Archive for the ‘Food, agriculture and fisheries, biotechnology’ Category

EFP Brief No. 252: Egypt’s Water Security – Future Vision 2030 Using Delphi Method

Tuesday, February 12th, 2013

This study was an activity within the framework of Egypt’s Vision 2030 project carried out by the Center for Future Studies in the Egyptian Cabinet’s Information and Decision Support Center. Using Delphi Method, the study aims at identifying, analyzing and foreseeing potentials of Egypt’s water security as ground to thinking of pilot solutions aimed at evading problems and crisis as well as developing a set of procedures whereby Egypt’s water security is attained.

Increasing Gap between Water Supply and Demand

The Nile stands as Egypt’s main source of water whereby it secures 80% of Egypt’s water yield per year-according to the 1959 Nile Agreement, Egypt’s fixed quota of Nile water comes to 55.5 billion m3/year. In Egypt, water security tops the national agenda whereby studies reveal that estimations of available water and water needs for different purposes are heading towards an increasing gap between water supply and demand, not only because of the anticipated increase of water demand, but also due to the impact of other factors on the available quantity of Nile water. The study at hand contributes to foreseeing the future of Egyptian water security, by analyzing the impact of varied factors influencing Egypt’s water security in terms of the political, economic, environmental, hydrological, legal and strategic aspects,  developing an integrated vision, and forming a new approach for further research in this area and providing comprehensive knowledge.

Combining Forecasting and Delphi

The study applied the “Delphi Technique” – an important qualitative tool of future studies – which relies on collective intelligence and scientific forecasts, by deriving knowledge from a group of experts, directing them to consensus on aspects of the issue at hand, and providing verifications for the relatively extreme positions. This technique was used to identify the main factors of uncertainty that will affect the future of Egypt’s water security, and to forecast potentials of these uncertainty factors, their different expected impacts, and proposed recommendations. A Delphi web site was developed allowing access to 25 experts in the areas of water, economic and political science.

The study also used forecasting (futures analysis) which does not seek foreseeing or planning the future, but rather conducts a set of conditional forecasts or scenarios assuming either the reality or desired ones. Hence, the research does not conclude to achieving any of the aforementioned scenarios but aims at allowing societal players to learn about the requirements of achieving one of the desired scenarios according to their relevant preference in order to work on giving it precedence over other alternative scenarios.

Main Factors Affecting Water Security

Based on the theoretical review of the issue of Egypt’s water security, the most important factors affecting Egypt’s water security were identified by applying Delphi Technique as follows:

  1. Relations between countries of the Nile basin towards either cooperation or struggle:

The regional hydrological system of the Nile basin lacks a comprehensive legal or institutional framework deemed acceptable by all Nile countries because of their conflicting outlook on the legitimacy of the existing agreements and international conventions – the 1929 and 1959 Agreements in specific. Accordingly, countries of the Nile sources divide the River Nile’s water according to the area of River Nile basin passing through the given country, and the contribution of each country to the river’s water yield. However, Egypt and Sudan refuse reviewing the distribution of water quotas in the Nile basin based on calls for justice and equity.

Additionally, some of the Nile basin source countries are calling for enforcing the principle of international water sale on the Nile basin system including that Egypt and Sudan, pay financial compensation in return for their water quotas if they wish to maintain them, while Egypt and Sudan refuse this principle on the ground that water is a socio-economic commodity that should not be subjected to market mechanisms.

On another level, countries of the Nile basin sources reject the condition of advance notification when developing water projects or taking water measures within their national borders, which is seen as necessary by Egypt and Sudan.

  1. Impact of external powers:

External powers, mainly USA and Israel play a crucial role in affecting international water interactions in the Nile basin, and carry out a motivating role for struggle. In this regard, Israel adopts two main strategies: “Quota based system” considering projects involving water that eventually aims that Israel receives fixed water quota from the Nile and “Seizure Strategy” which implies surrounding the Egyptian policy and using water as a pressure card against Egypt and Sudan. European countries, specially Italy, Holland and some Asian countries particularly Japan are playing a motivating role for water cooperation in the Nile basin putting down inclinations towards water related conflicts by providing financial and technical support for a number of water related projects in the Nile countries.

  1. The impact of the separation of South Sudan:

Opinions vary on the impact of south Sudan separation on Egypt’s water security. Some opinions perceive minimum negative impact resulting from the separation on the Egyptian water yield from the Nile and others are seriously concerned about the potential impacts.

  1. Shifts to irrigated agriculture and minimizing pressure on the blue water:

All countries of the Nile sources wish to follow Egypt’s footsteps in terms of cultivating spacious irrigated agricultural areas. However, this type of agriculture requires costly technical expertise. In this context, funding and technical assistance provided through investors, local, regional or international entities might have a hidden agenda for helping poor citizens of the Nile countries, destabilizing some countries and creating tension in a manner that impacts development plans.

  1. Change in the economic:

As a main feature of the Nile basin countries- except Egypt- extreme poverty reflects on the capabilities in terms of providing water related infrastructure. According to 2007 World Bank data, Burundi had the lowest GDP (US$0.97 billion) among Nile Basin countries, whereas annual GDP per capita growth rate was highest in Ethiopia and Sudan at 8.4% and 7.7% respectively. Egypt comes next with a growth rate of 5.2%. Nevertheless, GDP per capita share decreased in Burundi by 0.3% and in Eritrea by 2.3%.

  1. Water reservoirs or control utilities:

If dams are constructed to serve as reservoirs, it is necessary to ensure that the stored water affects Egypt’s water quota in the long term.

  1. Impact of climate change on water of Nile basin:

The most important climate changes affecting the Nile’s water are increasing temperatures which  will cause rising rates of evaporation, and changes in the rates, locations and seasons of water fall will cause the loss of quantities of rain that were to be used in agriculture and human consumption in the northern coast.

  1. Political stability of the Nile basin countries:

Continuous or aggravated forms and indicators of domestic instability in the Nile basin countries will push them to adopt struggle based foreign policies. It is projected that countries of the Nile basin sources will resort to adopting aggressive foreign policies towards both mouth and stream countries-Egypt and Sudan-every now and then. This is in an effort to divert the domestic public opinion away from internal problems and failures suffered in each country relatively.

Egyptian Water Security Scenarios

Given the aforementioned main factors affecting Egypt’s water security, the future of water in the Nile basin will likely be shaped according to three alternative scenarios as follows.

Business as Usual Scenario

The current situation of struggle relations between Egypt and the Nile Basin Countries, will continue but will not escalate to war because of political expertise,  and countries of the Nile basin maintain a reasonable margin of rationality with their neighbours. Furthermore, the domestic political, economic and social circumstances of the Nile basin countries will not permit potential escalation of conflicts.

According to the outcomes of Delphi survey, a change in the current situation of cooperation or struggle regarding water is unlikely (there were no sharp deviations regarding the potential full cooperation or struggles that may escalate to war over water), where 46%, 38% and 50% is the probability of increasing the normal yield of Nile water before 2030 via cooperation where Egypt develops projects in the Ethiopian Plateau, Equatorial Lakes Plateau and Bahr el Ghazal. But the probability of reaching an agreement on some of the conflict areas by amending the existing legal agreements of the Nile basin countries is 48%.

Also, lack of current sufficient funding will affect the ability of benefiting from green water and relieving the pressure off blue water in Nile Basin countries. And in light of the outcomes of Delphi survey, Egypt’s probability of developing projects -in cooperation with donor international organizations-aimed at assisting other countries in benefiting from green water is 49%, 52% and 53% respectively in the Ethiopian, Equatorial Plateaus and Bahr el Ghazal.

It is unlikely that the basin countries will experience an economic boom on the short term, since economic development requires stable political regimes and local, regional and international capital, capacity building, technical calibres and improvement of institutions and laws.

There is low probability of an impact from the separation of south Sudan on Egypt’s yield of the Nile water, as the new State will be bound by all past conventions related to the River Nile. Needless to mention, South Sudan is advantaged with abundant rain which spares it the need for this water. According to Delphi Survey, the probability of a relevant impact on Egypt’s Nile water supply is 45%.

It is likely that climate changes will continue without an impact on the normal yield of Nile water in Egypt, at least during the coming twenty years. According to a study by the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) in 2004, there is limited confidence regarding changes in amount and direction of rainfall on the future on the Nile basin countries. Based on the survey results, the probability that climate changes will move the rain belt far from the Ethiopian, Equatorial Lakes Plateaus or Baher Al Gazal are 40%, 35% and 44% respectively.

Optimistic Scenario (Regional Cooperation)

This is the scenario of optimization of available opportunities for developing shared water resources and building a regional water system capable of securing the needs of the region’s countries without undermining the fixed historical and legal rights of some of the countries.

This scenario involves the potential of expanding cooperation areas among Nile basin countries within the Nile Basin Initiative, which includes all ten Nile basin countries, provides an institutional framework for collective cooperation, receives governmental and political support, and pays great attention to projects and mechanisms aimed at building mutual trust among basin countries, as well as capacity building and training projects.

There is an increased possibility of establishing water related projects in collaboration with the basin countries via building and connecting dams on a unified electricity network in those countries, aimed at generating power for agriculture and industrial production purposes rather than storing water and assist in regulating water supply to Egypt. Survey results indicate that probability of completing Gongli Canal is 56%, in addition to the possibility of redirecting Congo River to benefit from its water is 60%.

Pessimistic Scenario (Conflict)

This scenario is based on the possibility that variables motivating struggle will lead to raising chances of conflict of national interests in the Nile basin countries to an extend of inter struggle. The struggle inclination might rise given the following variables:1) A strong and sharp inclination of the Nile basin sources countries towards enforcing the principle of “selling Nile water” to the two countries of the mouth and stream will cause an eruption of international water struggle and wars among the countries.2) Escalated role of the external motivating powers for Nile-Nile struggle based on the following considerations:

Israel will play a motivating role for water struggle in the Nile basin in addition to the indirect role of the USA, where it will work on besieging and pulling the parties of Egyptian policy, on the regional level, in a way that serves coining the American power on the political and strategic levels in preparation for an effective Israeli role.

Countries of the upper Nile basin will seek to constitute external coalitions aimed at changing the current situation; these are mainly Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda.

Separation of south Sudan will be at the expense of projects dedicated to exploiting the wasted Nile water in the Egyptian and joint upper parts, such as the Gongli Canal project.

The political tensions in the Ethiopian Plateau will negatively affect the Egyptian water yield as well as failure to implement any proposed projects. According to the survey, the probability of the eruption of a civil war (due to ethnicity, religion, political or tribal affiliation) in the Ethiopian Plateau and bearing an impact on water projects and management is 53% and 57% respectively.

Based on the Delphi Survey outcomes, the probability of increased Nile basin countries’ demand for Blue water for agricultural, industrial, drinking, tourism, and fish wealth purposes by 2030 in the Ethiopian, Equatorial Plateaus and Bahr El Gazal Region are 60%, 61% and 59% respectively. As for the probability that those countries construct dams or other projects in the Ethiopian, Equatorial Plateaus and Bahr El Gazal Region-to meet the increased demand for water -that will eventual-ly affect Egypt’s Nile water quota by 2030 are 63%, 59% and 54% respectively.

Cooperation for Water Security

  1. Cooperation among the Nile Basin Countries

Regional cooperation should depend on balancing the distribution of benefits and duties in the context of a cooperative Win-Win Approach, which will eventually lead to optimizing the benefits among all Nile countries enabling a relevant improvement and development.

  1. Endorsing the Soft and Diplomatic Instruments

This ensures avoiding the struggle scenario, and can be supported by developing the mutual dependency mechanism between Egypt and Ethiopia via joint projects where Egypt provides the technical expertise in irrigation currently being provided by Israel.

  1. Enhancing Cooperation between Egypt and Sudan

The mutual dependency mechanism between Egypt and Sudan, in light of separation, can be achieved through establishing strong ties with both north and south via joint cooperation in agriculture, power production, health, education and industrial projects in addition to military. This entails developing railways, river naval lines and unified electricity networks, and that Egypt grants southern citizens all advantages equal to Sudanese citizens in terms of education, work, residence, and entry into Egypt, and redrafting the projects to exploit wasted water in the upper Nile in Bahr El Gabal, Bahr El Gazal, and Mashar Swamps situated in south Sudan.

  1. Benefiting from Green Water

This entails that Egypt: cooperates with the international donor organizations for developing projects in the source countries, transfers agriculture technologies to all Nile basin countries by availing technically qualified irrigation and agriculture engineers, and developing rain harvest technologies and introducing selected seeds and chemical fertilizers.

  1. Creating a social, economic, political observatory

This should be in charge of monitoring changes immediately, analysing indicators and presenting relevant plans. In the event of any internal political tensions in the Nile basin countries, Egypt should adopt a neutral position, stimulate mediations in ethnic and border conflicts taking place in the Great Lakes and African Horn regions to evade the potential sensitivities that might emerge due to aligning with any of the conflicting parties.

  1. Egypt’s Role in Developing Economies

It is recommended that Egypt carries out development projects in Nile Basin countries and cooperates with international organizations in areas of improving health care, and eradicating Endemic diseases that affect public health and consequently productivity.

  1. Forecasting the Impact of Climate Changes

Developing a local model for forecasting the impact of climate change on the Nile basin water yield, in cooperation with the British Meteorology Office.

Authors: Dr. Nisreen Lahham   nisreenlahham@idsc.net.eg

Dr. Mohamed Saleh   msaleh@idsc.net.eg

Sahar Sayed Sabry    saharsayed@idsc.net.eg

Sponsors: Egyptian Cabinet’s Information and Decision Support Center (IDSC)
Type: National Technology Foresight Exercise based on desk research and expert opinion.
Organizer: Dr. Nisreen Lahham, Executive Manager, Center for Future Studies, www.future.idsc.net.eg
Duration: 2009 – 2010
Budget: n.a.
Time Horizon: 2030
Date of Brief: August 2011

Download EFP Brief No. 252_Egypt’s Water Security

Sources and References

Ayman Alsayed Abdul Wahhab (editor), “River Nile Basin: Cooperation opportunities and problems” (Cairo, Al Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies, 2009).

Mohammad Salman Taye`a, Water Security in the Arab Gulf in a Changing World: between Prerequisites of National Interest and Addressing External Threats, Middle East papers, National Center for Middle East Studies, Vol. 38 October 2007.

Atlas of international agreements on fresh waters, UNEP, FAO, and Oregon University, 2002.

H.J.Brans (ed.), The Scarcity of Water: Emerging Legal and Policy Issues, London, The Hague, Boston, Kluwer International, International Environmental Law and Policy Issues, 1997, 21-39.

Theodore J. Gordon, The Delphi Method, future research methodology – V2.0, AC/UNU Millennium Project.

World Bank, World Development Indicators, Washington, 2007

 

EFP Brief No. 249: Measuring Foresight Impact

Wednesday, January 30th, 2013

This brief describes a new instrument for measuring the impact of foresight. The foresight impact measurement instru-ment consists of 54 measures covering a wide range of foresight activities and potential policy and other impacts. This instrument, developed primarily by Ron Johnston and the author, is the result of several sessions with leaders of many of the most active national foresight programmes and includes a variety of types of measurement categories – notably those that align with the policy cycle in terms of positioning foresight for future impacts on policies as they emerge or are developed. It also has been pilot-tested on two Canadian foresight programs – in both cases achieving strong participation rates, high frequency of written comments and positive assessments of most of the measures and very strong endorsements of several key measures. One of the cases, a national foresight project on animal health and food security is described in this brief. Essentially the instrument provides a baseline for interim evaluation – while the experience is still vibrant – and in so doing it can (1) provide a unique mix of qualitative and quantitative feedback for stakeholders, participants and sponsors; (2) be immediately applied if required to making the case for continuity, future foresight funding or new projects; (3) form a credible baseline against which more formal evaluation can be structured later; and (4) help create a key international benchmark data base entry and case example of public sector foresight impact measurements – and thus position the EFP well for the future.

The Impact-Value Challenge

A key recurring challenge for foresight initiatives – projects, programmes and pilots – has been how to actually demonstrate the value of foresight investments for government sponsors and stakeholders – who are mindful of accountability, are asked to justify the value of foresight investments for government mandates and are requested to provide cost-efficiency and cost-effectiveness analysis so that foresight can be compared with other prospective applications of limited government funds.

The methodology elaborated below is a response to this challenge, prepared by Professor Jack E. Smith with input from senior international foresight leaders from the US, Europe (UK, FR, NL, FN) Australia and Asia ( TH, CH, KR, SP). The methodology draws upon discussion papers presented by the author and Professors Jon Calof and Ron Johnston at five international meetings. The challenge was to assess how to effectively measure impacts of foresight for government sponsors, operating in the short to medium term of 1-3 years when ideally these foresight impacts occur over a (mid to long term) five- to fifteen-year time horizon.

Case Study on Animal Health and Food Security in Canada

In September 2011, the Fore-Can Project on Animal Health and Food Security completed a three year foresight-based assessment of major challenges and opportunities associated with the future management of animal health and food security systems in Canada. The project was well received, involved a wide range of stakeholders and effectively engaged key policy advisors and industry leaders. As with many foresight projects, questions of immediate and enduring impact were raised as the end of the project drew closer. Fortunately this timing has coincided with the development of a new series of long and short format impact measurement instruments as part of an international forum of foresight best practices (more below on this).

Accordingly, the Fore-Can management team decided to be the first project to apply the new instruments. The logic for starting to measure impact now is as follows:

  • Impact is a relatively imprecise and general term, which inspires almost as many distinct answers as there are participants – so having a new and fairly comprehensive instrument that can add precision and shape stakeholder thinking while they are still involved is both innovative and appropriate in addressing the diversity of interests.
  • Impact happens at all stages of a project, i.e., during, immediately after and beyond completion, especially if there is a follow-up of projects – often until much later: so a time-flexible and adjustable instrument- linked to current and recent activities and also designed to accommodate later impacts is needed.
  • The approach adopted uses a single instrument – as a long form where commentary plus scoring is solicited and as a short form where numbers of respondents will be larger; the narrative and the quantitative aspects are complementary.
  • It has been designed to apply upon completion when memories are fresh and the knowledge still current; it can also be applied at any point in the future or re-applied as a comparative measure of time dependent impacts.
  • In this way it can be applied today as a current measure of impact and simultaneously as a measure of positioning for future prospective impacts – as assessed by those most involved.
  • This is why it is described as a preliminary baseline impact measurement tool that captures expectations as well as examples.
  • Impact analysis is not the same as an evaluation but may provide needed input especially if baseline data has been collected during or just after completion since most evaluations occur much later.

The Impact Measurement Instruments

The deployment was quite straight forward as follows:

TFCI described the development process and demonstrated the two forms of the impact measurement instrument to the CFIA-led Fore-Can team. The project leader first sent the long form to 54 potential participants – of whom four declined to participate and four responded with many comments plus scoring. The short form was then sent to all, and ten more responses were received – mostly just with scoring of the 50+ variables; based upon the short notice and lack of solicitation before emails were sent, it is positive that 14 responses in total were received out of 50 potential ones. With more advance preparation, this rate of 28% could easily be doubled. TFCI then managed a dual analysis – combining the quantitative and the qualitative responses.

The Measures

The actual measurement, distributed amongst several different lenses (or measure groupings), consists of a total of 54 measures. The first lens or level of impact interest is in terms of general role effectiveness: wherein foresight is seen as generally playing or performing as many as five roles to differing degrees;

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The second set of impact measures, lens or grouping, consists of several general benefits, as perceived main-ly by those directly involved. As the impact data base and diversity of cases grows, differing patterns of pro-tagonist and stakeholder appreciation may emerge.

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A third set of measures is obtained by using a success factor lens, which is especially relevant for foresight process designers and planners:
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A fourth set of lenses consists of seeing foresight main-ly as a macro or meta process, focused on foresight as essentially a learning process and that each foresight project educates someone, and usually all participants. Here the evaluation team collected testimonials, anec-dotes, personal stories etc. In the category “training & skills development” the evaluators acknowledged that foresight is often motivated by sponsors wanting to strengthen readiness, resilience and preparedness skills.
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These categories also give credit to the notion that fore-sight is a key tool for risk assessment and the man-agement of uncertainty.

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And finally, foresight is closely aligned with design and planning. Accordingly, the participants of the evaluation had the opportunity to give account of the changes induced by the foresight exercise such if their organisa-tion achieved new strengths, there was any evidence of foresight in adopted priorities or of new directions with foresight-derived origins.

Alignment with Policy Cycle

Further, in the impact design, three groups of measures were developed – related to successive stages of the policy cycle: pre-policy; policy implementation and post policy. Here the participants had to give a score (# score represents average out of 5 including all scores other than no response).

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The Response

Overall, these preliminary impact results indicate that the project had both a significant impact on participants from a present time vantage point and a well-positioned potential for future impact as expressed by the clear and consistent trend in the results toward impact endorsement in most of the variables examined. The conclusion to be drawn is not only that the project was quite successful in operational terms, but also that its full impact may only be known some years hence, given the strong prospects for future impact that were cited by most respondents.

The lists of the top and bottom five impact elements provide a snapshot both of domains where there is strength or weakness but also reflect a high degree of alignment amongst the respondents. Also of note is that 2/5 of the highest and lowest impacts are from the critical success factors elements (questions # 6-13), and this suggests that the CSF list is a key differentiator of impact – as was intended by Calof and Smith when they undertook their study in 2007.

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Room for Improvements

The findings and the comments together present a consistent picture of a project that was both successful in achieving its intended near-term objectives and is well positioned for future impact and development opportunities. The ratings questions worked well to elicit stakeholder differentiation, which is normally regarded as indicative of a good engagement process, and many of the excellent comments reinforce this.

Because of the clear and generally enthusiastic responses, prospects for continued support from the participants for follow-up activities appear positive.

The combination of a long form and short form for impact assessment was viable, but both formats could be improved. The long format should be tailored to interviews, with some additional guidance provided. While it worked very well to elicit substantive commentary, it clearly was too daunting in terms of the time commitment required for most, particularly in that the impact analysis was an unanticipated additional time commitment for all stakeholders. Given the generally responsive attitudes, it is reasonable to assume that with more lead time, improved instruments, structured impact discussions built into the last meeting and a clear link to next stage development ideas, a response rate of over 60% can be anticipated – double what was received with almost no advance notice and no context preparation. The short format worked very well but likely missed a relatively easy opportunity to obtain short commentary on each of the eight sections of enquiry – thus enabling participants to elaborate the basis for their scores. The next version of the impact instruments will embody these improvements.

Overall, the post project preliminary impact baseline measurement has been very productive: baseline data and a set of premises for future development and evaluation/assessment have been established, and much of the impact experience has been captured in comments and scores that validate the benefits of the project – notably while still vivid and current.

Key Issues Raised Relevant to Policymaking

The main implication is that policy authorities can now have access to a reliable interim foresight impact measurement instrument aligned with stages of the policy cycle – and as experience accumulates with its application, governments can begin to benchmark their foresight project impacts against other projects, nations, fields etc.

Finally, the measures used for examining foresight impacts could be equally applied to most policy staging – so that at least the perception of potential impacts of policies could be measured during the development process rather than waiting for full implementation – when it is likely too late to adjust them.

Authors: Jack Smith, TFCI Canada Inc. and Telfer School of Management, University of Ottawa, Canada. (JESMITH@TELFER.UOTTAWA.CA)
Sponsors: Canadian Food Inspection Agency
Type: FORE-Can: national foresight project on animal health and food security – measurement phase
Organizer: Dr. Shane Renwick (CFIA SHANE.RENWICK@INSPECTION.GC.)
Duration: 2011
Budget: € 10,000
Time Horizon: 2011
Date of Brief: July 2012

Download EFP Brief 249_Measuring Impact of Foresights

Sources and References

Jonathan Calof, Jack E. Smith, (2012) “Foresight impacts from around the world: a special issue”, foresight, Vol. 14 Iss: 1, pp.5 – 14

EFP Brief No. 233: A Foresight Approach to Reshape Bogota’s Food Supply and Security Master Plan

Friday, December 21st, 2012

This forward looking exercise suggests a new approach to better structure Bogota’s fruit, vegetable and tuber supply chain by reviewing and reinforcing certain strategies stated in the Food Supply and Security Master Plan (FSSMP) in order to promote actions by the public sector and the stakeholders involved in this supply chain.

Food Supply at Affordable Prices

Bogota’s fruit, vegetable and tuber supply chain involves multiple actors, business models and interests, which are not yet aligned and can hardly be coordinated without both public and private involvement. In 2003, the City of Bogotá commissioned the CPTCIPEC Consortium to conduct a diagnostic study of the food supply chain system and the nutrition of the city’s inhabitants. This study served as input to the Food Supply and Security Master Plan (FSSMP) in 2006. From a nutritional perspective, it identified significant gaps in the intake of some foods, in particular fruits and vegetables, compared to an ideal diet. Concerning the operation of the supply system, it suggested eliminating massive product loss along the supply chain to increase the offer of these foods and reduce the number of middlemen in food markets as a means of lowering prices and making the products more affordable to the general public.

Logistics and Virtual Trade Platforms to Increase Food Supply

The FSSMP suggested the creation of a new food supply system that facilitates direct exchange among producers and retailers. The new organisation would be bolstered by introducing a virtual trade platform for products, a regional network of food consolidation centres and five logistics platforms in Bogota whose main role would be to facilitate cross-docking operations rather than product storage. Therefore, the FSSMP suggested to undertake efforts to establish groups of producers (supply) and retailers (demand) and advance the design and construction (or implementation) of a logistics and e-commerce platform. Despite all efforts, it has been difficult to convince producers and retailers to shift from traditional supply chains to the new scheme proposed in the FSSMP.

A Foresight Approach to Review FSSMP Strategies

New advances in logistics strategy and the first results of implementing the FSSMP show a lack of effectiveness of the strategies originally stated. Therefore, the current study reviewed the initial statements in the FSSMP based on a foresight approach. The foresight methodology used in this study consisted of five stages: pre-foresight, recruiting, generation, action and renewal (Miles, 2002; Popper, 2008b). First, the Master Plan served as input to define the objectives and scope of the exercise. Then, stakeholders and their relationships were identified. Later, system dynamics (SD) was used to model product, information and money flows along the fruit, vegetable and tuber supply chain.

As a result, two scenarios, for five products, are presented that discuss actions by the public sector and reactions to be expected throughout the whole food supply system. Finally, these outcomes are compared to the Master Plan’s objectives and some recommendations are made to improve its implementation. For this exercise, we consulted 247 market storekeepers, 15 experts in the production and trade of fresh products and urban logistics, 5 industry experts, personnel from the Corporación Colombia Internacional (CCI – the trade association of tomato, banana and plantain farmers), 5 managers from the Secretaria de Desarrollo Económico (SDDE) and researchers from MIT-CTL. More specifically, the stakeholders identified in the fruit, vegetable and tuber supply chain are represented in Figure 1:

System Dynamics Inputs: Material, Financial & Information Flows

The metrics of the SD model, such as flows, costs and prices, were defined from secondary sources such as regional and national studies, statistics, polls and governmental reports. Initially, the FSSMP included only material flows and nine scenarios that focused on identifying capacity problems in production, transport, distribution and inflows to Bogota. However, the new SD model developed in this study went further by including, to some extent, the flow of products, money and information of the five most important products (bananas, oranges, potatoes, plantains and tomatoes) in the fruit, vegetable and tuber supply chain.

Material Flow

The actors, represented in boxes, exchange food products. They will send – or ask for – a greater quantity of products through a certain channel depending on supply, demand, prices and costs (Figure 2). Every actor’s purchase and sales prices are determined by adding the previous actor’s costs per unit sold, fixed costs, variable costs, waste costs and expected monthly profit.

Financial Flow

The cash flows represented are costs of transportation, costs of distribution, costs of selection and prices. In addition, delays are depicted as money flows from purchases of middlemen, stores, wholesalers and supermarkets, which are paid in cash (Figure 3). Half of the money from wholesalers’ purchases is given at the moment of product delivery while the remaining half is due one month later. Supermarkets apply a 90-days payment policy to their suppliers, which means that total payment is completed three months after receiving the product.

Information Flow

We observed an exchange of information among stakeholders before the pricing point (represented by a dotted line in Figure 4). There is an exchange of information about purchase prices with the producers, on the one hand, while sales price information flows to the actors forward in the supply chain, on the other. The interaction of actors after price formation produces flows in two senses: information on demand that goes to wholesalers and logistics platforms and information on sales prices that goes to stores and customers.

Scenarios of Producers’ and Storekeepers’ Associations

After identifying these three flows that affect the supply chain under study and including them in the new SD model, eleven new scenarios were defined, but only four were elaborated in the SD model. However, in this work we present only two scenarios for the top five products in order to show the impact of storekeepers’ and producers’ associations. A set of variables in the SD model (tables 1 and 2) was grouped in the following categories: flow changes in distribution channels and variations in product volume, profits and prices. Thus, the model was run to observe the behaviour of these variables for the five selected products.

The first scenario measured the impact of producers’ associations on the supply system (Table 1). It revealed a reduction of transportation costs due to better use of transportation capacity, a wider distribution of products’ consolidation costs since they are divided among all producers and an increase in productivity because producers’ orders are centralised. The producers’ association scenario presents favourable results for the various variables along the supply chain for bananas, oranges and potatoes. However, the variables for plantains and tomatoes show no changes, which is explained by the fact that producers of these products generate enough profits to organise transportation to forward actors in the chain on their own.

The second scenario measured the impact of storekeepers’ associations on the supply chain (Table 2). In this scenario, there are cost reductions in the selection and distribution of products and reductions in sales prices across all five products sold by storekeepers to customers. The main obstacle to achieving an association of storekeepers is the creation of a scheme for stores that allows an agent to delegate the process of sorting fruits and vegetables to the storekeepers selling the products to the final consumers.

Reshaping FSSMP Strategy to Anticipate the Future

This forward looking exercise allowed the SSDE to better understand and implement the FSSMP. The two main scenarios depicted here as well as the SD model for the five products show, to some extent, the relationship between the actors, their interaction, and the structure and performance of Bogotá’s food supply system. The limitations of the model suggest that the food supply in Bogota cannot be studied without considering demand in the rest of the country or the economic feasibility of production. The following conclusions were drawn from the outcomes of this exercise:

1) The priority for products such as bananas and plantains should be to increase production to supply the city instead of reducing prices. The models reveal that the production of these two foods is quite low compared to demand. Nevertheless, food supply of the city should not be considered isolated from demand in the rest of the country.

2) Middlemen and wholesalers do produce value especially in case of products and trade channels with low trade volumes. The study showed that direct supply from producers to stores is more expensive than when other actors are involved. Higher costs arise because of the additional work involved in selecting the products required to replenish the stores. A detailed analysis showed that the cost gap between direct channels and other channels results from the selection costs incurred by stores when
buying directly from producers and from the size of the purchase order to be managed by the seller in-house.

3) Prices tend to even out between different channels. A balance of prices sets in because producers, looking for higher profits, will attempt to supply the channel that represents the highest profit, increasing the products offered through the respective channel. As a result, we can expect this not only to encourage a reduction in prices in this channel but also to reduce or increase existing shortages of products and costs in the other channels accordingly.

In order to reinforce the strategies and recommendations stated in the initial FSSMP and respond to the reality of food supply in Bogota, it is highly recommended

1) to acknowledge the diversity of stakeholders along the supply chain and develop operational or contractual schemes that allow to align efforts and deal with risks;

2) to tackle problems in the fruits and vegetables supply chain by individual product since each product responds to different dynamics of supply and demand;

3) to further develop and improve the SD model as a tool to collect and analyse information regarding the food supply system and further pursue the different research initiatives to accomplish the objectives stated in the Food Supply and Security Master Plan (FSSMP).

Download EFP Brief No. 233_Reshaping Bogota’s Food Supply and Security Master Plan.

Sources and References

Alimenta Bogota Program (2009a): Plan Maestro de Abastecimiento – SDDE. Recuperado el 17 de Febrero de 2011, de Plan Maestro de Abastecimiento – SDDE: http://www.alimentabogota.gov.co/index.php/sobre-alimentabogota/plan-maestro.

Bogota Program (2009b); Biblioteca | Caracterizaciones. Recuperado el 18 de Febrero de 2011, de Plan Maestro de Abastecimiento: http://www.alimentabogota.gov.co/index.php/biblioteca/cat_view/11-Caracterizaciones

Miles, I. (2002): Appraisal of Alternative Methods and Procedures for Producing Regional Foresight.

Popper, R. (2008b): How are foresight methods selected? Foresight 10 (6): 62-89.

EFP Brief No. 229: Taiwan Agricultural Technology Foresight 2025

Friday, November 23rd, 2012

This was the first time that Taiwan conducted a large-scale expert opinion survey using the Delphi approach. The goal was to identify research topics relevant to shaping the future of agriculture in Taiwan. Applying roadmapping, the project presented policy suggestions at the end of 2011. The suggestions have been incorporated into the Taiwanese govern-ment’s Council of Agriculture (COA) research agenda as evidenced by COA’s call-for-projects announcement.

The Role of Agriculture in Taiwan

Taiwan was one of the leading countries in subtropical agriculture several decades ago, but now agriculture has lost its importance in job creation, domestic production and international trade. However, agriculture is still at the root of the economy and has many functions beyond production – it provides the food we eat, conserves the environment we live in, and is a force for social stability.

Taiwan, with nominal GDP $427 billion US dollars and GDP (PPP) per capita $35 thousand US dollars in 2010, is known for its manufacturing capabilities today, but it used to be exporting a lot of agricultural products and technologies to many countries long time ago. Since 1959, more than 100 agricultural missions have been dispatched to more than 60 countries, among which about half missions are currently at work in Africa, the Middle East, Latin America, and the Asia-Pacific.

In fact, Taiwan’s total land area is about 36,000 square kilometers, most of which is mountainous or sloped. Therefore, agriculture is practiced mainly in the plains, which comprise 29 percent of the country. As a subtropical island characterized by high temperatures and heavy rainfall, Taiwan offers bio-diversities for agriculture, but also lends itself to the breeding of insects and disease. Particularly, there are frequently typhoons causing natural disasters in the summer and autumn every year.

There have been significant changes in Taiwan’s agricultural exports over the years however. Years ago, Taiwan exported sugar cane, rice, and canned mushrooms or asparagus. Now Taiwan’s main exports are aquaculture products (e.g. tuna, eel, tilapia), leather and feathers, and its main agricultural imports include corn, soybeans, wine, tobacco, cotton, lumber, beef and wheat. In 1953, the average value of agricultural production increased 7.3 percent annually and exports increased at a rate of 9.3 percent, but beginning in 1970, agricultural exports fell behind agricultural imports. In 2010, imports were USD 12.8 billion and exports were USD 4 billion. The production value based on agriculture is estimated approximately 11.2 percent of GDP, while primary production accounts for only 1.5 percent of GDP in Taiwan.

The Revitalization of Agriculture in Taiwan

In order to revitalize the agriculture sector to meet the challenges of trade liberalization, globalization, the knowledge- based economy and particularly, climate change, the Taiwanese Government’s Council of Agriculture (COA) commissioned a project- Taiwan Agricultural Technology Foresight 2025 – to the Taiwan Institute of Economic Research (TIER). This four-year project (2008–2011), with an annual budget of USD 350 000, conducted foresight-related activities including demand surveys, trend and policy analyses, horizon scanning, visioning, essay contests, training workshops, two-round Delphi surveys, road mapping and development of policy suggestions (short-, mid- and long-term development plans and priorities) (see Figure 1).

The project aimed to identify R&D priorities to meet the long-term objectives for agriculture in Taiwan such as to improve farmers’ productivity and livelihoods, to develop resource-efficient and environmentally-friendly ways to do farming, and to ensure food safety by instituting a traceability system, which were embedded in a vision of making a better living in Taiwan in terms of industrial development, environmental protection and life quality respectively.

Environmentally-Freindly Farming for Taiwan’s Future

In 2008, TIER set up a task force with six researchers and two assistants to learn the foresight techniques, mainly from Japan. It built up a data-base of social needs, technological trends, research resources, critical issues and agricultural policies nationwide and worldwide.

Under the support and approval of COA, the project set up the Planning Committee, including government officers, agricultural experts, senior research fellows, social scientists and an economist. The Planning Committee decided that the project’s target year was 2025, and that the purpose of the foresight was to identify R&D priorities to meet the long-term objectives for agriculture in Taiwan such as to improve farmers’ productivity and livelihoods, to develop resource-efficient and environmentally-friendly ways to do farming, and to ensure food safety by instituting a traceability system, which were embedded in a vision of making a better living in Taiwan in terms of industrial development, environmental protection and life quality respectively.

Visioning for Research Topics

In order to link the foresight and policy, the project set up the Strategy Formation Committee, with ten subcommittees corresponding to the ten research areas of COA, each of which was comprised of agricultural experts and senior scientists. The members of the Strategy Formation Committee were nominated by the Planning Committee and then approved by COA. The duty of the Strategy Formation Committee was to depict 2025 visioning in each research area and to figure out the research topics to meet the needs for shaping the future agriculture in Taiwan identified by the Planning Committee.

In 2009, the Strategy Formation Committee proposed more than 100 research topics for the project. The TIER task force tried to consolidate some of them and organize them in a uniform format. Then, the Planning Committee identified the final 74 research topics and the related key questions for the Delphi questionnaire.

In 2010, the TIER task force built up an on-line survey platform and carried out two rounds of Delphi survey. There were 675 experts and scientists on the list of the first round, 546 of which participated in Delphi survey (response rate of 80 percent), and 512 of which questionnaire were effective. Then there were 546 experts and scientists on the list of the second round, 413 of which participated in Delphi survey (response rate of 76 percent), and 407 of which questionnaire were effective.

Based on the survey responses to 74 research topics, the project compiled the indices of industrial development, environmental protection, life quality, national priority and government support respectively to measure the research topics in different aspects. The standard deviations of all indices at the second round became smaller than those at the first round, so it implies that the Delphi survey of the project did converge for reaching consensus.

The survey shows that the government should support those research topics with higher ratings in environmental protection as well as in life quality particularly due to agricultural multi-function (externality). It is, however, slightly correlated between industrial development and government support to be needed for those research topics because some of them could be developed by the private sector. These research topics have been incorporated into COA’s research agenda as evidenced by COA’s R&D system call-for-projects announcement.

Attracting the Young Generation

Besides, in order to attract the young generation to think about the future of agriculture, the project invited young people to participate in the Taiwan Agricultural Technology Foresight 2025 contest (see Figure 2).

Foresight for Policy and as Policy

This was the first time that Taiwan conducted a large-scale expert opinion survey using the Delphi approach, in order to identify the research topics to meet the needs for shaping the future agriculture in Taiwan. The project made policy suggestions by road mapping at the end of 2011, and these have been incorporated into COA’s research agenda as evidenced by COA’s R&D system call-for-projects announcement.

The major contribution of the project has been the government’s support for the research topics of ‘national priority’ in terms of industrial development, environmental protection and life quality, with equal weights embedded in the vision of making a better living in Taiwan. The project is expected to improve farmers’ productivity and livelihoods, particularly for smallholders; to develop resource-efficient and environmentally-friendly ways to do farming in Taiwan’s limited land area; to reinforce the links between production and consumption of agricultural products by implementing a traceability system.

Authors: Julie C. L. Sun           juliesun@tier.org.tw

 

Sponsors: Council of Agriculture, Taiwan

 

Type: National foresight exercise
Organizer: Taiwan Institute of Economic Research, Julie C. L. Sun      juliesun@tier.org.tw
Duration: 2008–2011 Budget: 1 Mill USD Time Horizon: 2025 Date of Brief: July 2012  

Download: EFP Brief No. 229_Taiwan Agricultural Technology Foresight 2025.

References

The website of Taiwan Agricultural Technology Foresight 2025, http://agritech-foresight.coa.gov.tw

COA R&D project management system, http://project.coa.gov.tw

EFP Brief No. 228: Visions for Horizon 2020 from Copenhagen Research Forum

Friday, November 23rd, 2012

In January 2012, the Copenhagen Research Forum (CRF) gathered 80 European scientists to discuss the societal chal-lenges to be addressed by Horizon 2020, the next framework programme for European research and innovation, and consider how research could contribute the best solutions. This EFP brief explains the process behind the CRF and gives a summary of recommendations. It ends with a discussion on cross-disciplinarity and strategic partnerships as tools for organising research in order to solve complex societal challenges.

Visions for Horizon 2020 – from Copenhagen Research Forum

The EU Commission’s proposal for a new framework programme, Horizon 2020, is devoted to strengthening the strategic organisation of European research and innovation. The ambition is to mobilise excellent scientists across various branches of knowledge in order to provide solutions for complex societal challenges.

The Copenhagen Research Forum (CRF) set out to assemble a broad spectrum of leading European scientists to give their view on the Commission’s choice of societal challenges and possible ways of implementing Horizon 2020 as a means of tackling them. Approximately 600 scientists contributed throughout the process.

The CRF recommendations clearly affirm the EU Commission’s selection of societal challenges as well as the idea of supporting cross-disciplinary collaboration as a means to address crosscutting problems within and across challenges. The recommendations also send a strong signal of support for a framework where excellence, cross-disciplinarity and simplicity in administrative processes are key components.

The following pages provide an overview of the process behind the CRF, the main recommendations as well as a discussion of new instruments to be implemented to support cross-disciplinarity.

The CRF Process

The main idea behind CRF was to involve a broad spectrum of Europe’s top-level researchers in the making of Horizon 2020 since part of its preparation would take place during the Danish EU presidency in the first half of 2012.

The University of Copenhagen, Technical University of Denmark and the Capital Region of Denmark wanted the scientific community to provide unbiased input to Horizon 2020, with the aim of making Horizon 2020 as attractive as possible to researchers working in the areas covered by the six societal challenges. Professor Liselotte Højgaard was appointed as Chair of CRF.

The concept was finalised in the summer of 2011. The key issue was that CRF should convey ideas, visions and comments from outstanding researchers, all of whom were invited personally to join CRF. A full list of names of conference participants may be found in the CRF report (see link on the last page).

The process comprised several steps and organisational roles:

Chairship – This involved contacting researchers for the six groups and establishing a chairship comprised of one Dane and one European researcher for each challenge:

  • Health: Professor Liselotte Højgaard MD, DMSc and Professor Deborah Smith.
  • Food & Agriculture: Professor Peter Olesen and Director Kees de Gooijer.
  • Energy: Dr. Jørgen Kjems and Professor Kjell Hugo Bendiksen.
  • Transport: Head of Dept. Niels Buus Kristensen and Programme Director Dr. Christian Piehler.
  • Climate & Resources: Professor Katherine Richardson and Professor Johan Rockström.
  • Society: Professor Ole Wæver and Professor Loet Leydesdorff.

The six panel chairships were asked to invite up to 100 researchers to offer their views in a virtual discussion forum. Out of the invitees, 15 researchers from each group were also asked to meet at a workshop conference in Copenhagen on 16 January 2012 shortly after the Danish EU presidency began.

Virtual discussion forum – Divided equally between the six societal challenges, the 600 researchers were invited to comment on the draft text of Horizon 2020. The researchers were asked to contribute personal visions for the future as well as point out needs and possible solutions. They were also asked to suggest and comment on the technologies and the priorities within the given challenge as well as consider the instruments and implementation needed to ensure success as seen from a scientific perspective. Lastly, they were requested to contribute their ideas on how to secure the link between research and the innovation perspective stressed in Horizon 2020. All of the input was collected in a draft report that formed the basis of the aforementioned conference in Copenhagen.

Conference – On 16 January 2012, the six panels met and discussed the draft report, offering comments and adding new ideas inspired by the input collected in the virtual discussion forum. The aim was to reach agreement on (1) the views and recommendations in each of the six panels, (2) a joint statement during plenary sessions expressing the view on scientific issues cutting across all six challenges and (3) recommendations for the implementation of a challenge-oriented framework as a basis for excellent research and far-reaching solutions.

The Danish Minister of Science, Innovation and Higher Education, Morten Østergaard, attended the conference.

Outcome – The conference resulted in a condensed report offering ideas and solutions that could help form Horizon 2020 from a scientific point of view. The conclusions were presented to the European community in an open dialogue as explained in the following.

Dissemination – The CRF recommendations were presented to the EU Council of Ministers’ meeting in Copenhagen on 1 February 2012 and subsequently to the European Commission, the European Parliament as well as directly to Director General for DG Research and Innovation, Robert Jan Smits. The dissemination activities were closely connected to the Danish EU presidency.

In the following section, we provide key statements from the CRF panels’ recommendations. A full version can be found in the report.

Key CRF Recommendations for Each Societal Challenge

Health, Demographic Change and Wellbeing
  • Biomedical research and its implementation in clinical practice must be supported and accelerated. This requires a paradigm shift towards personalised medicine.
  • The global revolution in biomedicine is providing new technologies. Utilising those technologies requires vast efforts to expand and implement them.
  • A European platform engaging all key stakeholders to ensure discovery and delivery of these technologies will be crucial.
  • Establishment of a European Strategic Action for Healthier Citizens is also recommended to assist in strategic long-term healthcare research and planning, including preventive measures and the spread of best practice across Europe.

Food Security, Sustainable Agriculture, Marine and Maritime Research and the Bio-economy

  • Overriding challenges of increasing demand, competition for land use and other resource scarcities create massive pressure to produce significantly more per unit of a given resource.
  • Food, agriculture and land use must be seen in a complex and multi-directional value chain encompassing climate, available resources, environmental sustainability, transport, energy and health perspectives, not to mention social and economic requirements.
  • Key objectives are reductions in food waste and water consumption, valorisation of all bio-resources, including municipal bio-waste and agro- and bio-industrial side streams as well as the recycling of sufficient amounts of carbon and phosphor to maintain soil vitality.
  • Increasing prevalence of diet-related diseases and disorders calls for a balanced healthcare concept more geared towards prevention.
  • There is a need to create a collaborative innovation culture linking researchers, companies (especially SMEs), university education, NGOs and governments.
Secure, Clean and Efficient Energy
  • Horizon 2020 priorities should build on (1) a revised Strategic Energy Technology Plan (SET Plan), including a critical update of technology road maps and (2) a new, complementary systemic approach to combine technological, economical, political, social and cultural research to facilitate the transformation of the energy system as a whole.
  • Collaboration of social sciences and humanities with ‘hard sciences’ must be recognised as necessary and organised and funded accordingly to meet the challenges at the system level.
  • Coupling of educational efforts with research and innovation is critical for realising the ambitious plans for technology implementation and the overall system transition agenda.
  • Direct mobilisation of universities in addressing systemic challenges should be given high priority.
Smart, Green and Integrated Transport
  • The complexity of transport challenges requires closer cooperation across scientific domains and integration across universities, research institutions and industry than in the past.
  • Meeting the challenge of developing smart and green transport systems requires not only technological solutions but also a better understanding of transport behaviour and the use of innovative and effective policy instruments.
  • This calls for a more pronounced role for the social sciences than in previous framework programmes as well as for strengthening the integration of scientific domains.
  • Technological innovation will still be of paramount importance, including cleaner and safer vehicles for all transportation modes, cost-effective alternative fuels, advanced ICT for personalised real-time travel information with modal integration, metropolitan traffic management and smart payment systems.


Climate Action,Resource Efficiency and Raw Materials
  • Climate change constitutes one of the most urgent global resource challenges facing society, where the resource in question is our atmosphere as a receptacle for greenhouse gas wastes.
  • Development of actions and strategies for dealing with this challenge can potentially provide models for dealing with resource scarcity issues (biodiversity, ecosystem services, water, phosphorous, ores and metals etc.).
  • A general paradigm for dealing with resource scarcity is reducing the need for – and more efficient use of – the resource, combined with the adaptation of human activities to changed conditions and/or the recognition of resource scarcity.
  • In dealing with resource scarcity in general and the climate in particular, a major challenge is to channel the knowledge gained on the mechanisms of the Earth’s system into political and societal action. This requires cross-disciplinary approaches that integrate natural sciences with other disciplines.
  • The focus of Horizon 2020 should thus be to underpin societal responses to climate challenges by including research on systemic interaction, collecting baseline information and establishing monitoring activities of different mitigation and adaptation approaches.
Inclusive, Innovative and Secure Societies
  • The focus on ‘inclusive, innovative and secure societies’ provides a highly welcome challenge to the social sciences and humanities (SSH).
  • The Horizon 2020 proposal tends to focus on ‘hard’ technologies, especially statistics, assessments and measures of efficiency (evidence-based lessons), with a corresponding tendency to employ a technocratic definition of the nature of the challenges (e.g. in the security part, critical infrastructure protection is prioritised over international politics).
  • This represents a limited political and social vision that underestimates the power of citizens and communities to contribute to the realisation of inclusion, innovation and security.
  • Corresponding to a vision comprising a broader mobilisation of societal energies are forms of research that employ a wider selection of methodologies and theories to study the dynamics of society as productive and generative, rather than as the site of problems to be solved.
  • SSH can play key roles in the other societal challenges as well. It is important that researchers in the SSH engage scholars in the hard sciences in a joint effort to cultivate research-based innovation regarding the way expertise and democracy interact.

Excellence,Cross-disciplinarity and Simplicity

The ambition of using societal challenges as a means to organise European research requires new approaches. The message from CRF is to pursue this through a combination of excellence, cross-disciplinarity and administrative simplicity.

The CRF report signals a strong will among scientists to enter into cross-disciplinary collaborations in order to address complex challenges for which no single discipline has the solution. But this must not violate an equally strong need for administrative simplification and a continued effort to support excellence in all research activities. Without excellence as a fundamental requirement in all programmes, the cross-disciplinary ambition may become a hollow and strange add-on to ‘real’ science. Whenever a problem calls for a disciplinary approach, this should not be substituted with cross-disciplinarity. Timely application of new approaches must be a key priority.

Strategic Partnerships as Tools for Organising Cross-disciplinary Collaboration?

One of the ways in which cross-disciplinarity may enter the Horizon 2020 programme could be by establishing strategic partnerships devoted to delivering solutions to complex challenges. Strategic partnerships could be a way for the Horizon 2020 programme to nurture new constellations of fields of expertise without establishing very detailed road maps or other guidelines ‘from above’. It would be important to involve industrial and civil society actors in the formulation of strategic objectives in order to ensure that strategic partnerships become platforms for linking strategic priorities from science, policy, industry and other actors and that these partnerships organise collaboration accordingly.

A key feature of implementing strategic partnerships should be to provide them with sufficient operational freedom so as to secure flexibility and entrepreneurship in how partnerships pursue their goals at the project level.

Strategic partnerships should be an invitation and challenge to European research to explore new models of collaboration. This corresponds also with a clear recommendation from the CRF advocating the setup of strategic platforms connecting long-term visions with mid- and short-term investments in a dynamic way.

The advantage of a partnership-based organisation of strategic research is that it allows coordinating a variety of fields and actors while creatively linking actors who would otherwise not establish collaborative ties. Coordination and connection are thus key aspects of well-functioning strategic partnerships – but only if the model builds on principles that afford strategic partnerships sufficient degrees of freedom in organising collaboration projects. Otherwise, the risk of reproducing fragmentation and the resulting problems known from FP7 cooperation will be substantial.

The CRF epitomises an interest among scientists to engage in shaping the framework conditions of research and innovation. Beyond the scope of specific recommendations, the CRF may serve as a source of inspiration for how to establish a direct dialogue between the scientific community and policymakers.

The CRF report was followed up by a ‘CRF II’ process during which the chairship of CRF put together a set of recommendations for the implementation of Horizon 2020 in light of the CRF report. The resulting paper (Højgaard, L. et al. [2012a]) focuses on recommendations for implementing measures to promote excellence, cross-disciplinarity, simplicity and impact. The recommendations for implementation along with the CRF report can be found at the CRF homepage (crf2012.org).

Authors: Brenneche, Nicolaj Tofte                   ntb.lpf@cbs.dk

Højgaard, Liselotte      liselotte.hoejgaard@regionh.dk

Sponsors: Capital Region of Denmark

Technical University of Denmark

University of Copenhagen

Type: European research and innovation policy, Horizon 2020
Organizer: Capital Region of Denmark, Technical University of Denmark, University of Copenhagen

Contact: Anne Line Mikkelsen, amik@adm.dtu.dk

Duration: 2011 – 2012
Budget: n.a.
Time Horizon: 2020
Date of Brief: November 2012

Download: EFP Brief No. 228_Visions for Horizon 2020.

Sources and References

Højgaard, L. et al (2012): Visions for Horizon 2020 – from Copenhagen Research Forum.

Højgaard, L. et al (2012a): Copenhagen Research Forum II. Recommendations for an optimized implementation of Horizon 2020.

Both are available at www.crf2012.org.

EFP Brief No. 225: FESTOS – Foresight of Evolving Security Threats Posed by Emerging Technologies

Tuesday, October 23rd, 2012

New technologies can improve our quality of life greatly, but they may also have a “dark side”. The objectives of FESTOS were to identify and assess evolving security threats posed by the potential abuse of emerging technologies and new scientific knowledge, on the one hand, and propose means to reduce the likelihood of such threats, on the other. Looking ahead to the year 2030, this foresight study scanned the horizon of different fields of technology. Possible means of prevention and policy measures were studied in the context of trade-offs between security needs and the freedom of research and knowledge.

Emerging Technologies
Pose New Threats to Security

The FESTOS project (Foresight of Evolving Security Threats Posed by Emerging Technologies) identified and assessed evolving security threats caused by the abuse or inadequate use of emerging technologies and areas of applied research. Looking ahead to the year 2035, FESTOS scanned the horizon of fields such as nanotechnology, biotechnology, robotics, new materials, and information technology, as well as capabilities that might emerge from converging technologies.

FESTOS identified and evaluated these potential threats on the horizon. Based on this scanning, FESTOS stimulated “out of the box”, forward-looking thinking and constructed “threat scenarios”. Finally, FESTOS recommended policy guidelines designed to minimise the probability of these evolving security threats materialising. Possible means of prevention and policy measures were studied in the light of trade-offs between security needs and the freedom of research and knowledge while taking into account shifts in the public perception of threats and related security issues.

Three Pillars of the Project

FESTOS had three pillars:

  1. To identify new, potentially threatening technologies.
  2. To assess emerging threats and – based on a selected set of potential threats – to construct scenarios with appropriate early-warning indicators.
  3. To draft preparatory measures and policy guidelines.

As all foresight studies, FESTOS did not aim to predict the future. Instead, the project sought to raise awareness and initiate a debate among and between scientists and policy-makers about the possible “dark sides” of future technologies.

Technology Scanning

The FESTOS team carried out a horizon scanning of emerging technologies that might pose security threats in the future if these technologies are abused. Furthermore, an assessment of the potential threats was carried out. The first result was a structured description of around 80 “potentially threatening” technologies in the six fields listed above. The next step was to evaluate the threat aspects of 33 selected technologies by means of an international expert survey in which 280 experts participated. The collection of technologies was not intended to be exhaustive but to stimulate further discussions and provide a basis for the subsequent analysis. As such, it can serve as a “dynamic data bank” of potentially “abusable” technologies.

Determining the Nature and Severity of Threats

Subsequently, the results of the expert survey were analysed in terms of the likely time spans for the threats to materialise, prioritisation (relative impact of each technology), the nature and extent of the potential damages, as well as societal issues. This activity included ranking and selecting security threats for scenario construction. In methodological terms, the exercise included expert brainstorming sessions, a security assessment (including Ansoff filters and the STEEPV method), an analysis of the relevant signals of change and wild cards.

Scenario Development

Four narrative scenarios based on the identified security threats from emerging technologies were developed. The aim of the scenarios was to depict possible futures that take into account the social dimension and the interdependency of different impacts. In a scenario workshop, five methods and procedures were used: wild cards, security climates, futures wheel, security café for impact analysis and brainstorming.

Control and Prevention

The possible control of scientific knowledge to prevent unintended new security threats is a very sensitive issue in open democratic societies. FESTOS raised a debate on whether and how to control emerging science and technology developments in order to prevent abuse without slowing down the process of knowledge creation needed for innovation, progress and improving human life. Secondly, FESTOS analysed the problematic issue of controlled dissemination of scientific knowledge in the light of the inevitable trade-offs between security and freedom of research and knowledge creation. The methods used were an online survey of approximately 100 selected experts and representatives from various parts of society, followed by 5-10 semi structured in-depth interviews in each of the participating countries (Poland, Germany, Finland, UK and Israel) with selected key actors representing civil society and other relevant organisations, and, finally, an international workshop on control and prevention, with the participation of invited experts and representatives.

 

 Top Technology Threats and Threat Scenarios

Three Types of Potential Threats

Examination of the diverse technologies led to identifying three broad categories of potential threats: The first category is the disruption of certain technological applications for malicious purposes (for example, jamming communications in intelligent collision avoidance systems in transportation). The second category concerns the increased availability of technologies that once were confined to the military or to unique, heavily funded laboratories and were prohibitively expensive. The third category concerns surprising malicious uses of new technologies developed for completely different, beneficial and civilian purposes. The most interesting for FESTOS seemed to be the third category, where we found the most unexpected threats, signals of change or surprising “wild cards”.

Ten New Top Priority Threats

The threat analysis resulted in a prioritisation of the threatening technologies with respect to their potential for malicious use (combining the easiness of putting them to malicious use and the severity of the threat). The resulting top ten technologies are:

  1. Smart mobile phone mash-ups
  2. Internet of things (IoT)
  3. Cloud computing
  4. New gene transfer technologies
  5. Advanced artificial intelligence
  6. Synthetic biology
  7. Cyborg insects
  8. Energetic nanomaterials
  9. Radio-frequency identification (RFID)
  10. Autonomous & semi-autonomous mini robots

Furthermore, the intensity of the potential threat (i.e. the overall threat to several spheres of society according to the experts) posed by the ten most relevant technologies was prioritised:

  1. Advanced artificial intelligence
  2. Human enhancement
  3. Swarm robotics
  4. Cyborg insects
  5. Internet of things (IoT)
  6. Water-catalysing explosive reactions
  7. Future fuels and materials for nuclear technologies
  8. AI-based robot-human interaction
  9. Cloud computing
  10. Programmable matter

For the time scale 2015 – 2020, the following potential “wild card technologies” were identified (i.e. technologies with high severity threats and a low likelihood of actual abuse): swarm robotics, brain implants, water-catalysing explosive reactions, future fuels, self-replicating nano-assemblers, medical nano-robots, ultra-dense data storage, meta-materials with negative light refraction index and synthetic biology.

Four Scenarios for Threat Assessment

Four narrative scenarios for threat assessment and identification of indicators were produced:

Scenario 1: Cyber-insects Attack!

Swarms of cyber-insects attack people and animals.

Scenario 2: The Genetic Blackmailers

Individual DNA is misused for purposes of extortion.

Scenario 3: At the Flea Market

Intelligent everyday nanotechnology-based products can be set to self-destruct, which is triggered by a wireless signal.

Scenario 4: We’ll Change Your Mind…

A terrorist group uses a virus to change the behaviour of a portion of the population for a certain period of time.

Conflict between Security and Freedom of Research

With the aid of the expert survey and the interviews, the FESTOS team assessed the respondents’ perceptions of the awareness, acceptance and effectiveness of control and prevention measures. The results show that control and prevention measures exist, mostly in the fields of ICT and biotechnology. On the basis of the national reports on the participating countries’ security institutions, we can say that the main institutions engaged in control activities are governments, ministries and security agencies. Most of the control measures have a high or very high impact on scientific knowledge, especially the freedom of science, knowledge creation and dissemination. The experts consider media, including the Internet, to be a dangerous channel of dissemination. By contrast, the most accepted control measures are

  1. education curricula including programmes aiming to raise the awareness of potential threats,
  2. measures invented by the knowledge producer and
  3. measures developed by the media to limit the publication of sensitive knowledge.

Codes of conduct, internal guidelines (bottom-up approach) and legal regulations are perceived as the most effective control measures.

 

Policy Conclusions

Continuation of Horizon Scanning of Emerging Technologies

There is a need for networking, international cooperation and broader expert panels to evaluate emerging technologies continuously with respect to possible unintended effects relevant to security. More detailed technological evaluations are required in the short-term, and it was suggested that at least sixty to eighty technologies need to be evaluated. FESTOS provides a starting point to cover all the risks and work towards a EU risk strategy in different areas of science and technology. In addition, there is a need to cooperate much closer with the EU patent office and with patent agencies around the world. It is furthermore very important to secure financing in Horizon2020 to allow continuing the horizon scanning work carried out in FESTOS.

Academic Freedom in Democratic Societies and “Knowledge Control”

There is a tension between possible security dangers of technology R&D and academic freedom, and there seem to be only two “stronger” control measures that academics are willing to accept: internal guidelines in research organisations and codes of conduct. Codes of conduct are the preferred control mechanism in R&D.

Ethical Control and Codes of Conduct

Since science and technology is globalised and develops at a fast pace, we can only have ethical control if there are international codes of conduct, to be developed by international organisations. Scientists need to understand the consequences of their research, and this needs to be handled at an international level. There seems to be a difference between democratic and non-democratic countries in this respect. In democratic countries, there is less of a threat that scientists might develop technologies that will be misused. In societies that are more closed and lack democratic institutions, scientists tend to continue their research even if they are aware that their invention might pose a threat to security. In any event, industry has a massive influence, including the ability to effectively lobby for its interests. Some of could focus on safe researcher practices, codes of conduct etc. and assist in the creation of an international “control” environment.

Project Assessment, Social Responsibility and Security by Design

It is highly desirable that the “dark side” is considered at the beginning of projects. Therefore, it is crucial to develop assessment criteria. It is more effective to build in design control measures during the design phases of the research than to turn to ethical assessment after the research is completed. Such an anticipatory approach results in “security by design”.

Networking: the Role of the State and the EU

Another critical element is “networking and networks”, which will be very important in the future. This aspect concerns how scientific organisations are networked to produce results for society. All innovations are based on knowledge, and we must develop knowledge-management systems to manage the dark sides as well. This requires an active role of the EU Commission and European Parliament.

The Role of Education

There is a need to educate students as early as possible about threats and security issues during their studies at university. Knowledge about these control dilemmas should be added to the universities’ curricula.

We also need early media training for children since they will encounter a number of challenges as they increasingly navigate an expanding digital universe. Such media proficiency is even more important since the digital universe can be unfamiliar or even unknown to their parents, who are “digital immigrants”.  The future “digital natives” can only cope and shape the digital universe if they are properly informed and know how to protect themselves.

Bottom-up vs. Top-down Approaches of Control

Actors and decision-makers, as they balance security needs, the requirements set by open democratic societies and the freedom of science, should take active measures against the possible dangers of the dark side of technologies. More promising than top-down measures are bottom-up proposals: Instead of legislation and coercive measures with rather questionable outcomes, the FESTOS team proposes to develop soft and optional measures. These measures, first of all, are based on self-regulation, self-control and the education of engineers and scientists. Codes of conduct, ethical guidelines and educational measures may initially be established on sub-state levels but must be developed into national, Europe-wide and global regimes. While self-regulation and education may be the means of choice in most cases, it has to be stressed that there are also exceptional cases, such as weapons of mass destruction, for instance. In these cases, there exist international regimes to regulate the prohibition of research and development of extremely dangerous technologies and, for the most part, the international community complies with the rules. An example is the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention (BTWC), which was the first multilateral disarmament treaty banning the production of an entire category of weapons.

FESTOS Consortium

The consortium of the project “Foresight of Evolving Security Threats Posed by Emerging Technologies” (FESTOS) consists of the following partners:

Interdisciplinary Centre for Technology Analysis and Forecasting (ICTAF) at Tel-Aviv University, Israel

Finland Futures Research Centre (FFRC), University of Turku, Finland

Centre for Technology and Society, Technical University of Berlin (TUB), Germany

Institute of Sociology (IS), University of Lodz, Poland

EFP Consulting (UK) Ltd, UK

Authors: Burkhard Auffermann    Burkhard.Auffermann@utu.fi

Aharon Hauptman         haupt@post.tau.ac.il

Sponsors: European Union DG Research
Type: European Union foresight
Organizer: ICTAF – Interdisciplinary Center for Technology Analysis and Forecasting,                                             Coordinator: Dr. Yair Sharan, sharany@post.tau.ac.il
Duration: 2009 – 2011
Budget: € 824,552
Time Horizon: 2035
Date of Brief: February

Download: EFP-Brief-No.-225-FESTOS

Sources and References

http://www.festos.org/

 

EFP Brief No. 217: Sectoral Innovation Foresight: The Sectors

Friday, May 25th, 2012

This brief continues the coverage of the Sectoral Innovation Foresight of Brief no. 216 by taking a closer look at seven out of the nine sectors that were explored in the project as part of the Europe INNOVA initiative: automotive, food and drink, knowledge-intensive services, aerospace, and wholesale and retail. The foresight study aimed to identify potential policy issues and challenges of the future. The emphasis was put on developments that could possibly have a disruptive effect on the sectors under consideration, on the one hand, and on developments that are likely to be of cross-sectoral relevance to innovation, on the other.

Sectoral Futures

The scenarios developed offered a variety of different futures with quite divergent impacts on the competitive landscape, technological progress, environment and society. The scenarios aimed to guide policymakers in considering specific scenarios but were also an attempt to prepare them for more than one possible future. This also helped gauge the extent to which policies maintain flexibility (‘robust strategies’) or focus on one single scenario (‘focused strategies’).

Including the full results for each of the nine sectors would be an impossible task within the format of this foresight brief. Short summaries of the nine sectors will be presented instead. For some sectors short, summaries of the scenarios are included, for others only the key drivers are presented. The complete results are available in the nine sectoral foresight reports, which can be downloaded from the website (see references at the end).

Automotive

The automotive industry has been hard hit by the economic crisis. This has had a strong impact on its future strategic orientation and has triggered the transformation of the sector. Driving factors such as technical advances in developing power train technologies, new manufacturing strategies, market saturation, regulation, energy prices, and mobility behaviour have been considered to be significant.

From a future-oriented perspective, the following four drivers can be considered as particularly influential: (1) income (customers may have more or less relative income available in the future), (2) energy storage (we may see breakthrough innovations with respect to cost and capacity in relation to this crucial component of alternative power train technologies or only incremental innovations), (3) mobility behaviour (we can think of a differentiation of individual mobility or may see a reduction and substitution by public transport), and (4) regulation (ranging from radical attempts to incremental regulations). The last driver is pertinent in this respect as it is influenced by policymakers; hence, policy – more or less proactively – has a considerable influence on shaping the future of the automotive industry.

Construction

The construction sector is of considerable economic and strategic importance: the built environment affects almost every economic and leisure activity. The outputs of the construction sector affect our landscape, our environment, our living and working conditions – and will continue to do so for generations to come. It provides more employment than any other sector. And, more than any other sector, construction accounts for the use of raw materials and production of waste.

The following trends and drivers resulted as being particularly influential, yet uncertain, in the 10-15 years to come: (1) the conditions for the financing of investment (Will there be sufficient public and private financing available?); (2) sustainability (Will sustainability be market or regulation driven?); (3) the role of the public sector (Will public procurement be price-based or performance-based? Will the public sector act as a regulator or as a business operator?); (4) user-driven design (mass production vs. customisation, passive vs. interactive); and (5) labour (Will there be a shortage of people and skills or a surplus through immigration?).

Food and Drink

Currently, the picture of the food and drink industry as well as consumer choices seems to be mixed. Interests range from preferences for natural and minimally processed foods and drinks over specialised, fortified and high-tech nutrition to a diversity of convenience and fast foods. Many different factors, such as economic prosperity, ecological consciousness, environmental problems, food safety concerns, importance of health, technological progress, acceptance of new technology and economic prosperity, can have an influence on the direction of consumer and industry choices.

The scenarios derived from the following trends considered as generally fixed within a short- to mid-term time frame: the increase in global population, a decline of population in many EU countries due to lower birth rates, an increase in life expectancy in EU countries (aging society), and increases in scientific and technological knowledge and possibilities. In addition, the following parameters were considered to vary across the different scenarios and account for their differences: economic prosperity (on a world, country and individual scale), ecological consciousness, environmental problems (occurrences like droughts, floods, extreme weather that could negatively affect food production), food safety concerns (higher vs. lower concerns within society), importance of health (high interest in healthy living vs. rather low interest leading to problems like obesity) and last, technological progress as a function of socio-economic factors that lead to the real application of knowledge and possibilities.

Scenario 1: ‘Business as usual’. This is the reference scenario that depicts the current diversity and huge differences in the food and drink industry ranging from highly fortified and functional food over the trend of natural and organic products to fast food and food with no considerable nutritional value or even harmful ingredients. This scenario does not score high on overall innovativeness, although some sectors (e.g. functional food) will have great potential while others more or less continue their way of only small and incremental improvements in the future.

Scenario 2: ‘Going natural’. This scenario depicts the growing tendency towards less food processing and food products perceived as natural by consumers. Much innovation potential, such as the utilisation of genetically modified organisms (GMO) or nanoparticles in food production as well as other high-tech experiments, is found in areas generally not popular with the consumer. But also conventional ‘fast food’ considered unhealthy will be replaced more and more by other fast alternatives such as salads or fruit. Here, innovations mainly lie in finding ways to process food with healthier ingredients (e.g. natural food additives) or improved testing and process automation. A growing consumer concern over the environment and ethics (e.g. animal rights, fair trade etc.) are driving factors. This scenario is more likely under conditions of higher economic prosperity and greater concern over health issues. But it can also become more likely if the perception of ‘industrial food’ and industrial food producers becomes more negative.

Scenario 3: ‘Cheap and convenient’: This scenario reflects a situation where general prosperity as well as the interest in health, future and innovation declines. Contradictory information about nutritional health benefits as well as scientific fraud combined with higher budget consciousness leads to a growing disinterest of consumers in healthy nutrition. Budget (for some involuntarily), fastness, convenience and indulgence are major drivers. Resources for innovation are rather scarce, and companies are mostly interested in cost reduction.

Scenario 4: ‘High-tech nutrition’: In this scenario, technological progress is fast and developments from different disciplines, from biotechnology to material science, influence innovations in food and drink manufacturing. The consumers tend to increasingly accept novel technologies in the area of food and drink. Health improvement beyond healthy nutrition only stands in the centre of interest. It is considered to be achievable only through advanced technological modifications of food and drink products, which even result in medicinal food.

Scenario 5: ‘Emergency’: This scenario depicts a situation where some of the basic requirements of food security (availability and accessibility) are in jeopardy and the main goal for solutions and innovations lies in getting enough food. The ‘emergency’ scenario is certainly a kind of worst case scenario, but if sustainability were to be neglected, this could become a realistic outcome.

In the principal, technological possibilities in the area of food and drink production is high and even growing. The major challenge, however, lies in bringing these possibilities in line with consumer interests, solving current challenges and fostering the developments towards desirable futures while also stimulating culinary diversity and protecting culinary traditions.

Knowledge-intensive Services

The growth of knowledge-intensive services (KIS), including knowledge-intensive business services (KIBS), has been fuelled by the application of new technologies and changes in demand. The application of information and communication technologies (ICTs) is the most important technology driver of growth in KIBS. The application of ICTs creates new service opportunities but also provides new ways to provide services to clients and enhances the range of service firms. Demand-side drivers of KIBS growth include a higher degree of specialisation and division of labour in the economy, which leads to an increasing demand for external expertise and an increasing degree of outsourcing. In addition, internationalisation opens up new markets for service firms and facilitates international off-shoring.

Based on these drivers, the scenarios of the future development of KIBS are sketched along two dimensions: (1) the degree knowledge can be codified, which is key to automated service provision and scale advantages; (2) the stability and fluidity of the business environment, which allows or hampers outsourcing, internationalisation, entrepreneurship and the emergence of new players. Combinations of the two drivers result in four scenarios.

Aerospace

Future developments in the sector are particularly influenced by demand drivers and technology development. Demand drivers differ between aeronautics and space, with demand for aeronautics particularly shaped by expected growth in air travel, which in turn depends on economic growth and fuel prices. Space, on the other hand, is still a largely regulated sector dominated by public demand, making public demand and regulation key demand drivers. Future demand for space applications is largely based on addressing societal challenges, such as security issues, monitoring and managing transport as well as land, water and air resources. Generally, regulation is the largest source of uncertainty, primarily affecting future demand in aeronautics, for example through an emission trading system, but also in the space sector, with regulation touching on liability issues and space tourism.

Key uncertainty factors that have a high impact and account for differences between the scenarios are the availability and price of energy, the level of economic growth and geopolitical uncertainties. These factors were identified as posing the biggest future uncertainties for the sector.

Scenario 1: ‘Global green aerospace’: This scenario describes a peaceful, highly globalised world in 2040 that has successfully taken steps toward an energy transition assuring a secure energy supply at reasonable but increasing prices. Business people but also private individuals enjoy the freedom of being able to travel frequently and far away. Terrorism is not a major threat obstructing air travel. This leads to a flourishing aeronautics and space sector. New technologies and smart regulation lead to radical improvements in aircraft efficiency and emissions while the space sector allows monitoring and tackling many societal issues, such as climate change, environmental resources and mobility. Furthermore, free access to space and a global judicial system for space also allow the sector to flourish commercially.

Scenario 2: ‘Regional aerospace’: This scenario describes a world in 2040 with strong regional power hubs and limited ties between them. No global agreement on climate change has been reached, blocking a smooth transition to renewable alternatives. Access to fossil fuels hence remains important and shapes international relations. This combination of realpolitik and protectionist tendencies leads to slow economic growth and rising energy prices, with large regional differences based on access to oil/gas resources. Europe tries to lead the way but struggles with strong international competitors. While still able to travel globally, people choose to take holiday trips within Europe, largely for economic reasons. With increasing rivalry between global power hubs, access to space becomes more difficult in this climate.

Scenario 3: ‘Zero-sum games’: A rapid energy scarcity leads to highly fluctuating energy prices and interruptions in supply. Globalisation, thriving on cheap energy and transport, comes to a halt with severe economic adjustment processes. International holiday trips are reduced sharply with people adjusting their consumption patterns to a changed economic environment. Countries seek their interests in protectionist policies leading to a downward spiral and breakdown of multilateral institutions. Trade conflicts become the norm with resulting conflicts for access to natural resources. Security expenditure rises steeply at the expense of other policies, such as the environment. European integration is at stake. Overall, this is an unfavourable scenario with regions competing on a zero-sum basis leading to a deteriorating economic and social environment.

Textiles and Clothing

The European textiles and clothing (T/C) sector is undergoing two main simultaneous developments: the move from a labour-intensive, low-technology sector to a knowledge-intensive industry and the ongoing relocation of production out of Europe. While new technological opportunities for the T/C sector are emerging, the move to a knowledge-based sector is still at an early stage and major challenges need to be addressed.

A number of main drivers of change have been identified, including both technological drivers as well as demand-side drivers. Out of these technological drivers, intelligent clothing and smart materials are considered to be of outstanding importance. Findings in other technologies, including ICT and nanotechnology, are of growing importance and increasingly incorporated into textiles and clothing products as well. New production methods are another main technological driver, enabling the T/C sector to reduce the still high share of rather low-skilled manual labour, reduce the amount of energy and raw materials used, and increase the flexibility and quality of production processes. These new products and production methods are complemented by the more frequent use of e-commerce and other interactive technologies, offering a wide range of new business models. On the demand side, changes in consumer behaviour are driven by demographic changes, an increasing consumer awareness of factors affecting health and sustainability, and consumers’ attitudes towards counterfeit goods.

As these drivers are of varying importance to either the clothing or the technical textiles subsector, two sets of scenarios were developed, each illustrating three different developments of the two subsectors within the next five to ten years in Europe.

Wholesale and Retail Trade

The scenarios developed for the retail sector followed the rationale that retailers are the link between consumers, on the one side, and a wide range of actors, on the other, including wholesalers, suppliers, logistics services, providers of payment systems, advertising and marketing agencies, construction services, waste industry and recycling services. The following drivers and trends were considered the most important ones having a high impact: diversification of lifestyles, transportation costs, regulation and the structure of the sector (further market concentration versus a more diverse landscape of retail and wholesale services).

Scenario 1: ‘Big boxes everywhere & green big boxes everywhere’: In this scenario, discounters, supermarkets, hypermarkets and the retail chains are omnipresent. Production and distribution are efficient and the high competition between retail chains forces the retailers to lower costs. Because of the limited number of retail chains the diversity of goods is limited. On the outskirts of towns, large supermarkets target car owners. Retailers are entirely in the lead in terms of what they offer in their ‘big boxes’ and they define what producers have to produce. Retailers are focused on providing relatively low-cost options, achieving economies of scale and offering bundled products and services. The chains develop their own brands while some trusted brands have survived and prospered.

Scenario 2: ‘Local markets – connected through the web’: In this scenario, local markets are strongly based on products produced locally. Because of strategies to reduce environmental impact and ensure continued economic support of farmers and local communities everywhere, local communities in Europe are interested in direct trade with developing countries. There is more local community-based trade between communities in different parts of the world aimed at bypassing established retail supply chains. At the same time, these local markets are linked through web-based networks, establishing a worldwide community of local market actors with the goal of optimising logistics, sharing knowledge on crafts, green production and cooperation. Brands are less powerful, but labels that ensure high environmental and social standards are more influential.

Scenario 3: ‘The digital consumer’: In this scenario, the common internal market for e-commerce is fully realised and shopping takes place through e-commerce. Online shopping and physical shops are combined in various ways: Companies present their products online and organise settings where consuming and shopping is embedded in spectacular events. Tools for virtual experience have been developed, and consumers can learn about products from the experience of interacting with objects, people and the environment. Producers of niche products are expected to benefit from this scenario because they get easy access to consumers and can use the new opportunities provided by social networks.

Scenario 4: ‘The rise of lifestyle stores and malls’: Providing more customer choice to meet changing lifestyle preferences is the defining driver in the ‘lifestyle store’ scenario. In this scenario, people are mainly searching for a stimulating shopping experience. This could be provided by everything from an ‘on-site eco-farmers’ market to a blend of high-tech entertainment and shopping facilities. Lifestyle shopping malls can include one or more buildings forming a complex of shops representing merchandisers and service providers that represent the special lifestyle. The lifestyle-oriented agglomeration of producers and customers offers new market perspectives for specialised producers and services providers that would otherwise not have access to a sufficient quantity of partners and potential clients.

Scenario 5: ‘The supermarket as a public good’: This scenario may arise if values in regard to shopping radically change the retail and wholesale landscape. In this scenario, the main kind of distribution is a type of supermarket that is owned by society not by any individual or company. It pursues democratic values and gives more freedom of choice to the consumer – but also assigns them more responsibilities. Its operations are geared not primarily toward maximising profits but toward fulfilling ethical values and supporting the reshaping of society towards more sustainability and societal soundness. This kind of supermarket could serve the key collective function of providing a place of social integration at the local level. It could lead to more socially and ecologically conscious consumption and force all companies along the supply chain to ensure transparency.

Authors: Annelieke van der Giessen     annelieke.vandergiessen@tno.nl
Sponsors: European Commission, DG Enterprise & Industry
Type: Foresight study as part of Europe INNOVA Sectoral Innovation Watch
Organiser: AIT, TNO with support from other partners in the Sectoral Innovation Watch consortium
Duration: 2008-2010 Budget: 336,000 € Time Horizon: 2020 (2040) Date of Brief: Mar 2012  

Download EFP Brief No. 217_Sectoral Innovation Foresight-Sectors

Sources and References

This foresight brief is based on the sectoral foresight reports from Sectoral Innovation Watch. All nine sectoral foresight reports can be downloaded here: http://www.europe-innova.eu/web/guest/publications/europe-innova-projects-publications

EFP Brief No. 216: Sectoral Innovation Foresight: The Challenges

Friday, May 25th, 2012

The Sectoral Innovation Foresight was part of the Sectoral Innovation Watch (SIW) project within the Europe INNOVA initiative. The foresight study aimed at exploring future developments in nine different sectors in order to identify potential policy issues and challenges of the future. The emphasis was put on developments that could possibly have a disruptive effect on the nine sectors under consideration, on the one hand, and on developments that are likely to be of cross-sectoral relevance to innovation, on the other.

Foresight on Sectoral Innovation Challenges

The Sectoral Innovation Foresight was part of the Sectoral Innovation Watch (SIW) project within the Europe INNOVA initiative. Europe INNOVA was launched by the European Commission’s Directorate General Enterprise and Industry as a laboratory for the development and testing of new tools and instruments in support of innovation with the goal of helping innovative enterprises innovate faster and better. It brought together public and private innovation support providers, such as innovation agencies, technology transfer offices, business incubators, financing intermediaries, cluster organisations and others. SIW aimed at monitoring and analysing trends and challenges. Detailed insights into sectoral innovation performance are crucial for the development of effective innovation policy at regional, national and European levels.

The foresight on sectoral innovation challenges aimed to integrate foresight exercises to understand the dynamics of sectoral systems of innovation. The concept of sectoral systems of innovation and production (Malerba 2002) seeks to provide a multidimensional, integrated and dynamic view of sectors. A sectoral system involves not only a specific knowledge base, technologies, inputs and demands that determine its development, both trends and trend-breaking developments are also drivers of sectoral change. The interactions of the sectoral actors (individuals, organisations, networks, institutions at various levels of aggregation) are shaped by institutions and by drivers of change. Undergoing change and transformation through the co-evolution of its various elements, a sectoral system is affected by science and technology drivers and demand-side drivers as well.

In recent years, a growing number of projects on sectoral innovation systems and on foresight concepts and activities have been initiated while a growing body of literature has been published. However, the two areas remained unconnected. Within the Sectoral Innovation Watch, the connection between these areas has now been made. The aim was to develop methods of sectoral innovation foresight for the development of a future-oriented innovation policy by identifying key drivers, emerging markets and requirements.

Foresight, in the way it was understood in SIW, is not about predicting the future, but follows the approach of ‘thinking, debating and shaping the future’ (European Commission 2002). It thus aims at sketching different reasonable variants of possible future developments (‘scenarios’), the associated challenges, underlying driving forces and options for dealing with them. In order to achieve this, the foresight approach must look beyond current trends (which are nevertheless an important input) and, in particular, into qualitative trend breaks that can give rise to qualitatively different future development paths in the sectors under study. It is when these qualitative trend breaks are superposed that major changes in both innovation and markets can happen.

This foresight exercise intended to look beyond time horizons that can be addressed by simply extrapolating current trends. In other words, to look sufficiently ahead for major changes to happen while at the same time staying sufficiently close to the present to remain relevant to decision-making during the next couple of years. While for some fast-changing sectors this may imply a three- to five-year time horizon (e.g. biotechnology), for others (e.g. construction) a ten-year time horizon may be more appropriate.

The nine sectors under study in the Sectoral Innovation Watch were:

  • biotechnology,
  • electrical and optical equipment,
  • automotive,
  • space and aeronautics,
  • construction,
  • wholesale and retail trade,
  • knowledge intensive services,
  • food and drink,
  • and textiles.

Enhancing Innovation and Competitiveness

The main objectives of the sectoral foresight exercise can be summarised as follows:

  • Explore and identify the main drivers of change in the nine sectors under study. These drivers will be both internal and external to the sectors, with several of them being of a crosscutting nature.
  • Identify and assess key future developments (i.e. main drivers, innovation trajectories, emerging markets, necessary co-developments, etc.). The emphasis is put on likely future innovation themes and emerging markets, more specifically also on the requirements and impacts that these innovation issues and emerging markets raise in terms of skills requirements, organisational, institutional and structural changes in the sectors concerned.
  • Develop scenario sketches for the sectors under study that capture the major uncertainties ahead of us.
  • Highlight key policy issues for the future, with a view to enhancing the innovation performance and competitiveness of firms operating in these sectors.

A Sectoral Perspective on Foresight

Foresight aims at sketching different reasonable variants of possible future developments, the associated challenges, underlying driving forces and options for dealing with them. In order to achieve this, the foresight approach looks at driving forces, captured for instance in trends and trend breaks. Recognizing the fact that future developments are by their very nature uncertain and open to value judgement, foresight covers activities to think the future, debate the future and shape the future. It is thus not a tool for predicting the future but a process that seeks to develop shared problem perceptions, make differences in expectations explicit and identify needs (and options) for action.

Thinking, debating and shaping the future of different but interlinked sectors is crucial today because innovation is a collectively shaped, distributed, and path-dependent process. Thinking, debating and shaping the future of sectoral systems has to embed the sector developments in contextual developments.

Innovation at the sectoral level depends to a large extent on the developments within the innovation system, but it is also driven by developments in its environment, like for instance changes in science and technology. To explore future patterns of innovation, it is thus necessary to investigate these contextual developments as well as corresponding developments within a sectoral innovation system.

For the purpose of the sectoral foresight exercise, the main building blocks of sectoral systems of innovation and production have been adjusted in order to integrate them with the foresight approach. This has led to a simple pattern of analysis, along the lines of which the sectoral foresights will be structured. The essence of this approach can be captured by the subsequent building blocks (see Figure 1, next page):

  • Drivers, i.e. emerging trends and trend breaks in S&T developments, of expected demand – both internal and external to the sectors under study – that are likely to exert a major influence on emerging innovation themes. Broader crosscutting developments/trends (e.g. the extent to which globalisation affects a sector) are also taken into account.
  • Innovation themes, which are seen as the results of the interplay of S&T developments and changes in expected demand.
  • Emerging markets, which can achieve significance if an innovation theme evolves successfully, i.e. if potential barriers can be overcome and enablers be strengthened.
  • Co-developments in and around a sectoral innovation system; they can serve as enablers of and barriers to innovation. They can even be essential in order to allow markets to emerge. Such co-developments reflect the aforementioned building blocks of sectoral innovation systems.

For the purposes of this exercise, we will refer specifically to

  • organisational changes at the firm level,
  • firm strategies for dealing with emerging drivers
  • skills requirements needed, for instance, to absorb S&T developments,
  • structural changes, i.e. changing configurations of actors in a sector,
  • institutional change, i.e. changes in the ‘rules of the game’ determining the interactions between the actors.

In addition to these four building blocks, the co-evolutionary dynamics of innovation and change in a sector are captured by way of scenarios. Scenarios are to be understood as plausible and at the same time challenging combinations of these building blocks in a future-oriented perspective. Due to the uncertainties associated with contextual developments as well as with all other elements of the innovation system analysis, it is essential to think in terms of several, qualitatively different scenarios of the future, especially if a time horizon is chosen that goes beyond the scope of extrapolating current trends and aims at qualitative changes. In particular, the interplay of different drivers and their mutual reinforcement can give rise to major, even disruptive changes in sectoral innovation systems, with major implications for firm strategies as well as public policy.

The SIW foresight exercise was implemented in four main steps and the results of these steps were integrated in nine sectoral foresight reports:

State of the Art Analysis

For each sector a review of secondary sources on foresight was carried out. This review covered, in particular, the situational analysis, the analysis of drivers of change, as well as a first view on innovation themes. The nine interim sector papers served as input to the workshop on ‘Sectoral innovation foresight: key drivers, innovation themes & emerging markets’ that took place on 23-24 June 2009 in Brussels.

First Foresight Workshop

This first workshop aimed at validating and deepening the findings on drivers and innovation themes but also at exploring first ideas about future sector-level scenarios and associated co-developments. Interim findings were presented and discussed in working groups that dealt specifically with each individual sector as well as with the main crosscutting issues. The discussions with and feedback from the sector experts across Europe helped validate the interim results on key drivers, innovation themes, related emerging markets and associated requirements, and thus contributed to identifying the crucial issues for the future. The first workshop was attended by 60+ key players from the nine sectors, including industry representatives, scientists, foresight experts and policy advisors.

Deepening Findings and Scenario Development

On the basis of the results of the first workshop, the preliminary findings on emerging developments in the sectors were deepened. In particular, this phase evaluated the inputs to the scenario sketches from the first workshop and provided further input for the development of scenarios. Interviews were used to refine the understanding of the role of co-developments for the emergence of markets related to the innovation themes identified.

Second Foresight Workshop

Scenarios played a central role at the second foresight workshop in December 2009. Moreover, cross-sectoral issues were addressed, like, for instance, common drivers of change across sectors or inter-linkages between them. The second workshop also aimed at extracting those issues that – from a forward-looking perspective – are likely to require policy attention. The second workshop was attended by 60+ key players from the nine sectors, including industry representatives, researchers, foresight experts and policy advisors.

Futures Robust Policy Analysis

The finding of commonalities across all sectors reveals what generic factors would be part of the basic pool of drivers to consider when aiming to for policy flexibility (‘robust policy strategies’) in the medium term. This will not reduce uncertainty but can improve preparedness against unforeseen developments while contributing to better policies focused on one single scenario (‘focused strategies’).

In general, there are four main axes that, according to the foresight exercises done, are likely to determine and organise to a large extent the future development of the sectors of interest of the Sectoral Innovation Watch. These are, in no order or priority, general macroeconomic conditions, government policy and intervention, science and technology advances, and the human factor understood as susceptibility of population and democratic systems to broad societal challenges. In addition to these four main axes, other important key organisers of future sectoral developments include energy consumption and pricing and global industrial dynamics.

General Macroeconomic Conditions

The levels of income, aggregated demand and availability of capital are strongly related to macroeconomic growth. Here income must be understood as a factor that affects supply and demand factors. On the supply side, general macroeconomic conditions affect the cost and availability of financing, not only of R&D and innovation but also general investments in infrastructures and production systems. In turn, poor macroeconomic conditions affect employment and overall household income, thus influencing demand for goods and services across an economy. Despite the importance of innovation in the increase in total factor productivity and its effects on growth, the sectors under study are part of a larger industrial ecosystem where typical macroeconomic parameters affected by events beyond the industrial system produce chain reactions across sectors (i.e., the recent financial crisis). Close monitoring of interest rates, trade balances, and overall government expenditure and deficits at the national level must be considered in the design of any sectoral policy.

Government Intervention

Government intervention in the form of regulation is one of the largest sources of uncertainty across all sectors. Its development and stringency along the business cycle is a major moderator of science and technology applications (innovation). Entire sectors (e.g. space) depend to a large extent on public procurement. The empirical analysis of the SIW on the role of regulation to moderate innovation confirms the important role of regulation on innovation performance. Empirical evidence indicates a positive relationship between regulation and innovation.

Science and Technology Developments

The foresight exercise conducted considered a large array of new technologies and innovation efforts likely to influence the direction and rate of growth in all sectors. Any sectoral policy must have a clear consideration of unexploited opportunities and technologies and innovation. An additional factor in this driver is the increasing pace of technological convergence that key enabling technologies bring. The set of foresight reports in the SIW have provided a broad account of current and near future innovations that will transform the sectors of interest to a certain extent.

Human Factor

‘Human factor’ refers to the susceptibility of citizens to very diverse issues that could be technology related or not. Important issues could be sustainability effects of consumption, travel behaviour, lifestyles, value given to health, safety, security, or risk technology perception, etc. Any demand-side policy targeting final or intermediate consumers or users of goods and services must take into account the susceptibility of the target population to a specific issue associated with the technology or innovation of interest.

Global Industrial Dynamics

Global industrial dynamics includes a number of issues that determine the evolution of sectors. These include market structures, market saturation, flexibilisation of supply and demand, availability of skilled labour and the return of the issue of global value chain dominance. In itself, industrial dynamics is a major determinant of the evolution of sectors. Any policy initiative not incorporating clear conceptions of the likely evolution of industrial dynamics in the medium term will have little chance of success.

The five factors described above form part of any robust policy that would ensure sufficient flexibility to face uncertainty and potentially haphazard sectoral developments.

Authors: Annelieke van der Giessen     annelieke.vandergiessen@tno.nl
Sponsors: European Commission, DG Enterprise & Industry
Type: Foresight study as part of Europe INNOVA Sectoral Innovation Watch
Organizer: AIT, TNO with support from other partners in the Sectoral Innovation Watch consortium
Duration: 2008-2010 Budget: € 336,000 Time Horizon: 2020 (2040) Date of Brief: Mar 2012  

 

Download EFP Brief No. 216_Sectoral Innovation Foresight Overview

Sources and References

This foresight brief is based on several sectoral foresight deliverables from Sectoral Innovation Watch. The two main sources concern:

Montalvo C. and A. van der Giessen (2011) Sectoral Innovation Watch – Synthesis Report, Europe INNOVA Sectoral Innovation Watch, for DG Enterprise and Industry, European Commission, December 2011.

Weber, M., P. Schaper-Rinkel and M. Butter (2009) Sectoral Innovation Foresight – Introduction to the Interim Report, Task 2, Europe INNOVA Sectoral Innovation Watch, for DG Enterprise and Industry, European Commission, July 2009

EFP Brief No. 213: Material Efficiency and Resource Conservation (MaRess) Project

Wednesday, May 2nd, 2012

In order to successfully provide relevant groups with political support for implementing resource efficiency, one needs to know where to start best, thus, where the highest potentials are likely to be found. Addressing four key issues, MaRess identified potentials for increasing resource efficiency, developed target group-specific resource efficiency policies, gained new insights into the effects of policy instruments at the macro- and micro-economic level, provided scientific support for implementation activities, engaged in agenda setting and communicated findings to specific target groups. This paper presents the overall results of Work Package 1 (WP1) with regard to the potential analyses of the identified technologies, products and strategies. The results were gained from research conducted in the context of a graduate research programme, which was embedded in a network of experts who were involved in the analysis.

The Starting Point

The extraction and exploitation of resources, the associated emissions and the disposal of waste are polluting the environment. The increasing scarcity of resources and the high and fluctuating prices of raw materials can lead to major economic and social dislocations, combined with a growing risk of conflicts over raw materials. Competitive disadvantages arising from the inefficient use of resources endanger the development of businesses and jobs. A strategy for increasing resource efficiency can limit all these problems, which is why this subject is increasingly becoming a key issue in national and international politics. As yet, however, consistent strategies and approaches for a successful resource efficiency policy have been lacking.

Against this background, the German Federal Environment Ministry and the Federal Environment Agency commissioned thirty-one project partners, under the direction of the Wuppertal Institute, to carry out the research project Material Efficiency and Resource Conservation (MaRess, project number 3707 93 300, duration 2007 to 2010).

The project aimed at advancing knowledge with respect to central questions of resource conservation, especially the increase of resource efficiency with a focus on material efficiency. Therefore, the most interesting technologies, products and strategies for increasing resource efficiency were identified in a broad, multi-staged, expert-driven process. After that, their concrete saving potential was determined. The potential analyses were carried out as part of a graduate research programme in the wider context of an expert network and expert-based analytical process. After their finalisation, the results of the single potential analyses were analysed in an intense discourse and cross-evaluation process. Finally, issue-specific as well as overarching recommendations for action were concluded.

Identifying Topics with High Resource Efficiency for Germany

Selection of Topics

The process of topic selection aimed at identifying technologies, products and strategies that are expected to carry high resource efficiency potential in Germany. In this respect, a complex expert-based methodology for evaluation and selection was developed that included four steps:

Step 1 “Broad collection”: Identifying topics via desk research and surveys.

Step 2 “Pre-evaluation”: Evaluation of about 1,000 proposals by three criteria: resource input, resource efficiency potential and economic relevance to end up with a focussed topic list (“Top 250 topics”)

Step 3 “First evaluation”: Expert evaluation along seven criteria: resource input in terms of mass relevance, resource efficiency potential of the specific application, other environmental impacts, feasibility, economic relevance, communicability and transferability.

Step 4 “Selection”: The final selection of the “Top 20 topics” was carried out in cooperation with the German Federal Environment Agency.

Potential Analysis as Part of a Graduate Research Programme

Altogether, potential analyses were performed with reference to 20 relevant topics (“Top 20 topics“), which are expected to carry high resource efficiency potential. Methodologically, the resource efficiency potentials were quantified according to the concept “Material Input per Unit of Service (MIPS). Therefore, the potential analyses are based on resource use across the whole life cycle for up to five resource categories. They determine the concrete potential for increasing resource efficiency in each case. Besides the assessment along quantitative results, a qualitative evaluation was carried out to capture, among other things, possible rebound effects and constraints to the dissemination of the application. The qualitative evaluations are based on publications, statistics and expert opinions.

After the finalisation of the potential analyses carried out by the students, the advisors pre-evaluated the theses. Furthermore, an internal evaluation workshop was held to assess the pre-evaluated potential analyses of the WP1 partners according to the seven criteria outlined in Step 3 and the guidelines for potential analysis in an overarching frame. The results of each individual thesis were discussed and specific, overarching recommendations for action were concluded.

From Water Filtration to Resource Efficiency Business Models

Seven fields of action were worked out in the course of the criteria-based cross-evaluation in which central results and recommendations for action for the individual potential analyses were merged. Each field of action summarises several closely interrelated topics from the potential analyses. The selective assignment of the topics is not always possible and there are complex interdependencies between the individual fields of action. Table 1 gives and overview of the fields of action and the potential analyses:

Fields of action and assigned potential analyses
Cross-sectional technologies and enabling technologies: “Door openers” for resource efficient applications

Assessment of resource efficiency in grey water filtration using membrane technologies

Resource-efficient energy storage: comparison of direct and indirect storage for electric vehicles

Resource efficiency potential of energy storage – resource-efficient heat storage

Resource efficiency potential of insulation material systems

Renewable energies facilitate substantial resource savings

Resource efficiency potential of wind and biomass power

Resource-efficient large-scale energy production: potentials of Desertec

Resource-efficient energy production by photovoltaics

The growing ICT market needs a careful resource management

Green IT: resource efficiency potential of server-based computing

Green IT: resource efficiency increase with ICT – comparison of displays

Resource efficiency potential of recycling small electric and electronic appliances by recoverage from household waste using radio frequency identification (RFID) labelling of primary products  

Food – both production and consumption need to be considered

Resource efficiency potential in food production – example: fish

Resource efficiency potential in food production – example: fruit

Resource efficiency potential in food production – example: vegetables

Resource efficiency potential of intelligent agricultural technologies in the example of the use of nitrogen sensors for fertilization

Traffic – infrastructure bears higher resource efficiency potential than drive systems

Assessment of resource efficiency potential in freight traffic

Resource efficiency potential of electric vehicles

Integrating resource efficiency into product development

Consideration of resource efficiency criteria in product development processes

Resource efficiency potential of implementing light-weight construction using new materials

Resource efficiency potential of high-strength steel

Resource efficiency-oriented business models: product-service systems require rethinking

Resource efficiency potentials of new forms of “using instead of possessing” in assembly facilities

Resource efficiency potential of production on demand

Tab. 1: Overview of fields of action and potential analyses

Stronger Networking among Potential Partners and Early Industry Involvement

The topics worked on (“Top 20“) ought to be understood as the beginning of a systematic and encompassing analysis of resource efficiency potentials concerning our social and economic activities. Even though representing central and resource intensive sectors, the topics analysed naturally represent only a small selection from the totality of relevant topics and those that were identified and pre-assessed by the experts during the first expert workshop. Furthermore, some questions remain open and new questions were raised with regard to the topics addressed. Moreover, those topics presented in the expert workshop but not chosen for further analysis and those chosen at the workshop (“Top 50“) bear promising potential, which ought to be analysed in the future. There is also a need to study focus areas based on further case studies (e.g. central fields such as construction, living or food and nutrition).

The analyses also demonstrate the need to make greater use of or develop suitable arrangements (such as networks) to involve industrial partners at an early stage. On the one hand, the existing network of the MaRess project needs to be strengthened; on the other hand, further forms and consortia need to be established (e.g. with a stronger focus on sector-specific topics). This aims at ensuring that the project stays in touch with matters of implementation and feasibility regarding the potentials analysed.

Due to the broad range of topics and the possibilities for increasing resource efficiency in diverse sectors, the network of universities integrating the paradigm of resource efficiency in research and training ought to be expanded considerably. It would also be desirable to extend the circle of participating universities.

The Virtual Resource University

So far, in university education, only few departments and specialist areas offer programmes (e.g., lectures, seminars, projects) in the field of resource efficiency. Therefore, there is much room for increasing the number of programmes offered while they also need to be better integrated into existing curricula. To foster the broad integration of resource efficiency into university training and research, activities for the establishment of a “Virtual Resource University” (from innovation to implementation research) need to be started.

The results of the project will be documented in a comprehensive form in a final report and the central results are planned to be published in a book. Besides, the results of WP1 will be made use of in other work packages of the MaRess project and in the Network Resource Efficiency.

Authors: Dr. Kora Kristof                       kora.kristof@wupperinst.org

Holger Rohn                            holger.rohn@trifolium.org

Nico Pastewski                       nico.pastewski@iao.fraunhofer.de

Sponsors: German Federal Environment Ministry

Federal Environment Agency

Type: National foresight exercise to increase resource efficiency and conserve resources.
Organizer: Dr. Kora Kristof, Wuppertal Institute for Climate, Environment and Energy, D-42103 Wuppertal, Döppersberg 19, phone: +49 (0) 202 2492 -183, email:       kora.kristof@wupperinst.org

Holger Rohn, Trifolium – Beratungsgesellschaft mbH, D-61169 Friedberg, Alte Bahnhofstrasse 13, phone: +49 (0) 6031 68 754 63, fax: – 68, email: holger.rohn@trifolium.org

Nico Pastewski, Fraunhofer-Institut für Arbeitswirtschaft und Organisation IAO, Nobelstr. 12, D-70569 Stuttgart, phone: +49 (0) 711 970 -2222, fax: -2287, email: nico.pastewski@iao.fraunhofer.de

Duration: 2007-2010 Budget: ca. 540,000€ Time Horizon: N/A Date of Brief: July 2011  

 

Download EFP Brief No. 213_Material Efficiency and Resource Conservation

Sources and References

For information and downloads on the MaRess project and its findings please visit: http://ressourcen.wupperinst.org

EFP Brief No. 209: Future Forests Scenarios 2050 Possible Futures, Future Possibilities

Tuesday, April 3rd, 2012

This foresight brief summarises the findings of a scenario process on possible futures for Sweden’s forests and forest sector. The purpose of the process was to build interdisciplinary skills within the research programme Future Forests and to initiate discussions about the future with our stakeholders. A group of 21 researchers from different disciplines, ranging from the natural and social sciences to the humanities, took part in the process. Stakeholders and interest groups were involved in the initial steps and in discussions of the final scenarios. The process involved four steps: identifying external drivers, defining critical uncertainties to be discussed, developing the scenarios, and discussing implications with interest groups.

New Demands on Forests

Forests provide many ecosystem services to society, ranging from wood-based products to recreational value. Forest management has to take all of these services into account and must be able to deal with trade-offs between the different ecosystem services. This is a difficult task that requires a holistic approach to forest management, which includes not only knowledge of silviculture but also an understanding of, for instance, attitudes and values among different groups of stakeholders and of the conflicts between opposing goals. In addition, large-scale challenges and trends, such as climate change and globalisation, pose new and increasing demands on the services that forests produce. In other words, management of multi-use forests falls into the realm of so-called “wicked problems” where optimum solutions are difficult to find and an interdisciplinary approach is necessary to provide a basis for decisions.

The research programme Future Forests attempts to form a scientific basis for managing trade-offs between conflicting interests in boreal forests. Thus, Future Forests faces a challenge common to all applied, user-oriented research: reconciling the supply and demand of scientific information between scientists and decision-makers.

We believe that an interdisciplinary research approach is absolutely necessary to address these complex research questions within natural resource management and that stakeholders need to participate to ensure that research questions are grounded in real-world problems and help bridge the gap between science and action. We recognise, however, that conducting interdisciplinary research involving stakeholders is not without its own problems. For instance, difficulties in understanding and trust among different disciplines and differences in commitment between team members may cause interdisciplinary processes to come to a halt.

The scenario process that we describe in this brief was intended to act as a ‘nucleus’ around which we could hone our interdisciplinary skills, on the one hand, while it served the purpose of inspiring discussions with stakeholders about forest futures, on the other.

Confronting Renewable Energy with Strong Political Institutions

Our scenarios were developed as qualitative narratives of possible futures (see, e.g., the European Environmental Agency’s Environmental Issue Report no. 24 for a general description). The process was run as a series of workshops where we included stakeholders at certain steps. The scenario team consisted of 21 researchers from different disciplines, ranging from the natural sciences (forest management, ecology) to the social sciences (political science, social geography, forest economy) and the humanities (history). The 15 stakeholders who participated in the first step (see below) were from private and public forest companies, government agencies and NGOs (conservation and reindeer husbandry).

In short, we first listed a number of external drivers and trends that could affect the Swedish forest sector. This was done using both an expert panel approach and a participatory process with stakeholders (see the respective sections below for details). The research team then analysed the external drivers based on literature reviews. In the next step, we subjectively chose two major uncertainties that we wanted to explore using our scenarios. These were (1) the role of renewable energy sources and bioenergy, and (2) the role of strong political institutions and transnational agreements on climate mitigation and forest use. These two axes were placed orthogonally, resulting in four different scenarios (Fig. 1). These scenarios were then fleshed out into narratives using information from the literature reviews and in discussions among the research team. These narratives were described to our stakeholders in the form of bullet point lists, key sentences and fictional letters from the future.

How Climate Change and Other Variables Affect the Forest Eco-System

Extracting External Trends and Drivers

The process was started by identifying external trends and drivers that could affect the Swedish forest sector. External in this case refers to processes, events, trends etc. that the forest sector itself cannot influence. Internal structural changes, on the other hand, are, for instance, responses to these external drivers. We listed possible trends and drivers in two different brainstorming workshops: one where the research team acted as an expert panel and one with our group of stakeholders. The workshops produced 81 different suggestions, many of which were similar to each other. In a later meeting with the research team, these 81 drivers were aggregated into 11 themes (in no particular order):

  • Climate change
  • Climate change politics
  • Alternative land use
  • Demography and migration patterns
  • Energy and bioenergy
  • Environmental disasters
  • Markets for forest products
  • Geopolitics
  • Forest governance
  • Scientific and technological developments
  • Attitudes and values

These themes were analysed and developed through literature reviews by the research team members, except in a few instances where the group lacked sufficient expertise (for instance, in the field of geopolitics and demography/migration). These literature reviews constituted the empirical basis for the scenarios. A few of the literature reviews were later developed into published papers (e.g. Egnell et al. 2011 and Jonsson 2011).

The space in this brief does not allow for a thorough description of these reviews, but we will mention some of the key issues discussed. The climate change models from the IPCC all predict a similar climate development by 2050, but potentially taking different paths towards the end of the century. We thus assumed a similar global climate warming of about 1oC in all our scenarios. However, climate change politics may change much faster, for instance depending on the development of the Kyoto protocol or EU common forest politics. This is a key feature in our scenarios. Alternative land use (e.g. agriculture, protected areas or recreation) may strongly influence forest use. Demography and migration may also have strong effects (for instance climate refugees from Mediterranean areas). Energy and bioenergy is, of course, a key issue, especially if, and if so how, renewable energy sources and bioenergy are able to take a large market role. The environmental disasters paper discusses risks of windstorms, insect outbreaks and nuclear power disasters. Markets for wood products discusses trends in demands, while the geopolitics paper discusses the political stability of the EU and adjoining areas (e.g. Russia and the Arctic). Forest governance describes the international and national legislative, regulative and normative framework that can be seen as affecting forest use. Scientific and technological development discusses the construction of scientific facts and technological artefacts, and also the problem of implementing technological breakthroughs in a society that needs to accept, use and validate them. Finally, the attitudes and values paper concentrates on attitudinal factors about forests, which is comprised of values, environmental attitudes and beliefs, and personal norms.

Identifying Critical Uncertainties

Based on the literature reviews on drivers, we identified critical uncertainties that we wanted to investigate using our scenarios. This was done in a workshop with the research team in an iterative process where smaller groups produced suggestions, which were discussed among the entire team until consensus was reached. This step is by definition a very subjective one where the uncertainties chosen reflect the interests of a particular group of people at a particular period in time. Our research team agreed on the following two uncertainties, which by themselves are aggregates of several drivers: 1) the role that strong political institutions could have in achieving transnational agreements on forest use, and 2) the role that renewable energy, and bioenergy in particular, could have in society. These uncertainties served to construct our scenario cross (Fig. 1).

Constructing Scenario Narratives

The two uncertainties defined four different possible futures (Fig. 1): Balancing Act, Carbon Sink, Carbon Substitution and Free-for-all. These futures were fleshed out in several ways. In the first step, we extracted relevant information from our literature reviews. Secondly, the research team, acting as an expert group, commented on, added or changed the information to better suit the different futures. Finally, we gathered and organised the information into bullet point lists and also constructed a fictional letter from the future for each scenario. The bullet point lists and the fictional letter together served as a narrative that could be used as a basis for discussions. In the following, we give a short description of each scenario.

Balancing Act describes a stable world with a strong global economy and strong political institutions (such as the UN and EU) that can achieve international agreements (on climate mitigation, for example). Breakthrough innovations have led to reduced energy consumption, and both renewable sources of energy and nuclear power play an important role. The high demand for bioenergy has resulted in substantial land conflicts. The rural economy in Sweden is experiencing a favourable development thanks to more job opportunities in the forests. A strong demand for forest products has led to intensive forestry with short rotation periods. As a result of political decisions, efforts are being made to also take other forest uses into consideration, leading to a mosaic landscape where intensively cultivated forests are interspersed with protected areas, resulting in positive effects on biodiversity.

Carbon Sink describes a less stable world with a weak economy. Strong political institutions have some influence, however, and they have agreed on mitigating climate through carbon sequestration. No major innovations have taken place in the energy sector, and fossil fuels (predominantly coal) dominate. Rural development in Sweden is weak. There is a relatively weak demand for forest products, and forest management focuses on carbon storage. Forests are not managed intensively but in many cases as closed-canopy forests with long rotation periods. Biodiversity is doing well and the risk of infestations by pests and diseases is relatively low. However, the risk of storm damage has increased.

The Carbon Substitution scenario describes a world with growing tensions between states and weak political institutions. However, the economy is fairly strong since green economy has made a breakthrough in step with new innovations focussing on renewable energy and reduced energy consumption. A strong demand for bioenergy has resulted in severe land conflicts and resultant land grabbing. Rural Sweden is experiencing a favourable economic development. Demand for forest products is strong, with a focus on bioenergy and biomaterials to replace fossil energy sources and materials. Forestry is intensive with short rotation periods. Market-driven certification schemes have resulted in voluntary set-aside forests, and these are the only areas where any form of old-growth forests remains. Landowner’s rights have been strengthened and the right of public access weakened. Biodiversity is not developing well, and the risk of pests and diseases has increased.

The Free-for-all scenario describes a highly regionalised world with a high risk of conflicts (e.g. trade blockades and currency wars). There are weak political institutions and a weak global economy. There have been no major innovations in the energy sector, and nuclear power and coal are the dominant sources of energy. There are serious land conflicts due to a strong demand for traditional forest products in local markets in northwestern Europe. Rural development in Sweden is advancing in regions with an active forest industry. A high demand for timber and pulpwood creates an intensive forestry with short rotation periods. Biodiversity is developing in very unfavourable directions.

Discussing Implications with Stakeholders

So far, the scenario narratives have been used as starting points for discussions with government officials from the National Forest Agency, the management group for SCA Skog (one of the largest private forestry companies in Sweden), and with representatives from several different forest companies. One common thread in those discussions was a tendency among the participants to rank the scenarios according to the group’s specific interests, i.e. to move from possible futures to what the respective group considers a desirable future. Another, somewhat surprising, outcome was the marked ability of the groups to identify aspects of the narratives where the scenario teams producing the scenarios had failed to agree on the consequences, probably because the logic behind that particular aspect of the scenarios was not clearly described. However, we can conclude that, even though the scenarios were primarily intended for internal use within the research programme, they are also very well suited to stimulate discussions about the future with stakeholders.

Trying to Think in New Ways

Lessons Learned

In the following, we outline some of the lessons learned from our scenario exercise.

  • Foresight studies are powerful tools to deal with complex issues. As we were working with narratives rather than with quantitative simulations, it was quite easy to discuss complex relationships without getting bogged down in details. This makes it possible for researchers from different disciplines (both natural and social sciences) to contribute to the process. This kind of scenario exercise can thus be an important tool for building interdisciplinary skills.
  • A scenario exercise is more important as a process than as an end product. The most important aspect is the collaborative learning that takes place in the group that constructs the scenarios. This also means that scenarios can be difficult to communicate as they are always a result of many explicit and implicit assumptions and simplifications, which are difficult to describe to non-participants.
  • Collaborative learning means that if stakeholders are an important audience, they have to be involved in the whole process. Otherwise, they may find it hard to understand the logic behind the narratives.
  • Future scenarios are very much about the views of the future that we have today. They thus have a short ‘shelf-life’. For example, our scenarios were created just before the COP15 meeting in Copenhagen. At this time, the possibilities of achieving international agreements or not was an obvious topic to explore. On the other hand, the scenarios were created before the tsunami in Japan and the subsequent decision by Germany to phase out nuclear power. Prior to this event, nuclear power was a logical alternative to reduce the dependence on fossil fuels and was thus included in scenario-building.
  • Although scenarios are sometimes discussed as a tool to examine the consequences of surprising events, it is very difficult to think in new ways. Unconsciously we have a tendency to think in linear developments and along business-as-usual lines. This contributes to the short ’shelf-life’ of the scenarios.
  • Since an important aspect of the exercise is the process itself and the learning that takes place in the scenario group, it takes time and money.
  • Our scenarios were intended as possible futures, i.e. no probabilities were attached to the scenarios and they can all be seen as equally probable (or improbable). However, it was a challenge in both the scenario team and in discussions with our stakeholders to stop thinking in terms of forecasts.
Authors: Jon Moen                                       jon.moen@emg.umu.se

Annika Nordin                                 annika.nordin@slu.se  

Stig Larsson                                    stig.larsson@slu.se

Sponsors: N/A
Type: National foresight exercise, single issue
Organizer: Future Forests research programme, www.futureforests.se, Jon Moen, jon.moen@emg.umu.se
Duration: 01/2009–12/ 2011 Budget: N/A Time Horizon: 2050 Date of Brief: Jan 2012  

 

Download EFP Brief No. 209_Future Forests_Scenarios_2050

Sources and References

More information and contact addresses can be found at www.futureforests.se.

European Environment Agency (2001): Scenarios as tools for international environmental assessments. Environmental Issue Report, no. 24.

Egnell, G., Laudon, H. & Rosvall, O. (2011): Perspectives on the Potential Contribution of Swedish Forests to Renewable Energy Targets in Europe. Forests 2: 578-589. [Online]

Jonsson, R. (2011): Trends and Possible Future Developments in Global Forest-Product Markets—Implications for the Swedish Forest Sector. Forests 2: 147-167. [Online]