Webster's Political Café hosted a thought-provoking discussion on various pressing issues, including the democratic system, the role of NGOs, and the challenges facing agriculture. Diverse perspectives were shared, shedding light on the complexities of these topics and the need for collaborative solutions. Here, I summarize the main points discussed during the engaging dialogue.

The discussion began with an exploration of short-termism and single issueism in democratic systems by Foodlog's Dick Veerman. Participants noted that governments often operate with a focus on their short-term mandates, which can hinder long-term planning and decision-making. Short-termism in governance was identified as a key reason for government failures. It was observed that a lack of long-term planning can hinder a country's ability to address complex and evolving challenges effectively.

The meeting resulted in a broad consensus: public scenario planning by the upcoming generation can help improve the quality of decision and policy making
The conversation shifted towards NGOs, particularly single-issue organizations. These organizations are dedicated to addressing specific challenges, such as ending fossil fuel subsidies. However, it was emphasized that their actions can sometimes create unintended consequences elsewhere, akin to pressing on a waterbed. The interconnectedness of various issues, such as abolishing fossil fuel subsidies or pesticides with regard to current wealth and stability, was highlighted.

Participants stressed that these issues cannot be addressed in isolation, and a more comprehensive approach is required. To address this complexity, the concept of scenario planning was introduced. Participants discussed the importance of public open dialogues and trend interpretation to anticipate future developments. It can help public opinion, politics and business to get in sink with the real world surrounding us and get touch with one another. The need to consider unlikely events, as illustrated by the example of Putin's actions in Ukraine, was emphasized.

Agriculture by whom?
The challenges facing agriculture were a central point of discussion. A significant concern was the generational renewal crisis, with a dwindling number of young farmers. It was noted that a substantial portion of farmers are over the age of 60 and have no successors willing to take over. This poses a significant risk to the industry's future. Access to land, knowledge, and improved income conditions for farmers were identified as core priorities.

Additionally, participants recognized the importance of transitioning to sustainable farming practices, which might not yield immediate financial benefits. Bridging the gap between policy papers and practical implementation was considered essential. Participants stressed the need for inclusive dialogues involving various stakeholders, including policymakers, young farmers, and society as a whole, to support this transition. Young people were encouraged to come together and engage in scenario planning to ensure their future interests are considered. The importance of scenario planning groups, involving students in business and politics, was highlighted. Public scenario planning has the potential to connect people, businesses, governments.

Hugue Nkoutchou, Founder of the Public Policy in Africa Initiative, shared insights into the challenges of policymaking in Africa, emphasizing the need for practical and sustainable policies, quality research, and the importance of science. Nkoutchou suggested that strengthening democracy in Africa should involve a focus on science and the creation of accessible, high-quality research to inform and influence policy decisions.

Peter Meedendorp, President of CEJA, the EU Young Farmers Association, discussed the challenges of generational renewal in agriculture and the importance of dialogue to bridge the gap between policy and practice.

Charlene Lambert, President of the Women's Business Initiative, introduced the concept of the "grass ceiling" in agriculture, highlighting the challenges women face in taking over family farms and the need for inclusivity in agricultural organizations.

The meeting resulted in a broad consensus: public scenario planning by the upcoming generation can help improve the quality of decision and policy making. The first meeting between international business and policy students, young European farmers and young Africans shows there is potential to illustrate the case. To be continued!