The Centre for Studies and Strategic Foresight (CEP): the internal think-tank of the French Ministry of Agriculture

In a complex and globalized world, knowledge and anticipation arerequired in order to improve the management of public affairs ratherthan repeteadly react to crisis. Thus the French Ministry ofagriculture, agri-food and forestry created the Centre for studies andstrategic foresight (CEP), so as to strengthen capacities in the fieldsof evaluation, studies, monitoring, and foresight . The CEP developsanalysis and tools for managing public issues of national orinternational scope : market management, price volatility, CAP reforms,feeding behaviours, diffusion of new agricultural practices, energytransition, climate change impacts, territories andrural world, globalization, emerging countries, etc.

CEP’s mission is to alert, take initiatives and make propositions. It implements and coordinates studies in strategic foresight, economic analysis and evaluation relative to the policies of the Ministry. It is the resource centre and think-tank of the Ministry, working in close collaboration with the Cabinet of special advisers of the Minister, the policy directorates in its Paris headquarters and the local offices of the Ministry all over France. It also works closely with other partners of the Ministry so as to provide topical information, methodological advice or in-depth expertise.

Working as a small help-desk unit, CEP tackles broad overarching issues and strives to complement the work of the policy monitoring offices of the Ministry, as well as collaborating with external partners. With 19 staff members, the team is young and constituted of individuals with diversified educational and professional backgrounds, bringing together a diversity of sensibilities and conceptual frameworks. Management by project enables CEP to adapt itself quickly to news-breaking contexts and issues, and the requests that are likely to follow these.

The activities of CEP are varied. This transpires in its publications. Some are freely accessible on the Internet (Working documents, Analyses, Strategic watch letters, Newsletter of the blog on strategic watch, the peer-reviewed scientific publication Notes et études socio-économiques). Others are reserved to the special advisers of the Minister and the policy making units of the Ministry. To tackle complex topics needing shared perspectives, CEP facilitates interdisciplinary strategic foresight working groups such as Agriculture Energy 2030, The agricultural world in trends or Agriculture Forest Climate. CEP also coordinates the ministerial programme of studies (setting annual priorities, technical expertise of proposals, dissemination of results). CEP staff members are also active in training activities and giving presentations in public seminars. They organise seminars and conferences, participate in working groups and steering committees. CEP represents the Ministry within national and international knowledge networks and can respond to specific requests fortechnical expertise. Finally, an important mission of CEP is that of backstopping and advising on the evaluation of public policies ; it is the interface between the external evaluators and the policy monitoring units of the Ministry which commission the evaluation of their programmes.

CEP provides analyses and steering tools on public issues that are now well well-known or just emerging : regulation of financial markets, price volatility, agrifood chain competitiveness, governance of the global agrifood system, the impacts of the rise of BRICS countries, land tenure policies or the reform of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP). CEP also studies issues related to agro-industries and marketing chains, nutrition and food safety, GMOs or nano-technologies. Other activities are linked to the environment and sustainable development : impacts of climate change, energy transition, valuation of services from natural systems, innovative cropping systems, evaluation and generation of agri-environmental policies, etc. Finally, the anticipation and analysis of risks and crises are a constant activity of CEP.

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