Collective scientific assessment, foresight and advanced studies

The collective scientific assessments, foresight studies and advanced studies produced by INRAE inform public decision-making on complex societal issues relating to food, agriculture and the environment. They contribute to public and scientific debate in France, in Europe and around the world, and provide input for the Institute’s reflection on its own scientific directions.

Whether they are commissioned by external bodies or by the Institute itself, these projects are coordinated at INRAE by the Directorate for Collective Scientific Assessment, Foresight and Advanced Studies (DEPE).  Calling on the services of experts not only from INRAE but also from other public research institutes in France and abroad, they are delivered in accordance with the charters and procedures adopted by the Institute, and collective due diligence is carried out on possible links of interest for the experts involved.

Project outputs have societal value and impact. Not only are the findings disseminated through review meetings, colloquia and publications, they also contribute to scientific knowledge through academic publications.

DEPE Leaflet pdf - 1.47 MB

Three sorts of expert project

Three sorts of project – collective scientific assessments, advanced studies and foresight studies – are led by the DEPE, most often at the request of government. The DEPE also provides methodological support for the expert projects of partner institutions.


Collective scientific assessments

Synthesis of validated scientific knowledge in response to a complex question.

Collective scientific assessments (CSAs) involve the synthesis of validated scientific knowledge in response to a complex question. The question is referred to the Institute, sometimes jointly with its scientific partners, through a formal request by government departments or public agencies (the sponsors) and relates to the implementation of a public policy.

The expert response calls for a multidisciplinary approach that embraces the life sciences and social sciences. A critical analysis of the international academic literature is conducted by a panel of scientific experts (researchers from public institutions in France and abroad). The findings of the expertise are intended to inform public decision-making and debate. A particular characteristic of this exercise is to distinguish between established research findings, outstanding issues, uncertainties that are still the object of study and unresolved scientific controversies. It produces a state-of-the-art inventory of scientific knowledge and identifies future research needs, but no recommendations for decision-makers are made.

our Collective scientific assessments

Advanced studies

More targeted questions, supplementary information, modelled simulations.

Advanced studies address questions that are more narrowly focused than those for collective scientific assessments. They are informed by a wider and more varied knowledge base and often use the results of modelling.  

These studies set out to deliver an answer to the question that has been asked, even when this cannot be found in the scientific literature alone. They make use of other sources of information (articles in technical reviews, reports, individual expert opinions), or ask experts to perform complementary data processing (statistical analysis, simulations) that may incorporate information provided by practitioners. The scope of these studies is generally narrower than that of CSAs, and they provide answers that can be implemented more directly on the ground.

our Advanced studies


Foresight studies

Exploring possible future scenarios to guide current actions and anticipate future challenges.

The role of foresight studies is to explore possible future scenarios to guide current actions and anticipate future challenges.

Foresight work invites reflection on possible futures, each of which is constructed from a representation of the elements that determine a given situation (in a sector or local area, etc.), taking into consideration its relationship with its environment and the possible ways it might evolve. Foresight is thus built on different scenarios that are created through the systematic investigation of possible projected pathways and are based on the available scientific information concerning the economic, political and societal conditions that affect the dynamics of the system under investigation. Foresight studies produce transdisciplinary knowledge by mobilising the scientific knowledge of varied disciplines and the expertise gained from the experience of stakeholders to feed into a strategic consideration of the issue.

Twenty years of expert projects


Past projects:

Catalogue pdf - 2.25 MB

Current projects:

  • Collective scientific assessment on plastics in agriculture and the implications for food
  • Study on indicators of soil quality
  • Study on the impacts of certified agricultural and fishing production methods on biodiversity.




Open access is available to the complete collection via HAL INRAE: HAL DEPE

19 collective scientific assessments, 12 advanced studies and 16 foresight studies have been completed since the early 2000s, on topics relating to agriculture, the environment and food.



The DEPE operates in accordance with the French National Charter for Expertise and its actions are transparent. In addition, it bases its work on an agreed set of procedures.

We make available to the various actors and users of our activities (sponsors, partners, scientific leads and experts, stakeholders and various public audiences) the working methods and rules used to conduct these projects, in order to publicise the way in which we conduct this type of complex, delicate and sensitive work with all possible rigour and impartiality, work that is also critical to the maintenance of an effective and constructive relationship between science and society.

The request

On receiving a request (formal or informal), INRAE embarks on an initial phase of reflection to clarify the subject and identify the benefit and legitimacy of taking on the project at the institutional level. This stage involves INRAE’s Directorate General, its scientific Directors, the Director of the DEPE and, where appropriate, representatives of other research organisations and the requesting party (who will become the sponsor).

Links of interest and due diligence

In order to respect the principles of impartiality and transparency that govern collective scientific assessments and studies, the DEPE performs due diligence on existing interests and links between the experts and the stakeholders. Such links are not only financial or socio-professional, they also extend to personal activities and social interactions. The transparency of participating experts’ professional or personal commitments linked to the subject of the expertise is guaranteed by a declaration of interests. This must be provided prior to each project using the appropriate form.

Public participation

For each expert project (CSA or advanced study), a stakeholder advisory committee is created. This brings together representatives of all stakeholders with a direct interest in the subject of the study. A first meeting is organised at the start of the project, to inform the participants of the project and to gather their opinions on issues that concern them. A second meeting is held at the end of the process, before the feedback symposium, to communicate the findings and discuss lessons to be learned. In some CSAs or studies, a technical group may also be created, made up of professionals and practitioners on the ground who provide support to the scientific experts.  

Contact us

Scientists: for information on current expert projects at the DEPE, to offer your services as an expert, or to share good practice at a training event, etc., please contact us.

Public sector: if you have a question for us to answer, whether through a CSA, a foresight study or an advanced study, or if you would like to work with us, please contact us.

Other interested parties: for more information on an expert project that interests you, to discuss its conclusions, or to request a presentation on the project, please contact us.


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