Backcasting tool

The “backcasting” process involves defining a future vision of a solution being used in a specific context and then working “backwards” to identify necessary steps to achieve this vision. Along the way, we ask you to identify 1) possible barriers (and solutions to those barriers) that will need to be addressed or mitigated, 2) key essential elements and enabling factors to help ensure a solution gains traction, and 3) other synergistic solutions that you think should be “bundled” or “packaged together” to help increase the potential for impact or likelihood for success.

To build a pathway-to-impact map for an innovative food system solution in a specific context or setting, please work through the questionnaire sections on the next pages and follow the instructions along the way.

This tool has been designed to be used by an individual and/or with a team 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 can be carried out as a quick “snapshot” exercise online (~20-30 minutes) or could be worked with at a much deeper level of detail, for example in a hybrid online/offline mode over the course of several hours or days in a workshop or brainstorming team exercise.

Before you begin…

  • Brainstorm first - We offer the full backcasting exercise questionnaire as a downloadable PDF worksheet to use before you work online in case that’s helpful. We highly recommend you use this in case there are internet bandwidth challenges in your context to prevent the loss of your work online before you SUBMIT.
  • Once you start (online), don’t stop! When you begin to work through the tool questionnaire online to build a pathway-to-impact map, you must complete and submit the map to save it to the portal (and to download / print as a PDF file, if you choose). At this time, we do no’t offer the option of saving and returning later to complete.
  • Share and inspire others - Pathway-to-impact maps will be quickly reviewed for relevance/appropriateness by the IFSS Portal research team, and then will be published on solution profile page(s) directly in order to share ideas and inspire others to move towards action in their settings.
  • Your opinion matters! We are excited to learn how it works for you and how we can improve it (and accompanying materials) going forward - reach out with any questions and/or send us feedback at
Scroll to pathway

Select the solution you would like to build a pathway for

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1. Your name

2. Name of your organisation

What do you want to appear on the pathway?

Please select at least one option

3. E-mail address

Do you want to publish your e-mail address on the pathway?


1. Location

2. Context

Please provide some information on the context for this pathway, for example "rural semi-arid region" or "urban coastal area" or "deep-sea marine environment".

Max. 5 words 5 words left

3. Current solution readiness (maturity status)

Please select one of the following to indicate how mature this solution is in the country/context you are building a pathway for. *Please refer to the Glossary > Solution Readiness for an explanation of the five maturity types.

Imagine it is 2030 and this innovation is effectively used in your setting.

It has had a major positive impact in making affordable, safe & nutritious foods available in an environmentally sustainable way, helping to meet the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) for both human dietary and planetary health. Keep in mind that it does not have to be used everywhere in your setting, but focus on how and where it may have the most positive impact.

We encourage you to think of this innovation as part of a larger strategy for addressing these critical SDGs in your setting. Don’t worry - for the moment - about barriers, challenges or limitations as we will ask you to address this in later questions.

1. “So What?!”

In 10-15 words please give a subtitle for the major impact you envision this solution having in 2030. For example, for the solution “hydroponics”, a “so what” subtitle could be “increasing urban food production and access to fresh produce while lowering transport costs and pollution”.
Max. 15 words 15 words left

2. Vision statement: what does “major positive impact” of this solution look like in 2030?

Max. 45 words 45 words left
Max. 15 words 15 words left
Max. 20 words 20 words left
Max. 20 words 20 words left
Max. 20 words 20 words left

3. Leapfrogging

Does this solution have a high potential to “leapfrog” - to by-pass linear or stepwise improvements such that by using this solution, the impact would be several generations ahead of current approaches? For example, mobile networks in some countries have leapfrogged the need to build landline networks, making connectivity for millions of people available much faster and in much less expensive ways than had they waited for landline phone/internet infrastructure.
Max. 15 words 15 words left
Now that you have envisioned this innovation as an effective game changer in your setting by 2030, we want to work towards mapping out a pathway for how to get there.

In this section, we ask you to identify both key steps, as well as possible barriers along the way, along with strategies to overcome those barriers (if possible to identify and define).
  • You can include up to 20 elements (steps / barriers+strategies) using this tool
  • When you’re done drafting your pathway towards impact map, you will have a chance to review what you’ve done and decide if you want to go back and modify anything (change the order of steps/barriers, add or remove something, etc) before saving and sharing your pathway to the portal solution page


Go ahead and begin building your pathway towards impact by choosing what you want to do first.
At least 1 key step and 1 barrier/strategy are required, beyond that it’s optional to add more


Now that you have envisioned this innovation as an effective game changer in your setting by 2030, are there any other solutions that you think should be “bundled” or “packaged together” with this one, to help increase its potential for impact or likelihood for success? As we all know, there are no silver bullets and often the reality is that when solutions are put into action in combination with others, often “the whole is greater than the sum of the parts” and the impacts are amplified because of the synergies created by “bundling” solutions to complex problems.

1. Solution packages / bundles

Do you want to add a bundle / package of synergistic solutions?

Yes - Include the bundle / set / package of synergistic solutions that you envision working all together to help increase the potential impact on dietary and planetary health.

Select up to 10 from the solutions on the IFSS portal or use the option for "other" to include solutions not yet featured here.

2. Essential element(s)

Select the essential elements that are necessary to take into account for this pathway towards impact. Please refer to the Glossary > Essential Elements for an explanation of the 10 elements.

Please select at least one option
  • Before you finalize and save your pathway map, you can PREVIEW what you’ve done so far..
  • If you would like to change or adjust anything, please use the button on the LEFT below to adjust the order of the key steps or make changes to barriers / solutions OR use the section numbers on the left.

Do you have any questions