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EFP Brief No.196: Agrimonde

Sunday, October 9th, 2011

The brief describes the methodology and conclusions of a foresight project called Agrimonde. Between 2006 and 2008, this project gathered a panel of French experts who built two contrasting scenarios of the world’s food and agricultural systems by 2050: Agrimonde GO, a business-as-usual scenario used as a reference point, and Agrimonde 1, a rupture scenario exploring a world that has been able to implement sustainable food production and consumption.

Food Security Issues Back at the Forefront

The future of global agricultural and food systems is today at the heart of numerous intertwining debates. They stem from the increasingly widespread certainty that the continuation of current trends in food consumption and production is unsustainable and that radical changes in behaviour, policies and technologies are necessary (MA 2005, World Bank 2008, IAASTD 2009). Three trends now appear inevitable: 1) the (still) fast growth of the world’s population, 2) climate change, and 3) the increasing scarcity and rising prices of fossil fuels. In view of these trends, several studies have warned of a possible stagnation of yields in various crops (IAASTD 2009), and the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (MA) has highlighted the deterioration of ecosystems and the consequent threats to the multiple services that they render to humanity (MA 2005). Besides structural trends, the threat of food riots, re-occurring as a result of the current price volatility and the possible impacts of competition between food and biofuel production, have brought food security issues to the forefront.

Undernourishment figures confirm the seriousness of the situation. Indeed, after declining at the end of the 1970s, the number of undernourished people started to rise again in the mid-1990s and has now reached approximately 1 billion (FAO 2010).

The issue being raised again is that of a possible structural tension between the potential growth of food production and the increase in the demand for agricultural products, driven by economic and demographic growth, changing diets and the growing need for alternative sources of energy.

The Agrimonde Project

Between 2006 and 2008, responding to an initiative of CIRAD and INRA, the two main French agricultural research institutions, a panel of French experts developed a project called Agrimonde with the goal to build and analyse contrasting scenarios of the world’s food and agricultural systems by 2050. The project’s objectives were threefold: 1) to anticipate the key issues research will have to address; 2) to initiate a process of debates and appropriation of the topics on a national scale; 3) to promote the participation of French experts in international debates on food security issues.

Qualitative Storylines and Quantitative Modelling Used in an Interactive Way

Drivers for the evolution of food and agriculture are extremely diverse and numerous. To cope with this complexity, we based scenario building on comple­mentary quantitative modelling and qualitative anal­yses. Storylines about the main drivers of change guided us in making sets of quantitative assumptions. These assumptions were used to simulate resource-use balances of food biomass at global and regional levels, which in turn enriched the content of each storyline through efforts to enhance coherence. This iterative process eventually enabled us to develop comprehensive quantitative and qualitative scenarios.

Quantification was performed using the quantitative tool Agribiom, thanks to which all agricultural food productions, consumptions and trade can be evaluated using one single measuring unit, the kilocalorie. Calories are distinguished according to their origin: plant, animal (grazing and non-grazing) and aquatic. Agribiom comprises data covering four decades (1961-2003), enabling us to analyse past trends in the whole range of plant and animal productions and utilizations worldwide.

Quantitative assumptions on future biomass resources and uses were made at the regional level (Asia (ASIA), the Former Soviet Union (FSU), Latin America (LAM), Middle East/ North Africa (MENA), OECD, Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA)). The coherence of each set of quantitative assumptions was checked by assessing the balances between food biomass resources and their uses. There might be deficits in some regions, but resources should cover uses at global level.

Assumptions on regional biomass use in 2050 combines assumptions on human population and their diets. As for resources, assumptions were made at regional level concerning mainly: 1) land use, 2) cultivated land productivity measured in calorie per hectare, and 3) conversion of plant calories into animal calories.

To establish the values that these variables could take in 2050, we analysed 1) past trends, 2) the scientific literature dealing with each variable’s determinants, and 3) scenarios built in the various studies dealing with food and agriculture. Only the conversion of plant into animal calories was simulated. The magnitude of the increase in animal food consumption is a clue to the planets’ future capacity to feed its population since husbandry accounts for a substantial share of the use of plant calories. It was therefore important to precisely grasp calorie conversion. Thus, unlike other scenario-building studies based on economic models, Agrimonde uses a simple quantitative model processing physical, not economic, data. It does not simulate the functioning of the main commodity markets. This shortcoming, however, is partly offset since Agribiom avoids the “black box” feature of complex modelling with a multitude of parameters and causality relationships.

The Agrimonde Scenarios

We chose to build two scenarios: a business-as-usual scenario called Agrimonde GO (AGO), inspired from the MA Global Orchestration scenario, and a rupture scenario called Agrimonde 1 (AG1). This scenario explores a world in 2050 that has been able to implement sustainable development through a drastic reduction of both undernourishment and excessive food intake, and a change of the technological paradigm towards ecological intensification. In keeping with the definition proposed by Conway (1998) or Griffon (2006), ecological intensifi­­cation was defined as the diffusion of practices and technologies enabling agriculture to meet growing needs, to be a driving force of economic development and to preserve natural resources.

Two general principles were applied to the construction of the scenarios so as to facilitate their comparison. Firstly, in order to assess the capacity of each region to satisfy its own food needs in 2050, interregional trade was considered only as a way of clearing regional surpluses in some regions and of filling deficits in others. Secondly, we wanted each region to experience the same demographic pressure in both scenarios and to analyse the effects of demographic trends without them being masked by large migratory flows. Consequently, we chose for both scenarios the United Nations (UN) median projections of population growth (around 9 billion people worldwide in 2050 with a “normal” level of international migration).

For AGO and except for the demographic assumptions mentioned above, we used the quantitative assumptions made in the framework applied by the MA. A normative choice, based on an understanding of what a sustainable diet might be, prevailed in the elaboration of assumptions on food consumption in AG1. In AGO, economic growth boosts consumption in all regions whereas in AG1, the income-food consumption nexus is not the most determining one due to concerns for health, equity and the environment. Food availability in 2050 is assumed to equal 3,000 kcal/cap/day (500 of which of animal and aquatic origins) in all regions, which corresponds to the global average in 2000. An average availability of 3,000 kcal is also the figure that FAO considers sufficient to maintain the proportion of undernourished people at a relatively low level. This assumption nevertheless contrasts sharply with past trends, especially in Sub-Saharan Africa where food consumption is supposed to increase by 30% over 50 years and in the OECD countries where it is supposed to decrease by 25%.

AG1’s assumptions pertaining to land areas were made on the basis of physical factors of soil availability and quality and compared with sustainability criteria (in particular the preservation of forest areas). Finally, the assumptions on yields were formulated by considering past trends and technological change that would make it possible to increase yield while preserving the ecosystems. Among factors taken into consideration, the anticipated impacts of climate change on land availability and yields were considered major determinants of the future production potentials. As a result, at the global level between 2000 and 2050, cultivated land increases much faster in AG1 with 12 million hectares of new cultivated land per year (taken for the most part on current pasture areas) against 7 million in AGO, and 4 million in the last four decades of the 20th century. In AGO, yields are the driving factor; they increase by 1.14% per year over 50 years, against 0.14% in AG1, and 2% per year between 1961 and 2000.

Feeding the Global Population in 2050 a Matter of Access Not Food Shortage

Five main lessons can be drawn from the Agrimonde’s global-level scenario analysis (see Paillard et al. 2011 for further details, in particular at regional level).

Firstly, the global food production levels assumed in each scenario for 2050 satisfy the assumed levels of global food consumption. The planet’s natural resources are sufficient to properly feed the global population in 2050, which is approximately the year when the maximum global population is anticipated. Thus, just like today, the main challenge in terms of food security will not be a lack of production but will remain a problem of access to food by the poorest populations.

Secondly, the scenarios underline the crucial role of diets in the realisation of resource-use balances. On the one hand, in AGO, per capita total food availability increases by 20% between 2000 and 2050 and the share of animal products increases from 16 to 23%. On the other hand, in AG1, these indicators remain stable at global level. As a result, while the global need in plant calories (including plant food, feed, seeds, loss etc.) increases by 90% in AGO, it only increases by 35% in AG1. The convergence of diets and of consumption habits (growing consumption outside the home and of processed food, generating growing waste) towards the Western model would then have serious consequences not only from a health viewpoint (obesity and related diseases) but also for the preservation of ecosystems.

Thirdly, in both scenarios, the volume of net trade in food between regions necessary to meet regional food needs is much higher in 2050 than that observed in 2000. Three regions show structural shortages in both scenarios. Two of them, ASIA and MENA face a shortage in natural resources (water and land). In the third, SSA, the increase in food production is lower than population growth and the corresponding increase in food consumption. Thus trade regulations appear essential in order to 1) prevent net exporting countries from taking advantage of the structural food dependence that some regions face, 2) avoid competition that would be unsustainable for small local producers, and 3) guarantee that trade does not lead to an increase in the impacts of agriculture on the environment.

Fourthly, in AG1, yield gains, while fast in regions such as LAM or FSU, are very moderate at global level. Thus, even under the assumption that yields will increase relatively slowly, the planet can properly feed nine billion people in 2050. Consequently, ecological intensification, through the scaling up of local agro-ecology experiments, appears to be an alternative option to the classical model of agricultural intensification, as recently pointed out by Olivier de Schutter, the UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food (de Schutter 2011).

As he emphasized, the main benefits of agro-ecology lie in the fact that it preserves natural resources and is accessible to smallholders (low input and capital intensity). This brings us to our fifth conclusion: the contribution of trade to the food security of regions with food shortages will only be possible if access to food in those regions is drastically enhanced through the development of local opportunities for wealth creation. And because in the most food insecure countries, these opportunities are mostly to be found in agriculture, investments in this sector in developing countries is the key to end undernourishment.

Agrimonde: a Landmark Study Provoking Controversies

Agrimonde has become a landmark foresight study (mostly among French experts and stakeholders). The AG1 and AGO scenarios are references, whether adop­ted or rejected, that contribute to structuring the debate on food security and more generally on the future of food and agricultural systems. This can be stressed through some of the main controversies provoked by the scenarios, which concern their sustainability and plausibility.

Tackling Environmental Issues

Environmental sustainability is not a feature of the AGO storyline since in this scenario economic growth is given priority over the preservation of the environment. Never­theless, AG1 and AGO can be considered as two differ-rent strategies to meet the challenge of feeding a gro­wing population in a sustainable way. On the one hand, AGO bets on substantial yield gains that would make it possible to spare land areas – reserves, corridors, fo­rests, etc. – which then can be devoted to the preserva­tion of ecosystems. On the other hand, AG1 chooses to expand cultivated areas and to use environment-friendly technologies to cultivate them at the accepted cost of lower yield gains. The conversion of land into cultivated areas accelerates compared to past trends, particularly in regions with a large unexploited cultivation potential, such as SSA, LAM and FSU. Even though forests are spared, accelerated land conversion is not without impact on biodiversity and carbon storage. However, the sustainability assessment of AG1 cannot end here. For instance, it would be meaningless to measure its carbon footprint by simply multiplying converted land areas by the quantity of carbon that is currently emitted when pastures are converted into cultivated land. Ecological intensification actually strives toward a higher carbon storage capacity through innovations in farming systems and lower emissions through a reduction in nitrogen fertilizer use.

In AG1, ecological and productive functions of ecosys­tems are combined on the same territory (agroforestry is a good example of such a combination), which tends to blur the traditional frontier between productive areas and preserved nature areas. Thus, technological choi­ces appear strongly linked to our choices of spatial organisation and complementary to the performance criteria that are applied to farming systems. In AG1, these criteria have to be designed to measure not only their food production performance but also their ability to maintain ecosystem services, which is not central to what is expected of agriculture in AGO.

Legacy of the Growth Paradigm

The plausibility of the Agrimonde scenarios and the feasibility of the transitions that they propose provide another interesting area of debate. AGO is a plausible scenario if trade liberalisation and technological pro­gress are sufficient drivers of economic development. Moreover, it requires that we will be able to further increase yields through radical innovations, such as drought-resistant GM crops. The scale of the challenge is huge if we consider the very high level of yield already attained in regions such as ASIA and the OECD as well as the current health of many ecosystems and the consequences, over next decades, of climate change and fossil fuel rarefaction. AG1 rests heavily on the availability of arable land. Even though existing data tends to show large amounts of uncultivated arable land, more reliable data on land use, soil fertility and possible future impacts of climate change and urbanisation are needed to check the plausibility of land use assumptions in AG1. Moreover, the existence of large unexploited arable land areas does not necessarily imply that they will be available for food production. For instance, in regions where land tenure is customary, land conversion would have dramatic impacts on pastoralists whose food security depends heavily on their having access to rangeland. The competition between food and biofuel production is also likely to affect the amount of land that will be devoted to food production.

Diet Change in Rich Countries?

The radical shift in diets is certainly the most challenging feature of AG1. This scenario assumes a 25% drop in food consumption in OECD over 50 years, mainly through a decrease in animal product consumption. Likewise, it assumes that emerging countries will manage to rapidly curb the current trend towards diets higher in fat and meat. These very strong assumptions do not challenge the interest of this scenario since foresighting is not forecasting, and exploring ruptures in trends is one of the main purposes of scenario building. Besides, health and environmental concerns are prompting an increasing number of rich countries’ consumers to modify their diets and limit food waste. It is therefore plausible, and in any case interesting, to consider the implications of a progression of such behavioural changes in rich countries. The question calls for a radically different answer when considering developing countries in which a significant share of people do not have access to sufficient food and lack proteins. The assumption that in coming decades, consumers will become concerned about the ecological footprint of their consumption behaviour does not seem plausible. However, nutrition transition in emerging countries is far more rapid than it was in Northern countries. It is therefore probable that the populations’ awareness of the harmful effects of excessive calorie and fat intakes will also spread faster.

Authors: Sandrine Paillard (     ), Bruno Dorin (,Tristan Le Cotty (, Tevecia Ronzon (, Sébastien Treyer (
Sponsors: CIRAD (Centre de coopération Internationale en Recherche Agronomique pour le Développement) INRA (Institut National de la Recherche Agriculture)
Type: Foresight exercise
Organizer: CIRAD, INRA
Duration: 2006-2008 Budget: n/a Time Horizon: 2050 Date of Brief: Sep 2011  


Download EFP Brief No. 196_Agrimonde

Sources and References

Conway, G., 1998, The Doubly Green Revolution: Food for All in the Twenty-first Century. London, Penguin Books.

De Schutter, O., 2011, Agroecology and the Right to Food, Report presented at the 16th Session of the United Nations Human Rights Council, 8 March 2011.

Griffon, M., 2006, Nourrir la planète. Pour une révolution doublement verte. Paris, Odile Jacob.

IAASTD, 2009, Agriculture at a Crossroad, Global Report. Washington, DC, Island Press.

Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (MA), 2005, Ecosystems and Human Well-being: Scenarios. Washington, DC, Island Press.

Paillard, S., Treyer, S., Dorin, B., 2011, Agrimonde: Scenarios and Challenges for Feeding the World in 2050. Versailles, Quae.

World Bank, 2008, Agriculture for Development, World Development Report 2008. Washington, DC, The World Bank.

EFP Brief No. 190: Agriculture and the Challenges of Energy

Wednesday, August 10th, 2011

Energy in agriculture is all too often seen as a purely cyclical issue whereas it brings more complex challenges in terms of economic stability for agricultural holdings, impacts on the environment and climate, on food supply chains and spatial planning. The present brief describes the main results of a prospective study led by the Centre for Studies and Strategic Foresight (at the French Ministry of Agriculture). A group of experts used the scenario method to imagine possible futures of the agriculture-energy system in 2030 and help identify priorities and options for public action.

Energy at the Heart of French Agriculture

Energy is of major importance for the future of agriculture in France although it receives relatively little analytical attention. Control of energy consumption is an economic issue for agricultural holdings, which consume energy both directly (fuel oil, electricity and natural gas) and indirectly (energy for the manufacture and shipment of farm inputs). All in all, French farming consumes around 11 Mtoe (million tonnes of oil equivalent) a year: 5.3 Mtoe directly and an estimated 5.4 Mtoe indirectly. Taking all French holdings together, expenditure on fuel and lubricants represents 8.3% of intermediate consumption, 13.1% of the costs of fertilisers and 21.6% of livestock feed. The share of energy consumption in production costs varies widely according to the type of production: 23% of intermediate consumption relates to fertilisers and soil improvement for cereal and protein crops; 67% results from feed purchased for granivorous livestock holdings between 2005 and 2008. For an identical output, there are wide variations in energy costs at the farm level depending on production systems and practices. The prices for these inputs may also vary widely, reflecting those of fossil fuels. A high oil price may therefore have major consequences for the economic balance of holdings: the double burden of low farm prices and high energy prices may cause unavoidable and difficult situations. The issue of energy also involves logistics, the organisation of agricultural supply chains and the distribution pattern of farming activities across regions. This is so because the distances separating production areas, consumption areas and sources of input supply are reflected in energy consumption.

Moreover, energy and climate are intertwined issues. Agriculture could contribute to national targets for containing global warming by cutting its emissions, producing renewable energy and sequestering carbon in soil. On the other hand, ambitious climate and environment policies may increase fossil fuel prices.

A Collective and Systemic Approach for the Scenario Method

Since the interaction between agriculture and energy is complex, this subject was addressed using a collective approach based on the scenario method.

The ‘Agriculture Energy 2030’ group involved around forty participants with a wide range of skills and backgrounds from concerned ministries (Agriculture and Fisheries, Sustainable Development), public agencies (ANR, ADEME, FranceAgriMer), technical institutes (CTIFL, IFIP, Institut de l’élevage), the farming world (FNCIVAM, FNCUMA, SAF), research bodies (CEMAGREF, INRA), civil society (FNE) and the private sector (Total, ANIA).

This foresight exercise is centred on agriculture. It leaves out both fisheries and forestry, and the agrifood and retail distribution industries are only marginally considered in the exercise. In addition, climate change is only considered for its direct link with energy, that is, greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions caused by direct and indirect energy consumption and renewable energy production. Issues relating to biomaterial and bioproduct production have also been considered in the core analysis. Finally, the analysis restricts itself to mainland France because the French overseas territories have very specific agricultural and energy features of their own.

The choice of time frame to 2030 is a trade-off between the desire to capture cyclical effects and the necessity of working with a manageable, not too distant time scale. Within this basic framework, the Agriculture Energy 2030 group identified five components made up of 33 variables relevant to explaining the possible futures of the agriculture-energy system.

A study card was created for each variable to set a number of hypotheses as to its future development. This exploratory work was based on the identification of past trends, emerging trends and the main areas of uncertainty to be considered when looking forward into the future. Proceeding very conventionally, these hypotheses were combined for each component to produce micro-scenarios, which were then combined to generate global scenarios. For greater consistency and to cast a more informative light on the issues surrounding agriculture and energy, the global scenarios were quantified using a model (Climagri) to estimate French farming production, energy consumption and GHG emissions by 2030. These scenarios are not predictions of the future and reflect even less the preferences of the expert group or the French Ministry of Agriculture. They were used as conjectures to alert actors and decision-makers.

A Set of Four Scenarios to Highlight Energy Challenges in Agriculture

Scenario 1: Regionalisation and frugality to confront the crisis

A profound energy crisis undermines conventional business models. The international context is tense and focused on protection of domestic markets. Around 2020, the management of public policies is entrusted to a greater extent to regional authorities, which are seen to be closer to the development issues of their territories. By 2030, the agricultural world has changed profoundly and faces a number of external constraints: energy prices at sustained high levels, a budget crisis and loss of legitimacy of the central government, a withdrawal to home regions and a contraction in international trade. Agriculture adapts as a matter of urgency, employing a strategy focused on the local level, accompanied by major institutional reform.

The growing self-sufficiency of production systems inevitably involves input reduction, more extensive livestock farming and diversification. The search for complementarity between crops and livestock or between types of crops across holdings and regions becomes a general reality. By 2030, this transformation is not harmonised across the French territory and there are major regional disparities. Lower levels of specialisation and production lead to a limited export capacity. French farming makes major cuts in its energy consumption (down by 32%). Renewable energy produced on the farm supplies additional income, but its development depends on local potential and dynamics. Extensive use is made of biomethanation and wood-for-energy, but expansion of biofuels is held back by high agricultural prices.

Scenario 2: Twin-track agriculture and energy realism

Against a backdrop of high energy price volatility and further trade liberalisation, public support for agriculture declines with a refocusing on remuneration for the public goods provided by agriculture. These changes have very different impacts on holdings depending on whether or not they meet local demand for the local supply and provision of public amenities. Two forms of agriculture exist side by side in 2030:

– “Business Farming” (mainly on the plains of the Northern , Western and Central France): these farms manage to be competitive and to position themselves on export markets. Intensification and restructuring result in a high-precision, high-input farming system. Energy use is optimised on these farms as a response to economic drivers. Energy optimisation is benefited by private-sector market supply of technology and counselling services.

– “Multifunctional agriculture”: these farms diversify their activity and are remunerated for the environmental services they provide (water, biodiversity, landscape, carbon storage). Their main activities are extensive livestock, organic and mixed crop-livestock farming. Such holdings adopt strategies focused on self-sufficiency and low energy use close to those in Scenario 1.

Overall, there is little change in energy consumption. Renewable energy production expands moderately, with investments being held back by price volatility. Biofuel production is more strongly developed in integrated and innovative industrial sectors.

Scenario 3: Health-centred agriculture with no major energy constraints

In 2030, urban consumers are more numerous and more influential. With the backing of the large retail chains, they have succeeded in imposing a major reduction in the use of pesticides by agriculture on grounds of the protection of human health rather than protection of the environment. In the absence of major energy constraints and strong environmental policies, urban sprawl continues to expand. Agricultural supply chains are shaped by their downstream components, with quality schemes and mandatory specifications becoming highly prescriptive with regard to reduced pesticide use. Producers adjust more or less. Some sectors are negatively affected by this new constraint. The most isolated rural regions experience significant abandonment of agriculture. Conversely, the major cities invest in periurban farming to meet the demand for open spaces and local food supply. A specialised and technically sophisticated agricultural model involving integrated pest management has developed. It aims at high production levels and at abating pesticide use at the same time. In parallel, organic farming develops significantly. The absence of any major constraint in terms of policy or energy pricing results in a slight fall in overall energy consumption since production inputs are partially substituted by efficiency gains in machinery. The production of biofuels expands strongly, driven by the early arrival of second generation technologies.

Scenario 4: Ecological agriculture and energy savings

Approaching 2015, the need to make sharp reductions in the environmental impact of human activity leads to a consensus both in the developed world and slowly in the emerging countries. European households adapt their consumption patterns out of concern for preservation of the environment and in response to prices that now include the environmental cost of products. The implementation in 2016 of a common EU-US CO2 market with border adjustment mechanisms triggers a massive shift towards ecological modernisation. In this context, agriculture evolves toward new production models with smaller environmental impacts; the trend is supported by a reformed agricultural policy. This change, however, is both difficult and gradual. The initial resistance of the farming world delays the behavioural changes. Major mutations in the whole agri-food system are also required. From 2020 on, French agriculture becomes ‘ecologically intensive’ on the wide cereal-growing plains of the country: for example, crop diversification, general use of nitrogen-fixing crops at the beginning of rotation sequences and no-tillage become common. In hilly and mountainous lands, farmers are paid for environmental services and are encouraged to meet self-sufficiency at the farm (diversified systems based on mixed crop-livestock farming) or across whole regions (complementarity between farms). Biomethanation and renewable energy production are strongly developed.

Future Requirements for Policy

The expert group sketched out ‘come what may’ strategies that can be expected to remain valid in any future context. The use of fertilisers is a core element of energy balance, and the technical means for reducing nitrogen inputs are well known (long crop rotation sequences and diversified crop choices, use of green manure, organic sources of nitrogen and so on). Their general adoption requires awareness-raising and educational efforts directed at the farmers along with networking to support farmers in exchanging experiences. The need for changes may call for the use of strong normative or economic instruments.

The Agriculture Energy 2030 group has highlighted the advantages of biomethanation, on condition that the digestates are correctly recycled. The structuring and development of the relevant sector supply chains are major issues. Digestate centrifugation is one of the most promising avenues because it allows an easily transported solid phase rich in nutrients (ammonia, phosphate, potassium) to be isolated, along with a liquid phase that is rich in nitrogen but which must be used in nearby areas (spreading). Official approval for the products obtained in this way could provide a major boost.

Another advantage of biomethanation is the production of renewable energy (electricity and heat). The existing support schemes for the installation of digesters on farms should be accompanied by biogas purchase prices to offer greater incentives and forward visibility to investors.

Preference for local supply of protein for animal feed was seen as an advantageous strategy. The goal is to reduce the transportation of these inputs through on-farm production or local supply and to give preference to protein sources requiring low levels of inputs for their production. Grass-based livestock farming particularly deserves to be encouraged given its self-sufficiency and the numerous amenities it provides. Strategies aimed at expanding the use of grass in livestock farming and introducing legumes into pastures are of interest and should receive appropriate technical assistance.

Agricultural machinery constitutes a major area for fuel savings and a lever for change, which could be easily used. Investment in proper adjustment and maintenance of tractors, replacement of machinery and reductions in engine power should receive financial support while giving priority to pooled uses. Elimination of the need to till the soil (notably by means of zero-tillage) could be explored for the reduction of fuel consumption. Extensive effort on training and research is, however, required.

Innovation in the organisation of the agricultural sector to improve energy balances across production regions is needed. The group recommends that production systems should be diversified and products traded between holdings. Support would be appropriate for farmers committing to innovative modes of production (e.g., crop-livestock complementarity, organic farming, high environmental value) through proactive policies on land and installations, especially in the most specialised regions. In addition, the provision of technical and financial support for the development of on-farm primary processing of water-rich products could help reduce transport-related energy consumption while at the same time diversifying farmers’ income sources.

There is nevertheless a need to study case by case the energy efficiency and economic viability of this kind of development, which requires major investments and increases farm workload. The development of on-farm storage facilities and conservation technologies helps reduce wastage and thus provides another tool for action. Lastly, there are avenues to be explored for the improvement of the energy performance of short supply chains: delivery pooling, modal transfer, avoidance of empty return trips and so on.

  • The development of renewable energy production must be supported and channelled. Renewable energy, other than biomass can provide additional income, depending on farmers’ investment capacity and local potential. Moderate purchase prices should help avoid excessive speculation and the risk of unbridled development of installations on agricultural land. Where biofuels are concerned, public support should favour the most competitive and best environmentally performing sectors. Such targeting of support would help ensure that budget leeway can be found to increase R&D efforts and assist investment in second-generation technologies. Support of this kind should be made conditional on compliance with demanding sustainability criteria. The rising importance of ligno-cellulosic biofuels will also require sustainable management and the mobilisation of large quantities of biomass. Farm fuel taxation might also be revised in order to offer greater incentives for fuel economy.
  • Reduction of the energy consumption of buildings is a necessity for the high direct energy consuming sectors. Large-scale investment should, for instance, be provided for the modification and effective insulation of buildings, the installation of heat economisers or biomass boilers and for lighting optimisation. Financial support in the form of grants or loans could be provided on condition of complying with thermal standards for buildings. A wide-ranging scheme could be implemented along the same lines as the PMPOA (French programme for the control of pollution of agricultural origin). Lastly, priorities for agronomic research and the dissemination of innovation in agriculture were highlighted. Indeed, considerable uncertainty remains and more knowledge should be gained on indirect energy consumption (especially for animal feedstuffs), end-to-end energy balances in agricultural supply chains, the logistics of agricultural and food products and the energy content of those logistics. In particular, current work on the development of short marketing chains for agricultural products should not neglect this aspect. Generally speaking, comparisons of the energy balances of different agricultural holdings must be continued and improved to help understand discrepan-cies in levels of consumption and energy efficiency in different production systems.

Varietal improvement should focus on the development of high-yield protein crops and less nitrogen-dependant cereals and oilseeds. Alongside this, research into production systems should address low-energy systems (e.g., integrated production, grass-based systems) and alternatives to tillage. Support for organic farming should go hand in hand with research into increased yields and methods for reducing direct energy consumption.

Innovation transfer is the keystone of any successful strategy. Governance of R&D should be broadened, for example, by involving practitioners in the R&D organisations. Developing a network of experimental farms is also essential for the definition and transfer of innovative techniques and technical benchmarks. Lastly, several factors are holding back useful initiatives to sustainably improve the energy efficiency of agricultural holdings and supply chains: energy price volatility, low taxation on energy products in agriculture and lack of knowledge. Efforts to communicate, raise awareness and provide training must accompany any action.

Authors: Thuriane Mahé                     

Julien Vert                            

Fabienne Portet                    

Sponsors: Ministry of Agriculture, Food, Fisheries, Rural Affairs and Spatial Planning
Type: National foresight exercise
Organizer: Centre for Studies and Strategic Foresight (CEP)
Duration: Jun 09-Dec10 Budget: N/A Time Horizon: 2030 Date of Brief: July 2011


Download EFP Brief No 190_Agriculture and Energy_2030

Sources and References

Vert J., Portet F., (coord.), Prospective Agriculture Énergie 2030. L’agriculture face aux défis énergétiques, Centre d’Études et de Prospective, SSP, Ministère de l’Agriculture, de l’Alimentation, de la Pêche, de la Ruralité et de l’Aménagement du Territoire, 2010 (in French).

Prospective analysis Agriculture Energy 2030 (in English), see

For further information on this project, see,1440.

EFP Brief No. 181: Technologies for EU Minerals Supply

Thursday, May 26th, 2011

This exercise was part of an EU FP7 Blue Skies Project aimed at piloting, developing and testing in real situations a foresight methodology designed to bring together key stakeholders for the purpose of exploring longer term challenges and building a shared vision that could guide the development of the relevant European research agenda. This approach was applied to the theme of “Breakthrough technologies for the security of supply of critical minerals and metals in the EU economy”.

The Minerals Challenge

Minerals and metals are essential to almost every aspect of modern life and every economic sector. Aerospace, agriculture, culture, defence, energy, environmental protection, health, housing, transport and water supply are all highly dependent upon them. Plans for economic recovery and the development of new industries also depend on their availability – for example “green” energy production from solar cells and wind turbines, the green car of tomorrow and many more all require a range of rare minerals and metals for their production.

Although essential to our economies, development of this sector has been neglected in Western Europe during the past 25 years. This was mainly because of the very low price of these commodities – a consequence of abundant reserves discovered in the 1970s. As a result, the mining and metallurgical industry as well as related research and education almost disappeared from the present European Union, making our economies totally dependent upon imports.

Demand for these minerals and metals is likely to increase dramatically. Much of this new demand will come from rapidly growing, highly populated emerging countries, such as China, which have attracted large parts of the world industrial production due to cheap labour, regardless of raw minerals and energy issues. Already strong competition for access to natural resources, including mineral resources vital to any economy, is likely to accelerate further in the coming years with possible severe environmental and social impacts. The EU economy is more than any other exposed to these developments, as it produces very little of the minerals it consumes and almost none of the critical minerals it needs to develop its green technologies.

Against this background, the creation of a new research and innovation context in Europe has become essential, not only to reduce the EU’s dependence on imported minerals and metals but also to chart the road ahead, to develop a win-win cooperation with developing countries and to stimulate the competitiveness of EU technology, products and service providers to the global economy.

However, these solutions can take a long time to be implemented, and it is important to identify today’s priorities for knowledge generation and innovation so that action can begin. This in turn creates a need for a foresight approach that brings together the knowledge and interests of the main stakeholders. It is in this context that the FarHorizon project invited leading experts in the area from government agencies, industry and academia to take part in a success scenario workshop. The aims of the exercise were

  • to identify the key challenges for raw materials supply in Europe;
  • to identify breakthrough technologies or other innovations that could transform the picture, including substitution, new sources, ways to change demand and new applications; and
  • to define in broad terms the research and innovation strategies needed to develop and make use of such technologies.

Success Scenario Approach

The “Success Scenario Approach” is an action-based approach where senior stakeholders develop a shared vision of what success in the area would look like, together with appropriate goals and indicators, which provide the starting point for developing a roadmap to get there. The purpose of having such a vision of success is to set a ‘stretch target’ for all the stakeholders. The discussion and debate forming an integral part of the process leads to developing a mutual understanding and a common platform of knowledge that helps to align the actors for action.

Important outcomes of these workshops are the insights they provide in terms of the level of maturity in policy design and development and the viability and robustness of long-term policy scenarios to guide policy-making. The workshops also provide indications on whether there is a need for further discussion to refine thinking and policy design and/or to bring additional stakeholders into the discussion.

The theme was developed in partnership with the French geosciences institution BRGM. The workshop brought together twenty representatives of scientific organisations, industry and government agencies to identify the role of technology in addressing the socioeconomic and political challenges facing Europe in this sector. Briefs on key issues were prepared before the workshop, and participants took part in an exercise to identify key drivers using the STEEPV framework (social, technological, environmental, economic, political and values). Common themes were increasing demand and growing sustainability requirements. Geopolitical themes were also touched upon.

The basic structure was to identify the key challenges facing the sector and then to explore the potential role of breakthrough technologies in addressing those challenges. A third main session examined the key elements needed for a sectoral strategy for innovation.

The figure below gives an outline of the methodology:

Challenges in Three Dimensions

Informed by the drivers, participants were tasked to identify the key challenges for raw materials supply in Europe and to prioritise these. If these challenges can be met, we can expect to achieve a situation as defined by the successful vision for the sector in 2030 and realise its benefits to Europe. Three dimensions of the challenge were addressed:

Geology and Minerals Intelligence

  1. Access to data on mining, production and geology
  2. Knowledge of deeper resources
  3. Better knowledge due to improved models of how deposits are produced
  4. Better exploration
  5. Systematic data sharing
  6. Exploitation of ‘exhausted’ mines

Mining, Ore Processing and Metallurgy

  1. Exploiting deeper deposits
  2. Accessing seabed deposits
  3. Better health and safety; prediction of seismic events and natural or man-made hazards
  4. Using less water and energy
  5. Reducing CO2 footprint
  6. By-product handling
  7. Social and business organisation

Sustainable Use, Efficiency, Recycling and Re-use

  1. Downstream resource efficiency
  2. Better citizens’ understanding/attitude
  3. Building capabilities and providing training
  4. Transforming waste into mines/urban mining
  5. More systemic view of different critical minerals
  6. Better use of other resources, e.g. water and energy
  7. Global governance of new extractive activities

Against these challenges, breakthroughs were sought in four areas: new applications, substitution, new sources of materials and rare metals, and changes in demand.

Four Key Actions toward a Comprehensive Policy for Securing Raw Materials Supply

Policy recommendations geared toward securing the supply of raw materials in Europe were summarised in terms of four necessary key actions:

Key Action 1: Establish an integrated strategy for raw materials supply and support it by providing continuous funding.

Research in the area of raw materials supply needs to be clearly linked to creating the right conditions for successful innovation. There is some concern that the European Commission has no competence in minerals as such but rather in matters of environmental protection, trade or economic competitiveness. This limits the development of a holistic, complementary approach needed to tackle the various issues related to securing Europe’s mineral resources supply within the sustainable development context. The sector needs a more horizontal approach – otherwise we may do research, but there is no innovation behind it. An innovation-friendly market can be created by developing stringent environmental and recycling regulations. Europe is at the forefront of a number of technologies in these areas. Regulators need to understand that part of their job is to stimulate innovation if not for today at least for tomorrow. Engaging them in foresight, along with technologists and users, is important for developing this horizon. There is a 7-8 year challenge to develop a new lead market.

Key Action 2: Move from stop and go to a lasting approach with three central aspects for a research, technology and innovation programme.

Support up to now has been project-based and provided only to a limited extent on a stop and go basis while continuous policies and knowledge development would be necessary.

2.1 There are three broad research priorities:

  • Research dealing with mineral resources intelligence. This is research of a totally different kind, i.e. mainly interdisciplinary. It is needed to keep up with a dynamic situation where even what minerals and metals are critical changes over time.
  • Research leading to new or better technologies with a focus upon whatever is needed by industry. The large scale South Korean national initiatives provide a good example of speed, scale and pragmatism and also represent the competition that Europe has to face. The US investment on rare earths in the Ames laboratory is another example.
  • Research on mitigation and understanding of environmental impacts.

2.2 Adopt a holistic approach to the innovation cycle. Support for research should be long-term and structured so that most publicly funded research is open and shared internationally. The full range of mechanisms is needed: basic R&D, integrated projects or their equivalent and joint technology initiatives. However, 80% of the effort should be in large applied projects and the rest focused on longer term work. Partnership with the US, Japan and possibly South Korea could be meaningful in a number of areas.

2.3 Adopt a joint programming approach. Currently there is little or no coordination between European-level and national research. Some governments are in a position to take the initiative in this area – notably Germany, the United Kingdom, France, Finland and Poland.

Key Action 3: Increase the flow of trained people.

A supply of trained people is a significant constraint. The lack of investment in research and teaching in this area over the past 20 years has depleted the availability of expertise to undertake the necessary research and teaching. Training initiatives are needed and within the European framework a pool of excellence should be developed – a platform that coordinates the supply and demand for education and training in the area with some elements being in competition and some complementary. There is also a need to attract interest from researchers outside the area; many of those doing research in this field have a background in the minerals sector, but breakthroughs may be more likely to come from people currently working in other fields.

Key Action 4: Governance issues are critical.

Securing raw materials is a task that goes beyond the competence and capability of the individual member states and is inherently European. Even current European initiatives in other fields are dependent on action in this sector – rare metals are behind all the EU’s proposed Innovation Partnerships. Collaboration beyond Europe is also necessary, but a collective voice for Europe is more likely to be heard in the international arena. There are also opportunities to exert a positive influence to halt environmentally damaging or politically dangerous approaches in other parts of the world, notably in Africa and parts of the CIS. The momentum from the current EU Raw Materials Initiative, aiming to foster and secure supplies and to promote resource efficiency and recycling, needs to be carried forward into the EU’s Eighth Framework Programme, its innovation policies and also its wider policies including those concerning interaction with the African, Caribbean and Pacific States.

Authors: Luke Georghiou, Jacques Varet, Philippe Larédo
Sponsors: EU Commission
Type: EU-level single issue foresight exercise
Organizer: FP7 FarHorizon Project Coordinator: MIOIR, Luke Georghiou
Duration: Sept 08-Feb11 Budget: N/A Time Horizon: 2030 Date of Brief: Apr 2011


Download EFP Brief No. 181_Technologies for EU Minerals Supply

Sources and References

Georghiou, L., Varet, J. and Larédo P. (2011), Breakthrough technologies: For the security of supply of critical minerals and metals in the EU, March 2011,

European Commission (2010), “Critical Raw Materials for the EU”, Report of the RMSG Ad Hoc Working Group on defining critical raw materials, June 2010

European Commission (2011), Tackling the Challenges in Commodity Markets and on Raw Materials, Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions, Brussels, 02/02/2011 COM(2011) 0025 final

EFP Brief No. 170: France 2025

Tuesday, May 24th, 2011

The national foresight study “France 2025”, completed in March 2009, aimed at identifying economic, social, technological and environmental trends up to 2025 – on global scale as well as at the national level. At the same time, the exercise sought to outline different future development scenarios for the country against the background of these trends. Based on those scenarios, policy options and strategies were worked out geared toward strengthening French competitiveness while ensuring social cohesion in the country.

Foresight Attains Importance as Policy Instrument

France’s long tradition of using foresight in support of policy-making – both at national and at regional level – goes back to the late 1960s when, most notably, the General Planning Commission as well as the former National Land Planning Commission DATAR employed foresight methods. From the mid-80s till the mid-90s, however, the strategic importance of foresight as a policy instrument had diminished. This changed slightly in 1994 when two national technology-focused foresight exercises were launched at the same time: a Delphi study on future technologies on behalf of the Ministry of Research, on the one hand, and the “Key Technologies 2000” exercise of the Ministry of Industry, on the other. This last foresight initiative, which focused on the technological needs of the French industry and aimed at identifying technologies with the potential for strengthening the competitiveness of the French industry, was repeated in 2000 (“Key Technologies 2005”) and 2005 (“Key Technologies 2010”). Nevertheless, after formal multi-year indicative planning had been halted in 1993, there was no comprehensive national foresight initiative in France – in contrast to other European countries like Denmark or UK.

Against this, foresight as an instrument in support of policy-making has been reinvigorated and given greater visibility in France over the last few years – which is reflected in the creation of the Centre for Strategic Analysis in 2006 whose future-oriented activities and analyses shall assist the government in defining and implementing its economic, social, environmental and cultural policies, as well as in the nomination of a Secretary of State in the Prime Minister’s Office in 2007 in charge of strategic studies, public policy evaluation and the development of the digital economy. Indeed, while launching the national foresight exercise “France 2025”, the Prime Minister and the Secretary of State for Strategic Studies intended to continue the French tradition of using foresight methods and studies to provide a well-informed basis for supporting the development of a middle and long-term policy strategy for France.

Towards Competitiveness and Social Cohesion

The present national foresight study “France 2025” aimed at identifying economic, social, technological and environmental trends up to 2025 (on global scale as well as at the national level), on the one hand, and, against the background of these trends, sought to outline different future development scenarios for the country and work out policy options and strategies for strengthening French competitiveness while ensuring social cohesion, on the other.

The starting point of the foresight exercise was a “preliminary assessment [study] of the state of France in 2008”[1] carried out between fall 2007 and April 2008. It provided an overview of the most determining current and past trends within the international context and offered elements of international benchmarking to underscore France’s relative position.

The actual foresight study was conducted as a participative process mobilising more than 350 stakeholders from all sectors and backgrounds – industry, academia, civil society and policy-makers. Eight independent expert panels – coordinated and supported by the Centre for Strategic Analysis – reflected on areas that have been deemed crucial to France’s future:

  • Europe – globalisation
  • Scarce resources and the environment
  • Technology and daily life
  • Production and employment
  • Research and innovation
  • Risks and security
  • Living together
  • The state, public action and public services

Though geostrategic developments and aspects related to defence and national security were not in the primary focus of the study, they were still considered since they provide the overall framework in which trends and developments in the areas just named had to be embedded.

For each thematic panel, major trends and trend breaks were identified, different scenarios were derived – depending on the issues considered either for France, Europe or third countries and regions – taking into account major, overarching trends, such as globalisation, ageing or climate change. Policy options were drafted accordingly. For the duration of the foresight process, an Internet website was created allowing the broad public – through Web2.0 technologies (blogs, wikis, video streaming) – to discuss issues facing government and contribute to the work of the expert panels by offering suggestions and comments.

Europe – Globalisation

Globalisation (of trade, financial markets and the workforce) and regionalisation are expected to be major factors shaping the world by 2025 – leading to a multi-polar world no longer dominated by the triad USA-EU-Japan. The study predicts that, due to the BRIC countries consolidating their position as global powers as well as new regional powers emerging, like Mexico, Turkey, Vietnam or Indonesia, the centre of gravity of world economic growth and production will shift to emerging countries, particularly to Asia. This may go along with a reorganisation of international relations and regulations and the EU might take a lead by example on designing new mechanisms for global governance.

Due to trade liberalization, economic catch-up in emerging countries and the increasing fragmentation of the production chain, international trade may double by 2025. This and the rise of the global middle class (up to 30% of world population) may create new markets for European businesses. However, given the technological catch-up in emerging countries combined with the persistent wage gap compared to developed countries, the study recommends European industry to focus on high value-added and knowledge-intensive products and services to remain globally competitive. Besides, French industrial competitiveness may profit from a strengthened single market and a common European industrial policy.

Some of the main challenges to be faced in 2025 are the rising global demand for raw materials, energy and food, increasing income inequality in emerging countries (despite a substantial reduction of global poverty) but also between globalisation winners and losers within OECD countries, climate change as well as increasing pollution and waste disposal problems in developing countries. In this regard, eco-technologies may create new market opportunities, particularly for French companies.

Scarce Resources and the Environment

Mitigating the negative impacts of climate change is deemed as the most important environmental challenge – calling for strengthened global regulation to reduce greenhouse emissions (post-Kyoto protocol) and greater harmonization of energy policies at European level.

As for France, the study proposes a four-pillared strategy:

  • Promoting the efficient use of energy especially in the following sectors:
    • transport – development of low-emission transport technologies and sustainable traffic concepts,
    • industry – e.g. substitution of fossil fuels by electricity,
    • building – energy-saving refurbishment and low-energy building design.
  • Developing electricity from renewable energy sources (most notably wind power and biomass energy).
  • Further supporting the production of electricity from nuclear energy (development of fourth generation reactors).
  • Strengthening R&D efforts and competencies in the field of energy technologies.

Technology and Daily Life

By 2025, technologies might be available that provide an answer to important environmental, demographic, economic, social, health and security challenges.

Whereas the convergence between bio, nano, info, micro and cogno technologies may blur the boundaries between natural and artificial, living and non-living, the diffusion of information and communication technology (ICT), knowledge systems, even robotics and the emergence of the “Internet of things” (even possibly the “Internet of persons”) may generate new applications related to all aspects of everyday life. Possible applications are manifold – ranging from cognitive prosthesis, telemedicine and biosensors to home automation and virtual reality applications for work, education and leisure.

Furthermore, new transportation modes and technologies (e.g. hybrid and electric cars) as well as energy efficient building technologies will help meeting future mobility and sustainability requirements. Breakthroughs in genomics and molecular biology may lead to new and personalized treatments (e.g. of degenerative diseases), diagnosis methods and health promoting measures (e.g. determination of the population’s genetic nutritional profile).

Besides their expected benefits, these applications may raise several ethical concerns, for instance, related to data privacy, the risk of misuse of genetic information or the impact of technology on the psyche and on social relations.

With regard to public action, the study recommends promoting the domestic development and the diffusion of technologies (e.g. through investments in infrastructure and increased use of new technologies in public services) and strengthening as well as better coordinating public R&D efforts (at national and EU level) – focusing on traditional domains of excellence such as energy, transport, urbanism and dual technologies as well as on new and promising domains like biometric systems or robotics.

Production and Employment

Strengthening productivity in the French economy and reforming the labour market are deemed as essential for France to be able to catch up with leading countries (in particular the US) in terms of wealth per inhabitant by 2025.

Productivity gains are expected to be driven by the diffusion of knowledge and technology. High-tech industry sectors (e.g. nano/biotechnologies, pharmaceutical industry) are assumed to account for a rising share of the value-added of the manufacturing sector. The diffusion of ICT may further blur the boundaries between manufacturing and services, supporting the development of high value-added product/service solutions better responding to new consumer needs – in business-to-business as well as business-to-consumer markets. ICT – and depending on scientific break­throughs also robots – may increasingly be used in all service sectors – particularly in the health and education sectors – enabling new forms of service provision (remote services).

Besides achieving productivity gains, focusing on high value-added products and services – and therefore strengthening R&D investments – is highlighted as a sine qua non to ensuring the competitiveness of the French economy.

In order for enterprises to be able to adapt to ever changing market conditions and user expectations (consumers attaching growing importance to health and wellness issues as well as sustainable development), they should become learning organisations – new and flexible (participative) management and organisation models should be designed. The study furthermore underlines the need to increase the share of working population as well as qualification levels amongst the working population (requiring, for instance, to reform the formal education system to improve equity in education). Moreover, balancing intellectual property rights and competition law and facing rising energy prices are some of the further challenges to face by 2025.

Research and Innovation

The globalisation and internationalization of R&D and innovation activities – furthered by (international) clusters and networks – is expected to increase. At the same time, the emergence of new players like China and India will modify the balance of power in the area of R&D – possibly leading to technological breakthroughs in emerging countries. Hence, in order for France to remain an important player on the global R&D scene, the experts highlight the need to define national R&D strategies, enhance the performance and visibility of French universities, promote public-private partnerships for R&D as well as industrial innovation and increase the level of public awareness of science and technology. Increasing public support for R&D and overcoming structural barriers within the French innovation and research system are deemed a necessity.

Four science domains were identified as the most promising in terms of innovation opportunities: environmental and energy sciences, nanotechnologies and material sciences, life sciences and biotechnologies as well as ICT.

Risks and Protection

According to the study, the French social protection system will have to be rethought and adjusted to the different and more diverse social risks that society will have to confront in 2025 – the most important ones being:

  • environmental risks and their potential impact on health,
  • the increasing occurrence of chronic diseases and age-associated loss of autonomy due to population ageing,
  • potential large-scale health incidents (such as obesity or health crisis),
  • financing retirement systems and facing the risk of poverty in old age,
  • facing socio-economic risks related to employment (long-term unemployment, atypical work, working poor, etc.), and
  • facing social inequalities, e.g. regarding access to the labour market.

Increased public knowledge and awareness about risks as well as willingness to get involved in risk governance are expected to modify and increase public expectations regarding social protection systems. Public demands may be more and more about anticipating and preventing risks (e.g. new risks emer­ging from globalisation and structural changes in economy and the labour market) as well as applying the precautionary and responsibility principle (e.g. when dealing with environ­mental or health risks).

Increased risks, as well as public expectations are expected to jeopardize the sustainability of the French social protection system – making it necessary to debate, both at public and policy level, on the fundamental principles of social protection and on the state’s role in social protection systems.

Living Together

According to the study, France will have to face three main societal challenges: (1) preventing and overcoming social inequalities (e. g. in terms of access to education, employment and welfare) and intergenerational conflicts as well as promoting upward social mobility, (2) promoting personal autonomy, individual empowerment and self-determination, and (3) promoting confidence in social and political systems and facing new public demands related to environmental issues, well-being and social cohesion.

The future development of the French social model is expected to strongly depend on developments at European level, in particular, on the capacity of the EU to design efficient mechanisms for political and economic governance at European level so as to promote Europe-wide social cohesion and sustainable economic growth based on knowledge and research. Three scenarios were developed to highlight possible developments for France – ranging from growing territorial and social divides (urban gentrification vs. urban ghetto; dynamic, autonomous and competitive regions that are well-embedded in international markets versus less attractive regions) to better social and territorial cohesion thanks, for instance, to efficient spatial and urban development policies.

State, Public Action and Public Services

The panel formulated some propositions that aim at making decision-making and public action faster, more efficient and more transparent to the citizens as well as at increasing the efficiency of public services by 2025, for instance, by

  • restructuring governance at the sub-national level (grouping several municipalities into larger decision-making entities) and strengthening the role of regions,
  • furthering the transfer of competencies to the EU so as to increase harmonisation of regulation and policies, for instance, related to business taxation,
  • reforming the public health system (generalisation of ICT in healthcare and shift of paradigm towards prevention of illness and health emergency crisis as well as increased competition so as to reduce healthcare costs),
  • designing evaluation mechanisms for the education system,
  • reforming the legal system (e.g. evidence acquisition from new technologies, creation of European jurisdiction for cybercrime).

Policy Impact

The broad thematic national foresight exercise “France 2025”, the first of its kind since the mid 1990s, continued the French tradition of using foresight methods and studies to provide a well-informed basis for supporting the development of a middle and long-term policy strategy for France.

Against the backgrounds of global and European trends, policy options were worked out with the potential for contributing to strengthening French competitiveness while ensuring social cohesion in the country.

To some extent, the results of “France 2025” flowed into the elaboration of the French “National Strategy for Research and Innovation” that was published in July 2009 (

[1] “France 2025 – État des lieux 2008” (2008)

Authors: Sylvie Rijkers-Defrasne, Future Technologies Division at VDI TZ

Axel Zweck, Future Technologies Division at VDI TZ          

            Sponsors: Government
Type: National foresight exercise
Organizer: Centre d’analyse stratégique (Centre for Strategic Analysis)
Duration: 2008-2009 Budget: N/A Time Horizon: 2025 Date of Brief: March 2010


Download EFP Brief No. 170_France 2025

Sources and References

The preliminary assessment study of the state of France in 2008 and the final reports of the French foresight process “France 2025” are available at (retrieved on Dec. 8, 2009):

“Le diagnostic stratégique – France 2025”, Centre d’Analyse Stratégique, Note de veille No. 97 (04/2008), available at (retrieved on Dec. 9, 2009):

Holtmannspötter, D., Rijkers-Defrasne, S., Ploetz, C., Thaller-Honold, S., Zweck, A. (forthcoming 2010). Technologieprognosen im internationalen Vergleich 2010. Ed. by VDI Technologiezentrum GmbH.

EFP Brief No. 168: Forward-looking Activities in Support of ERA Vision 2020

Tuesday, May 24th, 2011

As a part of the Ljubljana Process of governance of ERA, which was launched by the EU Commission and Council in May 2008, a common 2020 vision for the European Research Area was adopted on 2 December 2008. This vision stipulates that: “[…] by 2020, all actors should fully benefit from the free circulation of researchers, knowledge and technology.”1 Forward looking activities are indis-pensable for promoting the policy process of the ERA vision 2020 in order to speak with one voice, to jointly promote consistency between their R&D cooperation activities, and to develop joint initiatives that give Europe leadership in addressing global challenges and reaching sustainable development goals.

ERA Vision 2020

The 2020 Vision for the European Research Area (ERA) was developed in partnership by all member states and the European Commission and in consultation with associated countries. When adopting the 2020 Vision, the Council of the European Union invited member states and the European Commission to communicate it widely to stakeholders and society at large and to quickly focus policies and actions to make it a reality.

1               European Research Area Vision 2020 –


By 2020, all players are supposed to fully benefit from the Fifth Freedom3 across the ERA, which refers to the free circulation of researchers, knowledge and technology. The ERA is intended to provide attractive conditions and effective and efficient governance for carrying out research and investing in R&D intensive sectors in Europe. It seeks to create significant added value by fostering scientific competition throughout Europe whilst ensuring the appropriate level of cooperation and coordination. It is envisaged to be responsive to the needs and ambitions of citizens and to effectively contribute to the sustainable development and competitiveness of Europe.

3 The Fifth Freedom is derived from European Union law where the Four Freedoms is a common term for a set of treaty provisions, secondary legislation and court decisions, protecting the ability of goods, capital, services, people and labour to move freely within the internal market of the European Union. More precisely, they are the free movement of goods, the free movement of capital, the free movement of services and the free movement of persons.

The ERA Vision 2020 is predicated on the insight that good European governance must be based upon strategic forward thinking. This involves defining major societal challenges, underpinning the selection of themes in joint programming and helping to prioritise and focus research, thus laying the groundwork for future-oriented strategic thinking. The ex-ante analysis of societal trends in the world and the European Union on the basis of scenarios and identifying potential breakthroughs (“wild cards”) are all elements that allow decision-makers to highlight their choices under a new perspective.

Forward-looking Activities to Promote ERA

The European Commission, following up on its commitment to help member states better coordinate their research efforts, organised a conference session on forward-looking activities in October 2009 that underpinned the ERA vision 2020.4

Experts, representatives of the public sector and directors of DG Research attempted to identify the needs in this field. The participants discussed how a continuous process of forward-looking and horizon scanning activities for ERA could be organised in the future, how to ensure that this approach would lead to a better support and further integration of national research policies in ERA, and what could be the drivers to determine potential “grand challenges” and joint programming priorities.

Three-dimensional Strategy

During the session, Anneli Pauili, the deputy Director-General of DG Research, reflected on the main principle guiding forward-looking activities promoted by the EC, which is to combine three dimensions in these activities: ensuring that the abundance of information provided by experts is taken into consideration, involvement of stakeholders (researchers, companies, NGOs and public organisations), and involvement of relevant politicians to increase the likelihood of results being considered in policy-making.

Added Value through Joint Programming

At European level, there exist various networks, tools and systems to follow up on forward-looking activities. Consensus is growing that European research policy needs to be based on more systematic, continuous, forward-looking and pan-European activities. It is particularly important that member states and associated countries combine their research efforts through “joint programming”, which must not be content with simply finding the lowest common denominator but should rather strive to merge different perspectives and multiple visions of the future. Here is the clear link with the Lund declaration5 that stipulates, “The identification of major challenges must involve the relevant stakeholders, including European institutions, business, public sector, NGOs and the scientific community, and foresee the interaction with international partners.”6

4     /programme/programme_22-10_en.htm

5 The Lund Declaration (SE), adopted on 9 July 2009 at the “New Worlds – New Solutions” conference, stipulates that the EU must identify the major challenges for which public and private research need to develop sustainable solutions.

Forward-looking Activities Support Innovation Policies

In recent years, forward-looking activities have been used intensively to support impact assessment for climate action policies, and there have been unprecedented levels of employing such activities in day-to-day policy-making in many countries and in the EC. Within research and innovation policies, forward-looking activities have a corrective role (addressing deficiencies and systemic failures and policy lock-ins), a disruptive role (encouraging an emphasis on crisis or breakthrough events that can completely change the current status quo), a creative role (stimulating the conditions whereby new networks and structures can evolve and grow) and a more embedded role as an instrument of articulating, structuring and delivering research and innovation policy.

6 Interview with Anneli Pauili, the deputy Director-General of DG Research, Special Issue – Research EU – November 2009,

Barriers to Networking

The major barriers to networking in the related fields and thus to the integration of national approaches of forward-looking activities are the uncertainty surrounding sufficient funding, the unnecessary rivalry among modelling teams for access to funds and the frequent lack of sufficient size, variety and multi-disciplinarity of modelling teams.

New Wave of Interest in Foresight

The context of crisis and challenges has led to a new wave of interest in foresight, as alternative solutions and promising ways of moving forward are sought. Foresight has now become a pervasive activity at the institutional level to inform programme planning and to support structural change. Its role in EU Framework Programmes (FP) and ERA needs to be grounded in a greater involvement of stakeholders and users to encourage them to take ownership of the exercises. On the supply side, there is a need to maintain and extend the foresight community through support for research and community building activities and to help carry the results beyond their initial audience.

Common Understanding of the Potential of Forward-looking Activities

The ERA Conference 2009 resulted in a common understanding that forward-looking activities can be used in defining the future research activities, the annual work programmes, joint programming and international cooperation. In order to further shape the ERA vision 2020, forward-looking activities will have to

  • help reinforce the governance culture by integrating the long-term perspective and giving more space to cross-cutting issues,
  • help improve the quality and impact of European, national and regional research policies by comparing findings and methods and, consequently, by contributing to improved policy design and implementation at the European, national and regional level,
  • support model development, human capital of modellers and long-lasting capacity and network of models, modellers and databases on a transnational basis.

To be successful, forward-looking activities need the commitment and involvement of the initiator.

Improving Foresight in Research and Policy

Better Networking and Sharing of Resources

For the future of the European Research Area (institutional, organisational, methodological, etc.), networking and sharing of resources (data, mathematical methods, policy advice experience and skills) are very important, provided that the network has some degree of variety and stability over time.

Better coherence – which does not mean harmonisation or standardisation – among forward-looking exercises at various levels, better access to each other’s knowledge, sharing and networking would support future decision-making. European forward-looking activities should not be limited to the aggregation of national forward-looking activities but should be set up as a truly European project, preferably putting together interoperable visions that can be exploited by decision-makers.

Interoperable Visions: European Technology Platforms

The forward looking approaches of some European Technology Platforms are good examples for such interoperable visions. The European Technology Platforms provide a framework for stakeholders, led by industry, to define research and development priorities, timeframes and action plans on a number of strategically important issues where achieving Europe’s future growth, competitiveness and sustainability objectives is dependent upon major research and technological advances in the medium to long-term. They play a key role in ensuring an adequate focus of research funding on areas with a high degree of industrial relevance, by covering the whole economic value chain and by mobilising public authorities at national and regional levels. As such, they are proving to be powerful actors in the development of European research policy, in particular in orienting the FP7 programs (including the “Cooperation Programme”) to better meet the needs of industry.

The following are some examples of technology platforms with a forward-looking approach for 2030 and beyond:

  • European Biofuels TP (EBTP)
  • European Construction TP (ECTP),
  • European Steel TP (ESTEP)
  • Forest-based sector TP (FTP)
  • European Photovoltaic TP
  • European TP on Sustainable Mineral Resources (ETP SMR)
  • Sustainable Nuclear Energy TP (SNE-TP)
  • European Wind Energy TP (TPWind)
  • Water Supply and Sanitation European TP (WSSTP)

Maintain Continuous Process

A continuous process of integrated forward-looking activities should be organized (joint programming), comprising cooperation between policy-making EU Directorate-Generals and ERA in order to make sure that forward-looking analytical capacity is established, well networked and disposes funding to ensure high quality and state-of-the-art methods. It is important thereby to ensure continuity and stability to modelling teams.

Optimise Integration of Foresight
in Governance Processes

A lot of work has been done at the European level in the “research” component of forward-looking activities but a lot has still to be done in the “policy” component of those activities; that is, “foresight” done by researchers and experts should be better integrated into the policy-oriented foresight process where policy-makers and stakeholders (including citizens) should participate.

Forward-looking methods have to be combined and integrated as much as possible in the “policy cycle”, taking stock of appropriate structures for defining research agendas, such as the European Technology Platforms and Social Platforms. Policy-makers, stakeholders (ministries, universities, industries, research centres and civil society organizations) should participate and work together. Both bottom-up (researchers, experts) and top-down (policy-makers) involvements are needed. Endogenous technology dynamics including their complex interactions with society, economy and energy have to be applied.

Authors: Anette Braun       

Axel Zweck                     

  Sponsors: Pierre Valette, European Commission – DG Research – Directorate L – Science, Economy and Society Unit L2 – Research in the Economic, Social Sciences and Humanities – Prospective
Type: European/international
Organizer: European Commission – DG Research – European Research Area
Duration: 2008 Budget: N/A Time Horizon: 2020 Date of Brief: Dec. 2009


Download EFP Brief No. 168_ERA Vision 2020

Sources and References

European Research Area Vision 2020:,

ERA 2009 Conference:

Interview with Anneli Pauili, the deputy Director-General of DG Research, Special Issue – Research EU – 11/ 2009,

Tiit Jurimae, The experience of European Technology Platforms (ETPs) as a vision-building process, 2009,

EFP Brief No. 167: The World in 2025

Tuesday, May 24th, 2011

DG Research’s Directorate for Science, Economy and Society in collaboration with the Bureau of European Policy Advisers launched a foresight exercise on “The World in 2025”, which resulted in a report published in January 2009.

The World to Come – Global Trends & Disruptions

The report “The World in 2025” highlights the main trends up to 2025 (demography, urbanisation, macro-economic projections, education, science and culture) and underlines the pressures on natural resources and the new production-consumption patterns while attempting to identify the so-called “wild cards”. The role for European foresight and forward-looking activities are presented focussing on a multi-polar world and beyond technological innovation. The report has benefited from the discussions of the group of experts set up by the European Commission in 2008 (see box below).

It has taken stock of the most recent publications in the field of foresight and forward-looking activities and includes most of the reflections of different Commission Directorates-General.

Group of Experts & Scenario Process

DG Research’s Directorate for Science, Economy and Society in collaboration with the Bureau of European Policy Advisers (BEPA) launched a foresight expert group on “The World in 2025”, which met on five occasions in 2008 and 2009.

The objectives of this group were, first, to assess and measure global trends over recent decades to serve as a basis for forward projections while distinguishing the different major economies and regions, including the European Union, and identifying the main economic, geopolitical, environmental and societal relationships and interconnections.

Secondly, the group was asked to generate and analyse alternative (even disruptive) scenarios of world trends up to 2025 based on specified assumptions about economic, political, social, environmental and technological developments in order to assess their consequences for the EU and to examine which policy responses could be appropriate.

“The World in 2025” group was composed of experts with a profound understanding of global challenges and developments as well as a solid knowledge of foresight in specific countries or regions. Group members included representatives from think tanks, universities, industry, the European Commission and governmental bodies. Meeting five times in 2008 and 2009, the group produced two publications: one collects the experts’ individual contributions and the other called ‘The World in 2025 – Rising Asia and Socio-ecological Transition’ highlights the conclusions.

The experts identified principal trends, tensions and transitions while highlighting strategies that may help policy stakeholders make informed decisions. They also say that competition for natural resources and shifts in wealth, industrial production and populations may lead to tensions over natural resources (food, energy, water and minerals), migration and urbanisation.

Each expert produced an individual contribution to the discussions and, collectively, they generated a set of indicative scenarios for the world in 2025. The experts covered a wide range of issues, including demography, migration, urbanisation, cohesion, macro-economics and trade, employment, services, environment and climate change, energy, access to resources, education, research, technology, innovation, economic governance, defence, security and intercultural dialogue.

The key messages concern the main challenges to be faced in the next fifteen years, the main drivers that could impact on the future, the main strengths and weaknesses of Europe by 2025 and finally the wild cards that may radically change the different situations that are foreseen.

Europe to Face Marginalization

The report “The World in 2025” underlines the major future trends: geopolitical transformations in terms of population, economic development, international trade and poverty. It elucidates the tensions – natural resources (food, energy, water and minerals), migration and urbanisation – and draws transitional pathways towards a new production and consumption model, new rural-urban dynamics and a new gender and intergenerational balance.

Shift towards Asia

By the year 2025, the centres of gravity, wealth and industrial production may shift towards Asia, and the United States and Europe could likewise lose their scientific and technological edge over Asia. India and China could account for approximately 20% of the world’s research and development (R&D), that is more than double their current share.

Within 16 years, the world population will reach eight billion, the experts in the report say. Some 97% of world population growth will occur in developing countries. The analysis of demographic growth for 2025 indicates that the European population will only constitute 6.5% of the world population.

Scarcity of Natural Resources

Increased population, according to the expert group, may lead to greater scarcity of natural resources and impact the environment. This can result in tension and shifts in production and consumption patterns and the availability of natural resources.

From these demographic and resource challenges, the report sees a new ‘socio-ecological’ production and consumption model arising. New technologies (renewable energy sources, capture and storage of CO2, nuclear power, hydrogen and fuel cells) as well as changes in social behaviour, supported by economic incentives, will contribute to a reduction in energy consumption (better house insulation, replacement of environmentally damaging cars with greener options, and increased use of public transport).

The report says that while numerous scientific and technological advances will give rise to controversies in society, Europe, with its wealth of various debate and participative governance experiences, is well equipped to manage them and involve civil society in research. Global access to knowledge, though, together with the development of joint global standards and the rapid worldwide diffusion of new technologies will have a great impact on Europe’s future welfare.

It is assumed that by 2025 Europe will be specialized in exporting high-tech products. Although the specific products are currently still unknown, they can be expected to benefit from the rapid growth in Asia whose growth will probably be accompanied by an increasing inequality in the purchasing power of the population. “The increase of the population is already a good indication of the future opportunities of the market, of the consumer aspirations that have not been covered, better than the Gross Domestic Product (GDP).”

Potential Conflicts, Threats and Wild Cards

The report also points to the possibility of future social conflicts emerging in Europe around scientific and technological advancements in areas like cognitive sciences, nanotechnology, security technologies, genetic manipulation, synthetic biology and others.

Among the unforeseeable turbulences that could shape the next two decades, the report identifies seven “wild cards”:

  1. Persistence of the financial and economic crisis beyond 2010.
  2. A major war (for the years 2010-2020 of strong turbulence).
  3. A technological disaster that could influence the choices of priorities of governments (e.g. a nuclear accident like Chernobyl blocking the nuclear option for many years).
  4. Pandemics with devastating effects.
  5. The collapse of a major urban area in a developing country.
  6. The blocking of the European Union as a result of the difficulties of establishing new economic governance and political decision mechanisms;
  7. A breakthrough in the field of renewable energy production;
  8. A new wave of technological innovations and a new rapid growth cycle driven by emerging countries;
  9. Sudden or even brutal acceleration of the (nonlinear) impacts of climate change;
  10. Progress in the adoption of a world governance system due to the extent of the problems to be dealt with and to the pressure of public opinion.

What Experts Recommend to EU Policy Makers

Key RTD Areas

The EU should struggle for maintaining its leadership in key RTD areas, such as technologies of energy saving, research into sustainable development and climate change, health and the containment of diseases, food safety and security in general.

Europe Must Not Fall Behind in R&D

Experts suggest that Europe become a model based on emphasizing quality of life, which might involve maintaining global access to knowledge and guaranteeing or contributing to establishing international standards in science and technology. “To ensure access to knowledge through the global networks also means to be attractive for the researchers and the investment that comes from the outside”, the report points out.

From ‘Brain-drain’ to ‘Brain-circulation’

There will be a switch from ‘brain drain’ to ‘brain circulation’, and young researchers will be moving to various regions of the world, which will become educational and scientific centres. It is estimated that in 2025 there will be 645,000 Chinese students and 300,000 Indian students outside their countries. In turn, the number of European students that transfer to these two countries can also be expected to grow.

Effective Governance

Europe needs good policy in order to retain its traditionally strong position in developing cutting-edge innovation that goes beyond incremental improvements of existing technology. It will be essential that some key governance issues are solved. For instance:

  1. Set a new 3% target. One in which the EU member states commit themselves to spending 1% of GDP from public funds for research and 2% for higher education by 2020. Its implementation will be under the full control of the national governments.
  2. Consider the “Grand Challenges” – a term denoting major social problems that cannot be solved in a reasonable time, under acceptable social conditions, without a strong coordinated input requiring both technological and non-technological innovation and, at times, advances in scientific understanding. In a way, the central issue is the other side of the coin of the previous one. Can resources, not just in terms of research but also procurement and other investments, be shifted across European stakeholders to more productive “societal uses” to influence not only the pace but also the direction of technical change and innovation?
  3. Create a strong coordination between research and innovation policies in order to orient innovative activities towards the needs of society. A stage gate approach is suggested, including adequate provision for innovative procurement and pre-commercial procurement practices.
  4. Discuss European versus national research policy approaches. The global financial crisis represents a window of opportunity for more radical reflections on the relationship between Community and national research policies. As fiscal pressures mount in each member state, the question of increasing the efficiency of national research funding agencies and of higher education and public research funding is likely to be raised in coming months and years in many countries.

The opportunities for further deployment of new Community instruments will only be realized if they can demonstrate their particular value for Europe in terms of administrative flexibility and best practice governance. Only then will they play a central role in structuring a new, post-crisis augmented European Research Area (ERA).

Will the Looming Crisis Be Averted in Time?

If issues of effective governance at EU level are not addressed as ones of absolute priority, the crisis shock might actually go the other way: increasingly questioning the value of Community research and leading to a future ERA that is much more based on the member states’ national efforts at attracting research talent within their own borders.

Outlook: Socio-economics & Humanities Re-considered

The stimulating contributions and discussions of this expert group have paved the way for a broad debate at European and world level. This prospective analysis contributes to understanding, anticipating and better shaping future policy and strategy developments in the European Union.

Forward-looking approaches help in building shared visions of the future European challenges and evaluating the impacts of alternative policies. A qualitative and participatory method (‘foresight’) combined with quantitative and operational methods (‘forecast’) allows better long-term policies to develop, like the post-2010 European strategy and the European research and innovation policies. Through its Seventh Framework Programme (FP7) with its ‘socio-economic sciences and humanities’ theme, the European Union is funding forward-looking activities with around EUR 30 million.

Authors: Anette Braun       

Axel Zweck         

            Sponsors: European Commission – DG Research – Directorate L – Science, Economy and Society Unit L2 – Research in the Economic, Social Sciences and Humanities – Prospective
Type: European/international – covering issues from a European or even global perspective
Organizer: European Commission – DG Research – Directorate L  – Science, Economy and Society Unit L2 – Research in the Economic, Social Sciences and Humanities – Prospective
Duration: 2008 Budget: N/A Time Horizon: 2025 Date of Brief: Dec. 2009


Download EFP Brief No. 167_The World in 2025

Sources and References

Based on the report ‘The World in 2025 – Rising Asia and socio-ecological transition’ (Publications Office of the European Union, Luxembourg, 2009) and information from the European Commission.

‘The World in 2025 – Rising Asia and socio-ecological transition’ report is available at and

EFP Brief No. 163: EFONET: Assessment of Energy Foresight in the EU

Tuesday, May 24th, 2011

Within the EFONET Coordination Action, an analysis of the state of the art of energy foresight activities in the EU countries has been carried out in order to assess the transferability of the “good practices” learnt from the national foresight experiences towards energy foresight on the European level.

EFP Brief No. 163_EFONET Assessment of Energy Foresight

EFP Brief No. 139: Future Prospects of Care Facilities and Services for the Dependent Elderly in France

Saturday, May 21st, 2011

Following the submission of an initial report in July 2005 on the evolution of illness related to old age and estimations of the number of accommodations available for the dependent elderly, the French minister in charge of elderly affairs asked the Strategic Analysis Centre to further consider how to provide and finance the care of dependent persons until 2025. Relying on a single quantitative scenario, the report proposes a global strategy turning on several key principles: a preference for in-home care and supplying treatment in a welcoming environment, reliance on technological and social innovation, the qualitative improvement of establishments housing the most dependent persons and the use of new regulatory tools in order to promote performance and a better territorial distribution.

Creating a Free Choice Scenario

For economic and social reasons, the French government is willing to give the elderly a freedom of choice regarding
healthcare and accommodations. Such a policy requires the simultaneous and complementary development of services
designed to care for the elderly in their own homes as well as access to retirement homes. A policy to that end has been launched in the framework of the first “Ageing and Solidarity” plan, which includes a significant attempt to increase availability of all the types of care for the dependent elderly. Efficient investment implies an extensive
study of a balanced scenario including the development of a global offer covering all types of home and institutional
care. In this respect, the minister in charge of elderly affairs asked the Strategic Analysis Centre to

  • establish the number of additional rooms in homes for dependant elderly (EHPAD1) needed from 2010-2015 and an estimation for the year 2025,
  • anticipate the number of home care assistants required in these two time horizons,
  • analyse the geographical distribution and propose guidelines for better EHPAD accommodations,
  • examine issues related to financing and ensuring an even geographical distribution.

A first report was elaborated in 2005 with quantitative forecasts including various scenarios of home and institutional care capacities. The second report, published in June 2006, proposes a single scenario, including an estimation of the requested workforce, taking societal and financial aspects into account.

Developing the Scenarios and Political Options

Studying the ageing society implies taking different variables into account such as demography, healthcare improvement, the development of people’s behaviour and also various political options.

In addition to the Strategic Analysis Centre’s staff, the National Institute of Economic Statistics (INSEE), the National Solidarity Fund for Autonomy (CNSA), the health ministry’s department of statistics (DREES) and other central administration resources were solicited for this exercise.

First Report: an Extensive Quantitative Analysis

The first report aimed at exploring possible scenarios for the development of the number of accommodations available for the dependent elderly (EHPAD) for the years 2010, 2015 and 2025. This exercise required the following sequence of calculations:

  • elderly population growth,
  • the development of the prevalence of dependency within this population,
  • the consequences in terms of demand for home and institutional care,
  • achievable supply of accommodations and workforce in this sector.

As a result, five scenarios were adopted to reflect different balances between home and institutional care. In addition, each of these scenarios was developed based on two different dependency rates and for three time-horizons.

In order to calculate the respective workforces that would be required for home and institutional care in each case, the team also had to envisage different levels of assistance.

Second Report: Further Exploration of a Single  Scenario and Elaboration of Recommendations

The second report was elaborated by a group of 60 experts from various local and national institutions, universities, hospitals and associations. Their work also relied on the results of an ethnological study carried out in three different homes for dependent elderly.

First, the group conducted an in-depth analysis of a single scenario by distinguishing different levels of dependency and types of skills required for health care and assistance. The results were used to predict the development of the labour market in this sector until 2025.

Workshops were then organised in order to arrive at recommendations on how to conceive future homes for dependent elderly and optimise the financing of national and local schemes addressing the ageing population.

More Intensive Institutional
Care for the Most Dependent

Demographic development is reasonably predictable. The following chart gives a projection of the number of dependent elderly aged 75 and older:

x 1000

2005 2010 2015 2025 2030
High projection 682 741 808 920 1 017
Low projection 657 691 732 805    855

Source: Insee Destinie, projections Drees-Insee

The first report established five possible scenarios in order to capture the broadest possible range of impacts of population ageing on the caring system:

  • Scenario 1 assumed that the current distribution between home care and institutional care would remain constant, thus predicting an increased need for places in rest homes and other care institutions.
  • Scenario 2 and 3 planned for an increased recourse to home care: for all elderly, irrespective of the level of dependency prevalence (sc. 2), and for all elderly with the exception of the most dependent (sc. 3). These two scenarios led to a reduced need for specialised accommodations.
  • Scenarios 4 and 5 envisaged an increasing recourse to institutional care: for all elderly in scenario 4; for the most dependent only in scenario 5. Scenarios 2 and 4 were abandoned as too extreme, whereas scenario 3 was chosen as the most efficient and socially satisfactory framework for the future development of the French elderly care scheme.

Forecasts on Needs for Accom- modations and Human Resources

In this scenario, the rate of the most dependent elderly benefiting from institutional care is expected to reach 67% by 2010 and then be stabilised. Simultaneously, the rate of less dependent elderly who benefit from home care is expected to rise progressively.

This scenario thus assumes two consequences in terms of accommodations and human resources:

  • intensified care in specialised institutions and
  • more dense and diversified types of home care.
Needs for Specialised Facilities

Consequently, with the projected institutional care rates, the report recommends increasing the number of places in specialised facilities up to 680 000 in 2010 – among them 610 000 for the elderly aged 75 and older – and to stabilise this number after 2010.

The following targets for the distribution of places for the 75+ population show that, even within the institutional care solution, priority is given to temporary, flexible care solutions.

  2010 2015 2025
Little medicalised accommodations 90 000 90 000 90 000
EHPAD 420 000 402 000 392 000
Long-stay hospital accommodations 60 000 60 000 60 000
Temporary accommoda-


40 000 58 000 68 000
Total 610 000 610 000 610 000

Reaching these targets implies various actions: a sustained effort to create new places by 2010, but also withdrawing licences from obsolete structures and converting some nonspecialised accommodations into EHPAD.

Increased Need for Institutional and Home Care Personnel

The population in specialised institutions can thus be expected to increase by 2010 and be comparatively more dependent than it currently is. These two trends justify the need for a drastic increase in personnel in these institutions. The report team has chosen to rely on two projections in terms of supervision rates (number of staff per 100 residents):

  • a low projection: from 57.4 in 2003 to 75.7 in 2025,
  • a high projection: from 57.4 in 2003 to 81.4 in 2025.

As regards home care, the growing share of elderly people who would benefit from this solution implies that the need for staff in the medical, paramedical and social home care sector will also clearly increase.

In the current situation, each dependent person benefits from an average assistance volume of 150 hours per month (the calculation is based on the French dependence allocation distribution). The report team suggests increasing this average volume by 55% by 2025. It must be noted that these projections are based on the assumption that the help currently received by the elderly from their relatives will remain constant, which is all but certain.

Need for institutional and home care staff 2005-2025:

2005 2010 2015 2025
Low institutional care projection
Institut.-care staff 233 400 279 900 296 700 315 500
Home-care staff 375 600 415 500 501 400 739 500
Total 608 900 695 400 798 100 1 055 000
High institutional care projection
Institut.-care staff 233 400 290 000 313 800 333 000
Home-care staff 375 600 415 500 501 400 739 500
Total 608 900 705 500 815 200 1 072 500

In terms of job creation, in total, 342 000 to 360 000 positions will be available in this sector over the next ten years, which represents 4,6% of all available positions in the French economy (this includes net creations and replacements after retirement). Net job creation in the elderly care sector alone can be expected to account for 11% of new jobs in France over the same period.

Guidelines for Better EHPAD Accommodations:
Diversification and Territorial Distribution

The Social Background to the Free Choice Scenario

The target population (aged 85+, 2015-2020) forms a very different social group from today’s elderly. The current babyboomers are more individualistic; they have developed an identity of active (and exigent) consumers, are geographically and professionally mobile and are used to actively deciding upon matters affecting the course of their lives. These features will have to be taken into account in drawing up tomorrow’s care system and the care accommodations it is to provide. This system and the related accommodations will have to – answer a broad diversity of needs and thus provide an equally broad diversity of adapted services and – take into account a diversity of life territories, values and cultures, and thus be equitably distributed geographically to allow the elderly to maintain their life habits.

An EHPAD should ultimately provide its residents with all needed services and assistance, while being a true living place in the full sense of the word. This includes several objectives, which have some technical impacts.

Supporting a Project for Life and Maintaining Social Life
  • Project for life: EHPAD should be conceived so as to allow the residents to further develop and not to simply “end their lives”. This includes preserving their freedom in terms of time and space organisation, favouring creativity and encouraging autonomy.
  • Social life: Residents should be encouraged and supported in the perpetuation of their social life through the preservation of family links. This means that exchanges between the residents and the exterior should be encouraged

(vicinity, city, village etc.)

EHPAD’s Projected Features to Answer these Needs

Localisation elements

  • The geographical distribution of EHPADs should allow residents to remain in the vicinity of their former place of residence in order to facilitate preserving their family and social links.
  • EHPAD’s localisation should ensure a social openness: opportunities for the residents to leave the facility and have access to a city or village.

Technical features

  • Space organization in EHPAD should provide the residents with private, intimate spaces as well as with community spaces.
  • Specific features of the accommodations should allow a customisation of individual living quarters (mobile walls, Internet connections etc.)

Organisational features

  • Security and health norms should be intelligently adapted in order to provide the residents with all necessary services and care while infringing as little as possible upon their liberty.
  • A provision of diversified services should allow the residents to be provided with any needed service (medical and non-medical).


Dual Policy Challenge:
Services Synergy & Balanced  Geographical Distribution

The overall financing need over the 2006-2025 period is estimated at a total between 14-29 billion €. This would represent around 1.1% of GDP in 2010, 1.2% in 2015 and 1.5% in 2025.  This financial effort is considered not to be insurmountable, on two conditions: that savings are made in other domains in order to alleviate the burden on the social security resources and that an efficient redistribution is conducted between the hospital sector and the dedicated elderly care system.

Ensuring Sufficient Care Personnel

Professional Staff

A specific effort will have to be made to make medical, paramedical and social professions in the elderly care sector more attractive than they are today and to ensure an efficient balance between childcare, hospital care and elderly care staff.

Support to Involved Relatives

Several European states provide financial and fiscal incentives to relatives who reduce their working hours or even suspend their own careers to take care of a parent. In particular, France could follow the example of the German system where the social security system comes up for the social security contributions of people who have stopped working to take care of an elderly person.

Rethinking Programming and Efficiency

Proposing diversified care services while maintaining a fair geographical and cost distribution implies two levels of action:

  • Evaluating and programming at the national level in order to take inventory of the global needs and appreciate the relative financial burdens that have to be assumed locally. The team suggests that all involved actors adopt a unified evaluation methodology, which means rethinking the whole current social aid system. The state would have to shoulder a share of necessary start-up investments to ensure that the restructuring is initiated not only in the wealthier regions but rather equitably throughout the whole territory
  • Transferring a larger share of responsibilities (if not all of them) for elderly care to the French départements (sub-regional administrative level). As local administrations, they would be in a better position to adapt the services offered to local needs and specificities. In this respect, the report team suggests that a better synergy between all types of services be organized, for instance, by allowing EHPADs to manage, through new regulatory rules, the coordination between private and public, medical, paramedical and social services.

The Follow-up

The report was made public in late June 2006 at the same time as the government’s ‘Solidarité Grand Age’ plan, which it heavily draws upon. The plan concerns the 2007-2012 period and is projected to cost the French social security system 2.7 billion €. While most of sector’s representatives have overall welcomed this plan, the related financial allocation was viewed as underestimated.

Authors: Hugo Thenint – Louis Lengrand et Associés (LL&A)      
Sponsors: French minister of social security, elderly, disability and family affairs
Type: National – but includes case studies on other countries
Organizer: The Strategic Analysis Centre (former Commissariat au plan)
Duration: 2005-2006
Budget: n.a.
Time Horizon: 2025
Date of Brief: April 2008

Download: EFMN Brief No. 139_ Elderly Care in France

Sources and References

Strategic analysis centre:
La documentation française (first report):

EFP Brief No. 112: Démarche Prospective Transport 2050 – For a Better French Transport Policy

Friday, May 20th, 2011

This foresight initiative intends to initiate the elaboration of a long-term strategic plan for French Transport policy. The exercise uses a French methodological approach to carry out retrospective analysis of historical trends and build quantitative scenarios. It provides general insights on transportation flows and opens public debate on public policies designed to prepare for the “post-oil” era and cre-ate impulses for a serious effort to reduce greenhouse emissions.

EFMN Brief No. 112 – Transport France 2050

EFP Brief No. 107: Key Technologies for France 2010

Friday, May 20th, 2011

“Key technologies 2010” is the third edition of a process, launched in 1995 by the Ministry of Industry. However, it differs from the previous  exercises with regard to its objectives, target and methodology (design, dissemination and monitoring). “Key Technologies 2010” results in a characterisation and prioritisation of a list of key technologies according to the long-term appreciation of their im-pact on the development of activities identified as being structuring for France. The methodology developed within this exercise in-cludes information collection and analysis, interviews with stakeholders from ministries and research organisations, the implementa-tion of working groups and a strong collaboration with regional actors.

EFMN Brief No. 107 – French Key Technologies