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The alternative futures of the International Centre for Biosaline Agriculture: from salinity research to greening the desert

Sohail Inayatullah (based at the International Center for Biosaline Agriculture, Dubai, UAE)
Ismahane A. Elouafi (based at the International Center for Biosaline Agriculture, Dubai, UAE)

Foresight

ISSN: 1463-6689

Article publication date: 2 September 2014

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Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to present findings, based on a report for the International Centre for Biosaline Agriculture (ICBA), of the preferred visions, scenarios and strategies of stakeholders articulated at a workshop held in Dubai from November 25 to 26, 2012.

Design/methodology/approach

The “six pillars” approach to foresight was used to articulate visions of preferred futures of over 50 international stakeholders, including representatives from the UAE Government, national and international donors, the private sector and leading scientists from universities and international scientific institutions. These visions were then translated into a strategic and business plan for ICBA.

Findings

The research center was successfully able to use foresight methods to develop a long-term strategic plan, continuing its history of innovation in knowledge-based research relating to saline and marginal environments. Novel visions and strategies for water and food futures were developed. A risk assessment of each vision was conducted.

Research limitations/implications

This case study presents visions with scenarios and strategic pathways. It illustrates the utility in setting long-term visions first and then linking with strategic plans. Limitations include that the success of such a venture cannot be judged for at least five to six years. While in the short run, resources – human, partnerships, capital and leadership – have been mobilized, it is too soon to gauge real success of the foresight workshop, project.

Practical implications

The study shows links between visions, scenarios and strategic pathways.

Social implications

The study includes valuable discussions by leading scientists of water and food futures as well as the organizational and leadership capabilities required to deliver alternative futures.

Originality/value

One of the few workshop-oriented interventions in the Middle East and North Africa Region (MENA) region using the anticipatory action learning six pillars framework is included. The study contrasts normal expert-based conferencing in the MENA region.

Keywords

Citation

Inayatullah, S. and A. Elouafi, I. (2014), "The alternative futures of the International Centre for Biosaline Agriculture: from salinity research to greening the desert", Foresight, Vol. 16 No. 5, pp. 389-409. https://doi.org/10.1108/FS-08-2013-0030

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2014, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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