Future speak: discourses in strategic deliberative arenas for food systems governance

J. Vervoort, R. Peou van der Heuvel, A.M. Schouten, E. Mathijs, F. Hermans, K. Kok, A.E.S. Helfgott, A. Wilkinson

Research output: Contribution to conferenceConference paperAcademic


This paper presents an interdisciplinary dialogue exploring the role of discourse in global strategic futures arenas. We use global food systems as a discussion case. Food systems are increasingly associated with a variety of global governance issues including the political economics of food insecurity and global environmental change. Collaborative efforts are needed to build capacity for strategic and deliberative food systems governance. A method to organize these efforts is the use of multi-actor futures processes such as scenarios. Strategic futures processes are, ideally, frame-breaking processes that help actors re-perceive their positions and contexts and explore previously unrecognized opportunities and challenges. However, in practice these processes often explore futures within a single, often dominant discourse. This limits the ability of actors involved to consider truly diverse futures. It also limits futures processes in their ability to include various societal actors and perspectives and generate new shared discourses. The role of discourses is largely unexplored within futures studies and practice. We argue that explicit attention to discourses in representation and engagement in multi-actor futures processes will lead to more strategic, inclusive and equitable governance. This paper outlines challenges and proposes methodology that can be used to organize different discourses in deliberative strategic futures arenas.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2014
EventThe Earth System Governance Tokyo Conference 2013, Tokyo, Japan -
Duration: 28 Jan 201431 Jan 2014


ConferenceThe Earth System Governance Tokyo Conference 2013, Tokyo, Japan

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