THRIVE Academy is a groundbreaking initiative aimed at enhancing the capacities of key decision-makers in the NENA (Near East and North Africa) region. Our mission is to equip them with the skills and tools for evidence-based, timely, practical, and impactful decision-making. At the heart of our approach is the theme of ‘water’, as we believe water plays a vital role in achieving sustainable and resilient food systems, and represents a significant shared challenge.

Key Objectives

The Academy will deploy state-of-the-art capacity development approaches, including our dynamic systems-based action research approach, while placing the empowerment of people at the centre of its action plan. Our key objectives are:


  • Sustainable Policies: Focus on the adoption of sustainable policies that balance politics, manage economic growth, consider environmental protection, and promote social equity, ensuring alignment with the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
  • Interactive Learning Space: Provide an interactive space for leaders to not only absorb knowledge and skills but also as a platform for leaders to share their own expertise with respect to their own water system transformations.
  • Collective Intelligence: Apply the concept of ‘Collective Intelligence’, a process by which groups of individuals learn, leverage, and lead on creating localised evidence for collective decision making on systems-level transformations.​​​​​​

Key Methods

We will combine systems thinking, action research and transdisciplinary expertise to support attendees to share and collaborate to work towards a sustainable and resilient future for food production and water systems in the NENA region.

  • Knowledge Transfer: How do we make sense of complex evidence? What are cognitive principles that allow evidence to be taken as fact and lay people experience it as law on daily basis? At heart, we are causal thinkers driven to explain the myriad of ways in which people behave and interact with the system. We build mental models of the world, enabling us to infer patterns of cause and effect, linking words with deeds, actions to effects, and policies to evidence. But building models is not enough; we need to evaluate these models against evidence, and we often struggle with this task. We have a knack for explaining, but less skill in evaluating.
  • Capacity Development: What kind of capacity do we need to make sense of complex food systems and evidence linked with it? What kind of capacity is needed where there is uncertainty in the complex food systems and inefficient evidence? Fortunately, we can improve our reasoning by reflecting on the evidence, observing the practice and learn to use new tools. The academy will present a system of rational inference that help leaders evaluate mental models, make sounder judgements, improve collective actions, and dedicate investment in systems level transformation. The Right to Food Guidelines emphasize the importance of education and awareness, fostering knowledge and accountability. Capacity development is essential for practitioners, policymakers, and stakeholders to apply a human rights-based approach.
  • Evidence Creation: How to evaluate evidence for competing priorities? How to apply multi-factor causal explanation of an evidence over unitary causal explanation? How to react to strong claims that treat internal versus external causes for policy challenges, market risks or leadership failures? It requires considering multiple factors and their causal relationships, rather than relying on a single cause. Informed decision-making and policy formulation require new skills in evidence gathering and interpretation. These processes involve collecting and analysing data, enabling the identification of best practices, informed policy development, stakeholder engagement, advocacy, resource allocation, and monitoring of impacts. By offering credible insights and informing actions, evidence-based approaches guide the shift towards more sustainable, resilient, and equitable food systems.