Foresight in an Uncertain World

Multiple drivers are emerging that may radically affect global food systems. Collectively, these issues suggest the future of food systems is more uncertain than typically considered. This uncertainty calls for more forward-looking analysis, as “business as usual” projections of trends may not well forecast future conditions. This is the role of foresight and scenario analyses.

There have been many recent exercises looking to the future, yet making sense of them is difficult. They can paint a confused picture that does not aid policy analysis or societal understanding. There is, therefore, a critical need to collate, synthesise and promote best practice in this area. 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 cutures and to adapt – before crises hit.

Yet, current foresight efforts are often fragmented or one-off and do not take full advantage of the complementarity of qualitative and quantitative approaches. Further, the science of foresight requires much better connecting with societal debate and policy dialogue to support change.

 

See below for a selection of latest blog posts on foresight efforts and approaches:

 

What Future for Small-Scale Agriculture

We’re pleased to release our report Farmers and food systems, what future for small-scale agriculture? (PDF: 10mb; opens in a new window) Please note: the table in Box 1, page 13 was updated in August 2021 to reflect new information. As we trundle through our supermarkets, or wander through an open market, looking for good …

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The Montpellier Workshop and Next Steps

Click here for the complete workshop report and materials With the Foresight4Food Initiative’s second workshop successfully wrapped up and follow-up activities underway, this post reflects on the event as a whole. Hosted in Montpellier with the excellent support of MUSE, CIRAD, GFAR, and ACIAR, the workshop brought together individuals from a diverse range of foresight …

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The Dynamics of Food Systems – A Conceptual Model

“Food systems” has become the term around which issues of agriculture, nutrition and food security are now being framed.  But what is a food system?  Here I flesh out the details of the conceptual model we are using to underpin the work of Foresight4Food. The attention to food systems is for good reason. The 2008 …

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Reflections on Stockholm EAT Forum

How do you get people to change what they eat? One takeaway from the forum was that pounding people with messages about what they should be eating – for the health and to care for the planet – is probably the wrong route. Instead, we need to focus on making sure healthy and sustainable food is really tasty, affordable and convenient – this is what needs to be marketed. …Read more…

Frogs in Hot Water!

“A diet for planetary health”, “1.5 degrees is too hot”, “business as usual is no longer an option” – these are headlines from three of a recent slew of 2018/19 reports on the future of our global food systems. Let’s take stock of 12 of these reports and explore the common themes (here you can …

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Foresight4Food – In Plain Language

  Knowing what the future holds is never easy, and as often as not our predictions can turn out to be quite wrong. But some things we do know.  A sugary fatty diet with too little exercise will make us obese, with a high chance of ending up with diabetes.  If many of us follow …

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Foresight for Food in an Uncertain World

Multiple drivers are emerging that may radically affect global food systems. Collectively, these issues suggest the future of food systems is more uncertain than typically considered. This uncertainty calls for more forward-looking analysis, as “business as usual” projections of trends may not well forecast future conditions. This is the role of foresight and scenario analyses. …

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Foresight and Scenarios in Times of COVID-19

COVID-19 is a deep disruption to human systems. The world is having to muddle through huge uncertainties about the consequences and longer-term impacts.  This requires ‘thinking the unthinkable’ and exploring ‘neglected nexuses’. A key issue is how food system recovery pathways might unfold, especially given the “Build Back Better” mantra now being voiced by many …

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Food Systems Transformation – A Rubik’s Cube

It’s clear – the ways we are consuming and producing food is dramatically out of alignment with eating healthily, protecting the planet, and ensuring a fair livelihood for smaller-scale farmers and others working across the food system. …Read more…

eDialogue on future of small scale farming: Fundamental Issues

Our first online session of this eDialogue began by “Setting the Scene” with a range of global and regional perspectives, and in the second session we heard more “Local Perspectives on Small-Scale Farming”, with a focus on sub-Saharan Africa. We also encouraged all of you to submit your ideas in the form of short 2-3 …

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