Archive for the ‘Health’ Category

EFP Brief No. 263: The Future of Aging in Upper Austria

Thursday, September 1st, 2016

The foresight study aimed at exploring what technological solutions and social innovations for ambient assisted living (AAL) can offer widest coverage in a demographically-challenged rural area such as the Mühlviertler Alm (Upper Austria). To increase the acceptance of the identified findings among the local population and the success of the implementation of the AAL solutions in a potential follow-up project (e.g. as a model test region), strong emphasis was put on the integration of potential users and other stakeholders throughout the whole study.

Active and Assisted Living (AAL): Intelligent Technologies for the Elderly

The social foresight was part of the project
“WEGE2025: Our ways to an age-appropriate region 2025 – Living independently in the Mühlviertel” as part of the Austrian national funding programme “ICT of the Future: benefit – Demographic change as a chance” (project no. 846222).

For the last decades life expectancy has been increasing continuously throughout Europe due to improvements in life conditions and healthcare. Meanwhile, the share of elderly people (aged 65 and over) among the total population has reached an average of 18.5% across the EU-28 and 18.3% in Austria (EUROSTAT 2015). For 2050, it is expected that these numbers will double. This demographic change often goes along with changing family structures (e.g. reduced family sizes with fewer potential family carers for the older people at hand) and limited numbers of available local care facilities. Consequently, new and innovative solutions are necessary to ensure an independent living of the elderly in their own home for as long as possible.

Intelligent technical solutions have a huge potential to meet the upcoming healthcare challenges of aging societies and become an important pillar in the personal healthcare and care of elderly people in the years to come. Active and Assisted Living (AAL), an emerging multi-disciplinary field, specifically aims at providing technical aids and technology-assisted services to the elderly as well as care givers by exploiting information and communication technologies (ICT). However, the overall success and acceptance of AAL systems in practice will crucially depend on how well the new technological solutions can address the needs of the elderly and maintain or improve their quality of life. Therefore, it is vital to know the specific needs of the elderly in their respective living environments and how innovative solutions can be tailored to both the needs and the living environment.

AAL in a rural region

So far, AAL solutions have mainly been developed for users with a focus on specific indications, independent of their place of residence and hardly ever for an entire region. In particular, for rural areas there are hardly any visions on how to improve the attractiveness of the region for an independent life for senior citizens and their needs in their third and fourth phases of life. Rural areas and the people that are growing old there have to cope particularly with the rural depopulation of young people and are confronted with a general decrease in public utility infrastructure.

Mühlviertler Alm

The Mühlviertler Alm is an association of ten municipal communities situated in the north-east of Upper Austria. Agriculture is the predominant economic sector. Each community consists of between ten and 20 villages, each of which consists of a densely populated village centre as well as numerous individual, scattered farmsteads far from the village centres. Consequently, the region is characterised by long supply routes and require high mobility in the daily life of the residents.

The Mühlviertler Alm is currently undergoing a process of demographic change. An increasing number of elderly people is opposed to a decreasing share of younger people. The highest pressure is expected in the coming decades when the baby-boom generation retires. At the moment, about 18.000 people live in the region Mühlviertler Alm. Some 4.000 of them are already older than 60 years. Until 2030, it is expected that this number will rise by 50%.

Active and independent aging is an important topic in the region. Since 2010, the communities have been actively facing the demographic change with local projects. They consider the demographic change a chance for a new social interaction.

Aiming to Become Model of the Future

The project WEGE2025 analysed what AAL solutions can offer the widest coverage in a rural area such as the Mühlviertler Alm. The major question was therefore what AAL technologies and social innovations can be implemented for a maximum of end-users and will also be applied by secondary users, such as managed care organisations.

As a result of the project, the region Mühlviertler Alm is expected to become a model for the future development of a test region for active and assisted living solutions.

Exploring the Potential for AAL in a Rural Region

A major focus of the project was on the methods used for the exploration of AAL test regions. While ongoing test region projects in Austrian are mainly technologically driven, the WEGE2025 project pursued an interactive stakeholder approach. Within a comprehensive future-oriented stakeholder process, both project partners, AIT and Verband Mühlviertler Alm, together with some 100 stakeholders (end users, medical staff, and providers of services in the general interest and other stakeholders) from the region worked together to explore future needs for an attractive life during old age and to assess by means of scenarios, a roadmap and a vision of the future the potential for implementation of the suggested solutions in real life. The interactive approach included personal interviews and large group settings (workshops) with stakeholders and was preceded by a qualitative background research.

This project provided the unique opportunity to include a whole region in the preparation for a test region and to make allowance for the needs and views of their residents on active and independent living and aging. This approach should increase the success and the participation rate in the follow-up test region.

Exploring the Framework Conditions of the Region

A series of qualitative interviews with 15 residents of the Mühlviertler Alm working either professionally or as volunteers in healthcare and care for the elderly were made to explore the framework conditions and major needs of the region. The interviewees highlighted the following key challenges of the region Mühlviertler Alm:

  • Peripheral geographic location
  • Demographic change
  • Lack of awareness of the aging
  • Increasing number of people suffering from dementia
  • Increasing professional activity by all family member (resulting in a lack of family member carers)
  • Increasing need for new forms of neighbourly help
  • Lack of social activities for people with physical impairment
  • Decrease in the public transport
  • Lack of comprehensive provision of medical care (e.g. medical specialists)
  • Lack of available places in institutional care and support facilities
  • Lack of a network of providers of care and nursing institutions
  • Lack of a central contact point for information (e.g. regarding healthcare and other care)

With respect to the potential implementation of AAL solutions in the region, the interviewees expressed reservations as regards technologies in general and pointed out the lack of suitable infrastructure (e.g. poor mobile phone coverage, lack of access to high-speed broadband services).

Future-Oriented Stakeholder Process

To identify the needs of the elderly in the region and to define the requirements for AAL solutions, a foresight exercise was implemented. In four workshops, potential end-users, representatives of companies, for services of general interest, and research organisations discussed together what it needs to be able to lead an independent and age-appropriate life in a rural region such as the Mühlviertler Alm.

Stakeholder Workshop I – Visioning

In this workshop the participants worked on the megatrends of the future and developed a common vision 2050 of the Mühlviertler Alm. Megatrends are influential, global developments with long-term effects, which can change the future and should therefore be considered in strategy and policy development processes. Among the megatrends discussed in the project were climate change, demographic change (aging), social and cultural inequalities, urbanization, digital culture and knowledge-based economy. Guided by these megatrends, relevant external factors (drivers), which impact the living at Mühlviertler Alm were discussed for five areas: social, technological, economical, environmental and political developments (STEEP factors), and the most important influencing factors were identified. The findings were summarised in seven fields of actions:

  • Autonomy and health
  • Occupation, education and recreation
  • Communication (social, ICT)
  • Accommodation and public space
  • Mobility
  • Infrastructure (traffic, energy and ICT)
  • Environment and resources

For the development of a common vision of the Mühlviertler Alm for 2050, the workshop participants worked in small groups on the fields of action as well as on additional “disaster” fields of action and drew together representative pictures. In follow-up discussions, objectives were derived for each field of action and prioritised. A visual facilitator compiled the most important objectives in a new picture, which now depicted the common vision 2050 for the Mühlviertler Alm.

As a preparation for the second workshop, small groups developed three different types of scenarios: a) business as usual, b) sustainability, and c) disaster. To anchor the scenarios in daily routine activities the groups built their scenarios around a selection of different personas:

  • 35-year old top manager and mother of a handicapped child
  • 87-year old, wealthy widow
  • 53-year old, nursing male relative
  • 24-year old, female student in Cambridge

The project team subsequently added to the scenarios the trends and drivers that had been previously identified by the workshop participants.

Stakeholder Workshop II – Scenarios and Roadmap

Some volunteers among the workshop participants worked out the central turning points of each of the scenarios and presented them by means of improvisation theatre to the plenary audience.

Based on the visual and emotional impressions that the theatre play created in the audience, further objectives were derived and discussed within the frame of four key topics: health awareness, services of general interest & coordination office, diversity & inclusion and change process (politics & infrastructure).

As a result, for each key topic up to three main objectives were selected. The necessary actions for their implementation were defined and the most relevant actors singled out. These sets of measures were placed along a timeline and compiled to a roadmap according to the estimated time of implementation.

Stakeholder Workshops III & IV – Services & Action Plan

During an evening event the roadmap was presented to and discussed with regional service providers and other economic operators in order to add practical ideas for AAL solutions in the following areas: social interaction, information & education, occupation, mobility, health & wellness, hobbies, care at home, supply of everyday consumer goods & support with household tasks, and safety & privacy. Ultimately, four key topics could be identified as the core topics of Mühlviertler Alm:

  • Mobility
  • Social inclusion
  • Health incl. telemedicine
  • Comfort & living

In the fourth stakeholder workshop these topics were taken up and defined more specifically concerning objectives and contents in action plans. By means of “collaborative mapping” all relevant services and actors of the region that could be relevant for a follow-up project were gathered and visualized on a map.

Approaching the Needs of the Elderly

Mobility

Remaining mobile even in old age is of uttermost importance in rural areas that are characterised by long-distance ways for daily routines. Mobility is often also a prerequisite for social inclusion of old and impaired people and participation in social life. There is a need for a wide variety of individual transport for elderly and impaired people. Transport services need to be flexible in terms of booking services and availability, e.g. with short waiting times. Building up a network of transport service providers is therefore essential. Information on the availability of barrier-free busses, their timetables and existing boarding aids and wheelchair accessibility on vehicles as well as shared taxis for quick and flexible trips (e.g. to physicians or for leisure time activities) could be provided via mobile apps and ICT-supported lift-sharing exchange. All offers could also be collected on a simple internet platform for mobility offers.

Social Inclusion: Information Platform & Coordination Office

The local communities want to have access to and be able to exchange information in the best possible way. For issues concerning care and nursing, a coordination office (e.g. for multi-professional services) would ensure an optimal information transfer to the public, when needed. The office should be located centrally and could also serve as a hub for telemedicine services. A web-based platform could constitute another source of information for the population. It can serve as a market place for supply and demand of various sorts, e.g. meetings for senior citizens, midday meals organised as social events, or other cultural, sportive leisure time activities. Such an events calendar ideally embeds functions for registration for the events as well as for mediation of shared lifts in private cars or shared taxis and buses that offer also transportation of wheel-chairs, etc. It can also provide information and booking facilities for mobile care and nursing services, experts and delivery of goods. A crucial prerequisite for the acceptance of such a platform is the simple operation and intuitive handling of the platform by the users.

Health incl. telemedicine

Establishing structures which ensure the care and medical surveillance / monitoring of health data and alarm functions for threatening deviations is also important for the region. Such structures would particularly help people with chronic diseases to live longer in their own homes. To benefit of telemedicine services it will be important to develop a system that integrates already existing measuring devices such as blood pressure monitors, blood glucose meters or warning devices in case of falls. Simple operation of such telemedicine devices is again the key to widespread use. Tying in with the idea of a coordination office the residents of the region also wish for immediate help in emergency situations. A competent medical phone service with decision-making competency that is available around-the-clock and linked to a medical care network could be based in the coordination office and compensate for physicians off duty.

Comfort & Living

Autonomous living with comprehensive care in one’s own home is of major importance in the region. Medical care should be available across the region and flexible enough to cater for the needs of the residents. There is also need for social networks of neighbourly help, including support for household tasks and help in the garden. Supply of everyday goods should be ensured by means of service providers that could be contacted via mobile app. In addition, homes should be “smart” and provide a system of automatic components, such as door openers, automatic night lights, fall alarms, as well as assistance systems for automatic notification of attendants in emergency situations. IT professionals and other service providers should be available in the region to ensure installation, maintenance and repair work when needed.

Authors: Manuela Kienegger    manuela.kienegger@ait.ac.at
Sponsors: FFG – Austrian Research Promotion Agency
Type: Social Foresight as part of an exploratory study for a test region for ambient assisted living
Organizer: AIT Austrian Institute of Technology, Verband Mühlviertler Alm
Duration: 2015 Budget: € 126,000 Time Horizon: 2025 (2050) Date of Brief: August 2016

 

Download EFP Brief No. 263: The Future of Aging in Upper Austria

Sources and References

This foresight brief is based on the final report of the Project WEGE2025.

Kienegger, M. et al. (2016). WEGE2025 – Unsere Wege in eine altersgerechte Region 2025 – Selbstbestimmt leben im Mühlviertel. Endbericht zum Projekt Nr. 846222 im Auftrag der FFG. AIT-IS-Report, Vol. 119

EUROSTAT (2015). Population age structure by major age groups, 2004 and 2014 (% of the total population). [Accessed 28/07/2016]

EFP Brief No. 261: Personalised Health Systems Foresight – the Success Scenario Method

Tuesday, March 29th, 2016

“Personal Health Systems Foresight” was launched as part of the 7th EU Framework Programme to explore options for integrating Personal Health Systems (PHS) into the health care system and to investigate framework conditions required for the Europe-wide introduction of PHS. Furthermore, the project wanted to initiate a mobilisation of the innovation landscape, increase networking, and develop strategies to promote PHS across Europe.

Personalised Health Systems:  Chances of a Holistic Approach

Rising costs, an ageing population and a shortage of health care professionals are only three of the numerous challenges Europe’s health system has to face. Personal Health Systems (PHS) promise more individual, effective and efficient health care as they assist in the provision of continuous, quality controlled and personalised health services. PHS are technical aids which gather, monitor and communicate physiological and other health-related data via stationary, portable, wearable or implantable sensor devices. Individual treatments or nutritional advice can then be provided virtually anywhere. Furthermore, PHS technologies can provide new business opportunities and can mobilize novel cross-disciplinary and -sectoral innovation partnerships.

There are already various technically advanced solutions available in the fields of e-health, mobile health and ambient assisted living. Several initiatives have been launched across Europe to increase the integration

of new technologies into the health care system. However, most of these projects are limited to small-scale applications and do not situate PHS within the wider health and social care service systems as they were mostly driven by a technology push. The EU project “Personal Health Systems Foresight” wants to fill this gap by looking at the integration of PHS into the health care system from a more holistic view.

 

Structure of the PHS Foresight

As a first step of the project the team conducted a set of analyses in order to get an overview of the PHS area. These include a bibliometric and a case study analysis to gain information about the present state of the topic, a patent analysis in the field of PHS, and a social network analysis to visualize R&D collaboration networks and central actors in the area of PHS on the European level. Additionally, the project partner developed an online platform in order to generate and cluster visions on related innovations and societal challenges.

On the basis of the results from the analyses and the online consultation process, two stakeholder workshops were organized in order to explore the pathways for desirable future developments. The applied method was the “success scenario” technique, which is described in the following by the example of the second scenario workshop for the PHS foresight, held in Manchester in February 2014.

The Success Scenario Method as Core Element of the Foresight Process

The “success scenario” method can be regarded as a mixed form of conventional scenarios and roadmapping. The latter is often a process that extends upon several workshops and produces highly detailed information relevant to one specific goal. In comparison the success scenario approach usually speeds things up by creating a less structured pathway. It identifies a plausible and desirable course of development, the steps required to receive it and the indicators of progress in the right direction.

A product of the process is the scenario text, which can be used to share the vision and mobilise other actors, but the scenario process itself also has a number of functions including:

  • Providing a platform to create mutual understanding and sharing of knowledge,
  • forming a stretch target to think beyond the boundaries of “business as usual”,
  • developing indicators to move the scenario beyond vague aspirations and produce clarity as to what precisely should be discussed and how goals can be achieved, and
  • developing action points and setting priorities.

In this sense the second stakeholder workshop as a core element within the PHS foresight (figure 1) developed elements of a vision for PHS in the year 2030 through a series of steps, in which major dimensions of change, indicators that might be used to assess progress towards desirable outcomes, and actions and strategies to facilitate PHS development in desirable directions were considered. The attainable future could thereby vary across different European countries.

Figure 1: Methodologies applied in the PHS Foresight

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The workshop was structured as follows:

  • Introduction of participants, overview of project and the PHS area, explanation of the workshop
  • Presentation of PHS scenarios (from previous workshop)
  • Discussion of success scenario method
  • Specification of indicators of success
  • Discussion of how far success might be realised in terms of these indicators
  • Identification of challenges to be overcome to achieve progress along these lines
  • Possible issues affected by these developments
  • Key actions required to achieve progress
Indicators, Issues and Strategic Actions for the Implementation of PHS

After an introduction of the participants and a first overview of the project and the PHS area, the PHS scenarios from previous workshop were presented. The participants built 4 break-out groups (BOGs):
a) chronic conditions, b) active independent living, c) acute conditions, and d) healthy lifestyles. These groups discussed what might constitute the success scenario and what specific outcome indicators could be appropriate to illustrate it. The indications from the BOG discussions were further analyzed and refined by the participants, this time in plenary. The resulting list of indicators is presented in table 1.

Table 1: Final set of outcome indicators for the PHS success scenario

  1. Reduction in the number of visits to health centres/hospitals required by people suffering early stage chronic diseases through use of PHS
  2. Share of health and social care professionals educated into competence concerning applications of PHS in practice
  3. Percentage of budget spent on chronic diseases saved by PHS use
  4. Reduction in hospital mortalities of frail/elderly admitted for emergency care (75%)
  5. Share of patients with long term conditions monitored by physical and ambient sensors (100%)
  6. Share of citizens with detailed electronic health records that can be accessed by health care professions in a common format across the EU (100%)
  7. Share of people suffering acute episodes whose EHRs can be accessed by emergency care providers without new explicit consent required (100%)
  8. Share of adults active in a patients’ group supporting active independent living and ways of reducing problems associated with conditions
  9. Share of people with PHS that interact with surroundings and personal information to provide advice in everyday situations on food and other choices
  10. Share of people with control over own health data, determining who uses and how
  11. Share of people using tools for individualised, personalised health advice where the advice is evidence-based
  12. Number of such tools that are scientifically proven as reliably advantageous
  13. Importance of new evidence and modelling for testing and validating such PHS tools for the uptake of these tools
  14. Share of spending in PHS funded by private consumption/enterprises in complementary fashion
  15. Share of population with PHR systems that are integrated with EHR systems

Note: The percentages in parentheses after several items are the views of that group as to the extent to which this indicator is liable to have developed by 2030.

For the next step in the workshop, the participants worked in five BOGs, each focusing on particular areas where transformations may be required for the realisation of the success scenario for PHS. These areas of transformation were defined as:

  1. Technologies, platforms, infrastructures, technical standards, and research and development
  2. Data, privacy and public awareness, attitudes and behaviour
  3. Skills, new occupations, changing new occupational roles and specialisms, training
  4. Health and social policy, goals and philosophy, funding and financing
  5. Public-private roles & relationships, changing organisational forms, new business models

The five BOGs then identified issues related to the implementation of PHS in the health care system and finally considered strategic actions relevant to different stakeholders, in the light of these issues.

Strategic actions in relation to interoperability, standardisation and regulation include for instance harmonisation of healthcare systems regulations, interoperability of IT systems, development of common dictionaries and use cases, standards development, legislation for data security and data access.

Actions in relation to developing a PHS innovation eco-system include the coordination and collaboration among a variety of actors in the research, and business communities engaging also societal actors by applying user-centred innovation approaches.

Creating a PHS market with wide accessibility and affordability requires the establishment of market and competition mechanisms and regulations, procurement, development of plans for stage-gated deployment of reimbursement models. Establishment of value chains from priority setting, selection of technologies, to manufacturing and implementation is important and the production of user-friendly and cheap products and services is relevant.

Strategies towards raising social awareness and increasing PHS skills involve actions like educational programmes to introduce PHS systems to professionals and informal carers but also schools, setting up PHS help and advice lines, or incentives to educational institutions to develop PHS strategies and programmes.

PHS research should target to demonstrate PHS benefits and certify PHS products and services. Demonstration of benefits could be done through creation of modelling labs for PHS applications, or building a catalogue of what is available, what is being developed and what needs to be developed through a gap analysis and towards the jointly defined PHS vision. Longitudinal health studies, health economics and cost-effectiveness studies could be deployed along with health technology assessment.

Finally, PHS research should also deal with big data analysis issues while being oriented towards developing customised, user friendly and certified applications easily accessible online and offline. The target groups should be patients, as well as informal carers in the first instance; at later stages the whole of society should be addressed, as there is a need to shift from a reactive to proactive healthcare approach promoting healthy living. The role of EU institutions could be important in supporting PHS research, as well as in providing platforms for disseminating results helping to draw the lessons from both success stories and failures.

Towards a More Individual and  Efficient European Health Care System

In summary there was a general consensus among workshop participants that PHS can contribute to improved health outcomes as well as increasing the efficiency of health services. The process of implementing PHS will involve numerous stakeholders in order to build what participants described as a PHS „innovation eco-system”. It will be important to recognise the interests of different stakeholders in order to avoid a decline in health outcomes, to maintain and extend the equity and social inclusion elements of health systems, to stimulate the development of innovative and effective health interventions and medical technologies, to maintain professional competences and social status, to reward entrepreneurial behaviour, and to use and protect personal data.

Meeting these challenges will require experimentation, dialogue, and monitoring of change. Major aspects of change range from the creation of new business models and partnerships between different kinds of organisations, through stimulating the acquisition of new skills and the emergence of new professions in health and health-related workforces. It will also be important to put regulatory frameworks into place that can allow for informed acceptance of evidence-based solutions.

In all of these aspects of change, public attitudes will need to be taken into account, since citizens are crucial stakeholders in these processes. Further development of visions of the desirable futures that can be achieved, and awareness of the problems that may be encountered and the ways in which these may be addressed, will be necessary in the future. The PHS foresight and the results from the success scenario workshop can be regarded as one step in the direction of adopting a holistic and combined approach in understanding PHS and establishing and sharing visions of the desirable futures that can be achieved through the implementation of PHS into the European health care system.

Authors: Susanne Giesecke (susanne.giesecke@ait.ac.at), Doris Schartinger (doris.schartinger@ait.ac.at), André Uhl (andre.uhl@ait.ac.at), Totti Konnola (totti.konnola@if-institute.org), Laura Pombo Juárez (laura.pombo@impetusolutions.com), Ian Miles (ian.miles@mbs.ac.uk), Ozcan Saritas (ozcan.saritas@mbs.ac.uk), Effie Amanatidou (effie.amanatidou@mbs.ac.uk), Günter Schreier (guenter.schreier@ait.ac.at)
Sponsors: European Union’s Seventh Framework Programme (FP7 2007-2013)
Type: European Foresight Project
Organizer: Austrian Institute of Technology AIT, Susanne Giesecke, susanne.giesecke@ait.ac.at
Duration: 2012 – 2014
Budget: 450,000 €
Time Horizon: 2030
Date of Brief: March 2016

Download EFP Brief No. 261: Personalised Health Systems Foresight – the Success Scenario Method

Sources and References

This brief is based on the following report, in which the findings are discussed in more detail:

Amanatidou, E., Miles, I., Saritas, O., Schartinger, D., Giesecke, S., & Pombo-Juarez, L. 2014. Personal Health Systems: A Success Scenario. Personal Health Systems Foresight.

References

Schartinger, D., Miles, I., Saritas, O., Amanatidou, E., Giesecke, S., Heller-Schuh, B. Pompo-Juarez, L., & Schreier, G. 2015. Personal Health Systems Technologies: Critical Issues in Service Innovation and Diffusion. Technology Innovation Management Review, 5(2): 46–57. http://timreview.ca/article/873

Schartinger, D., Miles, I., Saritas, O., Amanatidou, E., Giesecke, S., Heller-Schuh, B. Pompo-Juarez, L., & Schreier, G. 2015. Personal Health Systems Technologies and Service Systems 2014. Presented at the 24th Annual RESER Conference, September 11–13, 2014, Helsinki, Finland

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. 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. 227: Assessment of Global Megatrends

Tuesday, November 13th, 2012

The aim of the European Environment Agency’s regular state of the environment and outlook reporting is to inform policymaking in Europe and beyond and help frame and implement policies. Information can also help citizens to better understand, care for and improve the environment. Global megatrends assessment complements the assessment of four European challenges (climate change, biodiversity loss, growing material use and concern for the environment, health and quality of life) while it identifies additional social, technological, economic, environmental and political factors beyond Europe’s control that are already affecting the European environment and are expected to continue to do so.

Demographics, Technologies, Trade Patterns and Consumption Put Pressure on the Environment

An assessment of global megatrends relevant to the European environment has been performed for the 2010 European state and outlook report prepared by the European Environment Agency (EEA) and a network of countries (EIONET). It focuses on identifying the most relevant global pressures on Europe. A global-to-European perspective is relevant to European environmental policymaking because Europe’s environmental challenges and management options are being reshaped by global drivers such as demographics, technologies, trade patterns and consumption.

While the future cannot be predicted with certainty, it also does not arise from nowhere. It is rooted in our present situation. Some trends visible today will extend over decades, changing slowly and exerting considerable force that will influence a wide array of areas, including social, technological, economic, environmental and political dimensions. While these megatrends cannot be predicted with certainty, they can be assessed in terms of plausible ‘what-if’ projections.

Mega-trends always include uncertainties or strategic shock factors. They can lead to a sudden slowdown or change of direction. This concerns especially events with low probability but far-reaching implications (so-called ‘wild cards’). In addition, a combination of sub-trends can emerge into novel megatrends over a longer time frame, for example several decades.

Many of these changes are interdependent and likely to unfold over decades. They can significantly affect Europe’s resilience in the long term. Naturally, such changes also offer unique opportunities for action. Effective measures, however, require better information and a better understanding of a highly complex and evolving situation.

The assessment grouped a rich diversity of information on global drivers of change into a number of social, technological, economic, environmental and political (governance) megatrends (see Table 1). It summarised key developments succinctly with the goal of triggering a discussion about how we should monitor and assess future changes in order to better inform European environmental policymaking.
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Public Call for Evidence

The approach utilised for this exercise included:

  • A public call for evidence on global megatrends of relevance to Europe’s long-tem environmental The call was launched in June 2009 via the EEA website and was disseminated to relevant research networks and mailing lists. It generated a list of relevant studies that helped further prioritise topics for the analysis.
  • The setting up of an external advisory group to guide the progress of the work. The group comprised representatives of international and national organisations in the field of environmental assessment as well as EEA’s scientific committee members.
  • Reviews of academic and non-academic information sources in the form of eight targeted background reports produced between autumn 2009 and 2010.
  • Consolidation of the information base following the STEEP (social, technological, economic, environmental and political) framework for classifying drivers of change.
  • Structuring of the information base into information sheets including indicators.

The complexity of interlinkages and manifold uncertainties inherent in megatrends require an exploratory, qualitative approach, underpinned by empirical data. It does not solely rely on quantitative modelling although already available model results are used in the analysis. Current approaches to risk analysis and quantitative forecasting are problematic since the systems at hand and their dynamics are not well understood, assumptions are often non-transparent and necessary data are not always available.

The selection of the final list of global megatrends has been determined by matching selection criteria of relevance, novelty, data availability and feasibility within the time frame of the assessment.

The analysis of global megatrends and their relevance to Europe’s long-term environmental context is being carried out as a longer-term and iterative process. The current report captures issues and results relevant to the context and timescale of the state and outlook report 2010. Further work will be undertaken during the next years – and this assessment process intends to provide a solid information base to support policy formulation with a long-term perspective.

Global Megatrends of Relevance to European Environment

Eleven global megatrends were selected to address the European environmental challenges in the area of climate change, nature and biodiversity, natural resources and waste, and health and quality of life.

Increasing Global Divergence in Population Trends: Populations Aging, Growing and Migrating

The global population will continue to grow until the mid of the century but slower than in the past. People will live longer, be more educated and migrate more. Some populations will increase as others shrink. Migration is only one of the unpredictable factors for Europe and the world.

Living in an Urban World:
Spreading Cities and Spiralling Consumption

An increasingly urban world will probably mean higher levels of consumption and greater affluence for many. Yet it also means greater poverty for the urban underprivileged. Poor urban living conditions with the environmental and heath risks this involves can easily spread to other parts of the world, including Europe.

Changing Patterns of Global Disease Burdens and Risk of New Pandemics

Risk of exposure to newly emerging and re-emerging diseases and new pandemics grows with increased mobility of people and goods, climate change and poverty. Aging Europeans could be vulnerable and at risk of being severely affected.

Accelerating Technologies: Racing into the Unknown

The breakneck pace of technological change brings risks and opportunities. These include, in particular, the emerging clusters of nanotechnology, biotechnology and information and communication technology. Innovations offer immense opportunities for the environment – but can also create enormous problems if risks are not regulated adequately.

Continued Economic Growth

High economic growth accelerates consumption and the use of resources, but it also creates economic dynamism that fuels technological innovation potentially offering new approaches for addressing environmental problems and increasing resource efficiency.

Global Power Shifts:
From a Unipolar to a Multipolar World

One superpower no longer holds sway; regional power blocs are increasingly important, economically and diplomatically. As global interdependency and trade expands, so do international and bilateral agreements.  Europe may benefit from this development by improving its resource efficiency and knowledge-based economy.

Intensified Global Competition for Resources

How will Europe survive in the intensifying scramble for scarce resources? The answers may lie in more efficient production and use of resources, new technologies, innovation and increasing cooperation with foreign partners.

Decreasing Stocks of Natural Resources

A larger and richer global population with expanding consumption needs will place growing demands on natural systems for food, water and energy. Europe may see more pressure also on its own natural resources.

Increasing Severity of the Consequences of Climate Change

Accelerating climate change impacts will imperil food and water supplies, impair human health and harm terrestrial and marine life. Europe may see also more human migration, changes in migratory species and heightened pressure on resources availability.

Increasing Environmental Pollution Load

The environment is burdened with an increasingly complex mix of pollutants that threaten the regulatory mechanisms of the earth. Particulates, nitrogen and ground-level ozone merit particular attention in view of their complex and potentially far-reaching effects on ecosystem functioning, climate regulation and human health. In addition, many other chemical substances are released into the environment, the effects of which – whether in isolation or combined – are still poorly understood.

Global Regulation and Governance: Increasing Fragmentation But Converging Outcomes

The world is finding new governance models – multi-lateral agreements and public-private ventures, for example. In the absence of international regulation, advanced European standards and procedures have often been adopted worldwide. But will this situation continue in the future?

Impacts on Europe’s Environment

The analysis of global megatrends shows that they may have a series of direct and indirect consequences for Europe’s environment. These consequences can be illustrated by looking at the four priority areas that underpin the European Union’s Sixth Environmental Action Programme, namely climate change, natural environment, resource use, and environment and health.

The most evident consequences are expected in the area of climate change. A whole set of global socio-economic megatrends will play a key role in determining the severity of climate change impacts in Europe in coming decades. Projected direct impacts in Europe include biodiversity change, particularly in the Arctic region, the Alpine region and the Mediterranean. Water scarcity can become a problem in southern European regions, whereas flooding threatens lowland coastal areas and river basins. Indirectly, Europe may experience increased migration pressures from developing countries, where accelerating global environmental change is becoming more important as a direct root source for migration, and its ageing population may become more vulnerable to extreme events such as heat waves.

For biodiversity and nature, the global megatrends are expected to have a relatively weak direct impact on Europe itself (i.e. spread of invasive species), though globally the loss of biodiversity and indirect impacts on European biodiversity (through use of natural resources and pollution) will be a major concern.

The links between global megatrends and their impacts on Europe’s natural resources are complex and uncertain. Europe is resource-poor in terms of fossil fuels (oil, gas) and minerals (e.g. rare earths, phosphorus, copper, aluminium) and will largely remain dependent on supply from abroad. For energy, Europe may turn to its own stocks (coal, oil shale, ‘revival of mining’), but exploitation costs will be high due to high costs of labour, environmental and occupational security, accessibility and landscape disruption. Changes in the abundance of migratory species and climate change impacts might be aggravated by an increased demand for and depletion of domestic resources (such as food and timber). Similarly, heightened global demand for European agricultural and forestry products may lead to an increase in the intensity and scale of agriculture and forestry in Europe, increasing pressure on water and soil resources. Technology, however, may act to reduce pressure on Europe’s natural resources by enhancing the efficiency of resource use and improving agricultural yields.

In addition to the direct and indirect consequences on Europe’s environment, the megatrends can be expected to also have a global impact on environmental security in many parts of the world, including Europe’s neighbours in the southern and eastern Mediterranean as well as in Sub-Saharan Africa. Examples of such impacts are climate-change-induced refugees, risk of new pandemics and new diseases, conflicts arising from competition for resources, development problems related to uncontrolled urban sprawl.

How Can We Respond to Global Megatrends?

The assessment of megatrends highlights a range of interlinkages and interdependencies. They increase complexity, uncertainty and risk and accelerate feedback within and between economic, social, technological and environmental systems. The growing global links also offer unique opportunities for action although the attempts to realise these opportunities face the challenge of huge time lags between action (or inaction) and effect.

Responding to global megatrends and reflecting future changes in policy is thus a challenging task. The report of the Reflection Group on the Future of Europe has emphasised how many recent global developments, such as the financial crisis or price volatilities in key commodity markets, have caught us by surprise.

A key question emerges: how can we respond to global challenges in resource-using systems when we are very far from understanding them completely? For example, much of the speed and scope of global environmental change has been underestimated by scientific assessments and policy appraisals. Few considered that some of the key emerging economies would develop so fast and affect global demand as quickly as they have in the last decade.

Brief reflection reveals three related but distinct challenges for the future:

  • reviewing assessment approaches to improve monitoring and analysis of future changes and their uncertainties;
  • revising approaches and institutional arrangements to embed a long-term perspective into policy planning and decision-making;
  • reflecting on further policy changes to take better account of global-to-European interlinkages and better align European external policies with environmental policies.
Authors: Teresa Ribeiro              Teresa.Ribeiro@eea.europa.eu

Axel Volkery                 avolkery@ieep.eu

Anita Pirc Velkavrh       Anita.pircvelkavrh@eea.europa.eu

Hans Vos                     hansbvos@gmail.com

Ybele Hoogeveen         Ybele.hoogeveen@eea.europa.eu

Sponsors: n.a.
Type: Regular European state of the environment reporting every four years
Organizer: European Environment Agency
Duration: 2009-2010
Budget: n.a.
Time Horizon: 2050
Date of Brief: August 2012

Download: EFP Brief No. 227_Assessment of Global Megatrends.

Sources and Resources

EEA, 2010a, ‘General support to framing the forward-looking assessment component of the European state of the environment and outlook report 2010 part A — Background Paper on Demographics and Migration’, European Environment Agency, Contract Number 3403/ B2009/EEA.53788 (unpublished).

EEA, 2010b, ‘Background paper on urbanisation and consumption— General support to the forward-looking assessment component of the 2010 European State of the Environment and Outlook Report (Part A)’, European Environment Agency, Copenhagen (unpublished).

EEA, 2010c, ‘Report on health related megatrends — Identifying global health megatrends in support of SOER 2010 Part A’, European Environment Agency Contract No. EEA/AIR/04/007 Specific Agreement 3403/B2009/ EEA.53683, Task 4.

EEA, 2010d, ‘Global megatrends in the area of nano-, bio-, ICT and cognitive sciences and technologies’, European Environment Agency, Copenhagen (unpublished).

EEA, 2010e, Pharmaceuticals in the environment, EEA Technical report No 1/2010, European Environment Agency (http://www.eea.europa. eu/publications/pharmaceuticals-in-the-environment-result-of-an-eea-workshop/at_download/file) accessed 23 November 2010.

EEA, 2010f, The European environment – state and outlook 2010: synthesis, European Environment Agency, Copenhagen.

EFP Brief No. 223: Analysing Long-term Trends of a Post-industrialised Society: The Case of Finland

Tuesday, October 23rd, 2012

This study contributes to building FTA capacities for systemic and structural transformations. Increasing scientific and societal concerns have been raised about the adequacy of current measures of economic performance, in particular that of GDP. Current de-growth discussion summarises the implications. We do not propose a concrete vision but emphasise the need to make it a topic of futures discussions in EU development strategy. An empirical Finnish case study attests to the vital need to revise the current statistical evaluations of European welfare and economic growth processes.

The De-growth Scenario:
Policy Implications for the EU

The Commission on the Measurement of Economic Performance and Social Progress have been discussing new social welfare evaluation tools. European societies have been locked into socio-economic thought dominated by progressive growth economics. The hegemony of this kind of one-sided thinking has made imaginative thinking outside the box almost impossible. The de-growth topic has become a major international subject of debate, not just within the counter-globalisation movement but throughout the world. The big question is: What are the implications of ‘de-growth’ for the European Union and its policies? Do we need new sustainable macroeconomic policies that go beyond the Lisbon and Europe 2020 strategy?

In traditional mainstream economic policy, GDP (gross domestic product) and GDP per capita are often used as measures of national welfare. Although not originally designed for this task, they have become normative benchmarks of economic and social performance (Easterlein 1974). We have to acknowledge that relying on GDP can lead policymakers to draw wrong policy conclusions in the EU and in the EU member countries.

When Costs of Growth Exceed Benefits

For some time now, economists have been proposing a ‘threshold hypothesis’, the notion being that when macroeconomic systems expand beyond a certain size, the additional cost of economic growth exceeds the flow of additional welfare benefits (Daly & Cobb 1989). In order to support their findings, economists and scientists have developed a number of indexes to measure and compare the benefits and costs of growth (e.g., the index of sustainable economic welfare, ISEW and the genuine progress indicator GPI, etc.). In virtually every instance where an index of this type has been calculated for a particular country, the movement of the index appears to underline the validity of the threshold hypothesis. Philip Lawn (2003) has noted that by adopting a more inclusive concept of income and capital, these alternative new indexes are theoretically sound but require the continuous development of more robust valuation methods to be broadly accepted.

Making Indexes and Statistics Scientifically Sound

There is also ongoing scientific debate about the statistical correlations of gross domestic product (GDP), population, genuine progress indicator (GPI), index of sustainable economic welfare (ISEW), genuine saving (GS) and human development index (HDI) indicators. All these welfare indicators can be used in analysing the welfare and sustainability situation of the EU member countries. An interesting debate on the policy relevance of a set of indicators versus a single index has been going on for quite some time now. Both options have advantages and disadvantages:

  • A set of indicators is more appropriate for expert use, yet hard to communicate to the public and even more difficult to interpret because different indicators usually provide confusing signals.
  • A single index is a highly valuable instrument in political debates and setting targets as well as in communicating such targets to the public.

Nonetheless, the European Union’s macroeconomic planning and strategic decision-making requires active development of new relevant sustainability planning and evaluation tools and indexes. We cannot rely on just one index, GDP, in our welfare policy analyses.

New Approach in Statistical Analysis Needed

If the European Union wants to evaluate long-term sustainability of its macroeconomic development, new kinds of statistical analyses are needed. Our study is based on long-term statistics (years 1960-2009) for three key social welfare indicators; statistical analyses have been conducted for the same period for other variables (GS, HDI, and population) as well (Hoffrén 2001, Kekkonen 2010 and Lemmetyinen 2011). The long-term trends of key indicators have been analysed and a statistical correlation analysis between them has been carried out.

Our results support the validity of the threshold hypothesis, especially for the years following the oil crisis. Figure 1 demonstrates this in the case of Finland.
223_bild1
Figure 1

Novel Sustainability Evaluation Method to Improve Social Welfare Systems in the EU

The idea of the article is to propose a novel sustainability evaluation methodology for the European Commission and EU member countries. This statistical approach is evidence-based and gives new evaluation and planning information about critical sustainability trends in European Union. In our case study, the focus is on Finland and its sustainability trends. A similar kind of indicator-based sustainability evaluation should be done for all EU27 countries to improve the quality of European Union’s long-term sustainability policy and especially its social welfare policy.

De-growth Strategy for the European Union

For some authors, the very idea of sustainable development seems to be a contradiction in terms. It is not a big surprise that practice has shown unequivocally that it is not possible to reconcile economic growth with environmental sustainability. Some parts of the global scientific community, for instance those participating in the UNEP (see IPSRM-UNEP 2010), think that the Western lifestyle is damaging not only its own environment but also that of the poorer countries and the planet as a whole. In this context, the proposal of ‘sustainable de-growth’ has emerged as a strategy that aims to generate new social values and new policies capable of satisfying human requirements whilst reducing the consumption of resources. De-growth is a political, economic, and social movement based on environmentalist, anti-consumerist and anti-capitalist ideas. ‘Sustainable de-growth’ or ‘de-growth’ is not yet a formalised theory but rather a focal point for social movements, academia or politics to rally around (Latouche 2006).

Questioning the Consumption Paradigm

De-growth supporters have advocated the downscaling of production and consumption – the contraction of economies – as overconsumption lies at the root of long-term environmental issues and social inequalities. Key to the concept of de-growth is that reducing consumption does not require individual martyring and a decrease in well-being. Rather, ‘de-growthists’ aim to maximise happiness and well-being through non-consumptive means: sharing work, consuming less while devoting more time to art, music, family, culture and community. De-growth – in contrast to the idea of dematerialisation, which aims at a reduction of resource use while the economy continues to grow – goes further and means that significant reductions of resource use require fundamental changes in the production and consumption system.

The de-growth movement opposes economic growth, which has created many more poor people and has inevitably led to environmental degradation. From this perspective, the de-growth strategy opposes the Europe 2020 policy. In any case, the de-growth movement’s future success will depend on its capacity to generate coherent political responses and empirical results to shore up its proposals. This study contributes to tackling this challenge facing the de-growth movement.

The Finnish Case: Evidence for the Anti-Growth Strategy

In the case of Finland, we observe a negative correlation between GDP and GPI after the oil crisis years. Growth of GDP appears not to be connected with improved GPI development. GDP still correlates positively with GS and HDI. However, the correlation rates are much lower now than before the oil crisis.

When we discuss de-growth policy and its potential content, we must bear in mind that there are various aspects of welfare beyond economic growth alone. In the Finnish case, we can note that the linkage between GDP growth and welfare indicators is not as strong as it was before the oil-crisis period. Yet, we must also remember that the GDP indicator too includes immaterial and qualitative aspects of welfare. If we think of de-growth from this perspective, it is not a rational aim to radically minimise GDP growth. Probably we should try to find a “golden middle of the road solution”, which is a rather unadventurous or inoffensive path that does not go only one way or the other (neither de-growth nor growth mania).

Another policy conclusion from our empirical analysis is that GPI is a critical indicator for the de-growth movement because the GPI indicator provides empirical foundations for the anti-growth movement and its form of welfare thinking. In Figure 1, the trade-off curve of GDP and GPI is plotted for Finland for the years 1960-2009. The turning point of GDP and GNI  (Gross National Income) trends was in 1988. This year can be seen as a benchmark year because in 1988 Finland reached the peak level of welfare as measured by the GPI. Although GDP has grown in Finland, GPI has not increased since. Socially and politically the situation is most problematic.

Dynamics of Economic & Social Development Have Changed Dramatically

In the study, a long time series (years 1960-2009) was initially analysed by Pearson correlation analysis. Subsequently, the time periods before the oil crisis (years 1960-1972) and the time period after the oil crisis (1973-2009) were analysed in the same way. Six welfare indicators were correlated.

One key observation of this indicator study is that the dynamics of economic and social development in Finland have changed dramatically. We can expect similar structural changes to also have occurred elsewhere in the European Union. The GDP indicator was correlated in a different way before and after the oil crisis. The changes in the correlation tables are considerable, indicating substantial structural changes. We find support for the following analytical conclusions:

  • In the long run, the GDP correlates positively with five other indexes of the Finnish case study.
  • Before the oil crisis, positive correlations were strong between the GDP index and the other indices analysed.
  • After the oil crisis, however, our statistical analysis clearly supports the threshold hypothesis in the Finnish case. Especially the correlation between GDP and GPI has shifted dramatically in Finland after the peak year 1988.
  • A single aggregate index, such as GDP, is certainly a valuable means of communication for policy purposes. At the expert level, however, a set of indicators is a more appropriate toolbox, even though it may be harder to communicate and more difficult to interpret because of different and sometimes opposing signals. As this case study shows, a single aggregate index can lead to very problematic policy choices in the EU member countries.
  • There is a need to develop a sustainable de-growth strategy that goes beyond the Lisbon and Europe 2020 strategies. Many European governments may face a new situation where welfare indicators are developing in an undesirable direction although the GDP indicator shows economic growth and successful economic performance. This phenomenon was also observed in the Finnish case study.
  • Despite all theoretically and empirically motivated criticism of GDP as a social welfare and progress indicator, the GDP’s role in economics, public policy, politics and society seems to remain influential also in the future.

The European Union’s macroeconomic planning and strategic decision-making urgently calls for new sustainability planning and evaluation tools and indexes. We cannot rely on just one old and much criticised GDP index in our European welfare policy analyses. Relying on inadequate signals in coordinating common EU policies may very well lead member countries to make wrong policy decisions. We now need new macro-aggregates, such as ISEW and GPI, to foster our socio-economic performance and competitiveness.

In evidence-based policy making, the European Union should pay more attention to the underlying motivation of growth policy because what we understand as economic growth today does not necessarily contribute to welfare in any linear fashion. Our study is important because it shows that, if we evaluate welfare by the GPI index, this is precisely what has been happening in Finland: there is no longer any immediate link between economic growth and general social welfare. Especially under the Europe 2020 strategy process we need broader evidence that the political decisions taken are actually leading Europe toward improved welfare. The possibility that the threshold hypothesis adequately describes the reality in the European Union countries should be taken more seriously in various policy fields.

Confirming the Commission on the Measurement of Economic Performance and Social Progress

In a recent study, the Nobel prize-winning economists and professors Joseph E. Stiglitz, Amartya Sen and Jean-Paul Fitoussi (2009) (SSF report) urge the adoption of new assessment tools that incorporate a broader concern for human welfare than just economic growth. By their reckoning and insights, much of the contemporary economic disaster owes to the misbegotten assumption that policy makers simply had to focus on nurturing economic growth, trusting that this would maximise prosperity for all. The case study of Finland shows that this taken-for-granted assumption is too simplistic. In this light, the policy recommendations of SSF Report are highly policy relevant for the European Commission and EU member countries to achieve greater social welfare to actually improve the lives of their citizens.

Authors: Jukka Hoffrén            jukka.hoffren@stat.fi  Jari Kaivo-oja    jari.kaivo-oja@tse.fi   Samuli Aho            samuli.aho@tse.fi
Sponsors: Finland Futures Research Centre (FFRC), University of Turku, Finland Statistics Finland, Finland
Type: National FTA exercise, Finland
Organizer: Finland Futures Research Centre (FFRC), Electrocity, Tykistönkatu 4 D, 7th Floor, FIN-20520 TURKU
Duration: 2011
Budget: n.a.
Time Horizon: 2020
Date of Brief: October 2012

Download: EFP Brief No. 223: Analysing Long-term Trends of a Post-industrialised Society: The Case of Finland

Sources and References


Aldrich, J. (1995): Correlations genuine and spurious in Pearson and Yule. Statistical Science 10 (4), pp. 364–376.

Daly, H. & Cobb, J. (1989): For the Common Good. Beacon Press, Boston.

Easterlin, R. (1974): Does economic growth improve the human lot? In: David, P., Weber, R. (Eds.), Nations and Households in Economic Growth. Academic Press, New York.

Hoffrén, J. (2001): Measuring the Eco-efficiency of Welfare Generation in a National Economy. The Case of Finland. Statistics Finland Research Reports 233. Helsinki. And update by Hoffrén (2011).

Kekkonen, E. (2010): Hyvinvoinnin ja edistymisen kuvaaminen yhdistelmäindikaattorilla: Suomen kestävän yhteiskunnan indeksin laskenta. Master’s Thesis. University of Helsinki. Department of Economics. Helsinki.

Latouche, S. (2006): Le Pari de la Décroissance. Fayard. Paris.

Lawn, P.A. (2003): A theoretical foundation to support the Index of Sustainable Economic Welfare (ISEW), Genuine Progress Indicator (GPI), and other related indexes. Ecological Economics 44 (2003), pp. 105-118.

Lemmetyinen, I (2011): Genuine Savings – indikaattori Suomelle. Master Thesis. Aalto University. Helsinki School of Economics. Helsinki.

Rättö, H. (2008): Hyvinvointi ja hyvinvoinnin mittaamisen kehittäminen. Statistics Finland. Research Reports 250. And update version by Hoffrén (2011). Helsinki.

Stiglitz, J.E., Sen, A. & Fitoussi, J.-P. (2009): Report by the Commission on the Measurement of Economic Performance and Social Progress. Commission on the Measurement of Economic Performance and Social Progress. France.

EFP Brief No. 206: Future Strategies for Ageing Management in the Working World of Salzburg Province

Wednesday, February 29th, 2012

The projected demographic change and the resulting necessity of a longer working life represent considerable challenges for (1) the individual quality of life and work of employees, (2) the innovative capacity and productivity of companies and (3) the negotiability of the welfare state. As its goal, the foresight project set out to analyse the concrete situation and development potential of the working world in the Province of Salzburg and depict the options for taking action at the micro-level (individual), meso-level (organisations) and macro-level (socio-political actors) in the form of scenarios. The project placed particular emphasis on transferring research results into practice.

Demographic Change in Salzburg Province

As in all of Europe, Salzburg Province also conforms to the population development trend that has been evident now for decades: a rising number of older people in retirement in contrast to a consistently sinking number of younger people of employment age. Because of this, a longer term of employment is required in order to secure the social systems and to maintain economic strength.

Simultaneously, the employment-related difficulties are increasing for those in the workforce, for instance, through more rapid and increasingly complex work processes, time pressure or the devaluation of professional qualifications over time. In addition, a lack of professional specialists is expected, which is heightened further by the demographic development.

In order to meet the challenges arising from the change in population structures and the workforce, it is important to become proactive and take determined measures in a timely fashion.

In research and politics, the need for action is recognised in principle; however, there are deficits in implementing large-scale and in-depth problem-solving options in practice. Therefore, the project begins with sensitising and supporting actors in implementing age management in the working world.

Flaws in Existing Concepts

Existing concepts…

… neglect the holistic perspective, are attentive exclusively to the target group of employees who are already older at present, and focus only on certain fields of action;

… do not give enough attention to individual actors whose interests often contradict each other and result from short-term thinking;

… presuppose that companies have a certain resource potential. These concepts are therefore not suitable to the general conditions of the smaller companies characteristic of Salzburg Province.

In addition, many actors appear to be overwhelmed by the complexity of the problem and the numerous recommendations of how to tackle it. They often react to this by postponing necessary measures or even refusing to take action.

A Holistic View on Ageing in the Working World

Against this background, a two-part project structure emerged. First of all, it was important to grasp the specific situation in Salzburg Province in a basic research phase and to analyse the developmental stages to be expected in each of the topic areas and fields of action at the different societal levels (individuals, organisations, socio-political actors) that are significant for the further development of the regional labour market. Parallel to this, the project sought to identify the factors so far preventing employment appropriate for an ageing workforce. A further emphasis of this research phase was how age management concepts should be conceived for small companies to be able to apply them.

On the other hand, the focus was placed on attempts to put the research findings into practice in an implementation-oriented transfer phase. Particular attention was paid to the enterprise and branch structure of Salzburg Province. The transfer phase involved an awareness-raising process regarding age management in the working world. The target groups here were both the companies as well as their employees – from the apprentice on up to the senior employee.

The aim of the project “Future Strategies for Ageing Management in the Working World of Salzburg Province” is to set impulses for a working world in which companies facilitate the work capabilities of employees and societal structures are created to enable longer employment with a high quality of work life for everyone. In the process, it is important to take the diverse fields of action into consideration that together form a working world appropriate to ageing (Fig. 1).

Innovations for Demographic Change in Work Life

The target variables in the basic research phase were (1) the individual quality of life and work of employees, (2) the innovative capability and productivity of the companies and (3) the negotiability of the welfare state. With an eye to these main target variables, we analysed the challenges resulting from the ageing of the population for individuals, companies and socio-political actors and determined the measures to be taken to establish a living and working environment appropriate to ageing and the barriers in the way of implementing urgently needed measures. The complexity of the problems was described from multiple perspectives using the scenario technique in which the potential consequences of successful or, in some cases, unsuccessful age management was systematically varied on several levels.

Methodical Procedure

In an initial step, we reviewed the findings in the relevant research literature and of previous projects. In a second step, we conducted interviews with regional and supra-regional experts who were able to give a first overview of the relevant factors regarding developments in the working world.

Expanding on the analysis of research to date and the explorative interviews with the experts, a total of four extensive structural analysis workshops (MICMAC) were organised for the central fields of action (education, health, business operations and society). These structural analyses were conducted by involving regional actors who were noted for their positions of authority and professional competence in each particular field of action.

Based on the workshop results, influential factors decisive for the working world of Salzburg Province were identified and their reciprocal effects were described in a consistency analysis. Systematic variations allowed projecting numerous potential paths of development in the Salzburg working world. The three most plausible and significant development tracks were then compactly designed as scenarios.

In this way, the first project track led to differentiated scenarios that illustrate the complexity of the topic while allowing to integrate the individual research results. Thus, the scenarios primarily enabled formulating the comprehensive and complex connections resulting from the demographic changes for the company context and beyond. They were meant to create awareness for the problem and were used as the basis for a second, practice-oriented project track, involving a maximum diversity of actors across all sectors. This second step was aimed at devising ways of giving higher priority to the necessary long-term structural and behavioural changes over short-term planning horizons.

Scenarios: Creating a Working World Appropriate for Ageing

The scenario process revealed that the degree of activity on the political and operational level is significant for establishing age management in the working world. Political and operational activity thus form two axes along which the scenarios vary, leading to three conceivable scenarios. The fourth scenario in this scheme based on active political and reactive operational activity was excluded as implausible.

Scenario 1: Everyone for Him/Herself

In the first scenario, neither political nor company actors are actively involved in age management in the working world. Everyone struggles on his or her own and is driven by the demands prevailing in the modern working world.

Scenario 2: Leader of the Pack

The second scenario depends on high initiative within the company itself. With persistence and readiness to make investments, a few succeed in mastering the challenges of a changing working world. The political initiative is missing that is necessary to push the less innovative and strong enterprises towards appropriate management of ageing.

Scenario 3: Salzburg Gets Busy

In this scenario, the political and organisational actors take collaborative action and establish suitable working structures. Step by step, they create a working world appropriate to ageing.

Involving Older Employees, Young Workers & Socio-political Actors

The second line of the project centred on putting the research results into practice. Three scopes of application with different priorities were realised in order to make use of the lessons learned from the scenarios in the working world.

  1. The first module was to develop a model for age management in small and medium-sized businesses. Considering the particular situation especially of small-sized businesses, we developed instruments for assessing the current situation and sensitising actors to the problem of demographic change and devised measures to address the challenges. In a scenario workshop, employees were able to expand on what they expected regarding their own future career.
  2. A second module aimed at sensitising young workers. The apprentices were given opportunities to become familiar with the topic of “Labour and Age” in a creative way. They received information about the demographic change and its consequences for the working world and were instructed in a theatre workshop about preparing for the future challenges to be faced.
  3. The third and most important use of the scenarios was to sensitize socio-political actors. The scenarios provided a means of demonstrating to politicians, social partners and public institutions the underlying factors and connections and allowed to derive recommendations for action to establish age management in the working world.

The practical experience modules were carried out in close collaboration with the Salzburg Occupational Health Services Centre for healthful employment, which plans to implement the project results in its future work with companies and their employees.

Individual and Structural Adaptation Strategies

Demographic changes take place over relatively long periods of time. Seen from one angle, this enables projecting demographic trends relatively reliably, but it also makes it more difficult to influence them in the short- and medium-term. For the actors in Salzburg Province, this means two things: they can influence the process of demographic change only to a very limited extent, and in shaping the working world, the task consists mostly of adapting to future developments with expectancy and efficiency. Against this background, the research process brought forth the following findings:

  1. Structure:

Successfully surmounting the challenges of demographic change requires that the actors in Salzburg Province coordinate their efforts. A particular responsibility falls to the political actors who are in charge of the general structural conditions providing the framework for the job market in Salzburg Province. Due to the complexity of the topic and the economic structure of the region with its many small businesses, it is hardly realistic to expect any comprehensive initiative on the organisational level, or as the case may be, independent initiative on the individual level. Decisive factors for the formation of age management in the working world in Salzburg Province are closely linked with the amount of political action, on the one hand, and with the amount of involvement at the company level, on the other. Individual behaviour in the working world in Salzburg Province can be viewed as a consequence of action at higher levels of social organization and cannot be expected to act as a major force in initiating change.

  1. Actual age at the onset of retirement:

The workforce must adapt to a longer working life. The political goal is to prolong working life and delay retirement. Early retirement based on exceptional circumstances and in cases of hardship is now more difficult. What measures are taken at the level of legislation and implementation will be decisive as to whether the extension of working life will be cushioned by welfare state regulations in socially responsible ways or whether the additional burden must be carried by each and every individual alone.

  1. Working capability:

The prerequisite for a longer working life is maintaining the ability to work. This poses a problem particularly in professions defined by hard physical labour and mental stress. Here it is rarely possible to remain healthy and motivated until legal retirement age. Thus, the primary goal must be to retain the individual ability to work. This pertains most of all to physical and mental health but also to skills and motivation.

  1. Skilled workers:

It is worth considering that a shortage of qualified workers in the wake of demographic change could lead to competition for the “best and brightest”, a situation already found today to some extent within some companies. Companies as well as the Salzburg Province itself are well-advised to shape the economic and other framework conditions so that the region remains an attractive economic location.

  1. Qualification and job market:

Not every group in the job market can be expected to live up to the demands of life-long learning. For this reason, we can assume that there will be stronger polarity in the job market between a group of well to very well qualified workers and a group of rather poorly qualified ones.

The better qualified will be highly sought after in the future and will perform challenging tasks whereas the rather poorly qualified workers will be left with the simpler and fairly stressful activities. The situation of the less qualified will worsen in the future due to the fact that certain qualifications will probably be required even for simple jobs. The demands in regard to knowledge, skills and proficiency will tend to rise even for positions requiring lower qualifications. Initiatives will thus be required in order to profitably integrate this part of the workforce in the working world throughout their entire working life.

  1. Women:

More strongly integrating women and retaining the ageing population in the job market would contribute to better utilising the potential workforce and better distributing stress in the working world. A very effective measure to that effect is improving structures for childcare.

  1. Attitudes and values:

Less concrete but no less effective than welfare state and company regulations are the ideas entertained throughout society about the working world. The images of the working world in the minds of the general population have a considerable influence on behaviour in the labour market, for instance, concerning job preferences and choice of profession. Deficit-oriented perceptions of ageing, stereotypical gender roles or assumptions about the stages in an employment biography strongly affect individual working behaviour. Changes in the “labour market culture” in the service of age management in the working world could be one of the most powerful influences of all.

Authors: Katja Linnenschmidt   katja.linnenschmidt@fh-salzburg.ac.at

Dirk Steinbach             dirk.steinbach@fh-salzburg.ac.at

Elmar Schüll               elmar.schuell@fh-salzburg.ac.at

Sponsors: Austrian Research Promotion Agency (FFG)
Type: Regional foresight project covering a single issue
Organizer: Salzburg University of Applied Sciences, Centre for Futures Studies
Duration: 11/2008–10/2011 Budget: € 400,000 Time Horizon: 2030 Date of Brief: Dec 2011

EFP Brief No. 206_Future strategies for ageing management in Salzburg Province

Sources and References

Ilmarinen, Juhani; Tempel, Jürgen (2002): Arbeitsfähigkeit 2010 – Was können wir tun, damit Sie gesund bleiben? VSA Verlag, Hamburg.

Steinbach, Dirk; Linnenschmidt, Katja; Schüll, Elmar (2011): Zukunftsstrategien für eine alternsgerechte Arbeitswelt – Trends, Szenarien und Empfehlungen. LIT-Verlag. Vienna.

www.fhs-forschung.at/zfz

EFP Brief No. 198: Weak Signals and Emerging Issues in Health

Tuesday, October 18th, 2011

This foresight activity was conducted as part of the EU FP7 SESTI project (Scanning for Emerging Science and Technology Issues) aimed at developing a process that can be used to identify weak signals and emerging issues in a systematic, efficient and effective way. It also pursued the application and implementation of such techniques by contextualizing them and initiating discussions within the policy arena, thus linking them in a meaningful way to existing policy processes. To enhance the quality of the comparison of the different weak signal scanning approaches, the content domain was limited to signals that are precursors to changes in the research and innovation system. This policy brief reports on the approach and findings of the SESTI project on the health theme.

Demographics, New Technologies and Patient Empowerment

Countries have been facing increasing pressure on health service budgets due to a number of factors. This trend is projected to accelerate over the coming years, and countries are desperately looking for ways of limiting expenditure without reducing the quality of services or their accessibility.

The most significant factors driving the change are:

  • Demographic and societal change. The ageing population has profound implications for the cost of health and social services.
  • Health informatics and telemedicine. ICT is changing the face of healthcare. ICT systems are revolutionising information sharing between health professionals, for example through the development of seamless electronic patient records. This requires the implementation, maintenance and upgrading of a sophisticated infrastructure with all the investment that this entails.
  • New health technologies. New pharmaceuticals and techniques are continually being developed leading to a broader range of treatments applied on a routine basis resulting in additional medical costs. But new health technologies can also contribute to decreasing costs, at least in the mid to long run. Better early diagnostics (enabling cures at an early stage), self-monitoring of health functions, robotic assistance (enabling the elderly to live on their own for a longer time or assisting medical and nursing personnel) and modern prosthetics (enabling disabled people to work more efficiently) can improve efficiency and reduce costs over time (Braun et al 2009, p 22).

Issue-centred Scanning and Exploratory Scanning

During the project, two different approaches to identify new emerging issues were followed: issue-centred scanning and exploratory scanning.

Issue-centred Scanning

In this approach, the project team foresight experts systematically conducted searches for signals that could indicate potential emerging issues. The scan tapped various digital sources, such as scientific journals, newspapers, policy papers, reports and statistical data books.

This approach provides valuable information and is a very useful technique for identifying emerging issues but has the drawback that it may miss the so-called unknown unknowns, although individual scanners may stumble upon them during the scanning activity.

The manual search for potential emerging issues followed two main lines:

  1. The first focused on selecting potential emerging issues that may be relevant to the topic being researched, using material from the national horizon scanning exercises.
  2. The second is based on a more open search on the Internet, using key questions and phrases as search strings constructed by the experts based on the kind of issues one may expect in the subject area.

The method delivered a useful set of emerging issues that were used as input for the workshops held later during the project.

Exploratory Scanning

In the exploratory approach, the foresight experts examined a variety of digital sources of information and screened them for weak signals using automated text-mining tools. The advantage of this approach is that it does not rely on an expert for identifying topics and that it should be more effective in identifying novel issues outside the perception of policymakers and expert communities.

While the concept of a bottom-up approach using automated techniques appears attractive, in practice we found that the difficulty of clustering the raw data posed an obstacle to successfully identifying emerging issues. Thus, the further development of the text mining tools would be necessary before this technique could be applied reliably in practice.

Refining the Set of Early Warning Signals

The scanning exercise produced a long set of early warning signals. This list was then refined through an assessment exercise where the underlying issues as well as the impact and uncertainty of the signals were considered. There was also a first appraisal of the reliability of the signals. The signals were clustered in different ways, taking into consideration the content dimension (keywords, areas and topics) as well as significance and granularity.

Visualisation tools, such as tag clouds, were employed to help identify keywords and provide a basis for discussion. Keywords may be either single words or phrases (e.g., health care, regenerative medicine).

The processing involved the following six steps:

  1. Clustering of weak signals
  2. Assessing the significance of clusters
  3. Framing of connected weak signals
  4. Tentative modelling of emerging issues
  5. Comparison with results of previous foresight exercises
  6. Selection of significant emerging issues.

Workshops

Following the conclusion of the scanning and processing phases by the SESTI team, a workshop was held to present and discuss the project results with a variety of stakeholders, including national policymakers, thematic experts, EC officials and delegates from the private sector. A workshop paper was prepared and circulated to the workshop participants beforehand as background material for the meetings.

The workshop was structured according to the following format:

  • Setting the scene: presentation on the thematic background by a member of the SESTI team;
  • Emerging issues: presentation of the results of the SESTI scanning activities;
  • Discussion: open floor discussion on the emerging issues presented;
  • Voting on the issues by the participants on four criteria: impact, plausibility, novelty and policy implications.

Personalisation, Diversification and Individual Accountability

The scanning exercise identified a number of emerging issues of which the following five were highlighted as being the most prominent.

Diversification in Medicine

A wide range of new offerings beyond conventional medicine and outside the public health system have sprung up in recent years. Diminishing trust in conventional medicine, the debate on cultural diversity in medicine and the increasing use of complementary and alternative medicine may lead to new requirements with regard to regulation. This field encompasses a number of therapies including herbalism, meditation, acupuncture, yoga, hypnosis, biofeedback and traditional Chinese medicine. A growing number of people in Europe (more than 100 million) are turning to complementary and alternative medicine for disorders they feel cannot be treated with conventional therapy.

Mental Health in an Ageing Society

Advances in medicine means that humans are living longer than ever before. However, for the individual this may prove to be a mixed blessing since the quality of life of the elderly is often compromised due to frailty, reduced mobility, dependence on medication, financial limitations and loneliness in the twilight years. One in four older adults lives with depression, anxiety or other significant mental health disorders. In many EU member states the suicide rate among the elderly is higher than that for any other age group.

This aspect of the ageing population has been overshadowed by the economic perspective related to the pension problem and rising healthcare bill. The psychosocial consequences of an ageing society and the related problems are not widely known.

Obesity: the Global Epidemic Marches On

It is estimated that in excess of one billion adults are overweight, and that at least 300 million of them are clinically obese. Obesity has reached epidemic proportions and has been a major contributor to the global burden of chronic disease and disability. Within Europe, obesity affects 20-30% of adults, and a cause of particular concern is the increase in obesity rates among the young.

Rising obesity is the result of a combination of factors – increasing affluence leading to abundance of food, poor consumption habits due to a hectic routine, and a sedentary lifestyle. To combat obesity we need to recognise and address these realities, yet a number of endeavours aimed at raising public awareness and encouraging a healthier lifestyle appear to have had a limited effect. The problem calls for a new impetus and for a broader approach in the fight against obesity.

Is Prevention Better Than Cure? Re-prioritising Health Research

Most medical research funding is channelled into ways of treating disorders rather then towards methods of preventing disease. Whilst nobody would contest the remarkable progress and medical discoveries that have been made in recent years, new pharmaceuticals and treatments have contributed to a spiralling healthcare bill. Rising citizen expectations and an ageing society have placed further demands on healthcare services, and most countries are facing major challenges in terms of its sustainability.

The time may be ripe for radically rethinking health research strategy. Social interventions at policy level have a high impact on health and may become of great interest to public health policy. Nevertheless, the outcome cannot be measured in the same way that the outcome of clinical trials or health behaviour interventions on individuals can be measured.

Personalised Medicine

Personalised medicine is an approach that tailors interventions to individual variations in risk and treatment response. Although medicine has long made efforts to achieve this goal, recent advances and falling costs in genomics are beginning to make this concept a reality.

Pharmacogenomics may also provide an opportunity for an increased range of medicines. A number of drugs fail to obtain regulatory approval because they have a negative side effect on a small part of the population. This reduces the range of available medicines and pushes up the costs of research. If the genetic element could be incorporated into the testing and licensing procedure, it would be possible to develop many more drugs provided that these would be prescribed on the basis of successful genetic tests only.

As the cost of genetic testing continues to fall, it may be generally available as early as 2014. The recent developments raise questions about regulatory policy, technology assessment, and especially the financing and organisation of medical innovation.

Changing Demand for Health Services May Reduce Costs

The workshop proved invaluable in bringing together a variety of perspectives representing different interests, including academia, the public sector, the private sector and civil society. This collective knowledge ensured an interesting and balanced discussion and helped impart a certain degree of validity and legitimacy to the results.

The workshop conclusions are summarised below according to the issues introduced above.

Diversification in Medicine

The growing popularity of complementary and alternative medicine could lead to a demand for a diverse mix of medical services in the future. The regulation of practitioners may need to be extended to include those practicing alternative medicine. This speciality may provide opportunities for reducing the public healthcare bill.

Mental Health in an Ageing Society

The increasing incidence of mental health problems among the elderly is a looming problem that could have a significant impact both in terms of demand for medical services as well as in a wider social context. There are very significant policy implications and the matter deserves further consideration.

Obesity

Increasing incidence of obesity and the limited success of current attempts to address the problem demand a new impetus and a broader approach. Alternative measures could include additional regulation of the food industry and regulatory constraints on marketing by the fast food industry.

Re-prioritising Health Research

New pharmaceuticals and treatments have contributed to a spiralling healthcare bill, and in many countries, future sustainability is a challenge. The time may be ripe for radically rethinking health research strategy with an increased focus on preventive solutions.

Personalised Treatment

Widespread personalised medicine is believed to have a significant impact on the future treatment of individuals. Its increasing significance is considered a plausible prospect for the future as pharmacogenetic knowledge grows and costs continue to fall. Pharmacogenomics also provides a mechanism for improvements in the pharmaceutical regulatory regime leading to a broader range and lower cost of drugs.

Authors: Petra Schaper-Rinkel                      Petra.Schaper-Rinkel@ait.ac.at

Ozcan Saritas                                    ozcan.saritas@mbs.ac.uk

Brian Warrington                             brian.warrington@gov.mt

Victor van Rij                                     v.vanrij@awt.nl

Sponsors: EU Commission
Type: EU-level single issue foresight exercise
Organizer: FP7 SESTI Project Coordinator: TNO, Maurits Butter maurits.butter@tno.nl  
Duration: Oct 08 – Mar 11 Budget: N/A Time Horizon: 2025 Date of Brief: April 2011  

 

Download EFP Brief No. 198_Weak Signals Health

Sources and References

For more information, visit the project website at http://www.sesti.info

Amanatidou et al. (2011). “On concepts and Methods in Horizon Scanning: Lessons from Initiating Policy Dialogues on Emerging Issues.” Fourth International Seville Conference on Future-Oriented Technology Analysis (FTA)
Seville, 12-13 May 2011

Braun et al. (2009). EFMN. Special issue on healthcare. Healthy ageing and the future of public healthcare systems, Brussels 2009

Kopelman, P. (2010). “Foresight Report: the obesity challenge ahead.” Proceedings of the Nutrition Society 69(1): 80‐85.

Mossialos, E., Dixon, A., Figueras, J. and Kutzin, J. (Eds.) (2002). “Funding Healthcare: Option for Europe.” Open University Press, Buckingham.

Office of Science and Technology (OST) (2001). “Healthcare 2020, Report of the Foresight Healthcare Panel.” Department of Trade and Industry, London, available at: www.foresight.gov.uk/

Saritas, O. and Keenan, M. (2004). “Broken promises and/ or techno dreams? The future of health and social services in Europe.” foresight, vol. 6, issue 5, 281-291.

EFP Brief No. 181: Technologies for EU Minerals Supply

Thursday, May 26th, 2011

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

The Minerals Challenge

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

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

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

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

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

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

Success Scenario Approach

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

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

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

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

The figure below gives an outline of the methodology:

Challenges in Three Dimensions

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

Geology and Minerals Intelligence

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

Mining, Ore Processing and Metallurgy

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

Sustainable Use, Efficiency, Recycling and Re-use

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2.1 There are three broad research priorities:

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

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

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

Key Action 3: Increase the flow of trained people.

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

Key Action 4: Governance issues are critical.

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

Authors: Luke Georghiou luke.georghiou@mbs.ac.uk, Jacques Varet j.varet@brgm.fr, Philippe Larédo philippe.laredo@enpc.fr
Sponsors: EU Commission
Type: EU-level single issue foresight exercise
Organizer: FP7 FarHorizon Project Coordinator: MIOIR, Luke Georghiou Luke.georghiou@mbs.ac.uk
Duration: Sept 08-Feb11 Budget: N/A Time Horizon: 2030 Date of Brief: Apr 2011

 

Download EFP Brief No. 181_Technologies for EU Minerals Supply

Sources and References

Georghiou, L., Varet, J. and Larédo P. (2011), Breakthrough technologies: For the security of supply of critical minerals and metals in the EU, March 2011, http://farhorizon.portals.mbs.ac.uk

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

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

EFP Brief No. 179: Facing the Future: Time for the EU to Meet Global Challenges

Tuesday, May 24th, 2011

The aim of this project is to provide a comprehensive picture of the main trends ahead and possible disruptive global challenges in the future and to examine how the EU could position itself to take an active role in shaping a response to them. The work described in the final report contributes a fresh perspective on the future, linking widely accepted quantified trends through 2025 and beyond with the opinions of experts and policy makers on the likely consequences of these trends and wild cards. This work has been undertaken in cooperation with the Bureau of European Policy Advisors of the European Commission.

The World in 2025

What will the world look like in 2025 and beyond? What are possible future disruptive global challenges? And how can the EU position itself to take an active role in shaping a response to them? There is a clear and growing need for the ability to anticipate change to be embedded in policy. This is critical not only for being able to respond and adapt to new situations before they occur but also to shape the future, building upon mutual understanding and common vi-sions to be jointly pursued.

For policy responses to address all the pressing current global challenges, especially when seen in isolation, is clearly a demanding task. Institutions face greater com-plexity and difficulty in providing solutions in due time. This is particularly true when the policy focus extends beyond the challenges that societies face today, seeking to anticipate future challenges and transform them into opportunities.

This is the rationale for the study “Facing the future: time for the EU to meet global challenges” carried out by the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre, Institute for Prospective Technological Studies (JRC-IPTS) for the Bureau of European Policy Advisors of the (BEPA).

From Analytical Review to Robust Portfolio Modelling

The methodology used combines an extensive analytical review of more than 120 recent future-oriented studies, followed by a broad online consultation of almost 400 identified issues in six policy-relevant areas and use of multi-criteria quantitative analysis (Robust Portfolio Modelling) to prioritise the resulting issues. Key issues were then presented and discussed in a workshop with selected experts and policy makers. The main objective of the expert workshop was to organise the findings of the literature review and the analysis of the online survey into novel cross-cutting challenges, which the EU needs to tackle now in order to secure a better future for all and to translate them into policy messages. As a wide variety of challenges emerged related to the future of the world in 2025, the criteria of urgency, tractability and impact were used to prioritise and select the most relevant ones.

Main Challenges for the EU

Following the methodological approach above, three key challenges with a global scope were identified at the end of the expert workshop. Their multiple dimensions are articulated below.

Need to Change the Current Ways of Using Essential Natural Resources

This global challenge relates to the human over-exploitation of basic natural resources, which are essen-tial for societies to function and evolve in a sustainable manner. Current conditions and patterns of behaviour need to be reflected, and policy actions supporting the shift towards sustainable ways of living should be fostered and strengthened. The long-term sustainability is key to ensure not only economic growth but also a better quality of life for all current and future generations. This depends on the intelligent use, conservation and renewal of natural resources and ecological systems.

All human activities both depend and have an impact on natural resources. Food production, for example, is highly dependent on water and land and its processing and distribution depends on energy. All industrial activity starts by extracting natural resources and then assem-bles them in different ways to add economic value, while using energy and generating waste along the chain. The chain ends with the disposal of final goods at the end of their product life. The provision of services also impacts on natural resources.

Economic growth has largely relied on the overexploita-tion of essential natural resources and hence ulti-mately caused the disruption of natural cycles. Techno-institutional lock-in may be an important factor that com-pounds and intensifies human impacts on nature since it creates barriers to the search for sustainable alternatives to existing processes and infrastructures as well as to behavioural change. The most well known effects are:

  • Climate change and its manifold effects on water and other natural resources, agriculture and food se-curity, ecosystems and biodiversity, human health and migration patterns (IPCC, 2007; UNEP, 2007).
  • A dramatic increase in water scarcity in many parts of the world partly due to climate change and partly due to excessive withdrawals and contamination of surface and ground water, with profound implications for ecosystems health, food production and human well being (WEF, 2009; WWF, 2008).
  • The decline in the geographical distribution and abundance of arable land, freshwater and marine biodiversity is progressing more rapidly than at any other time in human history, with humanity moving in the direction of crossing tipping points since changes in the biophysical and social systems may continue even if the forces of change are removed (WWF, 2008).
  • A possible global energy shortage due to increas-ing demand and consumption, which will lead to a rise in global competition for energy resources as well as a greater dependency between nations, with energy in general and oil in particular playing a key role in future power relations and defence policies (European Commission, 2008; OECD, 2008).
  • Increased demand for food due to a growing world population, rising affluence, and the shift to Western dietary preferences (World Bank, 2007); this will place more pressure on water for agriculture and have a strong effect of high food prices.
  • Climate change, water scarcity and lack of food at affordable prices will be important factors in the in-crease of illness and death rates in developing countries (IPCC, 2007), which will lead to a deepen-ing in poverty and exclusion linked to the unsustain-able exploitation of the natural resources still avail-able, mass migration as well as threats in the form of radicalisation and terrorism (United Nations, 2008).

Need to Anticipate and Adapt to Societal Changes

For the EU to fully become a knowledge society there is a need to anticipate and adapt to political, cultural, demographic and economic transformations. Business, demography, migration and societies are generally changing at a much higher rate than public institutions and related decision-making processes. Legal frame-works, social security systems, education and the mod-els of healthcare have difficulties in keeping up with the pace of these transformations. This hampers innovation and economic growth and puts high pressure on natural resources and on the ability of institutions to cope with societal transformations. Beyond the consequences already mentioned in challenge one, there are now in-creasing concerns on how to provide equal access to healthcare and how to become a so-called knowledge society. The multiple dimensions of this challenge are:

  • Rising employment rates will no longer be sufficient to compensate for the decline in the EU working population due to ageing and a change in skills needed to function in knowledge societies, leading to economic growth being mainly dependent on in-creases in productivity.
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  • Ageing societies are placing increasing pressure on pension systems, social security and healthcare sys-tems (European Communities, 2008).
  • Increase in continuing flows of migrants from de-veloping to developed countries due to environmental hazards and armed conflicts as well as aspirations to a better quality of life.
  • Education and information and communication tech-nology (ICT) innovations could lead to a shift towards citizen empowerment and e-governance with citizens holding governments accountable due to an increase in transparency, but this is at risk of failing to become reality since the majority of the world population is still excluded from having access to the knowledge society.
  • Innovations limited by social acceptance due to a lack of education, transparency and societal un-derstanding of technological possibilities.
  • New converging technologies that emerge from multidisciplinary collaboration are expected to drasti-cally change all dimensions of life (RAND, 2001).
  • In relation to globalisation, it is expected by 2025 that the world will comprise many more large economic powers. China, India, Japan, Korea, Malaysia and In-donesia will take on greater significance in the global economy (EIN, 2007) and their huge consumer-driven domestic markets can be expected to become a major focus for global business and technology.

Need for Effective and Transparent Governance for the EU and the World

This challenge comprises the need for the EU to create more transparent and accountable governance struc-tures and processes that can adapt to and anticipate the future, and to use this capacity to do likewise at the global level in order to address global and common chal-lenges and to spread democracy and transparency all over the world. Addressing the multiple effects of both challenges mentioned above requires new forms of governance and that as many nations and stakeholders as possible join forces. The multiple dimensions of this challenge are:

  • Single policy governance approaches can no longer cope with global issues, leading to fragmented responses to common challenges that are complex and interconnected. This is linked to the lack of a single nation’s ability to keep up with the pace of socio-economic change and the reliance on reactive, individual, unaligned and inflexible strategies (Florini, 2005).
  • The problems faced by developing countries also increasingly become the problems of developed economies, such as the EU member states, as a consequence of increasingly fading borders between nations due to terrorism and conflicts (i.e. over natural resources) and migrations caused by pandemics and poverty.
  • Mainly thanks to ICT-related innovations there is an increasing shift towards empowerment in govern-ance. The use of the Internet is now moving towards the use of Web 2.0, with applications such as social networking, blogs, wikis, tagging, etc., and this supports a trend towards networked computing and e-governance systems (Accenture, 2009).
  • Many rising superpowers, such as Russia, China, the Middle-East and some Latin American countries, have widely differing traditions in democratic gov-ernance, which may cause pressures on democracy also elsewhere. Western norms and values, as the foundation of the global system, could also be challenged by radical religious identity politics that might emerge as a powerful counter-ideology with wide-spread appeal.
  • The growing strength of emerging economies in-creases pressure to integrate them more closely into international coordination processes. Unbalanced representation of nations in global fora, such as the UN, WTO and IMF, makes it impossible for many developing countries to participate in global decision-making processes and to implement or adopt strategies that are decided only by the economically powerful countries (Amanatidou, 2008).

Reduction of Resource Dependence, Equal Access to Knowledge Institutions and Social Care

Based on the above challenges, the main policy issues to be considered at EU level are:

  • Policy alignment towards sustainability – includ-ing the need to align all relevant policy domains to achieve reform in the agri-system; a reduction in the EU’s dependency on resources; an increase in levels of education and social awareness; appropriate and effective management of migration flows resulting from climate change, aspirations to a better quality of
    life, and the labour market needs of especially ageing societies; and a change in the policy paradigm based on GDP to an updated system that also considers ecological flows and stocks.
  • Social diversity and ICTs towards citizen empow-erment – including the need to build new incentives to facilitate and strengthen relationships between dif-ferent social systems; develop the necessary means to enhance education on the use of ICTs in conjunc-tion with other technologies; improve the quality of education by, for instance, fostering competition within and between EU national education systems; regulate the healthcare system, tapping into new technologies to provide equal access for all; develop radically new and far more efficient forms of social protection; and enhance regional specialisation through the formation of regional RTDI clusters.
  • Anticipation of future challenges to turn these into new opportunities – including the need to em-bed forward looking techniques in EU policy making; foster mutual understanding through ongoing and in-clusive dialogue both within the EU and worldwide to build shared values, common visions, actions, and smart regulations, and enable effective and adaptive international organisations to become a reality; estab-lish partnerships between industry, government and society; clarify at global fora the role and status of the EU and balance its representation in international or-ganisations; and foster (e)participation and (e)democracy through the use of web 2.0.

The foresight approach employed in this study contrib-utes to policy making by supporting a continuous and shared approach to understand the present in all its complexity, to look at different future possibilities and to shape a joint direction to follow while considering differ-ent stakeholders’ points of view. This can be coupled with a periodic evaluation of what has or has not been achieved to enable policy to correct deviations and to continually adapt to and re-shape upcoming new situa-tions. It is believed that such an approach, linked to other forward-looking techniques and tapping into evi-dence-based research and quantitative elements, would be critical to enable EU policy making to become more adaptive and able to anticipate and address change.

Download EFP Brief No. 179_Facing the future

Selected References

The full bibliography is available in the final report on http://ftp.jrc.es/EURdoc/JRC55981.pdf.

Accenture. 2009. Web 2.0 and the Next Generation of Public Service. Accenture.

Amanatidou E. 2008. The Role of the EU in the World. EFMN Brief 133, http://www.efmn.info/.

European Communities. 2008. The 2009 Ageing Report. European Economy 7/2008.

EIN. 2007. The world in 2025 – how the European Union will need to respond. Discussion Document. European Ideas Network: Brussels.

Florini A. 2005. The Coming Democracy – New Rules for Running a New World. Brookings Institution Press: Washington DC.

IPCC. 2007. Climate Change 2007 – Synthesis Report. An Assessment of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change: Geneva.

OECD. 2008. World Energy Outlook 2008. Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development: Paris.

RAND. 2001. The Global Technology Revolution – Bio / Nano / Materials Trends and Their Synergies with Information Technology by 2015. RAND: Santa Monica.

UNEP. 2007. Global Environmental Outlook (GEO4) – Environment for Development. United Nations Environment Pro-gramme: Nairobi.

United Nations. 2008. Trends in Sustainable Development: Agriculture, Rural Development, Land, Desertification and Drought. United Nations: New York.

WEF. 2009. World Economic Forum Initiative: Managing Our Future Water Needs for Agriculture, Industry, Human Health and the Environment – The Bubble is Close to Bursting: A Forecast of the Main Economic and Geopolitical Water Issues Likely to Arise in the World during the Next Two Decades. World Economic Forum.

World Bank. 2007. World Development Report 2008 – Agriculture for Development. The World Bank: Washington DC.

WWF. 2008. Living Planet Report 2008. World Wide Fund for Nature.