Backcasting tool 

Build a pathway towards impact for a solution

The backcasting process helps to define and develop a clear  future vision of a food system solution being used in a specific place and context to solve dietary and planetary health problems in more equitable ways. Working backwards from that future vision (2030 - in alignment with the UN Sustainable Development Goals), this process can help to identify the necessary steps going forward from today to turn this idea into a reality.

Going through this kind of exercise as an individual or with a team can be a useful way to begin to better understand the what, when, and how of moving a solution (or set of solutions) towards uptake and eventually major impact for a desired outcome.


This exercise is meant to help stimulate multidisciplinary and multidimensional thinking around taking innovative solutions towards impact.

Backcasting can help to identify and plan for possible barriers along the way, as well as help to identify other solutions and key essential elements that will help to accelerate or “boost” the positive impact for both human and environmental health. 

The end result of the backcasting process is a clearly defined “pathway-to-impact” map that outlines the what, when and how of moving an idea towards a desired impact, and also who to work with along the way.

One example of a pathway-to-impact map

INTERACTIVE MAP BUILDER: Adjust your pathway map as-needed along the way

GALLERY: Explore pathway-to-impact maps submitted to the portal

CASE STUDY: Food SystemsThinking for Informal Fresh Food Market Rehabilitation in Tanzania

The Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN) held a 20th anniversary celebration in the Netherlands, on 20th October 2022. The Innovations for Health and Planet team and the Food Systems Governance team came together to facilitate a ‘reshaping food systems and nutrition’ workshop. This workshop referenced GAIN’s real world experience of the rehabilitation of the Buguruni informal fresh food market in Dar es Salaam (Tanzania) and introduced participants to the IFSS Portal’s backcasting method. Backcasting involves defining a future vision of impact, and then working “backwards” to identify necessary steps to achieve this vision.