Impact assessment and prospective approaches

With a view towards supporting decision-making, new tools and evidence are needed to more comprehensively evaluate the social, economic, territorial and environmental impacts of different types of innovations.

In particular, special attention must be given to social and institutional innovations, including empowering producers’ organizations, or supporting the proliferation of food safety and quality standards aimed at improving the sustainability of food systems from the farm to the consumer. For example, although small-scale or middle-size family farmers are often considered of lower economic efficiency in comparison to large-scale production units, they might be more efficient in many other dimensions of sustainable development such as social, environmental efficiency, or economic resilience capacity. In order to adapt assessment methods to each specific situation, participatory approaches will be used. Impact assessment analyses will for example connect to the development of prospective approaches in order to build participatory “foresight scenarios”: they will feed the building of and multi stakeholder discussions on different “possible” development pathways as a way to support decision making processes.

Below are research questions to be addressed under this topic:

  • What is the impact of different farming models in terms of food security, employment, incomes and the environment?
  • How to measure the effects of different interventions in value chains and food systems (e.g. collective action, labelling, etc.)?
  • How to assess the performance of different types of value chains (in particular peri-urban versus long-distance, producer driven versus retail driven) with regard to sustainability?
  • How to assess sustainability implications for different types of stakeholders (e.g., women, poor farmers, smallholders)?
  • How to assess the impact of different public policies (e.g. urban policies, incentives towards public private partnerships, support to farmer and value chain collective action, standard setting, implementation and controls) towards sustainable food systems?
  • How to contribute to international research networks on sustainable development, land-use and farm size governance, rural institutions or producers’ collective action?

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