Workshop 2018 – Day Three

Thursday 24th May, 2018

Welcome to Agropolis International

Bernard Hubert, former chair and current advisor of Agropolis International chair opened the day and welcomed the participants to Agropolis. He described the diversity of membership of the Agropolis association and highlighted that because of their engagement with food, agriculture, and biodiversity, and the participation of key research organizations from other countries, Agropolis International is key stakeholder in the food system foresight world.

Reflecting on Andrew Campbell’s closing comments from Day 2, Bernard agreed on the strength in diversity in the foresight partners, reiterated that foresight is a learning process for everyone involved, and encouraged creativity and exploratory design in the collective efforts towards innovation.

Insights from NEPAD

Presenting virtually, Dr Martin Bwalya focused his presentation on three key issues. First, to see how foresight can complement the activities aimed at achieving Africa’s Agenda 2063. Although foresight is a valuable tool in designing solutions, it is necessary to ensure coordination to address the fragmentation of many initiatives, and provide capacity for the relevant user groups. Crucially, examination is needed to see how foresight can be made relevant and compelling for politicians with a very short ‘lifespan’ in the government. Secondly, identifying and cultivating the conditions needed for the success of the Foresight4Food Initiative in the context of value addition. Dr Bwalya considered that the participation arrangements across sectors (inclusivity and support for practical applications), problem-solving oriented foresight (understanding contextual problems), governance that leverages existing collaborations, and providing appropriate capacity building support would be vital. Finally, NEPAD is working already to consolidate its capacities on foresight by conducting future-oriented food system studies looking at pathways to zero hunger by 2025, diversity in food baskets in the context of climate change, etc. These activities are responding to an active demand for projections and future-oriented knowledge products by CAADP member states, and those interested in achieving Agenda 2063.

Taking the Initiative Forward: Working Group Session

Building on the working group session from Day 2, Jim Woodhill reminded the working groups to examine the purpose of each theme under examination, consider the broad outcomes, the activities and partners necessary for achieving those outcomes, and explore the different levels of implications for each area. The workshop used ‘ritual dissent’ as a process of getting feedback and reworking arguments and business plans. Two rounds of ritual dissent were conducted, ensuring that each group got feedback from at least two others, and had the opportunity to process and integrate the input into their plans.

After lunch, participants from each group reported back their key findings to the room. Professor Rami Zurayk then chaired a session on a discussion of the anticipated governance for the Initiative going forward. The following themes and messages emerged:

Perceptions of the Foresight4Food Initiative:

  • There is definite value of bringing together the diverse stakeholders around the common purpose
  • Important to have clarity in ultimate objectives of the Initiative
  • Potentially too ambitious in its mandate – need to develop step by step
  • Time will be needed to precisely develop the activities and the tools to support the work
  • would be helpful to map the relationship between the Initiative’s objectives, user needs, and providers
  • Examine the foreseeable risks if the Initiative were to fail
  • The foresight process and anticipatory could be used to explore the future of the Initiative itself – perhaps more of such process could have been used in the workshop


  • Need vision and ambitious thinking to drive the process
  • Needs to be an open and flexible structure with not too much of a monitoring or controlling superstructure
  • Need to have criteria for who is engaged, partnering or funding to ensure quality management processes, credibility and transparency
  • Need to be clear on different models - a forum for developing innovative and creative ways of thinking of the future or, a closed system of future-enlightened experts to guide people to action, the latter is not desirable
  • A decision would be needed on the independence and/or the neutrality of the governance group
  • Identify clear mechanisms for determining membership or representation in the steering or advisory groups
  • Link with existing bodies with legitimacy and convening powers, e.g. CFS
  • Potential for organizing the effort into three groups, i.e. one for handling comparison/synthesis of the technical aspects of foresight, one for exploring potential communities, and a third coordinating body working between the first two
  • Need sufficient legitimacy and tangible governance to encourage commitment of time, expertise, and funding from participating organizations

Foresight approach and method:

  • Need a process of qualifying foresight methods and engaging the foresight actors
  • A food system approach is necessary to overcome the fragmentation in the food and agriculture landscape
  • Need to ensure a focus that includes southern countries within a global food system approach
  • Important to ensure, move to, a demand-driven way of supporting foresight rather than a science supply-driven exercise
  • Help to identify where food systems related academic studies could be strengthened within a curriculum on food system foresight
  • There is real value in creating accessible and understandable overall approach to foresight for those working in the sector
  • Change is often driven by emotions not just facts so need to understand better the link of foresight to the emotions of change processes and how perspectives change (in private sector, politicians, industry, citizens, etc.)
  • Foresight is dealing with highly complex interactions and so understanding complexity thinking as a foundation for foresight is critical
  • Need to link with wider issues such thinking as ecosystem services and integrate into foresight to bring added value

Partners, Practitioners, and Activities:

  • Need to be clear on what activities would be core to Foresight4Food for its complementary role to other works and which are borderline
  • Important to identify clearly the institutions who will summarise and make the foresight method and information available
  • Create a database of existing resources that can function as a resource for all foresight work
  • Identify what capacity development is needed at what scales to support foresight
  • Develop mechanisms to nurture the diversity of perspectives, cultural systems of thinking, and initiatives
  • Foresight activities have the potential of influencing people and ecosystems
  • Find ways to work around the risk of competing objectives between foresight partners, despite shared primary objective
  • Ensuring inclusivity and representation by relevant and necessary stakeholder including from wider stakeholder groups such as food industry, military, insurance, etc.
  • From this meeting it is necessary to have greater input from foresight practitioners to turn this planning into practical action
  • Value in engaging with the ‘users’ as practitioners in developing narratives and testing the future
  • Need for full-fledged partnership with capacity building (instead of symbolic representation) of under-represented groups such as youth organizations

Each group’s conclusions are summarized below, with each action being taken forward by the Steering Group in the upcoming months:

Theme 1:

Communities of Practice for food system foresight users and providers

Purpose: Promoting, enabling and improving interaction and credibility for stakeholders in foresight activities to enable food system transformation


  • Information synthesis and organization
  • Methodology development and improvement
  • Co-creation of narratives
  • Inclusiveness in foresight communities

Justification: A need for cross-cutting, accessible, and credible communities of food system foresight that allow and encourage creative dialogue, collaboration, and broad and inclusive participation

Collaborations and Partnerships: Civil society, business, military, agri-business stakeholders, developing country governments, policy makers and researchers

Role of F4F: Central coordinating role for providing the drive and ownership for the community of practice

Resource Need:

  • Individuals for developing and maintaining an online community of practice
  • Framework for the organization and support of space and events (e.g. webinars and blogs) for information exchange and creative dialogue
  • Social media experts for creating and maintaining a communications strategy for the community

Process and Activities:

A series of cross-cutting activities contributing towards knowledge brokering and are focused on practitioners and users of foresight processes:

  • Creating and managing a directory of key foresight providers and users
  • Organizing and supporting space and events for creative dialogue and learning
  • Sharing data, methodologies, processes and models
  • Organizing foresight technology events to promote cross-fertilisation and active engagement

Implications (organization and governance): A cross-cutting and brokering hub of activities and communities that can provide credibility and trustworthiness.

Theme 2:

Synthesis and analysis of existing foresight work

Purpose: Analysing, mapping, and synthesising food systems foresight studies in order to support the knowledge and intelligence needed to support transformative change.


  • Database of foresight processes and initiatives
  • Community of foresight practitioners and researchers who can participate in synthesis activities
  • A well-mapped out landscape of gaps, priorities and assumptions from within the field

Justification: There is a need for knowledge and intelligence that can support the transformative change enabling sustainable development, particularly for the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development this requires a better synthesis of food systems foresight work.

Collaborations and Partnerships: Knowledge producers and knowledge users in foresight to allow for feedback, but particularly key research institutions and global agencies working at national, regional and global scales.

Role of F4F: Multiple roles in brokering, mentoring and networking to create processes that can be used by national and regional systems, there is current no institution supporting this function.

Resource Need:

  • Experts for conducting the analyses and syntheses exercises
  • Coordinators for engaging the community of practice
  • Web portal for providing a common space of engagement and information sharing

Process and Activities:

  • Creating a framework that can support different syntheses for multiple purposes
  • Engage the community of practice for agreement on principles, boundaries, and typologies of syntheses
  • Populate and analyse the current food system foresight landscape
  • Disseminate results in an accessible form

Implications (organization and governance): An organizational system that calls for multiple specialisations to help with brokering, mentoring and networking, with the accessible networks and partnerships that lend the technical legitimacy that synthesis exercises will require.

Theme 3:

Foresight resource portal, dashboard, and communication materials

Purpose: Attracting attention towards foresight in food systems, ‘taking temperature’ of the field, fostering information exchange, analysis of information, and providing a space for information exchange and discussion.

Needs: A systematic needs assessment carried out with users is needed, however, crucial needs are:

  • A search engine and resource repository pointing people on who is doing what, where
  • Resources on foresight, such as models, approaches, and methods
  • Topic and theme clustering
  • Typology of foresight approaches
  • Communication between users

Justification: Communication and resources are needed to empower users to use foresight work on agri-food systems.

Collaborations and Partnerships: Government, agribusiness, civil society, and universities – the emerging network involved Foresight4Food with additional engagement from regional and national partners.

Role of F4F: Depending on the resources available, F4F can function as a key point of contact and coordination from which the above activities can be run.

Resource Need:

  • 0.5 FTE communications manager/strategist for Year 1 & 2 - for creating and managing a database of users
  • Information specialist for Year 1 - for organizing information and managing search capacity
  • Web designer for Year 1 - creating a crowdsourced information space and the dashboard
  • Minimum funding: 500,000 USD cash, with equivalent in kind

Process and Activities:

  • Creating and managing users
  • Creating an architecture for organizing foresight information
  • Creating a 'customer service' tool for managing risk and addressing user needs
  • Creating an interactive and accessible dashboard of information
  • Developing a stratified communication and advocacy strategy based on audience segmentation

Implications (organization and governance): Minimalist organizational structure, acting as a point of coordination for the team running the resource, and eventually the community of practice.

Theme 4:

Bridging hub for linking foresight users and providers to support global, regional, and national foresight and dialogue processes

Purpose: Developing a brokering hub to support location or thematic focused foresight exercises to enable them access to methodology, data and foresight facilitation expertise and connect to a wider body of food systems foresight work.


  • Expertise and competencies for translating the demands and results of foresight activities
  • Clarifying the roles and activities for the different stakeholders in a foresight process
  • Identifying the demands and needs for foresight processes
  • Managing 'spill-over' across national boundaries
  • Access to good practices and avoiding 're-inventing the wheel'

Justification: A need for supporting foresight processes in a systemic way across scales for agri-food stakeholders, translating the demands and results from foresight processes, and the need for improving future policies in this field.

Collaborations and Partnerships: Community of practice, line ministries, GFAR, FARA, NEPAD, policy makers, donors, civil society actors, and business networks.

Role of F4F:As a brokering hub for crucial foresight partnerships and associated activities.

Resource Need:

  • Dedicated individuals for managing partnerships
  • Resource portal through which key partners can exchange foresight materials and insights
  • Individuals and resources for optimising access and improving accessibility of foresight resources

Process and Activities:

(An iterative set of activities)

  • Promoting forward thinking activities in agri-food systems across spatial scales
  • Connecting policy makers with foresight practitioners
  • Catalysing and translating foresight and anticipatory activities
  • Ensuring accessibility of foresight materials
  • Facilitating experience sharing by foresight practitioners and policymakers
  • Monitoring, evaluating, and conducting quality control of foresight activities
  • Reducing transaction costs in engaging 'users'

Implications (organization and governance): A central coordinating role that manages partnerships and networks, emphasising legitimacy and accountability.

Theme 5:

Identifying and brokering new foresight work on gaps and emerging issues

Purpose: Identifying and brokering new foresight work on gaps and emerging issues to ensure a full systems approach and that foresight studies remain current.


  • Individuals for carrying out foresight research and analyses
  • Managed insights from existing institutions and forums (e.g. HLPE)
  • Resource for running major foresight event in 2020
  • Undertaking an initial gaps analysis

Justification: Addressing the SDGs require a holistic food system perspective and better tools for looking into the future at relevant scales, and existing thinking and practice is not fulfilling the demand.

Collaborations and Partnerships: Balance of foresight practitioners, funders, agri-food stakeholders.

Role of F4F:Either as a central fully-funded secretariat supported by an international coordinating group, or a central coordinating body commissioning research and event organization from external partners.

Resource Need: A 4 person secretariat, or an alternative, an external group commissioned to identify gaps.

Process and Activities:

  • Collation and meta-analysis of initiatives to identify existing and emerging issues
  • Prioritisation of activities
  • Organize and run a core event in 2020 intended to present meta-analysis

Implications (organization and governance): The Initiative’s organization and governance will be heavily dependent on resources and credibility of associated partners.

Theme 6:

Capacity development for enhanced foresight

Purpose: Developing the capacity to communicate, use foresight results, train, and create and facilitate foresight exercises.


  • Access to data and information
  • Ability to merge formal foresight exercises
  • Organizational skills
  • Foresight for the initiative's activities

Justification: Capacity is needed to ensure that key stakeholders within the food systems know how to understand, use, communicate, and run their own foresight exercises given their specific purposes.

Collaborations and Partnerships: CEngage with traditional food and agriculture stakeholders, sociologists, business actors, civil society, policy makers, and usually marginalized groups (i.e. youth) in food systems.

Role of F4F: As a broker to supply the needed capacity, either through outsourcing the training needs, or working through a model similar to RUFORUM.

Resource Need: At the very least, 2 people, 3 workshops, 1 report, and 1 website, about 250,000 USD/year over 5 years for the common framework.

Process and Activities:

  • Curriculum development (graduate courses, professional short courses, CPD, etc.)
  • Creating an disseminating manuals or guides to foresight processes
  • Training courses and workshops on specific capacity issues, e.g. foresight models, communication, etc.
  • Advocacy activities to embed and influence foresight in policy and practice
  • Developing and maintaining an online platform with experts

Implications (organization and governance): Foresight4Food would need to create accountability, legitimacy, and credibility system for the training and capacity building exercises, e.g. by associating itself with existing networks such as CFS. The primary function will be to facilitate and support a foresight framework.

Closing Comments from Patrick Caron

Patrick Caron closed the proceedings with reflections on the workshop process and future directions for the Initiative. The need for designing narratives around food system transformations that will be able to address the 2030 Agenda, engaging with the foresight community to contribute to global dialogue and action, and anchoring food systems foresight in existing, legitimate areas of dialogue and policy was re-iterated. From the Oxford workshop in 2017, the engagement at Montpellier has resulted in clarity of need and direction for the Initiative, with the active engagement of knowledge institutions, donor and development agencies, private sector, regional organizations and civil society. The session ended with thanks for the organizers, MUSE, Agropolis International, the funding partners, and an entreaty to ‘enjoy, be creative, thoughtful, deliver, and decide’.

Click here for a transcript of Patrick Caron's closing comments

Figure 21 Group photo with participants