Foresight is a key tool that governments, private sector and civil society can jointly use to better understand future risks and opportunities in food systems, explore possible futures and to adapt - before crises hit. In consultation with key actors, the Foresight4Food Initiative is being established to support enhanced foresight and scenario analysis for global food systems.
Foresight4Food aims to provide a mechanism for better analysis and synthesis of key trends and possible futures in global food systems and to support more informed and strategic dialogue between the private sector, government, science and civil society. Development of the Initiative was encouraged by key international organisations, leading research institutes, development agencies and business representatives who participated in a scoping meeting in Oxford in March 2017.
It will support, and not duplicate, the work of existing institutions and platforms dealing with food and agriculture issues by coordinated efforts providing foresight services and analysis to serve multiple purposes and groups. Resources have been secured to help mobilise the initiative and consult more extensively with a full range of actors, platforms and networks who have an interest in food systems foresight.
Development of the Initiative is being guided by a steering group of representatives from the Oxford meeting chaired by Dr Patrick Caron and Professor Tim Benton. An initial support unit for the initiative is being hosted by the Food Systems Group of the Environmental Change Institute of Oxford University led by Dr Jim Woodhill.
In March 22-23, 2017, international experts on food and agriculture gathered in Oxford to explore how foresight and scenario analysis for food systems could be improved. The workshop concluded that to support achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals there is a need to substantially strengthen food systems foresight analysis at all scales and to improve the linkages between scientific analysis and policy dialogue with stakeholders. Participants noted that much valuable work is currently underway but recognised that this is often fragmented or one-off and lacks coordination.
Current mobilizing support for the Initiative is provided by the Open Society Foundations.
Start-up funding for the Initiative was provided through the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR), The Global Forum for Agricultural Research (GFAR), French Agricultural Research Centre for International Development (CIRAD)/University of Montpellier, and The University of Oxford.
The initiative has support from institutions such as the CGIAR.
The Initiative continues to be guided by Dr Patrick Caron and Professor Tim Benton:
Patrick Caron is a veterinary doctor, PhD in development geography. He is a specialist of farming systems and territorial dynamics, with a special focus on livestock farming. He is the International Director at Montpellier University of Excellence - MUSE and he has been appointed Vice President for International Affairs of the University of Montpellier in January 2019.
He joined CIRAD in 1988 where he has been Director-General for research and strategy from 2010 to 2016, after having served as scientific director for the “Territories, Environment and People" Department of CIRAD (2001-2004) and as "Environments and Societies" Department director from 2007 to 2010. His works relate to the analysis of the role of agriculture and livestock in rural transformations, particularly in Brazil, Southern Africa and the Near East.
He is a member of many institutional and inter-institutional bodies. He is in particular chairing the Scientific Council of AgroParisTech and a member of the French National Council for Development and International Solidarity. In 2015 he chaired the Organizing committee of the Global Science Conference on Climate Smart Agriculture (Montpellier, France), in 2016 of the international conference Agrichains and sustainable development and in 2017 the international conference on Living Territories.
He has been appointed as the Chair of the High Level Panel of Experts (HLPE) of the Committee on World Food Security (CFS) in November 2015 and once again in November 2017 (until 2019).
Professor Tim Benton
Professor Tim Benton is Dean of Strategic Research Initiatives at the University of Leeds and Distinguished Visiting Fellow at the Energy, Environment and Resources Department at the Royal Institute of International Affairs at Chatham House, UK. From 2011-2016 he was the “Champion” of the UK’s Global Food Security programme which was a multi-agency partnership of the UK’s public bodies (government departments, devolved governments and research councils) with an interest in the challenges around food. The key role of GFS was to undertake systemic analysis and horizon scanning, in order to identify research priorities to mitigate the challenges of providing sufficient, sustainable and nutritious diets for all. He is a lead author for the IPCC’s Special Report on land food and climate, and has worked with the World Economic Forum as an agenda steward for agriculture and food. He has published over 150 academic papers, many on the topics of agriculture and its sustainability. His particular interest is currently on food system resilience in the face of climate change.
The Coordinating Team or Secretariat for the Initiative is based at the Food Systems Group at the University of Oxford's Environmental Change Institute (ECI):
Jim Woodhill - Initiative Lead
An Honorary Research Associate with the University of Oxford's Environmental Change Institute and an independent consultant, Jim Woodhill is a specialist on inclusive agribusiness, rural development, food security and multi-stakeholder partnerships, with over 25 years of international development experience. Formerly Jim was the Principal Sector Specialist for Food Security and Rural Development with the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. Prior to this he was Director of the Centre for Development Innovation at Wageningen University and Research Centre in the Netherlands. He holds a PhD in political economics and a degree in agricultural science. Read more.
Monika Zurek: Initiative Co-Lead
A Senior Researcher with the Food Systems Group at the University of Oxford's Environmental Change Institute, Monika Zurek has worked on food systems, environment and development interactions and scenario analysis in research, international organizations, the philanthropic sector and consulting. Currently she focuses on conceptualizing food systems and sustainable food and nutrition security in the EU and globally, systems’ performance metrics and using forward looking methods to explore options for food system change and their trade-offs. Prior to joining the ECI, Monika worked with Climate Focus, a consulting firm focusing on climate change mitigation and land use issues. Before that, she was part of the Agricultural Development Team of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation managing grants to improve the environmental sustainability of agricultural systems and risk management in agriculture. She also served as an economist at the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and supported the Scenarios Working Group of the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment. Monika holds degrees from the University of Hohenheim (MSc equivalent/Diploma in agricultural biology) and Justus-Liebig-University Giessen, Germany (PhD in agricultural economics). Read more.
Saher Hasnain - Research and Community of Practice Coordinator
A Researcher with the Food Systems Group at the University of Oxford's Environmental Change Institute, Saher works on food systems, environmental health, and the interconnection of urban mobility and food provisioning. She has previously worked as an Education Coordinator for the Interdisciplinary Food Systems Teaching and Learning programme (IFSTAL) with the ECI Food Systems Group. Trained as an environmental scientist, Saher has focused on environmental health and food systems in urban areas. For her doctoral research, she examined the influence of factors such as fuel policies, urban design, violence, and regional and global food system transformation on food consumption behaviour and spatial mobility in urban Pakistan. Saher has previously worked on environmental health issues through photovoice and mapping at the University of Pennsylvania, and the development of national energy management cultures at Bahria University, Pakistan, with the National Energy Conservation Centre, Pakistan (ENERCON). Read more.
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