Posts Tagged ‘climate change’

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

Tuesday, February 12th, 2013

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

Increasing Gap between Water Supply and Demand

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

Combining Forecasting and Delphi

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

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

Main Factors Affecting Water Security

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

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

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

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

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

  1. Impact of external powers:

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

  1. The impact of the separation of South Sudan:

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

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

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

  1. Change in the economic:

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

  1. Water reservoirs or control utilities:

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

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

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

  1. Political stability of the Nile basin countries:

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

Egyptian Water Security Scenarios

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

Business as Usual Scenario

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

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

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

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

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

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

Optimistic Scenario (Regional Cooperation)

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

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

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

Pessimistic Scenario (Conflict)

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cooperation for Water Security

  1. Cooperation among the Nile Basin Countries

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

  1. Endorsing the Soft and Diplomatic Instruments

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

  1. Enhancing Cooperation between Egypt and Sudan

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

  1. Benefiting from Green Water

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

  1. Creating a social, economic, political observatory

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

  1. Egypt’s Role in Developing Economies

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

  1. Forecasting the Impact of Climate Changes

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

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

Dr. Mohamed Saleh   msaleh@idsc.net.eg

Sahar Sayed Sabry    saharsayed@idsc.net.eg

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

Download EFP Brief No. 252_Egypt’s Water Security

Sources and References

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

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

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

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

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

World Bank, World Development Indicators, Washington, 2007

 

EPF Brief No. 243: Towards Gender-transformative Climate Change Adaptation Policies

Friday, December 21st, 2012

This climate policy research demonstrates that in India’s agriculture-dominated and gender-biased economy, the future of India’s adaptation strategy hinges on how well gender is integrated into agriculture-related policies and programmes. India’s National Action Plan on Climate Change, which lays out India’s strategy for mitigation and adaptation, recognises that women suffer more from climate change impacts than men. However, it fails to recognise that women are also integral to climate solutions. The research concludes with a set of policy recommendations for policy-makers and other actors.

Why Should India Focus on Gender-Responsive Adaptation?

There is growing scientific and anecdotal evidence in India that climate vagaries are affecting the life and work of its people, especially the 72% of its populations that lives off climate-sensitive agriculture and related activities. An overwhelming 60% of India’s agriculture is rain-fed and prone to recurring natural disasters like floods, droughts and cyclones which, according to climate scientists, will become more frequent, intense and unpredictable. These rain fed areas are also home to majority of the poor and marginalised farmers. India’s 11th Five-year Plan (2007-2012) notes the increasing ‘feminisation’ of Indian agriculture and a dominance of women workers in livestock rearing and collection of minor products from forests.

While India is the world’s 5th largest greenhouse gasses emitter and the 6th largest carbon emitter, these constitute just 4% and 3% of the global emissions respectively; also, India’s per capita emissions are 70% below the world’s average. Following a low-carbon growth strategy is important, and India has already embarked upon one, but there is far less policy focus on adaptation. As the Stern Review (2006) notes: ‘adaptation policy is crucial for dealing with the unavoidable impacts of climate but it has been underemphasised in many countries. Adaptation is the only response available for the impacts that will occur over the next several decades before mitigation measures can have an effect.’

Overcoming Gender-specific Disparities

Without an effective adaptation policy, India cannot achieve its Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) or its MDG-based National Development Goals as set out by the Indian Planning Commission. Climate change impacts often threaten to erode or inhibit development gains. Women are typically responsible for providing their household with climate-sensitive resources like water, food crops, fodder and firewood; they are also less likely to have the education, opportunities, authority and productive resources to adapt to climate change impacts. Without gender-specific disparities being addressed by adaptation policies, climate change will add another layer of gender inequality, especially in the farming sector.

The fourth assessment report of the Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) notes that gender differences affect the vulnerability and adaptive capacity of women and men. After decades of gender-blind climate negotiation texts under the UN Framework on Climate Change Convention (UNFCCC), women and gender concerns were mentioned in the December 2010 Conference of Parties (COP 16) Cancun text.

Understanding Gender-specific Impacts of Climate Change

Using a gender lens, the research (a) analysed adaptation policies and programmes as laid out in the NAPCC and (b) gathered evidence from four disaster-prone rain fed agro-climatic zones in four states (India consists of 28 states and 7 Union Territories) for evidence-based policy recommendations. The four agro-climatic zones were:

  • The Himalayan eco-system in Himachal Pradesh (HP).
  • The flood plains of Eastern Uttar Pradesh (UP).
  • The Sunderbans coastal area in West Bengal (WB).
  • The drought region of Andhra Pradesh (AP).

The research objectives were:

  • Understanding some of the socio-economic impacts of climate change at the local level where gender-specific disparities are most intense.
  • Identifying some of the gender-responsive policy gaps in the national adaptation missions and in specific state-level climate change plans, and suggesting possible corrections.
  • Identifying some areas where women and men can both participate in, influence and benefit from scientific work on adaptation
  • Assessing how gender-responsive the work of grassroots NGOs working on adaptation is and how this can be up-scaled in a gender-responsive manner by the Central and State government’s climate-related policies and plans.

The research employed a range of tools and techniques. These included:

  • Literature Review
  • Participatory collection of field-data by four grassroots NGOs, each in one of the above agro-climatic zones.
  • Consultations with gender/climate experts
  • Policy analysis
  • A Delphi exercise

How Women and Men are Impacted Differently by Climate Change

There is little evidence to show the different impacts of climate change on men and women. The need to identify and study these differences is critical for making gender-responsive adaptation policies and programmes.

This research gathered data from the four agro-climatic zones and used a gender lens to show how the same climate change impact affected women and men differently. The research revealed that men’s primary way to adapt was to migrate from farms which meant that women were left behind to both till the unproductive land and to continue their care roles. This put an additional burden on women because they had to till the unproductive land or labour in other fields, while continuing to shoulder their care-giver responsibilities with no support from the spouse. The table below captures this gender difference from the four zones.

Gendered Impacts of Climate Change
Climate Change Impacts on women Impacts on Men
Lower food production Least to eat; sleep on an empty stomach

Need to take on additional work as wage labour which also led to more feminisation of agricultural labour (WB, UP, AP)

They get first priority to available food in the family
More natural disasters – cyclones, floods, water-logging and droughts; infrequent rains; intense rains Longer distances to walk to get water and fuel-wood

Loss of fodder and livestock

Drought/infrequent spells of rains – harder ground to do agricultural work on

Intense rains – more weeds and weeding is a woman’s job

Distress migration
Higher summer temperatures; longer summers Lower milk production among animals

More tiring work in fields even in April (HP)

Longer waking hours to work in the field early morning and late evening to beat the heat (AP, HP, UP)

Lesser tasks in the field.

Distress migration

Effect on regeneration of species and upward shift of the forest tree-line Medicinal herbs and fodder unavailable in forests now (HP) No effect
Social impacts

 

 

Higher indebtedness – women go to take loans and have the responsibility to pay off loans!

Increased male migration results in more women and child trafficking and HIV/AIDS spread

Greater poverty and frustration among men leads to increase in domestic abuse/violence

Distress migration

 

Adaptation Interventions Involve Women more but also Affect them Differently

Most grassroots development organisation working on farm-based livelihoods with rural men and women have willy-nilly adopted techniques that help small and marginalised farmers adapt to climate vagaries. Adaptation can be understood to be ‘development-plus;’ or development measures that take into account climate-proofing; or climate change adaptation interventions that help in also achieving development gains. According to a World Resources Institute study (2007), ‘adaptation uses the same toolbox as development measures, is more integrated than development interventions and factors in the dimension of ‘additionality’ on account of climate variability.’

Most NGOs this research study examined have similar approaches to integrating adaptation measures into farming practices. They build on traditional knowledge, adopt a diversified livelihoods basket, and add value through applied scientific and technological interventions. All this is done by first mobilising groups of farmers – both men and women but more women farmers. The reason for making women active players is because NGOs acknowledge that women farmers are more responsive than men farmers and achieve greater success. So women, more than men, are the main mobilizers of peer groups, recipients of knowledge and skills and risk-takers. Yet, these roles are hardly acknowledged by NGOs in documents, meetings and advocacy initiatives.

Working with women also does not usually translate into women owning more productive assets or accessing more government schemes or participating more in government or community-level decision-making bodies. While women do reap some benefits and are also more empowered than earlier in some respects, many adaptive interventions put more time and labour burden on women as compared to men. The table below illustrates a few of the differential impacts of on-the-ground adaptation interventions on men and women and some of the policy gaps that need to be addressed.

Gender Analysis of Adaptation Interventions
Adaptive Interventions Gender Analysis Policy & Programme Imperatives
Organic/low chemical input agriculture with diversified products Improved food security for both women and men

Women put in more labour and time to prepare bio-fertilizer and bio-pesticide

Higher fodder and fuel-wood yields for women

Less information/ knowledge/ inputs accessed by women

Less participation in decision-making bodies

Incentives to promote availability of bio-inputs

Incentives to promote joint farm land titles to spouses and leasing public land to women farmers groups.

Development of women-friendly technology to reduce drudgery

Availability of local weather-related information to women farmers.

Increased use of traditional saline/ drought/ flood resistant seeds and local livestock varieties More food security for both women and men

Gives women fodder/ fuel-wood

Enables women to store and exchange seed, not buy from seed markets

Opportunity for women to reclaim traditional knowledge

Promote farm-to-lab, in addition to the current lab-to-farm approach

Make local varieties available

Popularize seed banks, grain banks and fodder banks

Recruit women and men farmer trainers in extension work

Rain-water harvesting Benefits women more because it ensures improved food security and availability of water for livestock and homes Promote water harvesting structures for kitchen gardens, roof rainwater harvesting and for small farms;

Revive traditional ponds and wells.

Empowerment of Women

Women need to be at the core of planning and implementation of adaptation interventions. This includes collection of gender-disaggregated data at all levels, gender-based monitoring and evaluation and gender-budgeting. The four-C framework given below sums up the main policy recommendations.

  • Counting women in at planning, designing, implementing, resourcing and evaluating stages of all programmes and schemes. Currently, there is a huge deficit on gender-disaggregated data for policy making.
  • Converging programmes and schemes at the planning and design stage through multi-sectoral and multi-ministerial bodies and at the implementation stage through local government agencies and local elected bodies. A specific need is to mandate gender-responsive ‘Local Action Plans on Adaptation,’ (or LAPAs) integrated with the Village Development Plans made by local elected bodies.
  • Capacity building and empowering women and men at the level of local elected bodies, local government agencies, within scientific institutions working on adaptation and within relevant NGOs and community-based organizations. Gender-responsive decision-making institutions are basic building blocks for egalitarian adaptation policies.
  • Collaborating with key stakeholders – adaptation science researchers, government agencies and departments, local elected bodies, user groups, civil society groups and legislators – to build resilience among the most vulnerable people through participatory innovation, utilization of traditional and local knowledge, adding value through scientific and technological interventions and converging all resources.

Within this framework, the research identifies policy-level recommendations for specific actors – legislators, government planning bodies, government officers, local elected bodies, adaptation research scientists, civil society organizations and community-based groups.

These policy recommendations form a blueprint of what India’s approach and policies must be in the coming decades to ensure that both men and women are able to reap the benefits of a climate-resilient path to development.

Authors: Aditi Kapoor, Alternative Futures    email address: aditikapoor2@gmail.com  
Sponsors: Heinrich Böll Foundation, Germany and Christian Aid, U.K.  
Type: National foresight and policy advocacy research  
Organizer: Alternative Futures (Rakesh Kapoor) afmailbox@gmail.com  
Duration: 08/2010 – 05/2011 Budget: 20,000 € Time Horizon: 2030-2050 Date of Brief: July 2012

Download EPF Brief No. 243_Gender-transformative Climate Change Adaptation.

 

Sources and References

Ministry of Environment and Forests (November 2010), Indian Network for Climate Change Assessment (INCCA) Report 2, Government of India, New Delhi

Stern, N. (2006). The Economics of Climate Change: The Stern Review. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge

Adger, W. N., et al. (2007). Assessment of adaptation practices, options, constraints and capacity. In Parry, M. L., et al. (Eds). Climate Change 2007: Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability. Contribution of Working Group II to the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change,   Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK, 717-743.

Agarwal, Bina. (1994). A Field of One’s Own: Gender and land rights in South Asia. Cambridge University Press, New York.

——- (2010). Gender and Green Governance: The political economy of women’s presence within and beyond community forestry. Oxford University Press, New Delhi.

Dankelman, I. (2002). Climate Change: Learning from gender analysis and women’s experience of organising for sustainable development. Gender and Development 10(2), 21–29.

Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). (2003). Gender: Key to Sustainability and Food Security; Gender and Development Plan of Action (2002-07).

Government of India. (2008). Eleventh Five Year Plan Vol I-III (2007-2012). Planning Commission. Oxford University Press, New Delhi.

IWRAW Asia Pacific. (2009). Occasional Papers Series No. 14, Equity or Equality for Women? Understanding CEDAW’s Equality Principles, International Women’s Rights Action Watch Asia Pacific, Malaysia.

Krishna, Sumi, ed. (2004). Livelihood and Gender: Equity in Community Resource Management. Centre for Women’s Development Studies. Sage Publications, New Delhi.

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.
227_bild1

 

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. 226: Freightvision

Tuesday, November 13th, 2012

The project goal was to develop a long-term vision and action plan for a sustainable European long-distance freight transport system by 2050, covering both transport policy and research and technology development policy. It aimed at bringing new knowledge (e.g. on climate change), perspectives (including from outside the transport sector) and stakeholder groups into an established field. Creating channels for communication between participants from business, policy, civil society and R&D to overcome sectoral boundaries was an explicit goal from the beginning.

Adjusting Long-distance Freight Transport to Old and New Challenges

The European Union faces the challenge to ensure economic growth and cope with limited transport infrastructure as well as increasing demand for freight transport in the years and decades to come. At the same time the transport system is supposed to become sustainable with a decreasing impact on climate change.

The Freightvision foresight focuses on a subset of sustainability aspects that are currently considered the most critical ones with regard to a sustainable European transport system and have failed to meet sustainability standards so far. These aspects are greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, the share of fossil fuels, road fatalities and traffic congestion. They have been addressed specifically in the mid-term review of the European Commission’s 2001 transport white paper.

The Commission’s 20-20-20 goal to reduce GHGs and fossil fuel consumption and increase the share of renewable energy sources by 2020 along with the longer-term goal to reduce GHG emissions to 80% of the 2005 baseline by 2050 are tremendous challenges for the transport sector and particularly for freight transport.

DG TREN (MOVE) reacted to the overall goal and elaborated a new white paper. The financial crises and the rapid rise in energy prices led to new perspectives. Forecasts used before were outdated and business as usual scenarios had to be reconsidered.

Aligning Freight Transport with Climate Change Mitigation

The foresight focussed on long-distance freight transport in three modes: road, rail and inland waterways. The time horizon was set to 2050 in order to take into account climate change mitigation goals and the life cycle of infrastructures. Sustainable development should be envisaged in terms of GHG/CO2 reduction, reduction of fossil fuel use, less congestion and traffic accidents (particularly on roads).

The aim to develop a vision of long-distance freight transport in 2050 was understood in two different ways: (a) in the sense of concrete targets for 2020, 2035 and 2050 and (b) as a visualisation of the future of sustainable freight transport in 2050 based on stakeholders’ expectations.

The tangible output of the project was to consist of an action plan with recommendations for transport policy as well as for research, technology and innovation policy.

Complementary Approach to Foresight

The Freightvision foresight was designed as a complementary foresight process. The process accompanied the whole project and assured that stakeholders’ expertise and perspectives were integrated into the support action.

The complementary approach genuinely combined methodology, role and task sharing to capitalise on the capabilities of transdisciplinary research, foresight expert advisory and (trans-) organisational development counselling for complex projects settings.

The project was to profit from the team’s complementary expertise on:

  • Transdisciplinary research: Expert knowledge about the transport sector as well as the socio-economic and policy issues involved here. In particular, climate-related adaptation and mitigation expertise was brought into the stakeholder fora.
  • Foresight methods and techniques: Designing tailor-made foresight processes that encompass a fully fledged foresight process with appropriate techniques for the exploratory and normative phases.
  • (Trans-)Organisational development (OD) counselling: Orchestrating knowledge flows and network building in large group settings, such as the fora.
Integrating Modelling into Deliberative Foresight Processes

In Freightvision, results from several quantitative models were fed into the participatory foresight processes. The results of energy models informed the oil price scenarios; a congestion model and a CO2 emission model were used to analyse the impacts of reduction scenarios and assess policy measures.

Because the project provided a strong quantitative evidence base and integrated different strands of evidence by involving practitioners and including scientific expertise, deliberative participation and learning in large group settings led to well-founded results.

Stakeholder participation in this case was defined as invited representatives from research, business, policy and civil society taking part in a strategic dialogue on long-term issues. The stakeholders were explicitly involved as ‘experts’ based on their practical knowledge. The expertise of participants was treated as deliberative input to shape the content and tangible results of the foresight process, leading to robust scenarios, recommended action plans, visions and background reports.

To accentuate the expert role, attendance was mainly by personal invitation. The foresight process involved more than 100 representatives from the EC, ministries of the member states, advisory councils, technology platforms & ERANETs, freight forwarders and logistics companies, infrastructure operators, industry, trade, cargo owners, vehicle technology and energy suppliers, environmental and other non-governmental organisations (NGOs) as well as trade unions.

The project intended to take a holistic approach that addressed all aspects of the future challenges, i.e. infrastructure, ITS, propulsion systems, vehicles, fuels, interoperability etc., and considered all types of criteria in the solution: research, technologies, policies and pricing. The invitations were issued so as to ensure that a balanced mix of participants represented all relevant areas and that no group of stakeholders or mode of transport was over- or underrepresented.

The Freightvision process was organised in four highly interactive stakeholder expert meetings (fora) with up to 90 participants in each one. Given the large group settings, the goal of encouraging deliberation and the network-building function of the fora, the foresight relied on an overall architecture that had to be tailored to purpose. The methods applied in the group process were borrowed from the field of organisational development (OD) research, which focuses particularly on changes in the thinking and action of stakeholders. Applying OD concepts and instruments throughout all phases of the foresight aimed to maximise interaction, collaboration, deliberation and learning among stakeholders.

The four fora took place during a 12-month period from 2009 to 2010. They were designed around participative sessions where a maximum of 10 participants were seated at a table and each table discussed specific questions under the auspices of trained moderators. The stakeholders discussed project results, refined, adjusted, integrated and assessed the work of the project consortium, and collectively developed scenarios, visions and an action plan.

Modelling was used in four cases:

  • Long-term development of energy prices were taken from the Primes and PROMETHEUS model.
  • Forecasts from the Progtrans European Transport report were used to predict transport demand.
  • The TRANS-TOOL model was used for a congestion trend forecast for 2035. Making certain assumptions for the shorter term, the model was not flexible enough to properly capture longer-term developments as it was restricted to a limited network infrastructure of roads and railways.
  • A model for long-distance freight transport emissions and energy consumption was developed by the Finnish partner, SYKE. The model helped estimate the emissions and energy consumption of future transport systems described in the business-as-usual forecast and the backcasting exercise. The model maintained flexibility in accounting for different combinations of vehicles, technologies and fuels.

The model results – although often described as “forecasts” – were never used in the sense of predictions since such forecasts are most likely to be wrong. Instead, the results were used as a basis for discussions and a means of becoming clear about dimensions and relations (e.g. the emission reduction potential of transport modes). Awareness was raised that while model assumptions have to be made explicit, they are necessary to come to a manageable amount of scenarios in the process.


Foresight Toolbox

The projects led to a fully fledged foresight process including methods and techniques such as desk research, modelling, visioning workshop, scenario development, backcasting, wild card analysis and impact assessment. Figure 1 illustrates how the methodologies and particularly how modelling was integrated into the foresight process. Modelling was a part of each step of the project. The foresight forum meetings took place after each project step, and the modelling results and other findings were used and discussed in the fora. Apart from publishing research results in detailed work package reports, more comprehensive briefing documents (management summaries) were sent out to the participants prior to the fora to make knowledge flows more effective and transparent.

226_bild1

Figure 1: Integrated foresight design linking fora and project steps

Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions as Major Driver

The process resulted in three stylised projections for each of the four sustainability criteria GHG emissions, the share of fossil fuels, congestion and accidents by 2050. The project proposes a long-term vision and a robust and adaptive action plan, developed in a joint effort by the project team and relevant stakeholders, for both transport and technology policy for sustainable long-distance freight transport in Europe.

Reaching the GHG reduction targets when taken seriously will have a tremendous impact on freight transport. It became clear that the EC goals for reducing GHGs will be the most important driver of freight transport policy over the coming decades and can be expected to dominate other EU-level transport policy issues, such as congestion and accidents. Containing GHGs from road transport will require the most efforts in the process. The modelling exercise showed that, even if volume could be doubled and electricity is produced by low carbon sources, rail freight transport would only contribute to reduction targets to a rather small extent.

Visioning Quantifiable Targets

Quantifiable targets for the sustainability criteria (Tab. 1) were formulated in correspondence with the models where available. Targets were set for GHG emissions, the share of fossil fuels, congestion and accidents. Preliminary targets were assessed based on the action scenario (developed in a backcasting exercise), a conflict and feasibility analysis and a wild card analysis.
226_bild2

Table 1: Targets for reducing GHG emissions, the share of fossil fuels, congestion and road fatalities

Solution Strategies and Controversies

Greenhouse Gas Emissions Dominates Debate on Policy Measures

GHG-reduction goals are tremendously challenging and dominated the debate about policy measures. Some of the most important conclusions were:

  • A modal shift from road to rail would have a limited effect only. The relative importance and potential remedy of shifting freight from road to rail transport was heavily discussed. Quantitative modelling showed low potential for increasing the currently relative small portion of rail traffic substantially.
  • Gigaliners, praised by some as highly efficient, can play only a small role in reducing GHG emissions effectively.
  • Road transport is the main producer of GHG emissions and demands substantial action.
Solutions for GHG Reduction in Freight Transport

The normative part of the foresight produced 36 measures related to road transport, rail transport, inland waterways and maritime transport, supply chain, energy supply and vehicle suppliers. Some of the most important solutions for the reduction of GHG based on the SYKE model were:

  • Improved aerodynamics of trucks was identified as a very effective technological measure although existing norms hinder the dissemination of such improvements in road transport.
  • More efficient logistics has to contribute 25% to GHG reduction if targets are to be met.
  • Electrification of long-distance road transport would be necessary to reach the required reduction targets, which is a very challenging task in the light of the present absence of appropriate technologies, particular in storing non-fossil energy for trucks.

 

Table 2: Key characteristics and the most effective policy actions

Transport Performance
·         Network optimisation
·         E-freight
·         Transport route planning & control
Vehicle Energy Demand
·         Aerodynamics and rolling resistance
·         Best available technologies
Low Carbon Electricity
·         CO2 labelling
·         Taxation of fossil fuels
Electric Energy in Road Transport
·         Improved batteries
·         Taxation of fossil fuels
·         Investment in road infrastructure
Biofuels
·         Clean vehicle technologies II – biofuels
·         Taxation of fossil fuels
Efficient Usage of Vehicles
·         Transport consolidation & cooperation
·         Training for eco-driving
·         Liberalisation of cabotage
Engine Efficiency
·         Integration of CO2 standards into HGV regulations
·         Best available technologies
Modal Split
·         ERTMS
·         Intermodal transport
·         Internalisation of external costs
Electrification of Rail
·         Electrification of rail corridors
·         CO2 labelling
·         Taxation of fossil fuels
Truck Weights & Dimensions
·         Modification of  HGV rules Weights & dimensions
·         Investment in road infrastructure
Infrastructure Capacity
·         Investment in ITS
·         Investment in road infrastructure
Transport Costs
·         Internalisation of external costs
·         Congestion charge
Fatalities per Vehicle km
·         Investment in ITS
·         Harmonised speed limits
·         Training for eco-driving
·         Enforcement of regulations

 

Controversial Issues Laid Open

Given the challenging but feasible reduction targets for GHGs, all of the above-mentioned policy actions would have to be implemented within a four-decade time span. Obviously, this has a number of critical implications both in terms of single actions as well from a systemic perspective.

The advantage of a large group in a foresight process is the involvement of a broad range of policymakers and stakeholders, who are key players in shaping the future. To reach a shared vision for the future is probably the most critical factor for a transition to take place. Participation of key players increases the potential to reach consensus and form new networks or link existing ones to face new challenges.

At the same time, working in large groups increases dissent. Necessary changes might threaten established positions and networks. However, carefully planning each forum can limit the threat of conflicts that might undermine the success of the foresight process.

In Freightvision, controversies between stakeholders and within the Commission went beyond what would be expected for a FP7 project that has no direct influence on formal stakeholder consultation processes. Some stakeholders of the rail mode were particularly critical as the role of rail transport in reducing GHGs turned out to be less important than expected. However, the detailed process design, its transparency and the clear communication of the results of the qualitative and quantitative research helped to keep controversies at a constructive level during the project.

 

Authors: Klaus Kubeczko           klaus.kubeczko@ait.ac.at
Sponsors: DG TREN, FP7
Type: European – sectoral
Organizer: Austria Tech
Duration: 2008 – 2010
Budget: 4,000,000€
Time Horizon: 2050
Date of Brief: November 2012

Download: EFP Brief No. 226_Freightvision.

Sources and References

Freightvision website http://www.freightvision.eu/

Helmreich, Stephan; Keller, Hartmut (Eds.) (2011): FREIGHTVISION – Sustainable European Freight Transport 2050, Fore­­cast, Vision and Policy Recommendation. Springer Verlag, Berlin-Heidelberg.

Helmreich, S., Kubeczko, K., Wilhelmer, D. and Düh, J. (2011): Foresight Process. In Helmreich, S., Keller, H. (Eds), FREIGHTVISION – Sustainable European Freight Transport 2050, Springer Verlag, Berlin-Heidelberg, 17-32.

Schartinger, D., Holste, D., Wilhelmer, D. and Kubeczko, K. (2012): Assessing immediate learning impacts of large foresight processes. Special Issue: Foresight impact from around the world, Foresight 14(1), 41-55.

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

Wednesday, August 10th, 2011

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

Energy at the Heart of French Agriculture

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

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

A Collective and Systemic Approach for the Scenario Method

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

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

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

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

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

A Set of Four Scenarios to Highlight Energy Challenges in Agriculture

Scenario 1: Regionalisation and frugality to confront the crisis

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

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

Scenario 2: Twin-track agriculture and energy realism

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

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

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

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

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

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

Scenario 4: Ecological agriculture and energy savings

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

Future Requirements for Policy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Authors: Thuriane Mahé                               thuriane.mahe@agriculture.gouv.fr

Julien Vert                                      julien.vert@agriculture.gouv.fr

Fabienne Portet                              fabienne.portet@agriculture.gouv.fr

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

 

Download EFP Brief No 190_Agriculture and Energy_2030

Sources and References

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

Prospective analysis Agriculture Energy 2030 (in English), see http://agriculture.gouv.fr/IMG/pdf/CEP_Agriculture_Energy_2030_Synthesis_English.pdf.

For further information on this project, see http://agriculture.gouv.fr/agriculture-energie-2030,1440.

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.

EFP Brief No. 177: Scenario Workshops GM Crops and Foods

Tuesday, May 24th, 2011

Five scenario building workshops were organised in autumn 2008, each involving students of different disciplines and a school class. In the workshops, the lay participants developed scenarios on the future development and use of genetically modified crops and foods in Germany. The underlying driving forces and the resulting opportunities and risks were discussed. The aim of the project was to develop and test a new approach for scenario building workshops with laypeople and to contribute to the debates on future research agendas for genetic engineering in the agriculture and food sector.

The Context: Controversies on GM Technology in Agriculture and Participatory TA

Genetic engineering has been one of the most controversial modern technologies for quite a long time, and the cultivation of genetically modified (GM) crops is an important area of conflict in Europe. Key words describing the current situation are the increasing use of GM crops worldwide, reluctance of introducing GM crops in Europe, open questions concerning the coexistence of transgenic crops with conventional and organic farming, the ongoing development of new GM crops with new traits, and complications within the existing EU regulations. The future development and use of GM crops in Europe (and in Germany) is characterised by high uncertainty, thus creating the opportunity to develop different scenarios.

In the past, participative technology assessment (TA) activities on this topic – such as stakeholder discourses, consensus conferences, citizens’ juries, public meetings, and public debates – took place in different European countries. They mainly focused on the first generation of GM crops. First generation means the currently used GM crops exhibiting herbicide tolerance and/or insect resistance. Furthermore, the debates have centred on issues of current concern while the assessment of possible future developments is less developed and scenarios have not been applied in this context.

In spite of the uncertainty of future developments, scenarios have also not been employed in other assessments of GM plants and food so far. What we have is vision papers on future research agendas and on the opportunities of modern biotechnology that do not really reflect the societal and political discussions about this topic.

Objectives: Discourse and Opinion Formation

The overall objectives of the project were to contribute to

  • the debate on the future shape of research agendas in the area of GM crops and foods;
  • opinion formation on this controversial topic among the workshop participants;
  • discursive TA methodology.

The project addressed both young people in education and laypeople in the area of GM crops and foods (Meyer et al. 2010).

Approach: A New Scenario Workshop Methodology

To inform the workshop participants, the project group drafted 23 fact sheets (of 4-6 pages) in advance, grouped into four thematic complexes:

  • Technologies and utilisation of GM plants and foods
  • Framing conditions for future developments
  • Regulations of GM crops and foods
  • Impact dimensions of GM plants and foods

The fact sheets describe the current knowledge and include different disciplines, varying assessments and controversial perspectives of stakeholders. The aim was to draw up information sheets that are comprehensible to laypeople. Draft fact sheets were commented on by scientists and stakeholders to ensure an appropriate and balanced description.

The one-day scenario building workshops were at the centre of the project. The aim of the workshops was to construct scenarios for the future development of GM crops and foods in Germany, in a medium-term perspective (until the year 2025). The scenario building workshops took place at the

  • University of Freiburg (28 November 2008),
  • University of Hohenheim (24 October 2008),
  • University of Karlsruhe (17 October 2008),
  • Hermann-von-Helmholtz-Gymnasium Potsdam (23 September 2008), and
  • University of Potsdam (11 November 2008).

The workshops followed a common procedure comprising the following steps:

  • Welcome and introduction round
  • Explanation of discussion principles and framing
  • Identification of driving forces
  • Grouping of driving forces
  • Selection of key driving forces
  • Identification of possible future developments and characteristics of the key driving forces
  • Grouping of these developments and characteristics of the key factors into scenarios
  • Elaboration of the scenarios (group work)
  • Presentation of the group work on the scenarios and final discussion round

The workshops’ results were documented, and the project group undertook an evaluation by comparing the outcomes of the different workshops.

Scenarios: Possible Futures of GM Crops and Foods

The comparison of the workshops’ results shows that the possible futures of GM crops and foods in the assessment of the laypersons are not only characterised by the polarisation of “utilisation versus non-utilisation”. The scenarios constructed in the workshops include a number of visions between these extremes. Additionally, the scenarios describe not only developments in one direction but also include disruptions where the originally increasing spread of GM crops is reversed. The scenarios of the five workshops can be grouped into four categories of future developments (see figure):

  • Increasing utilisation of GM crops
  • Utilisation of GM crops only for specific uses (such as functional food or plant-made pharmaceuticals)
  • Reversal in the utilisation of GM crops
  • Low utilisation or blockade of GM crops use

The scenarios contain differentiated statements, amongst other things, on regulation, research, utilisation, acceptance, coexistence, freedom of choice, risks and alternatives.

Strong versus Weak Regulation

In the scenarios, the future design and handling of authorisation procedures are the key point under the header of regulation. Strong or stronger forms of regulation, in most scenarios, imply a low cultivation of GM crops or totally abandoning GM technologies altogether. Vice versa, an increasing cultivation of GM crops in most cases is associated with weak or weaker levels of regulation. Increasing utilisation of GM crops can lead to their exclusive use. Both descriptions of development are based on the same assumption: The extent of state interventions is directly responsible for the promotion of or restraints on research and economic activities. But this assumption is not valid for all scenarios: In two scenarios, stronger regulation goes hand in hand with an increasing cultivation of GM crops. The reasoning is that stronger regulation is necessary for better acceptance of GM food, which is the necessary precondition for an increased cultivation of GM crops.

Five scenarios describe a reversal in the utilisation of GM crops and foods. This is an indication that development paths involving the reduction of regulations can be unstable – a sustainable development is not assured. These scenarios have a tipping point where weak regulation is replaced by strong regulation or GM crop cultivation is abandoned altogether. In the period under consideration, the shift in the regulation regime results from the discovery of new risks and changes in acceptance.

In the analysis of the scenarios with increasing cultivation and weaker regulation, a number of risks were identified, such as the absence of positive impacts (or benefits), long-term negative ecological consequences, insufficient risk research or an increasing monopolisation of the seed sector. This raised doubts among the participants whether the scenarios are sustainable in the long-term. Finally, only very few workshop participants assessed scenarios with weak regulation and increasing GM utilisation as desirable. Yet, a minority of participants considered those scenarios as realistic.

The workshop participants see a strong influence of different stakeholder groups on the future development of government regulations on GM crops and foods. The influence of companies and lobbies is contrasted in an ideal-type manner with the influence of civil society and citizens or voters. Besides the actors, (health) benefits and scientific insights about risks are considered key issues that influence political decisions, via the public acceptance of GM crops and foods. In this respect, risk assessment and its standards (and the issues of regulatory approval that this involves) are contested – a controversy that unfolds between scientific substantiation, stakeholder influences and the political shaping of regulations.

Coexistence, freedom of choice and alternatives

In the scenarios, successful freedom of choice for consumers and coexistence of different agricultural production systems not only depends on an adequate regulation of such coexistence. A broader framing is used: Research activities and favourable general economic conditions for agricultural production systems not using GM crops (such as conventional and organic farming) have to be maintained in the long-term to guarantee freedom of choice. In the perception of the laypeople, the future development of alternatives in agriculture and food supply is determined strongly by research investments and research successes.

Scenarios with successful coexistence and freedom of choice as well as scenarios with failing coexistence and freedom of choice can be found in all four groups of scenarios. In the long run, diminishing freedom of choice is expected from a market-oriented development accompanied by deregulation. In contrast, coexistence and freedom of choice can be maintained if higher acceptance and increasing utilisation of GM crops and foods is based on stronger regulation and compromises with opponents. Freedom of choice and coexistence take on different forms and proceed along different paths of development in the scenarios. These differences correlate with uncertainties in expert assessments as to whether coexistence can be achieved for all agricultural crops and sites in the case that the cultivation of GM crops becomes more widespread in Europe (Bütschi et al. 2009).

In all scenarios reversing the trend toward GM crop cultivation, insufficient coexistence regulations and/or regulations that do not work well are assumed for the period of growing GM crop cultivation. The consequence is that at the end of this period – at the tipping point – freedom of choice no longer exists or at least alternatives, such as organic farming, will have been neglected. There are major difficulties in shifting back to a GM-free agricultural production at this point where health or environmental problems pertaining to GM crops lead to the reversal.

The participants take a negative view of a situation where utilising GM crops goes along with diminishing freedom of choice (overall 7 scenarios from five workshops). In contrast, maintaining alternatives is seen as positive. Arguments supporting the latter are consumer sovereignty and openness for future adaptability.

Some scenarios make a number of differentiations in regard to coexistence. Successful coexistence is questioned especially for crops with high outbreeding potential and for agricultural landscapes with small field structures. Additionally, the scenarios see chances that restrictive coexistence regulations might induce innovations.

Conclusions: Importance of Dialogue, Benefits and Alternatives

Based on the scenario results and the workshop discussions, the project group has worked out recommendations for research and political agendas in the area of GM crops and foods. The following points were identified as important (Meyer et al. 2009):

The development of new GM crops should concentrate on applications with benefits for individual consumers or for society at large (such as supporting the adaptation to climate change). This is an important precondition for higher acceptance by consumers and citizens.

In the case of an increased cultivation of GM crops in German agriculture, this could be an unstable process associated with risks of disturbances up to the point of failure. This is indicated by the scenarios of reversal. Therefore, policies pertaining to GM crops and foods should be shaped in a process of dialogue. Such dialogues should be open-minded and continuous and not only take place before the implementation of specific measures. A discursive policy approach is necessary despite the manifest controversial debates.

The currently dominant pattern of argumentation that an ambitious regulation of GM crops constrains the cultivation of such crops should be reassessed. Some scenarios describe an alternative development path in which an increasing utilisation of GM crops is combined with stronger regulation. The argumentation in this case is that high acceptance – as a precondition for increased cultivation and use of GM crops – can be achieved only with strong regulation.

Scenarios envisioning the utilisation of GM crops only for specific purposes indicate that greater differentiation and GM crops with new output traits (such as functional foods or plant-made industrials) can gain importance in the future. The progress of technological improvement, development of acceptance, results of risk assessment, and need for regulation can be expected to vary for the different areas of use.

The long-term existence of alternatives to GM crops has a high priority for many workshop participants. Appropriate regulations for coexistence are seen as necessary but not sufficient. Research on different agricultural production systems (such as conventional farming and organic farming) and their further development and use should be sponsored to ensure that they are preserved for the future.

In the perception of the participants, the successful development and introduction of GM crops and foods is associated with an increasing number and a more diversified set of actors in this sector of research and economy. The currently small numbers of companies that develop and market GM seeds are judged negatively as a quasi-monopoly structure. Therefore, research funding should also support the emergence of new actors in research and product development.

Author: Rolf Meyer    rolf.meyer@kit.edu
Sponsor: German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF)
Type: Participatory technology assessment, genetic engineering, Germany
Organizer: Institute for Technology Assessment and Systems Analysis (ITAS), Karlsruher Institute of Technology (KIT), contact:: Rolf Meyer, ITAS, rolf.meyer@kit.edu
Duration: 10/2007-10/2009 Budget: N/A Time Horizon: 2025 Date of Brief: Feb. 2011  

 

Download EFP Brief No. 177_Scenario Workshops GM Crops and Foods

Sources and References

All project documents in German (final report with references, workshop report, manual for scenario workshops, fact sheets) are available at the project homepage: http://www.szenario-workshops-gruene-gentechnik.de/

Bütschi, D.; Gram, S.; Haugen, J.M.; and Meyer, R.; Sauter, A.; Steyaert, S.; Torgersen, H. (2009): Genetically modified plants and foods – Challenges und future issues in Europe. Final report of the joint EPTA project. Berlin; http://www.itas.fzk.de/deu/lit/2009/buua09a.pdf

Meyer, R.; Knapp, M.; and Boysen, M. (2010): Zukünfte der Grünen Gentechnik. Ergebnisse aus Szenario-Workshops mit Laien. In: Technikfolgenabschätzung – Theorie und Praxis 19 (1), 74-79.

Meyer, R.; Knapp, M.; and Boysen M. (2009): Diskursprojekt “Szenario-Workshops: Zukünfte der Grünen Gentechnik.” Final Report. Karlsruhe, Berlin, October 2009.

EFP Brief No. 176: Foresighting the Agri-climate Ecology

Tuesday, May 24th, 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 to explore the longer term challenges that face their sector (or cut across sectors) and to build a shared vision that could guide the development of the relevant European research agenda. This approach was applied to the first theme selected, namely “Application of Breakthrough Technologies to Adaptation to Climate Change in Agriculture”. This met the criteria for a sectorally driven topic, was research-driven and involved a clear and vital European policy challenge. Moreover, from an early stage, there was strong stakeholder engagement from the Standing Committee on Agricultural Research and the Directorate-General for Research in Agriculture, Forestry, Fisheries, Aquaculture.

Urgency of Agri-climate Challenge

There is a general consensus that agriculture in Europe will confront major challenges related to rising global temperatures, an increasing number of extreme climatic events and a series of consequences which may occa-sionally be positive but the sum total of which threaten food security, health and well-being, particularly but not exclusively in rural regions. The urgency of mitigation measures should not be minimised, not least because of the substantial contribution agriculture itself makes to greenhouse gas emissions. Nonetheless, the reality is that such measures at this stage are only likely to offset what is to come. In consequence, thinking is already focusing on strategies for adaptation. The exercise built on the foresight work of the Standing Committee on Agricultural Research (SCAR) and the Directorate-General for Research and Innovation (DG RTD), Agriculture, Forestry, Fisheries, Aquaculture, which had generated two important reports. A strategic link was also established with the group working on the Joint Programming Initiative developing in this area. Sev-eral meetings were held with DG RTD to improve the mapping of the research and ‘innovation ecology’ or ‘eco-system’ (an underpinning concept of the project which emphasises flows and interdependencies in the innova-tions system) and to discuss the appropriate tactics for interfacing with this community. An initial description of the ecology was prepared as background for the workshop, and the event was held in Brussels on 14 December, 2009 with the participation of 26 senior experts in agriculture and related technologies, policy and foresight.

Purpose

The purpose of the workshop was to bring together these experts from the domain of agricultural research and associated policy and user areas with thinkers and specialists from outside to explore a foresight vision of the contributions that breakthrough technologies could make. Since such technologies could have profound socioeconomic consequences or even demand major socioeconomic change as preconditions, the socio-economic dimension must also be prominent. To open up scope for innovative thinking, the first part of the workshop focused on articulating the challenges of ad-aptation in the form of a “functional specification”, for example the level of salinity tolerance that a major crop would have to achieve or the need to increase cloud precipitation in a cost-effective way. A second session considered the potential of breakthrough technologies for adaptation, whether in isolation or through convergence. Workshop participants were then asked to co-construct a success scenario for the year 2050 in which European agriculture (or its functions) will have made the best use of potential breakthroughs to adapt to climate change scenarios. On the basis of the success scenario, attention then focused on the steps needed now and in the coming years to achieve the desired outcome.
In this case, the tailored structure was based upon identi-fication and prioritisation of challenges in the domains of pests and diseases, water and land, and socio-economic dimensions. With an intervening wild-card exercise, the second main step involved identifying potential solutions to the challenges resulting from breakthrough technolo-gies in bio and non-bio domains. The timescale was 2050 in recognition of the rate of change of drivers and effects.

Linking Success Scenario and Ecosystem Mapping

The aim of the exercise was to pilot and test in real situations a foresight methodology designed to bring together key stakeholders to explore the longer term challenges that face their sector (or cut across sectors) and to build a shared vision that could guide the devel-opment of the relevant European research agenda. This includes identifying the changes in the European research and innovation ecosystem that would be needed to take forward that agenda. The target is not the Eighth Framework Programme in isolation or the specific case of the Joint Programming Initiatives but rather embedding them as core elements of wider cooperation and coordination mechanisms and proc-esses around the challenges facing the sectors exam-ined. The project combines the core approach of the “Success Scenario Workshop” with the mapping of the research and innovation ecosystem to address differ-ent types of research and innovation challenges.

The “Success Scenario Approach” is an action-based approach, which helps to generate a shared vision among senior stakeholders of what success in the area would look like, specified in terms of goals and indicators, which provide the starting point for developing a road-map 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 involved develops mutual understanding and a common platform of knowledge that helps to align the actors for action. In practice, the struc-ture of a workshop begins with a consideration of key drivers or challenges, builds a vision of success, and then focuses on actions to make the vision a reality. The work-shop helps to flag hidden bottlenecks and constraints pre-venting progress as well as windows of opportunity for joint policy coordination and 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 indi-cations 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 workshop approach is supported by a mapping of the research and innovation ecosystem, a concept that stresses the interdependencies between actors in re-search and innovation – here understood broadly to include policy as well as industrial innovation. The map articulates the identities and roles of key actors, the networks in place and the flows of money and knowl-edge. It also provides an overview of existing initiatives and the level of maturity of the system, how well it is working and whether networks need to be re-aligned or re-configured. Towards the end of the process, road-maps or implementation plans are developed identifying the key steps to be taken to put European research in the area on the appropriate footing.

Challenges in Three Key Areas

The Farhorizon Agri-climate Workshop working group discussions were structured on the challenges arising from climate change impacts on agriculture in three key areas, namely pests and diseases, water and land, and socio-economic aspects (including events outside Europe). Each cluster of challenges is explored in more detail below.

Cluster 1: Pests and Diseases

Early warning systems: Among the key impacts identi-fied in the first cluster were the migration of pests from hot countries and the need to detect and control the spread of invasive species. This requires action on a number of levels, including efforts to improve detection of invasive plant species or crops bringing new pests and diseases into Europe. Accuracy and timeliness of detec-tion systems is key for effective responses, hence the need for robust monitoring and early warning systems for picking up signs in initial phases. Sophisticated ICT-based expert systems together with smart technologies can detect weeds (and hidden pests) in imported plants.

Genetic engineering and genomics: In Europe monocul-tures represent a major problem due to additional risks relating to pests. There is a need to plan a shift to polycul-ture for a more diverse set of animals and plants. Genetic engineering has focused on one particular challenge while it also needs to address other challenges, such as adapt-ing existing crops quickly, genetic traits for animal health and the potential of genomics for enhancing plants’ ca-pacity for survival in stressful environments, requiring a focus on a broader genetic strain.

Territorial diversity and local, traditional knowledge: Re-search challenges range from experimentation with di-versified cropping to research on viroids and the spread of pests and human allergies. Despite territorial diversity in climate impacts, regions do not operate in silos result-ing in cross-impacts on bordering regions. This highlights the need for closer cooperation between disciplines in-cluding ICT, GIS, ‘omics’ (refers to disciplines that have the omics syllable in common, e.g. genomics) and taxon-omy. There are concerns about a shortfall of plant spe-cialists and taxonomists and the loss of traditional knowl-edge due to the growing attraction of genomics.

Cluster 2: Climate change impacts on water and land

The second cluster relating to climate change impacts on water and land can be divided into (i) ‘general impacts’, i.e. changes in temperature, solar radiation, rainfall, changes or increases in toxic air(borne) pollutant levels, water shortages, changes in plant types, changes in carbon dioxide levels and impacts on ecosystem(s). The speed of change in systems and their (and our) ability to respond is a key issue now (i.e. from traditional national systems and cultures to new global set-ups). (ii) ‘Water quality impacts’ – i.e. groundwater being affected by changing quantities of rainfall, potentially allowing the concentration of pollutants etc. to increase; changes in the relative priorities for water use compared to the cur-rent priority of drinking water quality over agriculture water quality. Increased biological activity is proportional to temperature increases, which could reduce water quality. (iii) ‘Water quantity impacts’ – i.e. droughts, floods and the generally shifting availability of water in space and time. Climate change could generally decrease the resis-tance and resilience of species (plant and other). (iv) ‘Impacts on land’ – i.e. mineral transport processes will be affected; soil dynamics will change (change of soil fertil-ity); desertification will alter land use; there will be a modi-fication in soil flora and fauna; where people live (have to live) may change; ‘ecosystem’ goods and services supported by the land will change; there is a changing sus-ceptibility of a variety of these things due to temperature.

Cluster 3: Socio-economic impacts

The foreseen impacts range from the urgency to de-velop new economic and agriculture models to invest-ments in technologies that are cost-effective, reliable and acceptable to society. These impacts can lead to ten-sions, insecurity, instability, especially in developing countries, due to scarce resources to address these con-cerns. This poses a general challenge of how to detect the tipping point in these situations and take action to reduce these tensions. Free trade discussions are ne-glecting climate change due to potential conflicts with the objectives of WTO negotiations. This calls for cli-mate change issues to be given a higher profile on the WTO agenda. Europe needs to develop an integrated response to economic growth, free trade and climate change based on improved communication between institutions and policy sectors, and ultimately new mod-els of economic growth decoupled from fossil carbon.

A potential impact with socio-economic effects is the emergence of local threats to agricultural systems lead-ing to the abandonment of sectors. Sectors of activity are in this scenario threatened by diseases, lack of water and other effects caused by extreme weather events. The challenges involve adapting to novel situations by new breeds and/or new technologies, investing in new tech-nologies, supplying information, educating and training people to adapt to necessary changes in lifestyle, and improving communication on climate change issues. In such situations, an increase in climate change refugees is envisaged, creating a dual challenge of prevention and integration. The means identified were international co-operation, technology transfer and education. Another key challenge is to identify effective means for keeping the environmental impact of intensification to a minimum through a new model of sustainably competitive agricul-ture based on: 1) profitability at farm level, 2) marketabil-ity of food products, 3) environmental sustainability, 4) coping with climate change, 5) energy efficiency and 6) coping with competing land uses. Developing and imple-menting this new model will require a very high level of policy coordination at the national, EU and global level. This model would address land management through transparent, effective processes for mediating conflicting uses, the introduction of new climate and agri-technologies based on public acceptance and the adaptation of educa-tion systems to promote change in lifestyle.

Agri-climate Success Scenario for 2050

Drawing on the insights gained from the analysis of challenges and suggested responses, a success sce-nario was constructed to illustrate an aspirational path by which these could shape the future:
The scene for the success scenario was set with refer-ence to future historical events including a Second Great World Food Crisis in the early 2040s, in which Europeans will have been forced to change their diet but where prescient actions taken to prepare the agricul-tural system from 2015 onwards will have insulated the Continent from the worst effects of climate change. A review written from the perspective of 2040 of the past 40 years illustrated how two generations of researchers were able to engage with a series of challenges and bring with them Europe’s timely actions to provide impor-tant insights on how proactive, forward-looking ap-proaches can be realised through joint transnational re-search initiatives. It referred to how farmers will have become increasingly used to facing the impacts of climate change reflecting the risks identified in the work-shop.

Elements of the foreseen policy approach included:

• European early warning and response strategy and facility
• Capitalising on existing knowledge
• Networked specialisation (a trans-European network of institutions synthesizing a large pool of knowledge).
A research agenda for agriculture included:
• Energy adaptation based on a mix of approaches including reduction of transport in production and dis-tribution, design of greenhouses that capture energy rather than use it, and breakthroughs in bio-energy from trees alleviating stresses on land use.
• Fertilisers that use less material input (potassium and phosphate) and less energy in their production.
• New varieties of plants with a reduced need for fertilisers and new varieties of fertilisers from manure and nitrogen fixing in grasses. Opposition to geneti-cally modified crops was dissipated by creating plants designed to be low risk (for example without the ability to spread pollen).
• Water use and drought resistance are critical factors particularly for Mediterranean regions. A multifaceted strategy includes the selection of plant varieties to con-serve water and breeding of drought resistant varieties.
• Soil fertility and dynamics provide an important re-search theme. The network supported a more robust and sustainable agriculture model and locally adapted systems. Its links to local farming communities and
researchers placed it in a strong position to spearhead change at the European level.

In summary, as a result of an early investment in capacity-building to cope with the climate impacts on agriculture from a range of perspectives (policy design, implementa-tion, knowledge capture and transfer), the success sce-nario describes an agricultural landscape in Europe 2050 that is highly diversified and yet robust to climate change effects. The success scenario also includes a retrospective on policy describing a situation where societal challenges dominate the bulk of effort and resources in the European research and innovation ecosystem. Reference was made to a situation in the early part of the century where the research and innovation constituencies is largely separate and the public viewed researchers as an isolated elite interested mainly in securing a continuous flow of funding. In this scenario, the financial crisis causes researchers to be much more explicit about how their work will contribute to economic recovery and major societal challenges. At the same time political, business and social leaders will have reassured the scientific community that substantial funding will be reserved for investigator-driven research but that much more effort will be made to ensure success-ful translation of the results of that work. Building the con-stituency to address the grand challenge of adaptation to climate change in agriculture will have been aided by or-ganisational innovations, including policy platforms that bring together a range of stakeholders responsible for policies relating to agriculture, climate change, research, and innovation, as well as the players in the field (re-searchers, farmers, business and intermediaries), who will have been sensitised to the challenges at a very early stage. Foresight actions will also have been used to help build a common vision and mobilise the participants.

Foresight Helps Adapt to Climate Change

This approach was intended to provide a practical dem-onstration of ways in which foresight involving key stake-holders can help develop new initiatives at European level. In practice, the Farhorizon workshop was placed in the context of a sequence of foresight activities, and it is fair to say that the net effect of all of these activities helped the agriculture and climate change research com-munities to become one of the first to engage realistically with the Joint Programming Initiative and to position itself for further opportunities within the Innovation Union framework. In terms of content, the workshop reinforced and extended certain conclusions of its predecessors and made a distinctive contribution by demonstrating the po-tential of breakthrough for non-bio-based technologies to contribute to the adaptive response to climate change in European agriculture. Within the bio-based list some more controversial issues were also made explicit.

Download EFP Brief No. 176_Foresighting the AgriClimate Ecology

Sources and References

European Commission [EC] (2009), ‘New challenges for agricultural research: Climate change, food security, rural devel-opment, agricultural knowledge systems’, 2nd SCAR Foresight exercise, DG Research, Brussels: EC.

EFP Brief No. 170: France 2025

Tuesday, May 24th, 2011

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

Foresight Attains Importance as Policy Instrument

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

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

Towards Competitiveness and Social Cohesion

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

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

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

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

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

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

Europe – Globalisation

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

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

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

Scarce Resources and the Environment

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

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

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

Technology and Daily Life

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

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

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

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

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

Production and Employment

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

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

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

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

Research and Innovation

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

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

Risks and Protection

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

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

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

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

Living Together

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

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

State, Public Action and Public Services

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

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

Policy Impact

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

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

To some extent, the results of “France 2025” flowed into the elaboration of the French “National Strategy for Research and Innovation” that was published in July 2009 (http://www.enseignementsup-recherche.gouv.fr/pid20797/la-strategie-nationale-de-recherche-et-d-innovation.html).

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

Authors: Sylvie Rijkers-Defrasne, Future Technologies Division at VDI TZ    rijkers@vdi.de

Axel Zweck, Future Technologies Division at VDI TZ                    zweck@vdi.de

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

 

Download EFP Brief No. 170_France 2025

Sources and References

The preliminary assessment study of the state of France in 2008 and the final reports of the French foresight process “France 2025” are available at (retrieved on Dec. 8, 2009):
http://www.strategie.gouv.fr/rubrique.php3?id_rubrique=237

“Le diagnostic stratégique – France 2025”, Centre d’Analyse Stratégique, Note de veille No. 97 (04/2008), available at (retrieved on Dec. 9, 2009):
http://www.strategie.gouv.fr/article.php3?id_article=819

Holtmannspötter, D., Rijkers-Defrasne, S., Ploetz, C., Thaller-Honold, S., Zweck, A. (forthcoming 2010). Technologieprognosen im internationalen Vergleich 2010. Ed. by VDI Technologiezentrum GmbH. http://www.zukuenftigetechnologien.de/publikationen.php

EFP Brief No. 161: Roadmap Environmental Technologies 2020 Integrated Water Management

Tuesday, May 24th, 2011

In the project “Roadmap 2020”, funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research, seven fields of environmental policy were investigated in order to explore to which extent research and development activities will be able to foster future environmental innovations. The purpose of the project was the identification of strategic options for research and development and their transfer into practice in the field of environmental technologies by 2020. The results were gained by literature and Internet research, an expert opinion survey and four workshops on different topics.

EFP Brief No. 161_Roadmap Environmental Technologies