Foresight Process

Foresight4Food has developed a seven-step participatory foresight process, illustrated below, for use in food systems.

The seven-step foresight process is a step-by-step but iterative method. Each step has set of methods and tools which support the analysis.
  1. Scope the Process: The process starts with a scoping exercise, asking participants questions to understand their interests. This step involves identifying key stakeholder groups and their current and future concerns. Common interests and possible tensions between stakeholders can be identified at this stage.
  2. Map the Food System: A food systems model is critical to identify and assess key drivers, trends and uncertainties, to develop alternative future scenarios. This step of the process involves mapping out rich pictures of the food system being assessed, creating shared visuals of key elements and relationships in the food system.
  3. Assess Trends and Uncertainties: Analysis of the data and stakeholder views from the mapping exercise lay the groundwork for assessing trends and uncertainties. Keeping the food systems model in mind, the foresight process creates dialogue between stakeholders about their assumptions on how the future food system may unfold and what this implies for their visions and aspirations.
  4. Construct Scenarios: Central to this approach is the development and analysis of future food system scenarios, based on data about key trends and critical uncertainties. This is often the most challenging yet insightful part of the process. It takes various actors ‘outside the box’ to imagine how the future of food systems could be fundamentally different, with what implications.
  5. Assess Implications: The implications of future scenarios provide a foundation for exploring what directions for food systems change would be in the collective interest and how trade-offs or synergies between the specific interests of different groups can be best managed. 
  6. Explore System Changes: Once participants have assessed the implications of possible future scenarios, they can better explore possibilities for change. Diverse food system stakeholders work together to explore changes based on their interests and visions, as well as the implications from the scenario development.
  7. Design Pathways for Change: The final step in the foresight process is to develop practical and realistic pathways for change. Using the desirable future scenarios as goals, participants work together to develop strategies that lead their food system in positive directions.