Foresight & the Frontiers of Food: Back to the Past to Explore the Future

Global and local food systems face formidable challenges in the coming decades. Increasingly, there is recognition that food systems need to be transformed to ensure healthy food, sustain climate action, and avoid irreparable environmental losses. Foresight is one of the primary strategic tools that leaders are looking at to navigate transitions and prepare for the future.

However, in order to look forward – we also need to reflect back to the past.

Historical shifts in food production, distribution, and consumption have often mirrored the socio-political climate of that time. Whether it was the spice trade routes influencing colonial expansion or the food rationing of World Wars dictating a generation’s culinary tastes, the interplay of food and larger global political developments is undeniable. Geopolitics of the time played a central role in how food systems have taken shape following dominant narratives, but there is never only one history, one story, that can be told. Certain historical ideas and knowledge has been underrepresented in current debates but may offer insights and pathways into the future.

Join us for an interactive webinar on Foresight and the Frontiers of Food: Back to the Past to Explore the Future. Together with Rathana Peou Norbert Munns, (BrIAS Fellow and FAO Regional Office Asia and Pacific), Nel de Mûelenaere (BrIAS Fellow, Vrije Universiteit Brussel), and Matthew Hannaford (BrIAS Fellow, Lincoln University), we explore the concepts of ‘foresight’ and ‘hindsight’ through two case study presentations and interactive group discussions.

Key questions to be discussed as we draw from past disasters, recovery tales, and the evolution of regional to global food markets:

  1. What key insights can be derived from the past about the future of consumption patterns, food waste, changing lifestyles, and agricultural innovations?
  2. Who will shape the future food systems, and how do power relations from the past continue to influence the future?
  3. How have different societies historically managed food system risks, and how can we utilize these lessons to proactively address future shocks and architect a resilient and enhanced food system?

Once you register, a Zoom link for the webinar will be shared with you.

This is the second webinar in the Foresight and the Frontiers of Food series. In this series, we combine a foresight perspective with a key transformative phenomenon or ‘weak signal’ that could reshape food systems across the world. This series takes a global perspective but seeks to discuss particularly what these new frontiers could mean for low and middle-income countries in Africa and Asia.

Topics that we intend to focus on in future webinars include: novel foods, shifting diets, artificial intelligence and digital transformations, food and geopolitics, mistrust and disinformation. Stay tuned for more and reach out to us if you are interested to contribute: