In recent decades human impacts on the environment have emerged as a serious concern. Though climate change is receiving the most public attention, there are many other factors that threaten ecosystems [including agriculture itself] and that have an adverse effect on agriculture, forests and fisheries.
To enable agriculture to cope with a range of complex and interlinked challenges, such as rapidly increasing globalisation, climate change and unsustainable consumption of natural resources, the development of clear futures scenarios are important in ensuring that the right questions are asked.
In that perspective, the SCAR in 2005 launched a wide foresight process aiming at identifying possible scenarios for European agriculture in a 20-year perspective, to be used in the identification of priority research needs for the medium and long term. This foresight process was strongly encouraged by the by the informal meeting of EU Council in Krems on 28-30 May 2006.
In June 2006 a Foresight Expert Group was established to gather and analyse foresight information on eight major drivers or agriculture in Europe and has issued a foresight paper on each area:
The reports from the Expert Group were disseminated among relevant stakeholders and discussed, together with other foresight exercises, in a Workshop on "Foresight to Set Long-Term European Agricultural Research Priorities", which was held in Stockholm on 29-30 March 2007 and gathered around 60 participants.
The views expressed and conclusions drawn during the workshop were used, along with other stakeholder consultation, in preparing input for the Conference "Towards Future Challenges of Agricultural Research in Europe"
held in Brussels on 26-27 June 2007 with wide participation from science [agriculture and foresight] and policy. This conference focussed on the areas where research could contribute to help agriculture to face future challenges
Building on the conclusions of the Conference, the SCAR decided to establish a Foresight Monitoring Mechanism aiming at providing early signals and warnings about emerging and new problems at regular intervals. As a first step, a “Consultancy Expert Group ”
has been appointed by the Commission to gather , analyse and synthesise information in order to provide research policy orientations .
The CEG group finished its work in December 2008. They made a report
that is based on a scanning of foresight studies and reviews of challenges to European agriculture in a global context as well as an analysis of priority areas.
In the framework of a wide foresight process, a 3rd Foresight Expert Group was established to conduct a scanning and monitoring exercise of recent relevant foresight activities undertaken by national, regional or international bodies. It built on the findings of previous SCAR-Foresights and provides a long-term assessment and analysis of expected environmental and resource issues as outlined in the 2nd SCAR-Foresight and their meaning for future agricultural research in the broader context of the bioeconomy. This 3rd exercise resulted in a report which has also been inspired by the contribution from relevant stakeholders active in strategic research agenda building (ERA-Nets, SCAR-Collaborative Working Groups, Technology Platforms and other FP7 projects) and that were asked to comment on an early draft. In order to further build consensus with such relevant actors on translating foresight results into research and innovation priorities, the report served as an important input for the Conference
“Transition towards sustainable food consumption and production in a resource constrained world” to be held on 4-5 May 2011, Budapest.
4th Foresight Exercise
The SCAR Plenary launched in spring 2014 a 4th exercise "Sustainable Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries in the Bioeconomy - A Challenge for Europe”, exploring the interactions between the primary sector and the bioeconomy. With an emphasis on the future, the exercise explores not only what will happen, but also what might happen by developing the paradigm of the bioeconomy, with the fundamental constraint of sustainability. Internal contradictions within sectors, and possible conflicts among sectors, are a major point of interest.
Read more: Towards a 4th SCAR Foresight