresight. The sessions were useful in forming a foundation of information sharing and mapping out the diversity of food system foresight work for the rest of the workshop without pretending to an exhaustive mapping. Below are brief summaries of the inputs given and any associated presentations can be found on the Foresight4Food website.
Keith Wiebe presented an overview to IFPRI’s foresight activities, which take inputs from crop, water, climate, and economic models, and produce outputs relevant for poverty, hunger, and the environment, and the related SDGs. Modelling tools used include IMPACT, MIRAGE, and RIAPA, while recent studies include the impacts of different investment strategies, costs of ending hunger, and policy scenarios at different scales. The partners associated with IFPRI have different regional mandates and enrich the tools used and research produced with context-specific insights. IFPRI coordinates a food security portal, which is an information sharing platform intended to make their research outputs more accessible and allow people to look at different scenarios, for different commodities, in different regions, across timescales.
With an overview into EAT’s activities, and the current EAT-Lancet Commission on Food, Planet, Health, Dr deClerck explained how EAT is focused on producing healthy and sustainable foods within the planetary boundaries for a 2050 population. In the current capacities of food production, we are not producing the ingredients needed for a healthy diet, and instead of just a calorie focus we need to see how we are going to produce the right kinds of food in the future, and start now. He highlighted EAT’s cross-institutional work with institutions like the University of Oxford, and the Food, Agriculture, Biodiversity, Land Use, and Energy (FABLE) Consortium, and its coordination with IIASA, UN SDSN, and EAT. Through ‘scenathons’ for each country, the project’s activities are meant to examine country level ambitions and to reach the pathways and targets set by the FABLE team. He closed with EAT’s emphasis on collective narrative building, and creating space in which each sector can meet and create the narratives they need to achieve their sustainability goals.
Explaining IIASA’s activities and projects, Dr Havlik focused on The World in 2050 project which is using multi-participant activities to find pathways towards reaching the SDGs. Dr Havlik works on the modelling of agriculture, forestry, and other land use sectors, and their integration with the energy sectors. He explained how their approach allows them to participate in integrated assessments of mitigation pathways. The models demonstrate the hypothetical impacts on highly ambitious mitigation pathways for different countries for variables like calorie availability. Using a current project as an example, he explained that their team is working on a model that separates the production and consumption decisions, and are testing for assessment with extreme weather events and potential stabilization policies.
Speaking about the foresight and simulation approaches to explore contrasted futures of land use and global food security in 2050, Dr Mora contrasted the Agrimonde exercise (2007-2010) with the Agrimonde-Terra exercise (2013-2016), and examined the scenarios of the latter. Agrimonde-Terra was conducted with the collaboration of INRA and CIRAD, and adopted a scenario approach based on morphological analysis, and scenario simulations with the GlobAgri quantitative platform with 14 world regions. The scenarios were based on a trend analysis of seven key drivers on land use and food security, looking at the global context, climate change, diets, livestock, and cropping systems. Two scenarios with extreme land use and food security consequences were ‘metropolization’ and ‘communities-collapse’, while the other three had reduced impacts on land use. These scenarios have been used at national level to define research agendas, and Agrimonde-Terra is instrumental in discussing land use and food security decisions with stakeholders.
A new Horizon 2020 project, NEXTFOOD is focused on capacity building in agrifood systems, which brings together 19 partners across the EU, and includes Egypt, India, Chile, and Ethiopia, with the aim of developing new education and training systems for farmers, advisors, and other actors within the food system to drive the transition towards sustainability. It will involve a skills inventory, training sessions, 10 case studies, and an identification of the needs and gaps of knowledge. It will challenge the traditional ‘commodity’ approach to learning and focus on co-creation of knowledge, skills, and soft-skills, and will make policy recommendations promoting life-long learning.
The 27-member International Panel of Experts uses its legitimacy to bring major issues to decision makers, and looks at the whole food system using a transdisciplinary approach. It takes a political economy approach and examines issues of power in the food system, and identifies the factors that prevent the evolution of current dominant systems. Using this approach, they aim to identify the key intervention points in the system. This factor is then reflected by other speakers during the workshop, particularly by Sean deCleene on Day 2. Mr Frison highlighted the panel’s recent reports on impacts of health, concentration in agri-food through mega-mergers, horizontal and vertical integration of food institutions, and are currently working on input that will influence the common agricultural policy in Europe, are planning on convening a food and farming forum at the EU Parliament in 2019. Mr Frison then discussed the work of the Global Alliance for the Future of Food, which is working towards food system transformation. One of their key areas of work is on true cost accounting with support from TEEB.
Thomas Arnold discussed the Food2030 institution within the European Commission. Food 2030 convenes annual High Level events with the objective of disseminating successful Research and Innovation initiatives and contributing to the food nutrition and security science-policy debate. The EC has also launched the JRC Competency Centre on Foresight in June 2018, which is a dynamic collective intelligence system assessing 14 global megatrends relevant for Europe’s future.
The CCAFS project develops regional scenarios and uses them for national level policy making, and brings stakeholders and policy makers together. Communities taking part in the project participate in challenging policy-relevant scenarios, and use them as a lens to evaluate existing or planned policies and plans to evaluate them for robustness. The process highlights and challenges existing assumptions that underlie much of such decision-making. The process leads to finalized policies (although this does not ensure effective implementation), the scenarios ensure that policies are inclusive and robust, the process needs flexibility in the project, and a dynamic team in different areas of the world, and close working relationships with existing policy networks. The RE-IMAGINE project for anticipatory and climate governance takes the CCAFS objectives a few steps forward and asks more critical questions around the politics of foresight. With CCAFS and RE-IMAGINE, Dr Muzammil worked closely with the Bangladeshi planning commission to guide them towards a 5 year economic plan. Using country-specific scenarios, they explore what these futures mean for Bangladesh, what actions are achievable, how robust the impact pathways are, and how they can be made more robust.
Discussing the Sustainable Development Investment Portfolio in South Asia, Ms Chatterjee examined the food-energy-water nexus in the eastern-Gangetic region of South Asia. The project focuses on farmers in India, Bangladesh, and Nepal. In the first phase, 75,000 farmers used farming practices based on Conservation Agriculture based Sustainable Intensification (CASI), which has had positive outcomes in terms of lowering input costs and increasing productivity. In Phase 2, food systems foresight is one of the five key components of the project. However, engaging policy-makers in the region in a foresight activity will prove challenging because of the focus on election cycles, a lack of long-term plans, and difficulties in securing policy buy-in with critical actors.
Mr Machado focused on Agropensa, a continuous foresight activity started by EMBRAPA in 2012 aimed at institutional development and as a tool for decision makers. Agropensa’s main objectives are to monitor key trends and produce information for agricultural research. It is designed to be anticipatory instead of reactive, and provide information for private organizations and food-related decision makers. Agropensa has an observatory of trends, analysis and studies, and information guiding better strategies. He highlighted their most recent Outlook 2030 that examines the future of Brazilian agriculture in light of mega-trends
Dialling into the workshop from the US, Ms Tata provided an overview of XPRIZE and their motivations, and their role in foresight work. The underlying motivation of XPRIZE is to incentivize people to develop futuristic innovations that can transform the trajectory of sectors. Their first prizes were in the commercial space sector and then the future of medicine and mobility. Now with a more defined foresight approach they aim for a confluence of technological and social norms. They assemble platforms of big communities in a particular area, leverage existing research, put a futurist slant on it in the search for innovation, conduct a deep STEEP analysis for a preferred future state, and then back cast to understand the haps and white spaces. XPRIZE’s niche is in those gaps, and particularly when multiple technologies meet in them, e.g. Avatar technology. They also draw on the help of sci-fi writers to write stories around their scenarios to help understand how the technology will be adopted by the people.
The work by the ISPC on key drivers builds on the existing work within and outside the CGIAR system. The ISPC has started a 2-year process to support system-wide dialogue on foresight, through a series of studies and workshops. Their focus on smallholder agriculture and future research for development for the rural poor sets them apart from other initiatives. The process involves five interacting themes with a methodological framework integrating quantitative and qualitative tools and models. A key output from this process is a community of practice and a science forum that will connect people from the region.
FAO primarily uses three types of foresight exercises: Long-term global exercises using multiple scenarios and building on existing FAO expertise (e.g. Future of Food and Agriculture), short to medium-term global exercises run with OECD, which emphasise quantitate findings (the OECD/FAO Outlooks), and thematic regional and country-based exercises (e.g. livestock). The step-wise and iterative process of foresight and scenario development at FAO was explained. The talk was closed with an emphasis on how foresight approaches must be used to move an organization forward.
Ms Chalinder and Professor Broadley discussed the Knowledge, Evidence for Learning Development Programme (K4D) at DFID, led by IDS which allows for learning across professional boundaries. A food systems learning journey is a part of the program, connecting DFID staff and other UK government policy makers working towards building a collective understanding and narrative around food systems. They emphasised the need of keeping agri-food issues on the policy agenda, and being mindful about who the foresight community engages with in the future.
The DEVCO/C1 part of the EC is concerned with rural development, food security, nutrition, and resilience. Their current work on local agri-food analysis and foresight is partly influenced by the Oxford 2017 Foresight4Food workshop. Mr Herlant highlighted that the rapid changes in the food system have major implications for the EU particularly in terms of achieving the SDGs. It is therefore crucial to manage policy trade-offs, e.g. between urban and rural development, and to ensure that food security remains high on the policy agenda. It is further necessary to reframe traditional food security investments in a wider food systems perspective and articulate the needs with a foresight perspective. Their current project is expected to produce initial foresight-based local agri-food typologies with their associated risks and opportunities to help structure their dialogue, produce policy briefs, and fine-tune the typologies and methodologies in the second phase.
Providing an overview of the development and evolution of RUFORUM, Mr Owuor provided insights from the African perspective, and explored how the commitments and flagship programs connect with RUFORUM Vision 2030. The flagship programs are designed around having universities contribute to Africa’s growth and development (TAGDev), the designation of anchor universities for higher agricultural education (RANCH), cultivating excellence in teaching and research (CREATE), and creating a knowledge hub (K-Hub). RUFORUM’s foresight focus is organized around capacity building, knowledge exchange and dialogue, an online platform, and a community of practice that is currently 18000 members strong.
Saher Hasnain – ECI
The ‘Connecting local knowledge with global food system’ project is aimed at understanding the country-level picture for the future smallholder agriculture in Ghana and Zambia, with key global trends such as urbanization, climate change, and trade. The project hopes to challenge traditionally dominant narratives around smallholder livelihoods, sustainable intensification, commercialisation, and the role of smallholders in feeding the increasing global population. It will identify key gaps in literature and data around smallholder agriculture and the transformations and trade-offs associated with their development in the future.
Speaking on co-elaborative scenario building for action, Robin Bourgeois discussed the role of anticipation in the empowerment process with a number of different groups across the world. The project is focused on promoting futures literacy, encouraging people to inject the process with their own knowledge and anticipation. He explained the research framework and the underlying principles and activities, and presented a range of examples in which the framework has been successfully applied.
MAGNET is a multi-objective foresight tool with a food systems perspective. It is used for global projections on agriculture, food security, nutrition, and country-specific examples. While it is multi-scale, allows for the evaluation of impacts, and for linking across other models, it has underlying assumptions that reduce its reliability in certain situations: the use of representative agents, optimizing behaviour, and an assumption of equilibrium. Reflecting on the compatibility with the Foresight4Food Initiative, it was determined that a consistent methodological framework and a community of practice would be useful going forward.
The WEF Food Systems dialogue was developed on the idea that the food system needs profound changes, and the success of these changes will depend on trust between key stakeholders, and useful conversations. The dialogue brings together EAT and WBCSD with WEF and will be focused on drawing on the key priorities that need to be worked on, bringing in alternative voices, and identifying the major areas of contention. Independently curated, the dialogues depend on the expert inputs so that the critical issues and directions can be identified. For example, identifying how to re-orient where the approximately half a trillion USD are invested annually in agri-food incentives and subsidies.
AgMIP’s mission is to provide effective science-based agricultural decision-making models and assessments of climate variability and change and sustainable farming systems to achieve local-to-global food security. With a large and diverse network of partners, AgMIP models for sustainable food systems, coordinates global and regional agricultural assessments, and produces knowledge reports, models, and data. It conducts regional integrated assessments that are characterized by an iterative approach with co-designing elements with the stakeholder groups, and conducts analysis on a multiscale and transdisciplinary basis.
The first day was closed with a formal drinks reception, tours of the exceptional facilities at the Montpellier University of Excellence, and a warm welcome from the office of the Mayor of Montpellier by Marion Chantal.
Formal welcome to MUSE and Montpellier
Navigate to Day 2 and 3 below: