Keynote Speaker

Joost VervoortCopernicus Institute of Sustainable Development, The Netherlands


Dr. Joost Vervoort is Assistant Professor of Foresight and Anticipatory Governance at the Copernicus Institute of Sustainable Development at Utrecht University, an Honorary Research Associate at the Environmental Change Institute, University of Oxford, and a Visiting Fellow at the Research Institute of Humanity and Nature, Kyoto. Joost leads the food foresight project of the CGIAR’s Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security programme, which has operated across 7 global regions for the last ten years, resulting in many processes in which foresight was used to guide national policies and strategies on food, agriculture and climate. He also leads a number of other major international research projects focused on foresight, anticipatory governance and simulation gaming.

Talk title: Putting futures to use: scenario-guided policy formulation

Much of the challenge around transformative food systems foresight lies in the integration of foresight methods with policy and planning. Concrete examples are needed to demonstrate and evaluate the role of foresight in the formulation of policies and plans. I report on ten years of scenario-guided policy engagement across seven global regions in the CGIAR’s Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS) program. The scenario-guided policy engagement in the CCAFS program offers a unique case, because it contains many examples of in-depth collaborative foresight efforts with national governments in the Global South, leading, in many cases, to reformulated national policies and strategies. This work has in turn been scrutinized through the lens of anticipatory governance.

This analysis of the ten-year multi-regional engagement provides a number of lessons. First of all, continuous collaboration is needed between researchers and governing actors to come to a shared purpose in terms of the use of foresight, to a clear mandate for the application of foresight to policy processes, and to find the right timing for policy formulation or review using scenarios or other methods. When this continuous collaboration leads to trust and a shared agenda, policy processes can be made more inclusive as the need to include diverse food system perspectives becomes clear. In such supportive conditions, foresight methods that open up the future beyond existing biases can be effective; and, given careful guidance and monitoring, can lead to significant changes in national planning. Successful policy guidance leads, in turn, to out-scaling to similar processes.

Beyond such effective collaborations, however, there is often a clear need for the development of anticipatory capacities at the level of institutions. I reflect on this structural challenge and the need for systems of food systems governance to fundamentally change their orientations toward the future.

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