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SADC Futures Foresight training toolkit: Developing skills and capacity in applying foresight to climate resilient agricultural development in the SADC region

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About the SADC Futures Foresight Training Toolkit

This toolkit aims to be an accessible summary of the SADC Futures Foresight Framework and presents content that was given during the SADC Futures webinar series, a six-part virtual webinar series and facilitated training (https://bit.ly/SADCFuturesForesight). The purpose of the toolkit is to provide accessible training to multiple stakeholders on key foresight methods and how and when to apply them. Each foresight method or tool is broken down into a series of steps so that the process can be replicated with ease. One of the key aspects of foresight is developing a mindset in thinking ab out the future and so the toolkit equips users with case studies, probing questions and examples which are highlighted throughout the manual.

SADC Futures Foresight Framework

A tailored foresight framework was created for the project as a foresight exercise typically includes several methods and tools. The framework brings together the key stages of foresight, with methods and approaches that are relevant to the application for climate-resilient agricultural development. The framework in this training series was developed around four guiding questions which the foresight process helps us to answer about the future:

  • What seems to be happening?
  • What is really happening?
  • What might happen?
  • What do we need to do?

In these highly uncertain and rapidly changing times, the SADC region, like many regions in Africa, remains fundamentally dependent on a resilient agriculture system and natural resource base. Climate change still poses the greatest threat to the agricultural system and therefore technical capacity is needed to address these future impacts and adapt plans, policies, and programs. Considering alternative futures, the SADC Futures project has produced a tailored foresight training series focused around the thematic areas of building climate-resilient agricultural development. The framework and toolkit aim to equip users to practically apply the range of foresight tools and methods for innovative strategic planning and policy formulation for climate resilience.

The foresight framework has been built around seven key stages with key questions:

Input
What is the context? What is happening right now?.

Analysis
Deepening the understanding of the above input questions.

Interpretation
Why is it happening? This is where foresight differs from strategic planning, here we dig deeper to understand why something is happening.

Plan
What do we want to experience in the future and what might get in our way? Here we consider what we might do to get there.

Prospection
What might happen that we have not thought about? This is a critical stage of the foresight process and it requires thinking of multiple different potential futures.

Reflection
Here we consider what we might want to do differently.

Strategy
What will we do differently? This is where we build our new strategy based on our insights of what the future may be like.

Training approach

The SADC Futures Foresight Training Toolkit uses an applied approach whereby it embeds each method or tool with a detailed example of application in the context of climate-resilient agricultural development in the SADC region.

The training approach used starts by introducing the foresight method or tool and the key steps to follow in using it. An explanation of how and when to apply the different key steps is provided. The application of the method or tool is then demonstrated in the context of climate-resilient agricultural development in the SADC region.

Who is this toolkit for?

The training is designed for regional and national government, civil society, researchers, and private sector representatives. Target stakeholders include policy makers, technical officers, farmers’ organisations, media, academia, advisory services, women and youth focused organisations, and potential financiers and development partners. The training is also beneficial to anyone working at the policy level in other African regions.

Structure of the toolkit

The toolkit comprises six modules structured to both show the methodology but also to be applied, by building a clear case study and examples of climate-resilient development in agricultural systems with relevance to the SADC region. This allows the user to gain insights into both the foresight tools, methods, and key steps but also to embed case studies and practical examples on those methods.

  • An introduction to the foresight method or approach in question;
  • A breakdown of the key steps of the method or tool;
  • An explanation of how and when to apply the different steps of the method or tool;
  • Background on the content; and
  • Application of the method in the context of climate-resilient agricultural development in the SADC region.

How to use the toolkit

Exercises, learning reflections and key questions are provided throughout the toolkit modules to equip users to practically apply the range of foresight tools and methods. They are indicated by a variety of icons as illustrated below.

'Test Your Learning' exercises are provided at the start of each module. These exercises test the user’s knowledge of the SADC Futures Foresight Training Framework. The exercises are based on information learnt in the preceding modules and provide a refresher for the user before progressing with the next module.

Learning Exercises are included throughout the toolkit modules to provide step-by-step guidance on how to apply the different foresight methods and tools. These exercises are demonstrated in the context of climate resilient agri-food systems in the SADC region. Further practical exercises are provided to assist the user in applying foresight in the context of their chosen theme as they progress through the training. The materials produced by the user during the exercises are built upon in a sequential manner along the foresight framework.

Learning reflections are provided at the end of each foresight method. These allow the user to reflect on what they have learnt before moving on to the next method.

To guide the thought process of the user key questions and answers are highlighted throughout the manual.

Read the report here