Navigating a future of cross-sectoral forces

  • 44 pages

  • Published: 4 Jun 2024

  • Author(s): Tenacious Ventures

  • ISBN: 978-1-76053-495-0

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In the next decade, Australia’s rural industries are likely to navigate not one but multiple intersecting and transformational changes. The exponential nature of technological advancement, exacerbated by forces like climate change and geopolitical instability, means that looking to the past alone may no longer offer us a reliable map. Now, more than ever, rural industries must prepare to adapt and thrive in this uncertain future.

In the coming decade, Australia’s rural industries will be shaped by significant forces, both internal and external. Shifting global market dynamics, intensifying social and political cycles, and the deepening impact of environmental conditions and policies are creating new pressures, risks and opportunities. The accelerated digitisation of our lives, shifting temperatures and sea levels, and global pressure for an energy transition will profoundly influence how we produce, market and consume agricultural goods, impacting stakeholders along the value chain.

This report, authored by the Tenacious Ventures team and updating previous work investigating the forces impacting Australian agriculture, has been crafted to not only help stakeholders prepare to navigate these changes, but also actively drive them. It aims to provoke thought, challenge existing paradigms, and explore a spectrum of plausible futures, each underpinned by emerging trends. By considering not only the existing issues and their current trajectories, but also emerging and future trends and how they are likely to collide, this report allows stakeholders to gain a clearer perspective on possible issues, facilitating proactive engagement as Australia’s rural industries claim critical guiding roles in regional, national and global discussions.

Through this report, we aim to equip stakeholders in the Australian agricultural RD&E community with the insights needed to forge paths through these transformative times. By understanding these pivotal changes and preparing strategically, we can ensure the resilience and continued prosperity of Australia’s rural industries in the face of an uncertain future.

What is horizon scanning?

Horizon scanning is a systematic examination of potential threats, opportunities and likely future developments, including but not limited to those at the margins of current thinking and planning. In the context of Australia’s rural industries, this involves a proactive and strategic assessment aimed at future-proofing our industries against emerging trends, opportunities and disruptions over the next three to 15 years.

Importantly, horizon scanning is not about predicting the future. Rather, it’s about exploring a broad range of possibilities to better prepare ourselves for an uncertain tomorrow. The scenarios and forces presented in this report are therefore designed to provoke novel and unexpected ideas, inspire innovation, and encourage a strategic rethinking of research and development priorities.

Who is this report for?

This report is for stakeholders in the Australian agricultural RD&E community, including Research and Development Corporations (RDCs), other researchers and research funders, and policymakers. It is not intended for primary producers directly, but rather aims to inform and guide the strategic decisions that will shape the future of rural industries in Australia.


This report was developed through a combination of expert interviews, desktop research and extensive stakeholder engagement. The 10 selected forces were prioritised from a longlist of options; the longlist and the prioritisation framework can be found in the appendix.

How to read this report

The report starts with four narrative future scenarios that draw upon several forces. As you explore each scenario, let them challenge and inspire you. Each scenario is crafted to provoke thought, challenge existing paradigms and elicit strategic insights. Consider also which forces you may want to explore further.

Following the scenarios, we present 10 key forces driving change across rural industries. For each force, we explore the current state, how it’s changing and what that might mean for the future. Examples are provided to ground each force and spotlight specific instances of change occurring today. Finally, possible cross-sectoral research questions are presented. We encourage you to explore these forces in detail and consider their implications for your work.

Ultimately, this report is a tool for both reflection and action. As you navigate through the scenarios and forces, think about the research angles that are most relevant to your industry. What opportunities can you identify? What strategies might you need to adopt? How might you need to think and work differently to create a more resilient and dynamic future for Australian rural industries?