Given that smallholders represent a very large number of individuals with diversity of situations, their individual voices can hardly be incorporated on an individual basis. From the local to the global level, their voices can only be included through their representative organisations.
For their voices to shape priorities, the role of farmers’ organisations in foresight has to go beyond a consultative posture and extend to the initiation or co-leadership of foresight studies directly addressing the issues on which they think there is the need to better understand future evolutions. The agenda for foresight research is today defined by the challenges scientists and policymakers consider as priority in the future, based on their own world view.
Foresight has virtues as a process for consensus building and through stakeholder involvement but does not guarantee success in case of strong stakeholders’ divergence of interests. In the GCARD2 foresight Session F3.1, this question will be further debated and some examples of more equitable partnership practices will be presented. The discussion that will follow will aim at raising commitments from the participants to collective actions in order to balance partnership in future foresight work through the active presence of the various sectors in particular representative organisations of smallholder farmers, NGOs and CSOs.
The purpose of the GCARD2 Session F3.2 is to address the capacity development dimension related to the absence of several key sectors of the society in foresight works. Developing foresight capacity is at the same time an issue of individual capacity development and institutional capacity development. At individual level, some formal education systems provide possibilities to acquire academic skills and recognition in foresight (see Annex 1). However, these are not numerous and are mostly concentrated in developed or emerging countries.
Isolated young professionals willing to engage in foresight need to be recognised and mentored by experienced professionals. A supportive environment is also necessary from their organisations to engage in foresight. Without institutional commitments supporting the development of skilled foresight practitioners, civil society will not be able to bridge the gap they face today when interacting on foresight with national or international research, government and private sector organisations. This is the challenge for the coming years and the Session F3.2 intends to advance towards collective actions bridging the foresight divide between sectors and countries as far as foresight capacity development is concerned.
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Picture courtesy Robin Bourgeois