Posts Tagged ‘consumption’

EFP Brief No. 227: Assessment of Global Megatrends

Tuesday, November 13th, 2012

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The approach utilised for this exercise included:

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

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

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

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

Global Megatrends of Relevance to European Environment

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

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

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

Living in an Urban World:
Spreading Cities and Spiralling Consumption

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

Changing Patterns of Global Disease Burdens and Risk of New Pandemics

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

Accelerating Technologies: Racing into the Unknown

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

Continued Economic Growth

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

Global Power Shifts:
From a Unipolar to a Multipolar World

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

Intensified Global Competition for Resources

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

Decreasing Stocks of Natural Resources

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

Increasing Severity of the Consequences of Climate Change

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

Increasing Environmental Pollution Load

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

Global Regulation and Governance: Increasing Fragmentation But Converging Outcomes

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

Impacts on Europe’s Environment

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

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

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

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

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

How Can We Respond to Global Megatrends?

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

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

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

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

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

Axel Volkery                 avolkery@ieep.eu

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

Hans Vos                     hansbvos@gmail.com

Ybele Hoogeveen         Ybele.hoogeveen@eea.europa.eu

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

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

Sources and Resources

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, October 23rd, 2012

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

The De-growth Scenario:
Policy Implications for the EU

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

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

When Costs of Growth Exceed Benefits

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

Making Indexes and Statistics Scientifically Sound

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

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

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

New Approach in Statistical Analysis Needed

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

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

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

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

De-growth Strategy for the European Union

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

Questioning the Consumption Paradigm

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

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

The Finnish Case: Evidence for the Anti-Growth Strategy

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

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

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

Dynamics of Economic & Social Development Have Changed Dramatically

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sources and References


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

EFP Brief No. 166: Developing National Priorities for the Forest-Based Sector Technology Platform

Tuesday, May 24th, 2011

In 2005, a national foresight process was conducted in Finland to support the development of the Strategic Research Agenda of the European Forest-Based Sector Technology Platform. The national process was systematically run to identify key national priorities in connection with the European process. This national process was based on the Robust Portfolio Modelling (RPM) screening methodology, which consisted of the Internet-based solicitation and assessment of research themes, identification of promising research themes through RPM and several participatory workshops.

The Formulation of a European Strategic Research Agenda

Since 2003, the Commission has encouraged industrial stakeholders to set up European Technology Platforms, which the European Council, too, has promoted as one of the coordination tools to set up European research and technology development priorities, action plans and timeframes. Among nearly 30 parallel initiatives, the planning of the technology platform for the forest-based sector was started in autumn 2003 by the European Confederation of Woodworking Industries, the Confederation of European Forest Owners and the Confederation of European Paper Industries.

As a result of a Europe-wide consultation of the key stakeholders, the Vision for 2030 document on the key challenges, opportunities and strategic objectives for the sector was published in February 2005. This document served as the basis for the further preparation of the European Strategic Research Agenda (SRA) process. The approved European SRA process consisted of four phases in 2005:

  • The collection of prospective research themes from national support groups, confederations and other European stakeholders by June 15.
  • The synthesis of priorities based on collected research themes by the European value-chain working groups by September 15.
  • The elaboration of the strategic objectives of the SRA and the selection of the most important European research themes by October 31.
  • The compilation of and consultation on the first draft of the SRA by November 30.

Following this plan, the project group organised the development of the final SRA. To endorse this process plan, the corresponding guidelines for the preparation of SRA were compiled and communicated to key stakeholders in Europe. These guidelines reflected several vertical and horizontal coordination challenges:

Vertical Coordination in FTP: While European dimensions were well represented in the management structure of the Forest-Based Sector Technology Platform (FTP) (e.g., through the representatives of multi-national companies, industrial confederations, and the Commission), the recognition of national, regional and local interests called for additional inputs from member states. This was achieved by establishing national support groups that acted as “mirror groups” of the European FTP and also by establishing national value chain working groups. The national support groups consisted of representatives of industrial firms, research organizations and funding agencies with interests in the forest-based sector. They provided national views and inputs to SRA and were in charge of mobilising the national SRA work.

Horizontal policy coordination in FTP: The management of FTP, as many other technology platforms, was requested not only to design and coordinate efficient processes for the establishment of the platform but also to search for linkages to other policy areas and initiatives. The FTP had inherent connections with some four to five other technology platforms, whereby responsibilities for synchronisation were assigned to the Scientific Council and Advisory Committee. Moreover, the Vision for 2030 document highlighted links with other policy areas.

The consideration of national dimensions – especially the involvement of national actors and the coordination between national SRA processes – posed challenges due to the specific conditions of the member states. Here, the national support groups were responsible for mobilising national SRA processes with the help of the SRA guidelines that were made available to them.

The SRA Process in Finland

In Finland, as in the other FTP countries, the national SRA process was coordinated by a national support group that consisted of representatives of industrial firms, research organisations and governmental bodies. This process was started in March 2005 with the objective of collecting about ten strategic priority areas as a key input to the European SRA process. This was to be achieved in a remarkably short time by June 15.

With the aim of developing a structured and systematic SRA process, methodological requirements were discussed between the national support group and the support team (the authors of this brief) at the Helsinki University of Technology.

Starting from the Vision for 2030 document and the SRA guidelines, the plan for the national SRA process was drafted through the collaboration of the national support group and the support team. Shortly thereafter, the support team launched a project website to facilitate the work of five value chain working groups in the following areas: forestry, pulp and paper products, wood products, bio-energy and specialties/new businesses. Each value chain working group was given the opportunity to take part in the Internet-based solicitation and assessment of research themes, the results of which were further analysed with RPM.

Results from the Internet-based consultation process were envisaged as a key input to the value chain workshops where promising themes were to be discussed with the aim of synthesizing the ten most essential ones from the national process to the European SRA process. Apart from this core objective, the national SRA process was expected to assist the national actors in participating in the European context, to offer an opportunity for methodological development, and to provide experience on how national stakeholders could be best engaged in European coordination tools. It was expected that the process would attract quite a bit of interest in Europe, wherefore English was adopted as a working language. Below, we describe the main roles and responsibilities in this process, with an emphasis on process design and the explicit consideration of multiple perspectives.

Coordinators, Respondents and Referees Roles and Responsibilities

In the national process, different kinds of stakeholders were invited based on their expertise and responsibilities. The steering group consisted of the coordinators of the value chain working groups and invited experts to gather together research, industry and policy expertise. The coordinators identified and invited respondents to submit research themes and referees who were responsible for assessing them. The support team at the Helsinki University of Technology contributed to the process design and provided the methodological expertise and the IT infrastructure. This team also produced tentative analyses of solicited and assessed research themes for the value chain workshops.

To support the value chain coordinators in inviting the most suitable respondents and referees, their roles and responsibilities were explicitly defined. Respondents were established researchers or research managers at universities, research institutes and industrial firms with the capacity for producing innovative research themes for each value chain. Specifically, the respondents were requested to study the Vision for 2030 document and to propose research themes through the project website. Referees were highly competent researchers and industrials capable of evaluating research possibilities in view of the Finnish and European forest-based sector. They were responsible for assessing the solicited research themes.

Some participants assumed several roles in the process. For example, many respondents were invited to participate in the value chain workshops and to contribute to the further analysis of the themes. Furthermore, although the roles and responsibilities were identified formally, the organisation was many-faceted with partly overlapping duties. For instance, the coordinators participated both in management activities and expert workshops while in some value chains there were experts who assumed the responsibilities for respondents and referees alike or even participated in several value chains. This created additional interactions between value chains and process steps enabling the efficient cross-feeding between the value chains.

Iterative Process Design

The Finnish SRA process consisted of seven steps (see Table 1). These were largely fixed early on due to the tight schedule and the need to provide similar methodological support for all value chains. The process design relied heavily on the use of Internet-based group support systems because it would have been impossible to organise a large number of face-to-face meetings within the seven-week period that was allotted to the process. A further reason for this was that Internet-based distributed work can provide efficient and systematic support for stakeholder participation while permitting features such as anonymity and flexibility in terms of time and place. Due to the limitations of the Internet as a platform for social interaction, however, the process was run in conjunction with the workshops.

Table 1: Seven steps in the Finnish SRA process.

Process steps Weeks (W)

(I-VII)

Key participants
Step I: Process design and identification of participants W I NSG/steering group and the support team
Step II: Internet-based solicitation of research themes W II/III Value chain coordinators and respondents
Step III: Coordination workshop W III Value chain coordinators and steering group
Step IV: Internet-based assessment of research themes W III/IV Value chain coordinators and referees
Step V: Multi-criteria analysis of research themes W IV/V Support team
Step VI: Value chain workshops for the formulation of relevant research areas W V/VI Value chain coordinators and invited respondents, referees and other experts
Step VII: Steering group workshop for the formulation of Finnish SRA priorities W VII Steering group

Considering Multiple Perspectives

The consideration of multiple perspectives was supported, among other things, by multi-criteria assessments where the referees evaluated research themes with regard to three criteria (novelty, feasibility and industrial relevance). The simultaneous consideration of multiple criteria led to the question of how the relative importance of these criteria should be weighted: for example, research themes that are not very novel may still be industrially relevant and hence interesting.

Because it may be difficult if not impossible to justify ‘exact’ criterion weights, analyses for identifying ‘most interesting themes’ should arguably accommodate different interpretations of which criterion weights are feasible. This realization was the rationale for adopting the robust portfolio modelling (RPM) methodology (Liesiö et al., 2006) in the analysis of research themes. In this methodology, different perspectives can be accommodated not only through the consideration of multiple criteria (as the basis of the participants’ assessment ratings) but also by incorporating different interpretations about the relative importance of the three criteria. The task of identifying most promising themes for workshop discussions was framed as a project portfolio selection problem with incomplete information about the relative importance of assessment criteria. For a detailed exposition of RPM screening methodology and its use in the screening of innovation ideas, we refer to Könnölä et al. (2005).

The visualisations of the results of the analysis were presented at the value chain workshops, where they were taken up in the discussions and used in the clustering of themes and formation of national SRA priorities. The RPM framework contributed to the legitimacy of the results because this systematic methodology was also described transparently on the project website.

Results from RPM screening were used as supporting information only because final syntheses and analyses were carried out in the workshops. This also made it possible to devote attention to overlaps and synergies between the proposed themes (i.e., interactions), which were not explicitly accounted for in the formal RPM analysis.

In the RPM-analysis, the value chain coordinators had a major role in the adoption and shaping of results. In each value chain workshop, approximately half of the submitted research themes were taken up in the discussions that guided the final decisions. In some value chains, themes with high core index and/or high novelty and/or industrial relevance were identified first; after that the final themes were defined by synthesising these themes. In some other chains, the coordinator had already developed a tentative clustering before the workshop so that the final themes were created by assigning the solicited themes to the proposed clusters. This helped in the identification of missing themes and served to highlight what clusters were apparently important apart from the solicited research themes.

Towards Innovative Products and Societal Perspectives

The national foresight process contributed to the development of the European SRA, which defined the following strategic key objectives for the platform:

  1. Development of innovative products for changing markets and customer needs.
  2. Development of intelligent and efficient manufacturing processes, including reduced energy consumption.
  3. Enhancing availability and use of forest biomass for products and energy.
  4. Meeting the multifunctional demands on forest resources and their sustainable management.
  5. The forest sector in a societal perspective.

The Prospects of Applying RPM

This foresight process was embedded in the broader strategy process. This integrated approach supported the strong connection with the decision-making involved in strategy formulation. At a more general level, the deployment of the RPM screening method in the Finnish SRA process can be assessed against the backdrop of emerging foresight needs at the international level. First, several analogous processes in other countries may be amenable to similar methodological support, for instance, within European coordination tools that seek to respond to the challenges of vertical coordination of multi-layered innovation systems. Second, methodologies such as RPM screening can respond to the challenges of horizontal coordination by permitting the participation of different stakeholders, adopting complementary criteria and varying the interpretations by which the relative importance of these criteria is assigned. Third, the Finnish SRA process is relevant to the management of international foresight activities because its design is scalable and can be adapted to the international context.

Authors: Totti Könnölä                totti.konnola@ec.europa.eu

Ahti Salo                      ahti.salo@tkk.fi

Ville Brummer               ville.brummer@tkk.fi

            Sponsors: Finnish National Support Group for the European Technology Platform for the Forest-Based Sector (FTP)
Type: Field/sector specific: forest-based sector R&D
Organizer: Helsinki University of Technology, Prof. Ahti Salo, ahti.salo@tkk.fi
Duration: 03 – 06/2005 Budget: N/A Time Horizon: 2030 Date of Brief: Dec. 2009

 

Download EFP Brief No. 166_Forst-Based Technology Platform

Sources and References

References

Könnölä, T., Salo, A. & Brummer, V. (forthcoming). Foresight for European Coordination: Developing National Priorities for the Forest-Based Sector Technology Platform, International Journal of Technology Management.

Könnölä, T., Brummer, V. & Salo, A. (2007). Diversity in Foresight: Insights from the Fostering of Innovation Ideas, Technological Forecasting and Social Change 74, 608-626.

  1. Liesiö, P. Mild and A. Salo (2007). Preference Programming for Robust Portfolio Modeling and Project Selection, European Journal of Operational Research, Vol. 181, Issue 3, pp. 1488-1505.

Online sources

‘Developing National Priorities for the Forest-Based Sector Technology Platform’ Project website: http://www.sra.tkk.fi/.

‘Forest-Based Sector Technology Platform’ Project website: http://www.forestplatform.org/.

EFP Brief No. 158: MONA: A European Roadmap for Photonics and Nanotechnologies

Tuesday, May 24th, 2011

Photonics and nanotechnologies are highly multi-disciplinary fields and two of the principal enabling technologies for the 21st century. They are key technology drivers for industry sectors such as information technologies, communication, biotechnologies, transport, and manufacturing. Photonics/nanophotonics and nanomaterials/nanotechnologies can benefit from each other in terms of new functions, materials, fabrication processes and applications. The MONA Roadmap identifies potential synergies between photonics/nanophotonics and nanomaterials/nanotechnologies. The challenge of mastering nanoelectronics and nanophotonics science and technologies at an industrial scale is of utmost strategic importance for the competitiveness of the European industry in a global context.

EFMN Brief No. 158_MONA

EFP Brief No. 154: Looking Forward in the ICT and Media Industry – Technological and Market Developments

Tuesday, May 24th, 2011

The project was an activity within the framework contract between the European Parliament and ETAG, the European Technology Assessment Group, to carry out TA studies on behalf of the Parliament’s STOA Panel in view of the growing importance of a European science and technology policy. The purpose of this particular project was to identify current and expected technological and market developments in the field of ICT with an impact on the media industry and to indicate regulatory challenges and requirements stemming from the anticipated changes. The main target group are the Members of the European Parliament; the wider addressee is the interested public.

EFMN Brief No. 154_ICT and Media Industry

EFP Brief No. 151: Furniture Foresight Centre – CEFFOR®

Tuesday, May 24th, 2011

CEFFOR was created to promote the sustainable development (in terms of all three pillars: economic, social and environmental) of the
furniture industry in countries with high costs of production. CEFFOR is to accomplish this task by means of contributing strategic
information to the social agents and companies who participate in determining enterprise strategies and industry policies.

EFMN Brief No. 151_Furniture Foresight Centre

EFP Brief No. 148: Transregional Foresight to Improve and Coordinate Regional Innovation Strategies in Europe

Sunday, May 22nd, 2011

Empowering the strategic development of Europe’s regions is a critical requirement for transforming the EU into a competitive knowledge-based economy. To this end, regional decision-makers need to be enabled to design and implement better RTDI policies, and also to benefit from a better coordination of regional, national and EU policies. By developing and testing a new model of transregional foresight, the ForTransRIS project supports this aim. It thus contributes to the improvement of regional innovation strategies (RIS) through a transregional perspective. The transregional foresight model to upgrade RIS is tested in the five partner regions taking the issue of transregional knowledge and technology transfer as a concrete case.

The Role of Regions in Increasing EU Competitiveness

The systematic regional application of foresight and related approaches both in the public and the private sector is increasing in importance because the regions have a vital role to play
in the EU’s drive to develop a common European Research Area (ERA). EU goals include achieving the 3% of GDP target for investment in research, technological development and
innovation (RTDI) set by the European Council (Barcelona 2002) and the optimisation of research programmes and priorities envisaged by the Commission (Green Paper on New Perspectives
for the ERA, 2007). In this context, empowering the strategic development of Europe’s regions is a critical requirement for transforming the EU into a competitive knowledge-based economy.

Foresight exercises appropriately adapted to distinct regional conditions and capabilities can effectively aid decision-makers in designing and implementing better RTDI policies and investment
strategies. They support regional authorities in continuously reviewing and developing the institutional features, strategic capacities, and the organisational skills and expertise
to design and implement research and innovation policies that can increase the regions’ competitiveness. This is important not only for the regions’ own economic well-being but also
because of the cohesion ‘risk’ it could pose for the European Community if some regions remain marginal in terms of knowledge-based activities. An additional contribution to a more competitive EU is achieved when the strategies in the different regions are developed in a way that leads to an overall optimisation of programmes and priorities in the EU, at and across governance levels.

Benefits of Applying Foresight  for Regional RTDI Policy Making

A comprehensive uptake and application of foresight and related tools (such as technology assessment, evaluation, benchmarking etc.) is needed so that decision-makers can master the mounting pressures to deliver tailored and futureoriented RTDI policies. The advances made in this respect have encouraged policy-makers in some territories to use the tools more systematically to produce customised intelligence and know-how, thereby facilitating innovation and learning processes in their economic systems and societies. In so doing, they benefited from

  • the timely identification of new science and technology developments and possible areas of their beneficial application in all policy fields;
  • the elaboration of a solid information base for RTDI policy-making, taking into account the general context as well as good practice from elsewhere;
  • the formulation of policies explicitly aimed at stimulating science and technology and its application integrated in the innovation systems;
  • the effective introduction of a user perspective on the application of science and technology for economic growth and social enhancement.

The strength of a foresight approach to RTDI policy-making stems from bringing together specialised technical expertise (both technology expertise and foresight process know-how), diverse, distributed local know-how and broad participation of stakeholders. The complexity of the policy challenges requires technological expertise; local knowledge and broad stakeholder participation serve to feed and anchor expert deliberation and ensure the relevance of such expertise to the outcomes and the implementation of the foresight exercise; the process know-how ensures that successful strategies are formed as a result of the comprehensive collaboration of all these different resources.

The project aimed to raise awareness among decision-makers in Europe’s regions and encourage them to benefit from the knowledge and experience that can be gained by applying foresight in their own regions. Participants were regional policy makers and development agencies from Navarra (Spain), StuttThe policy-makers thus need to move from the traditional topdown, reactive approach to one that is proactive, participative, evidence-based and uses transparent methods in finding solutions to the modern policy challenges. The new approach embraces foresight and related tools not only to gain access to difficult-to-acquire strategic information for decision-making but also as socio-economic mobilisation tools to raise awareness and create consensus around promising solutions.

The strategic know-how generated in this way is crucial at two levels:

  • enterprises rely on business and economic intelligence in order to define future business models and to generate common visions and activities with innovation partners (e.g. in ‘business ecosystems’ or clusters) based on the permanent and worldwide competition for the future;
  • innovation policies rely on policy intelligence that enables all actors to develop shared visions and long-term commitment between the triple helix stakeholders (university – industry – public actors) in the innovation system.

Successfully linking strategic knowledge on both levels will lead to better economic decisions, which in turn lead to increased and sustained business and regional competitiveness. This challenge necessitates the tailored application of foresight exercises on all decision-making levels, from European, national to (trans-)regional, cluster and individual company levels.

Especially the regional level with its specific abilities and potential should be taken stock of to align governance levels both horizontally and vertically. To do so, there is a need for more systematic regional foresight applications. Thus, further progress is needed in various respects to facilitate the use of foresight approaches on the regional level by 1) adapting foresight methods and related tools, 2) adapting and tailoring the implementation of foresight exercises, 3) positioning regional foresight exercises in the respective policy context and, finally, 4) improving regional foresight exercises through transregional cooperation.

The ForTransRIS Project – Transregional Foresight to Improve Regional RTDI Policies

The FP6-funded project ForTransRIS, which ran from January 2007 to December 2008, concretely tackles the aspects outlined above and especially deals with improving regional foresight exercises through transregional cooperation. The project aimed to raise awareness among decision-makers in Europe’s regions and encourage them to benefit from the knowledge and experience that can be gained by applying foresight in their own regions. Participants were regional policy makers and development agencies from Navarra (Spain), Stuttgart(Germany), Brittany (France), Stockholm (Sweden) and Liguria (Italy), supported by foresight expert partners in each region.
The ForTransRIS project developed and tested an approach to improve regional decision-making by applying regional foresight in a transregional perspective (see graph below). The transregional foresight exercise was developed building on the experiences and needs of the participating regions and aiming to enhance the individual regional innovation strategies as well as the general ability to apply foresight for regional RTDI decision-making by way of this cooperation.
As a first step, the overall approach on how to conduct individual foresight exercises on the regional level and then further elaborate and transfer the results to a joint transregional level was developed. It was decided to test the approach by applying it to the field of knowledge and technology transfer and its ability to enhance regional innovation and competitiveness. Approaching this issue from the regional and transregional dimension was expected to be especially useful because of the high innovation benefits that all actors can gain by cooperating within and across regions. In the ForTransRIS project, transregional knowledge and technology transfer (TKT) was defined as “the process through which the scientific and technical knowledge (either tacit or codified), generated in one organization (source), is exploited economically by a firm by means of a complex interaction and cooperation between the source and the firm and, usually, other players.”

148_bild1

Once the structure of the exercise had been set up, an analysis of the five regional innovation systems was carried out by the regional partners. They conducted desk research and interviews with all relevant regional innovation systems actors by using a structured questionnaire to identify the innovation needs, barriers and future aspirations as seen by the stakeholders. In addition, opportunities and challenges for knowledge and technology transfer within and among regions were identified, which (can) result from and facilitate transregional cooperation. In a next step, the foresight experts synthesised and compiled the regional analyses into a smaller number of drivers to find out which issues are most relevant for each region and at the same time most promising to be dealt with on a transregional level.

The drivers were categorised into the following groups:
– economic system,
– RTDI policies,
– knowledge system,
– human resources, and
– social issues.

The regional actors then evaluated the drivers during a workshop according to their future relevance and probability of occurrence. Then, each region developed a vision based on these drivers about how knowledge transfer should look like in the region in the future. Based on these visions, the evaluation results and the input from the regional analyses, the most relevant aspects for developing transregional scenarios were identified. The most relevant aspects the scenarios built upon are

– a fragmented vs. integrated governance system;
– the degree of propensity to business risk and innovation
among the regional innovation stakeholders.

By combining these opposite situations for the two aspects, four scenarios give different pictures of what the future could look like depending on the development of the drivers. In order to facilitate the analysis, only two scenarios were elaborated in more detail: the ‘stormy’ scenario, which can be
seen as the extrapolation of today’s situation based on the enhancement of its negative features; and the ‘sunny’ scenario, which can be seen as the most favourable framework for TKT (optimal scenario). The other possible scenarios, ‘rainy’ and ‘cloudy’, describe intermediate situations. They might be a transient state in the evolutionary process from ‘stormy’ to ‘sunny’, or, realistically, the
most likely situations when systematic strategic cooperation between the different regional actors fails to be established. The main issues affecting TKT considered in the scenarios are the following:

  1. SMEs’ business models (related to product/process innovation; approach to market; internationalisation)
  2.  SMEs’ ways of networking and interactions with knowledge providers (ways, tools, trust)
  3.   Human resources: training and management policies and attraction of talents to a region
  4. Start-ups (by researchers, women, young people)
  5. Entrepreneurship of universities and public research organisations (entrepreneurial spirit, responsiveness to SMEs’ needs, quality of research)
  6. Regulations especially for intellectual property rights and standards (for environment, communications, administrative procedures etc.)
  7. Infrastructures at European scale (transportation, communication etc.)
  8. Structure of the European market
  9. RTDI policies of governments (EU, national, regional) and tools to adequately implement them
  10. Territorial identification (citizens, institutions), social and political culture, consumption patterns (sustainability)
  11. Competitive position of regional firms against new rivals from emerging countries

The scenarios display what knowledge and technology transfer within and among the regions could look like and how it might be facilitated by transregional activities in the future. They can be used to raise awareness among regional stakeholders concerning which future state they deem preferable and discuss what can be done to achieve it. In ForTransRIS, this was done during scenario validation
workshops in each partner region. There, it was discussed if the scenarios were indeed feasible for the region and which issues were most relevant. The most relevant issues from each region were then matched to find out which issues were most relevant for all regions.

The three issues identified were:

– new business models for SMEs,
– networking, and
– entrepreneurial attitudes of public research.

During a transregional panel workshop attended by stakeholders from all partner regions and complemented by external experts and stakeholders from other regions, these issues were discussed and further elaborated (main characteristics, possible transregional actions, …) as a basis for the roadmap development to follow. The foresight experts in the project then used the scenarios,
the input from the regional scenario validation workshops and the outcome from the transregional workshop to develop a roadmap for each of the three issues. The roadmaps display how each region can improve its innovation system by drawing on the knowledge of other regions and by cooperating on knowledge and technology transfer issues. This aims to guide the regions towards the implementation of joint actions in these fields. In parallel to the implementation of the transregional foresight exercise, the lessons learned during ForTransRIS and the approach used were synthesised in the ForTransRIS Methodology Guide to enable other regions to benefit from the experiences
made during the project.

Transregional Foresight as a Strategic Policy Resource

The experiences made and the know-how gathered during the ForTransRIS project shows how regional decision-makers can make their regional innovation systems and policies more viable and competitive by applying strategic know-how more frequently and consistently, for example generated by transregional foresight activities. This is especially important in the
increasing global competition for infrastructure, enterprises and highly qualified human resources. Using a tailored set-up for transregional activities enables the participating actors to take stock of the comprehensive knowledge available in other regions, to raise awareness and mobilise all relevant regional stakeholders, to identify the most relevant issues for their concrete regional needs, and thus tailor regional policies and programmes for the benefit of longterm competitiveness and innovativeness of the region. Accordingly, the ForTransRIS approach ensured that the transregional foresight exercise was adapted to the regional needs and expectations and that, in turn, future regional foresight activities can benefit from the transregional experiences as well as the other region’s expertise. Thus, by applying foresight systematically to shape regional policies regional decision-makers will contribute to both the
successful development of their own region and to fostering the coherence and success of European programmes, priorities and policies.

Authors: Sabine Hafner-Zimmermann (hafner@steinbeis-europa.de), Dr Günter Clar (clar@steinbeis-europa.de), Steinbeis-Europa-Zentrum Stuttgart
Sponsors: European Commission (FP6) and participating regional organisations
Type: Transregional exercise
Organizer: Navarra Government, Pamplona, Spain, Mr Rafael Muguerza, rafael.muguerza.eraso@cfnavarra.es
Duration: 2007 – 2008
Budget: € 800,000
Time Horizon: 2018
Date of Brief: September 2008

Download: EFMN Brief No. 148_Transregional Foresight

 

Sources and References

  • Project website www.fortransris.net
  • For further information, please contact the authors of this brief (hafner@steinbeis-europa.de, clar@steinbeis-europa.de, http://www.steinbeis-europa.de/374.html), or
  • the project co-ordinator Rafael Muguerza (rafael.muguerza.eraso@cfnavarra.es)

EFP Brief No. 138: Results of Lab on ‘Old and New Energy’

Saturday, May 21st, 2011

The Club of Amsterdam set up an ‘Old and New Energy Lab’ designed to generate novel and potentially viable plans of action for dealing with energy issues by leveraging brainstorming methods to produce innovative thinking and bypass preconceived ideas and assumptions. The process tapped into the expertise of ‘thought leaders’ chosen for their diversity so as to maximise the fertility of discussions.

Lab Challenges to Think Outside the Box

Diminishing reserves of fossil fuels, climate change, geopo-litical factors and a wave of technological advances are bring-ing complex pressures to bear on the landscape of energy gen-eration and consumption. Change seems inevitable, but react-ing appropriately is a challenge. This is especially so when limited modes of supply and consumption have been en-trenched for extensive periods, as is the case with the energy landscape. This can make it very hard for people to think ‘out-side the box’ – arguably much needed at the moment.Thus the challenge addressed at ‘The Lab’ was to bypass pre-conceptions and traditional ways of thinking. Participants were called upon to brainstorm possibilities and then validate the resulting ideas with some tangible, realistic scenarios.

Conceiving Future Scenarios – the Methodology

Principal approaches employed were Socratic discourse and a future scenario method. Participants were asked to identify a set of driving ‘values’ deemed desirable (e.g. equal access to resources, freedom, quality of life, stability etc.). Socratic dis-course and other techniques were applied to open up discus-sion to the broadest possible level. The outcome was the ob-servation of numerous facts, trends, constraints etc.
The resulting ‘facts’ were then fed into an analysis based on the future scenario method. The values identified earlier were used to drive the scenarios, which were to envision a positive future ten years hence (the goal being to identify possible so-lutions).
Four scenarios were created by choosing two drivers of change: governance and economy. Note that there is nothing absolute about the choice of drivers or even the number of drivers con-sidered, but these were the ones considered most important.
These drivers define the axes of a graph depicting four different environments (symbolized by the numbered circles in the diagram)derived from the possible combinations of extreme cases of both drivers. These environments provided the basis for the scenarios.

138_bild1

Keep in mind that these scenarios are not predictions but simply tools to guide discussion from exploration to identification of potential solutions and analysis of important trends and factors (political, cultural, technological, etc.) and their interactions.

Participants

Four ‘thought leaders’ brought expertise to help keep discussion realistic, whether on technological, economic, political or social levels. Their backgrounds included

  • analysis of new technologies and their commercial and social impact;
  • understanding corruption and conflict resulting from exploitation of natural resources and international trade systems;
  • energy resource analysis and prediction in the context of the International Energy Agency;
  • nuclear policy and law.

Energy Futures – the Four Scenarios

Observations on trends and forces will be split into socioeconomic and cultural, and technological and sectoral. The four scenarios based on these trends and forces will then be outlined before looking at identified opportunities and challenges, which are in turn fed by the scenarios.

Scarcity of Supply, Potential for Conflict, and Environmental Concern – Socio-economic and Cultural Trends/Trend Breaks
  • Rising energy production costs.
  • Concern about climate change (global warming).
  • Increasing sensitivity to energy supply disruption.
  • Concerns over energy dependence and vulnerability.
  • Impending scarcity of fossil fuels with increasing demand from rapidly advancing nations such as China and India.
  • Increasing global tension relating to energy supplies and the possibility of resulting conflict.
  • Environmental concerns about nuclear energy.
  • Increasing interest in alternative energy sources.
  • Increasing interest and efforts in energy conservation.
  • Development of carbon trading schemes.
More Choices and Technological Advances –  Technological and Sectoral Trends/Trend Breaks
  • Capability (in some markets) for energy purchasers to also sell to the grid.
  • Choice (in some markets) over source of energy bought.
  • The nanotechnology ‘revolution’ impacting multiple, interacting energy-related technologies.
  • Multiple parallel and rapid advances in solar technologies promising greater efficiency and/or lower cost.
  • Advances in fuel cells (in many sectors).
  • Advances in batteries and ultracapacitors.
  • Developments in thermoelectrics offering promise for waste heat reclamation and geothermal energy.
  • Availability of smart energy-saving materials (electrochromic or anti-IR window coatings etc.).
  • Lighter/ stronger metals, ceramics and composites.
  • Efficient lighting (especially nanostructured LEDs).
  • Improvements in coal/gas/biomass-to-liquid processes, often driven by improved technology (e.g. nanocatalysis).
  • Advances in hydrogen production and storage.
  • Potential developments in artificial photosynthesis.
  • Potential for low-loss electrical transmission.
  • New CO2 separation technologies.
  • Improved nuclear fission technologies.
The Four Scenarios

Four scenarios were framed assuming environments as described in the methodology section. Remember that they are designed to be optimistic views of a situation ten years hence. Their creation allowed disparate ideas to be brought together in a framework where interactions and socio-economic and political realities could be considered.

Not all the scenarios were recorded in the same degree of detail. Different groups of participants chose different styles of presentation.

 Scenario 1 – ‘Harvesting Energy’ (emerging economy, minimal governance)

The environment envisaged was a poor, sub-Saharan country with village communities as the dominant settlement pattern, poor access to resources and minimal infrastructure. The village in this scenario was assumed to be remote but not overly far from a principal city.

The one plentiful resource is sunshine. New cheap photovoltaics and microloans allow the village to produce electricity. This gives rise to increased productivity and enables more flexibility in trading of staples such as vegetable and meat produce through refrigeration.

The small economic boost and decreasing costs of photovoltaics allow expansion of generating capacity. Direct energy sales become attractive in a future where fossil fuel is expensive and supplies unreliable and the village becomes a supplier of power from solar energy. Improved battery technologies and high fuel prices lead to more electric or hybrid vehicles. Households in and outside the village increasingly use batteries and pay for recharging.

The village has effectively shifted from subsistence agriculture to ‘farming’ sunlight, with batteries as the means of distribution.  The availability of power for transport attracts more vehicles and infrastructure improves. Then cables are laid to directly supply electricity to the nearby city. After all, the village now has the generating capacity, the expertise, and plentiful lowvalue land for expansion. Infrastructure experiences another boost, including communications. The village buys computers and the community now has Internet access. Educational opportunities increase dramatically. Over time the community becomes generally well-educated and thus capable of engaging in even more diverse and complex commercial activities.

Some time in the future (although maybe not in the ten-year frame), solar energy could be captured in a fuel created by artificial photosynthesis, allowing wider export of energy and opening up the solar farming model to more remote communities. This would require importing water (limiting displacement of battery use), but importing water is certainly preferable to importing oil in this (future) day and age.

Scenario 2 – ‘Central Energy Planning’ (emerging economy, strong central governance)

This scenario assumed a top-down, centrally-organised society with an emerging economy. China was offered as an example, on the assumption that much of the traditional communist philosophy still permeates the government, which regulates the allocation of resources. Short-term (business) thinking is constrained for the benefit of the collective when it comes to something as fundamental as national energy supply.

The immediate need for more energy to support growth is urgent. Coal is abundant and coal-fired power stations proliferate, with little thought given to environmental concerns. But this is only the first, quick fix, part of the plan, which is also influenced by oil imports for vehicles, the need to transport energy over great distances and the fact that even coal resources have limits.

Coal-to-liquid processes are used to produce clean diesel to help ease the dependence on oil imports, while a massive research effort creates low-loss electrical transmission based on high-temperature superconductors (doubly important because of the chosen alternative to coal – photovoltaics).

Huge solar ‘plains’ grow in the country’s remote, arid and impoverished west, bringing employment and commerce. Ultimately, the technology becomes simple plastic sheets that can be rolled out and clipped together. They contain nano-engineered structures that exploit the highly-efficient initial step of photosynthesis but feed the liberated electrons into the superconducting transmission lines and on to the energy-hungry coast. China soon becomes a major exporter of these technologies.

In the cities of the East, electric and hybrid cars are encouraged and manufactured. Coal is increasingly used only to produce diesel and dependence on foreign oil now rapidly disappears.

 Scenario 3 – ‘Energy Caps and Taxes’ (strong economy, strong central governance)

Sweden, which aims to become oil-free by 2021, might be an example.

A progressively increasing carbon tax is introduced for individuals and corporations. A flexible power supply network allows individuals to avoid a carbon tax by purchasing energy from sustainable sources. This encourages development of such sources – from the logging and papermaking industries using waste to produce electricity, heat and biofuels, down to individual households generating energy and selling any surplus to the grid.

Central support and legislation for energy-saving technologies in housing and transport increases their uptake through various means. The carbon tax imposes a cost on manufacturers for the lifetime emissions of their products.  The tax alone triggers substantial change, but more comes through governmentdriven, large-scale geothermal, hydroelectric and combined heat and power schemes.

 Scenario 4 – ‘Communicating Energy’ (strong economy, minimal governance, individual action)

This scenario is one of change through popular movements. Analogies might be seen in the growth in the popularity of ‘organic’ produce or that of ‘fair trade’ products, both of which evolved out of grass roots concern. For instance, we can help the environment by buying local produce rather than that shipped great distances, or eating less meat (such unlikely action probably highlights limits to this approach). Other individual contributions are switching lights off, car-pooling, capturing rainwater to water one’s garden or carbon offsetting schemes.

The key is understanding what can be done and creating a culture of willingness and responsibility. Communication is key and the Internet makes this possible as never before.

To some extent this scenario is happening now, but there are clearly limits to how much it can achieve without some topdown initiatives (or economic imperatives) added to the mix.

Top-down Action and Technological Advances are Critical for Seizing Opportunities

The fact that all but one of the scenarios could conceivably address all the main energy issues points to much opportunity. Exploiting this rapidly enough is a major challenge. Another obvious challenge is highlighted by Scenario 4, which suggests that, at least in the developed world, ‘people power’ is not enough and top-down governmental action may well be necessary. Economic and practical pressures would achieve the necessary changes eventually, but it is probably not advisable to wait for the hurricane to prove that you should not have made your house of straw. As for opportunities, the scenarios explored highlight those best. Scenario 1, ‘Harvesting Energy’,
perhaps best illustrates the dramatic achievement that might be had given only certain technological advances. Many other scenarios are possible, of course, and those developed were deliberately positive. But the consensus at The Lab was that all the scenarios were credible, so they probably do represent real opportunities.

Diverse Solutions, Proactive  Government and Advances  in Technology Are Key

In view of policy implications, the full two days of discussion and debate might be briefly summarized in the following manner.1

Oil dependence is a danger that needs addressing

Despite much disagreement about how close ‘peak oil’ is, all seemed to agree that action is needed now to reduce the developed world’s dependence on oil.

Solutions to the problems being faced will be diverse

Different environments are likely to beg different solutions and the diversity of technological developments that bear on the issues prevent simple answers and argue for multiple alternatives to be investigated.

The variation across the scenarios developed suggests that multiple approaches will be needed in parallel, covering conservation, alternative forms of generation, and storage and transmission technologies. The best solution or combination of solutions for a given region will vary with external factors (climate, population density, access to water, etc.) and with developments in numerous interacting technologies. The appropriate focus can vary dramatically depending on the existing situation. For example, a focus on coal in the short-term is sensible for China, if the aim is energy independence, while France might see nuclear in a similar light. In lower latitudes, solar energy will be more quickly economically viable than in higher latitudes, where geothermal may be a better choice. In all cases, conservation makes sense as a priority and gives the most rapid return on investment.

Given this diversity and uncertainty, it seems sensible to recommend broad investment in energy-related R&D and a systematic, inclusive, and iterative analysis of the energy situation at regional scales.

It is worth noting that only two currently achievable sources of energy are sufficient for global needs in the long-term and truly sustainable. They are solar and geothermal energy.

Areas of technological focus to be considered are just as diverse – see section 2 on technological and sectoral trends.

In the developed world government action is probably essential

The ramifications of energy supply disruption and the time needed to change our infrastructure suggest that appropriate change cannot be expected to arise from market and social forces. Accordingly, governments need to be a key player in developed countries. Proactive action from government is almost certainly necessary to avoid the risk of severe economic disruption.

Much of the rest is down to technological developments and their impacts on the economic competitiveness of certain technologies. Though solar emerged from the Lab as the winner in terms of chief long-term global energy sources, the means of capturing it, transporting it and using it produced no clear favourites. The range of possibilities from domestic to industrial to automotive applications in a diverse range of environments suggests that all avenues of research should be actively explored. Since solutions will likely be more complex than the current rather monolithic systems, flexibility, interoperability and rapid adaptability are critical success factors.

In the under-developed world, small changes or actions may have a large and lasting positive effect

When tackling the issue of poverty on a global scale, there may be a possibility of achieving much with little (Scenario 1), given certain technological shifts.

 

Authors: Paul Holister                  paul9@holisters.net
Sponsors: Club of Amsterdam
Type: Field/sector specific
Organizer: Humberto Schwab, humberto@clubofamsterdam.com, Felix Bopp, felix@clubofamsterdam.com
Duration: April 2007
Budget: n.a.
Time Horizon: 2017
Date of Brief: April 2008

Download: EFMN Brief No. 138_ Energy Lab

Sources and References

Club of Amsterdam, Lab on Old and New Energy, April 17 and 18, 2007, in Girona, Spain.

http://www.clubofamsterdam.com/content_list.asp?contentid= 655&contenttypeid=9 

The participating thought leaders were:

  • Nathalie Horbach – Centre for Energy, Petroleum and Mineral Law and Policy, University of Dundee;
  • Simon Taylor – director and co-founder, Global Witness;
  • Christof van Agt – independent participant, formerly at the International Energy Agency;
  • Paul Holister – technology impact consultant.

Humberto Schwab, director of the Club of Amsterdam and innovation philosopher, led the process.

EFP Brief No. 137: The Future of Manufacturing in Europe A Survey of the Literature and a Modelling Approach

Saturday, May 21st, 2011

Manufacturing in Europe is facing challenges that may impact on its performance in the near future: the emergence of international competitors, new technologies allowing the emergence of new business models, increased off-shore and relocated activities. The aim of this study was to provide policy-makers with a long-term vision of European manufacturing, its characteristics, its place in the EU economy, in the world and the main challenges it will be facing. Its purpose was to identify, on the basis of current demographic, environmental, technological, economic and social trends, and possible scenarios, the likely bottlenecks, unsustainable trends and major challenges that European manufacturing will have to face over the coming 30 years. From this, implications for various microeconomic policies, notably for industrial policy, were explored, contributing to the mid-term review of industrial policy in 2007 by the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Enterprise and Industry.

Future of European Manufacturing

Manufacturing in Europe is affected by a changing world. In 2004, ten countries joined the EU followed by Bulgaria and Rumania in 2007. Most of the new member states have a different economic structure and other comparative advantages than the ‘old’ EU-15, in particular in labour-intensive industries. This is also the case for the candidate countries from the Balkans and Turkey. Enlargement hence not only offers opportunities in terms of a larger domestic EU market, but also in terms of specialisation and – associated – economies of scale and scope.
Secondly, a new wave of globalisation unprecedented in terms of scale and speed is unfolding. This process of economic integration – with resources becoming more mobile, economies becoming increasingly interdependent and financial markets becoming increasingly international – has important implications for the future of manufacturing. This also holds for the integration of China and India in the world economy; each is home to about 20 percent of world population. Both countries are leading and highly competitive exporters, India in software and IT-enabled services, and China in skill-intensive manufactures. Especially China has emerged as the powerhouse of the Asian region and has in less than 20 years become the world’s manufacturing and trading platform. Globalisation has also impacted European manufacturing in another way: lower production costs and the potential of new consumer markets have caused European manufacturers to increase the quality and design of their products and
have led to international sourcing of (parts of their) production. Thirdly, consumer demand in Europe itself is changing. As its citizens are becoming wealthier, they demand more services and place higher requirements on manufactured goods. Demographics (ageing) might strengthen this change. Finally, the pace of technological change appears to have sped up in viewof globalisation and increasing international competition. Globalisation, EU integration, shifting demand and progress in science and technology, and innovation – whether disruptive or not – will all have a major impact on how the manufacturing landscape in Europe in terms of location, production, distribution of labour and physical appearance will manifest itself in the near and longer-term future. The purpose of this long-term scenario study was twofold: (1) to provide policy-makers, decision-makers and others with
two long-term scenario-based views on the future of European manufacturing and (2) to explore the scope for EU policies to positively address and influence the future.

Combining Qualitative and Quantitative Foresight Approaches

The scenarios in this study have been developed in three consecutive stages, consisting of (i) a survey of existing futures studies, (ii) the drafting of qualitative scenarios, and (iii) a quantification of the scenarios using WorldScan, a dynamically applied general equilibrium model for the world economy. This approach was designed as a hybrid combining the traditional foresight studies with more quantitative oriented economic-scenario studies.
One important difference between the two groups of studies is the detail with which technological factors are explored in the foresight studies compared to the economic-scenario and modelling studies, which generally treat them as exogenous factors. Furthermore, while the foresight studies, in contrast to the modelling studies, largely employ qualitative scenarios, this study aims at combining the benefits of both approaches:
first synthesising the results from many foresight studies to develop qualitative scenarios, followed by a quantification of the expected implications to check for the consistency of the scenarios as well as assess the expected impacts of policy packages. Furthermore, the communities conducting foresight studies and economic-scenario modelling studies have largely co-evolved with little interaction between them. This has led to foresight studies, focusing on participative processes and qualitative (policy) analyses and recommendations, producing
results that are challenged by approaches focusing on quantitative analyses. This study therefore aimed to bridge the two communities by employing methods used in each of them. As such, the results of the study can also be seen as an experiment on how to conduct such studies in the future, combining methods from different communities.

A Three Part Structure

As outlined above the study consisted of three distinct parts: a literature survey, the development of qualitative scenarios and the quantification of the scenarios using a modelling approach.

Survey of Future Studies

The survey of futures studies served two goals: (1) to help identify the relevant main drivers and trends that form our current perspective and knowledge that can be seen as key to the future of manufacturing in Europe and (2) to explore what other expert groups and think tanks regard as possible manufacturing futures.

The timeframe considered in the literature surveyed ranged from 2015 to 2050. During the course of stage one, 101 foresight reports, scenario studies, academic publications and policy documents were surveyed along five clusters: international, technological, social and environmental trends and drivers as well as new business models. The studies surveyed covered European studies, global studies, North-American studies and South-East Asian studies in order of importance.

FutMan, ManVis and Manufuture – three major EU-wide foresight projects conducted over the past five years – formed the backbone of the survey. The results of these foresight studies were supplemented by other materials ranging from theme or aspect futures studies (e.g. expected income developments; impacts of climate change) to similar foresight studies carried out in other countries, such as the U.S. (e.g. IMTI, 1998; SRI), Japan (Nistep, 2005) and China (NRCSTD, 2005 – for further references see full background report [Zee & Brandes, 2007]).

Qualitative Scenarios

The survey identified at least five sets of major drivers affecting the future of European manufacturing. These drivers are: (1) globalisation and international competition, (2) technological progress, (3) socio-demographic change (in income and wealth, social values, shifting preferences, ageing), (4) energy and resource scarcity, and (5) climate change and the environment. Based on these, two scenarios were developed: Cosy at Home and Adventuring the World. The two scenarios exemplify two explicit but ‘moderate extremes’ based on further integrating markets, on the one hand, and a stalling or reversal of market integration, on the other. In Cosy at Home, inwardlooking, risk-averse, indecisive behaviour dominates the public as well as the private realm. In Adventuring the World outward-looking (resulting in a further opening-up), risk-loving and pro-active behaviour is prime.Cosy at Home  This scenario depicts a European manufacturing sector that faces an overall business and political climate that gradually becomes more inward-looking and passive. Uncertainty and indecisiveness at world level are answered with

a European response of retreat. Politically unstable regions, threats of international terrorism, absence of binding action at global scale to tackle the negative consequences of climate change and the inevitable depletion of fossil fuels, and – related – a lack of real breakthroughs in alternative energy production and promising new technologies (nanotechnology and to a lesser extent biotechnology), give people the feeling of standstill and uneasiness. This in turn translates into a downturn in consumer and producer confidence and more inward-looking and risk-averse behaviour. Trust is something that may be found close by, but certainly not far from home. Rising energy prices and strong increases in monitoring and control of international movements of persons, goods and services result in a cost explosion in international transport and trade, which significantly alters the turn-of-the-century trend towards a further integrated world economy.

Adventuring the World  This scenario depicts a European manufacturing sector that is faced with an overall business and political climate of international cooperation, openness, but also strong competition. European self-confidence strengthens as the political and ideological emptiness that characterised the turn-of-the-century era has been replaced with new inspiring notions of Europe’s role in the world. This includes Europe assuming the position of a front-runner in solving problems of global warming, energy use and ageing as well as major breakthroughs in European social and cultural integration. Renewed decisiveness has triggered momentum at the global level and geo-political instability and threats of international terrorism are gradually disappearing. Considerable progress is made in alternative energy production and promising new technologies (nanotechnologies and biotechnology) have taken hold. A general upswing in consumer and producer confidence combines with new openness, and outward-looking and adventurous entrepreneurial behaviour. Trust relationships thrive. Rising energy prices stimulate new and more cost efficient energy-saving ways of transport of persons and products. Adequate road pricing and energy taxation increasingly supplant traditional labour taxes, making mobility and energy consumption better manageable and curbing harmful consequences.

Quantification of Scenarios

In the third step, the scenarios were quantified using an applied general equilibrium model for three main purposes: (1) the model ensured that the scenarios were consistent, since economic variables allow to describe and relate constraints and the current knowledge about interactions in the economy in a consistent form; (2) the quantification gave a feeling for the relative importance of various developments for the future well-being of society; (3) the model also offered the possibility of assessing the impact of framework policies and their relative importance.
However, large parts of the scenarios could not be quantified, as the general trends observed are expected to impact variables over too long time horizons for workable quantitative assumptions. The complex feedback loops furthermore make it only realistic to illustrate the scenario trends related to economic growth and economic integration, which are at the heart of the WorldScan model. (For details on the quantification of the scenarios and their expected impact on manufacturing please see the ‘final report’).

Impact of Framework Policies on Scenarios

The quantification of scenarios sketched the macroeconomic developments, showing the possible impact of globalisation, technological change, ageing and structural change towards a service economy on economic growth and trade. Europe is expected to become less important as a place for manufacturing production in both scenarios as manufacturing shifts to Asia. The question whether these trends could be affected by policies was assessed in the third step. Rather than thinking about targeting and subsidizing specific industries, framework policies that could affect the environment where industrial production takes place in Europe were modelled for potential impact on the scenarios. The framework policies analysed were: (1) upgrading skills, (2) more effective regulation and less administrative burdens for firms, (3) R&D and innovation policies, (4) a strong competitive single market, (5) environmental policies, (6) supporting energy policies and (7) global trade policy. The macro-economic outcomes for the EU as a whole in 2025 for both scenarios were analysed under the different framework policies. The differences between the two scenarios are minor. In Adventuring the World, GDP increases slightly more than in Cosy at Home, mainly because of the large impact of R&D and internal market policies. Exports increase faster in Cosy at Home, largely due to a composition effect of a higher share of total exports destined for other European countries. An increase in intra-EU exports due to new single market policies thus has a larger effect on total exports. R&D and innovation policies have the largest impact representing about 40% of the total GDP effect based on the lower bound returns in the literature. The reduction in administrative burden adds about 1.5% to GDP, internal market policies about 2% and skills even less. However, over time, when the whole labour force has been educated, the effects of upgrading skills will be larger. From Gelauff and Lejour (2006) we know that GDP effects will be three times as high in 2040 compared to 2025. However, compared to other framework policies, the economic effects even in 2040 will be unsubstantial.

A Future for Manufacturing

The analysis has shown that the share of manufacturing in employment and value added has decreased in Europe for decades reflecting structural changes in the global economy. However, manufacturing will remain important for trade and productivity increases, outpacing by far the service sector.

Global manufacturing is expected to grow, fuelled by Asian economic development. Nevertheless, there is a future for manufacturing in Europe. In 2025, Europe’s share in global manufacturing production and trade is estimated to be about 20%, much higher than its share in global population. Manufacturing is also estimated to contribute more than 15% to European value added in 2025 and to remain the most important driver for exports. A further strengthening of the internal market and adequate R&D and innovation policies can have a substantial impact on these shares. Both can be influenced by EU policy-making, but the framework policies cannot reverse the trends in shares of value added and employment. Within the manufacturing sector various developments will take place. The study discriminated between ten aggregate manufacturing sectors: ‘food products’, ‘textiles and wearing apparel’, ‘wood and other manufacturing’, ‘pulp, paper and publishing’, ‘chemicals, rubber and plastics’, ‘basic metals’,
‘non-metallic minerals’, ‘electronic equipment’, ‘transport equipment’ and ‘other machinery and equipment’. Based on
historical productivity growth paths of these sectors, their trade openness, R&D intensity, energy efficiency and skill intensity, it is highly likely that these (sub)sectors will develop differently over time. This also applies to subsectors within the ten sectors identified. Most sectors can distinguish between basic and specialized manufacturing activities, with basic manufacturing on average being more affected by international
competitiveness than specialized manufacturing.

Openness a Key Determinant

A number of interesting conclusions about the future of manufacturing in Europe were drawn. The increase in trade and,more generally, globalisation appears to be one of the most important drivers, making the sectors that are already most open to international trade also the ones mostly affected in the future. They include textiles and wearing apparel, wood and other manufacturing, chemicals, rubber and plastics, electronic equipment, transport equipment and other machinery and equipment. Overall, the sectors food products and pulp, paper and publishing will be less influenced. These are more domestically oriented sectors, less R&D intensive and face less technological
progress. Europe has no comparative advantages in textiles and wearing apparel, electronic equipment and basic
metals. This disadvantage will become further manifest in the oncoming twenty years. In particular, this applies to electronic equipment, which – while in the past representing a relatively large sector – will decline even further. Textiles and wearing apparel is an already small sector in terms of value added and employment, which means that an even less prosperous future for this sector will also have less overall impact. Chemicals, rubber and plastics, transport equipment and other transport and equipment will be the most important manufacturing sectors in Europe,
despite a deteriorating comparative advantage in the other machinery and equipment sector. These sectors are important for European exports and will account for about a quarter of global production and trade in these sectors over the coming decades. Of the framework policies analysed in this study, improving skills, reducing the administrative burden and increasing energy efficiency, have the least impact on manufacturing. R&D and
innovation policies and strengthening the internal market, on the other hand, have the strongest and most positive impact on manufacturing. They are also the most ambitious in terms of policy formulation and implementation, and potentially very effective in supporting manufacturing because of their R&D intensity and open-to-trade nature. In the coming decades, Europe’s decreasing share in global manufacturing production and trade will flatten. The EU framework policies support this slowing of the relative decline of manufacturing activities in Europe, which may even come to a near standstill in sectors such as chemicals, rubber and plastics, and combined machinery and equipment.

Authors: Felix Brandes (TNO-IPG)  felix.brandes@tno.nl
Sponsors: European Commission – DG Enterprise & Industry
Type: European futures study on manufacturing
Organizer: CPB, the Netherlands (Arjan Lejour) & TNO-IPG (Frans van der Zee)
Duration: 01/2007-05/2007
Budget: 130,000€
Time Horizon: 2037
Date of Brief: March 2008

Download: EFMN Brief No. 137_ Manufacturing in Europe

Sources and Links

The key results of the study were published as part of Chapter 5 of the European Competitiveness Report 2007. More details and the full scenarios are published in the background reports and final report and can be accessed via the website of the European Commission and the CPB the Netherlands.
http://ec.europa.eu/enterprise/enterprise_policy/industry/index _en.htm

Brandes, F., A. Lejour, G. Verweij & F. van der Zee (2007)
“The Future of Manufacturing in Europe”, Final Report, 31st May 2007, available at:
http://ec.europa.eu/enterprise/enterprise_policy/industry/doc/f
uture_manufacturing_europe_final_report.pdf

CEC (2007) “Chapter 5: The Future of Manufacturing in Europe – a survey of the literature and a modelling approach”
in European Competitiveness Report 2007, 31st October 2007,SEC (2007)1444, available at:
http://ec.europa.eu/enterprise/enterprise_policy/competitiveness/1_eucompetrep/eu_compet_reports.htm

Lejour, A. & G. Verweij (2008) “Two quantitative scenarios
for the future of manufacturing in Europe”, CPB Netherlands
Bureau for Economic Policy Analysis, available at http://www.cpb.nl/nl/pub/cpbreeksen/document/160/doc160.pdf

Zee, F.A van der & F. Brandes (2007) “Manufacturing Futures
for Europe: A survey of the literature”, TNO the Netherlands,
available at:
http://ec.europa.eu/enterprise/enterprise_policy/industry/doc/future_manufacturing_europe_literature_final_report.pdf

EFP Brief No. 135: Globalisation in the 21st Century: Where Optimism and Fear Collide

Saturday, May 21st, 2011

Globalisation has become a keyword of the 21st century. Who are the winners and who are the losers in a globalised world? The term globalisation triggers extremely contradictory emotions among the people of Europe. One third of Europeans (33%) regard themselves as winners of this development and see globalisation as a kind of liberation from overly constrictive and outdated boundaries. In contrast, one in five citizens feels to have lost out in this process (21%). Europeans only agree on one issue: the process of globalisation can neither be halted nor reversed. These are the results of the first European representative study that asked 11,000 citizens aged 14 and above in Belgium, Finland, France, Germany, Great Britain, Hungary, Italy, Russia and Switzerland about their hopes and fears for the future. The study was part of a research project by the Stiftung für Zukunftsfragen (Foundation for Research on the Future) of British American Tobacco.

Germans and Hungarians Regard Themselves as the Losers of Globalisation– Finns as the Winners

The effects of globalisation were subject to extremely different interpretations in the individual European countries: over half of the Finns questioned (51%) see themselves as winners. The Belgians (43%), Swiss (43%) and British (39%) take a similarly positive view of the future. Equally for the French (37%), Italians (25%) and Russians (24%), the hope of being able to profit from globalisation is greater than any fears they have. The Hungarians and Germans, however, are of a less positive mindset. In both countries, less than one in five (19%) believes that globalisation would have positive effects on their future. In these two countries, globalisation is evidently not the problem, but rather the degree of inequality and the subjectively perceived unjust distribution of the benefits of globalisation
between the winners and losers. Citizens doubt whether this distribution is socially just and fair.

Survey of Nine Countries

A representative face-to-face approach was used for this study. The interviewees were given a list of possible answers, which were presented in a random order. A total of 11,000 people aged 14 and above were questioned in nine countries. A sample of either 1,000 or 2,000 people was surveyed in each country. The study was conducted in Belgium, Finland, France, Germany, Great Britain, Hungary, Italy, Russia and Switzerland between 14 September and 26 October 2007. The underlying definition of Europe was not based on membership in the European Community but on geographical criteria. The countries were selected to ensure that nations from all European
regions were included in the sample. The European study was a research project of the German BAT Stiftung für Zukunftsfragen. An external market research institute GfK (Gesellschaft für Konsumforschung) and its partners in the various countries conducted the study.

What is the Stiftung für Zukunftsfragen?

The BAT Stiftung für Zukunftsfragen, a German foundation for examining societal expectations, promoting the scientific debate on issues determining our future and furthering approaches to a sustainable resolution of social issues of the future. Futurologists at this foundation have been examining societal expectations since 1979. The foundation acts as an independent interface between science, economics, media and politics. For many important opinion leaders, the foundation’s future research has provided support for political and social decision-making processes for decades.

Health, Family, Friendship – Quality of Life in Europe

According to the study, the most enduring and sustainable future safeguard for all Europeans is, without a doubt, quality of life. First and foremost, quality of life means one’s health (95%), family (90%) and friends (88%) – partnership (78%), nature, education and work (76% each) are rated slightly lower. Spending money and having leisure time (65% each) are regarded as important by two thirds of those questioned. Religion is mentioned by only one third of the people asked (30%) as a factor significant to personal well-being with even sports ranking higher (39%).

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In this new Europe-wide study, major differences within the countries surveyed can be identified:

  • Italians love culture and are proud of their faith. In Italy, culture (76%) and religion (48%) are of above-average importance compared to the other countries; in contrast leisure time (51%) and spending money (53%) play a subordinate role.
  • For Russians, the family, consumption and money are particularly important. Russia is the only country where the family (90%) ranks first; the importance of spending money (74%) is also significantly above the average value. On the other hand, friendships (68%), education (62%) and nature (48%) are rated as least relevant compared to other countries.
  • The British attach importance to lifelong learning. Amongst all of those questioned, the citizens of the United Kingdom state education most frequently (86%) as a guarantee for the future.The Finns are nature lovers. In addition to nature (91%), leisure time (85%) and sports (71%), friendships (94%) and partnerships (84%) are mentioned as important for quality of life.
  • For the Germans, health (98%) is integral to quality of life. This nation, however, attaches the least importance to family, culture and religion of all the countries surveyed.
  • The Hungarians are seeking for consumption. In Hungary, spending money (84%) plays the biggest role compared to the other countries.
  • The Swiss count on partnerships. On average, the Swiss mentioned the lowest number of factors as important for future quality of life – this may be because many of the conditions are already in place today. The significance of partnerships is above average (83%), whilst the relevance of spending money was the lowest of all the countries.
  • The French want a bit of everything. The French mention the greatest number of factors of all those questioned. Family (95%) and culture (75%) in particular are important for quality of life.
  • Belgians set particular store by spending money (76%). Furthermore, in no other country do more respondents mention the family as significant (95%).

Europeans do not necessarily wish to improve their standard of living but rather their quality of life. Answers to the question “What are we living for?” are called for. There was agreement amongst those questioned that one’s own health is “the” prerequisite for quality of life. This is followed by family and friends in almost all countries. Alongside health, social areas are coming to the fore. On the other hand, the importance of aspects which were formerly central to quality of life, such as work, consumption and leisure time, is declining.

Crime, Aggressiveness, Lack of Honesty: Europeans’ Fears for the Future

Crime is Europe’s unsolved problem. Two thirds (66%) of those questioned from Helsinki to Rome, Moscow to Zurich and Berlin to London state that fear for their own safety was – by far – their greatest worry for the future. The majority of concerns are focused on interpersonal dealings associated with a feared loss of prosperity. Aside from fear of crime, increasing levels of aggressiveness (51%), decreasing honesty (41%), selfishness (38%) and intolerance (37%) are all causes for concern. The consequences could be loneliness (29%) or social exclusion (27%), which almost inevitably result in social conflict. The entire network that unites, keeps together and protects society is in question.

The citizens of the various countries express different fears:

  • Crime is mentioned most frequently in Switzerland (80%) and least frequently in France (49%).
  • Intolerance, on the other hand, is rated highest in France (58%) and lowest in Russia (15%).
  • Xenophobia is also not a major issue in Russia (8%), whilst for the Swiss this is particularly relevant (44%).
  • Social conflict is mentioned in Germany (42%) twice as often as in Italy (21%).
  • Envy is a far more significant issue in Belgium (39%) than in the United Kingdom (15%).
  • Lack of respect for children is hardly of relevance in Hungary (15%), whilst in Germany this is a major issue (40%).
  • Indifference as a concern for the future is mentioned by a majority of Finns (53%) compared to only a minority of the British (18%).

Social cohesion as a society’s central resource is threatened. It is being replaced by an aggregation of individuals whose behaviour is determined by short-term cost-benefit calculations and guided by the question: “How can I benefit?” Every single society requires a minimum of solidarity and feeling of community. This, however, requires that people are united and feel responsible for one another. Just as the desire for a sense of community, solidarity and security grows, it becomes increasingly difficult to satisfy these wishes. This presents a challenge to every single one of us. Politics is only in a position to provide the framework, whereas people are responsible for implementation.

Friendship, Social Justice,  Reliability: Europe’s Future Values

Europeans are just as aware of their fears as they are of potential solutions. There are signs of a positive change in values: the focus is shifting towards pro-society values, aimed at ensuring harmonious cohabitation. These values include friendship (65%), social justice (60%) and reliability (59%). There is also agreement amongst the majority of people asked about the following values: love (58%), helpfulness (55%), freedom (53%) and friendliness (50%). In response to the question which values are particularly important to the person questioned, the following rate slightly lower: loyalty (48%), conscientiousness and social responsibility (46% each).

Comparing the answers given in the various countries, it becomes clear that there are different needs and requirements. For example, helpfulness, conscientiousness and reliability are at their loudest in Germany. In comparison, in Great Britain friendliness, loyalty and social responsibility are demanded first and foremost. The Swiss wish for love and responsibility, whilst the Finns demand freedom and social justice. Europeans want to see a quick end to looming social erosion. They are willing to undergo moral renewal. Research in the nine
European countries has shown that there are signs of a renaissance of faith in the future. The citizens of Europe are becoming increasingly confident. The age of egoism is slowly coming to an end. And reliability can once again begin to take hold where arbitrariness once flourished.

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First Approach for the

Future of Europe

The results of the study will be interpreted in detail and published in March as a hardcopy (about 80 pages, German and English). This publication will be sent to members of the German and the European parliament who deal with issues affecting the future of Europe. Press releases will be sent out in all nine participating countries. The study is a first approach at addressing one of the main projects of the foundation in 2008 called The Future of Europe. Members of the EFMN Network who are interested in the publication can contact the foundation by email and we will send a copy of the study (a PDF file) in the 2nd half of March 2008.

Authors: Ulrich Reinhardt Ulrich_Reinhardt@bat.com
Sponsors: BAT Stiftung für Zukunftsfragen (British American Tobacco Foundation for Future Research)
Type: National foresight exercise, single issue
Organizer: BAT Stiftung für Zukunftsfragen, Alsterufer 4, 20354 Hamburg, Germany
Duration: 2007-2008
Budget: 100,000€
Time Horizon: 2007
Date of Brief: January 2008

Download: EFMN Brief No. 135_ BAT 21st century globalisation

Sources and References

www.batstiftung.com