Posts Tagged ‘environment’

EPF Brief No. 241: Embedding Futures Thinking in Environmental Policymaking

Friday, December 21st, 2012

Many of society’s most pressing problems are long-term policy challenges, lasting a generation or more. Policymakers and business leaders often face strategic decisions with uncertain future outcomes. Despite numerous unpredictable factors, decision-makers need to be confident that they can achieve specific outcomes. Failing to do so could result in systemic failures with major consequences for society. The European Environment Agency (EEA) undertook analyses through the BLOSSOM project (Bridging long-term scenario and strategy analysis: organisation and methods) to identify a ‘toolbox’ of approaches to institutionalise long-term futures thinking in government; to explore which countries have introduced respective approaches and tools, and to identify the pioneers as well as which methods have become commonplace and which have not; to look for commonalities and differences and identify the factors that can explain the success or failure of efforts to embed a long-term perspective in policymaking.

Why Bring Foresight to Environmental Policymaking?

While academic literature has thoroughly assessed the pros and cons of different methodological approaches, systematic analysis of the use, impacts and effectiveness in environmental policymaking is still superficial or absent. It is evident that the institutional and governance aspects of foresight work need to be given more attention. We also need new structures that break with single forecast models, which miss the complexity and uncertainty in future developments, and different institutional arrangements to implement them. For future studies to gain greater relevance in policymaking, there are also two science-policy challenges that have to be tackled: policymakers often perceive future studies to be evidence-based and the time scale of future studies differs from that of policymaking.

The characteristics of the problem-solving context make it very hard to introduce the long-term perspective needed to analyse environmental problems. However, futures thinking and foresight is increasingly being used to inform policy, through the use of techniques such as expert panels, workshops and scenario planning. Explorative or normative scenarios are often used for long-term futures thinking whereas for more short-term purposes predictive techniques such as forecasts and outlooks are more common.

Analysis of Success Factors and Barriers

The analyses proceeded in two stages. In the first stage in 2008, the EEA started to analyse the success factors and barriers to a long-term perspective in public policymaking with particular reference to environmental planning. The EEA report Looking Back on Looking Forward (EEA, 2009) — a precursor to this study — reviewed the available evaluative scenario literature. The research found that only a few studies evaluated the actual impact of scenarios. Most of those studies found that scenarios were indeed useful in preparing corporate strategies and public policy, although most focused on the business sector. Moreover, the public sector presented several difficulties, including the varied set of goals and interests that public agencies face. The research concluded that more empirical evidence is needed particularly on what types of scenarios work in different contexts and the institutional arrangements that enable scenarios to be used more effectively in order to demonstrate that scenarios can deliver on their promises.

The second stage focused on analysing the role and relevance of futures analysis and the practical experiences with adapting institutional arrangements to embed a longterm perspective in government in EEA member countries. Country case studies were developed for eight EEA member countries based on interviews with practitioners in government, administration and policy advisory bodies along with a review of relevant academic and nonacademic literature. During 2010, four additional case
studies were included following the same approach. The project involved consultations on draft case study country reports and the comparative analysis report with the interviewees and other stakeholders in all the countries studied. In the later stage, additional consultations took place with the EIONET network of experts. Upon completion of the case studies, the crosscutting report analysed the key findings and presented a crosscountry comparison (available at http://www.eea.europa.eu/publications/blossom/).

Focus on Institutional and Governance Structures

The research did not seek to evaluate the quality of individual futures studies or to explore the whole range of futures work (such as research or technology foresight). It only addressed the aspects most relevant to environmental policymaking, notably the institutional and governance structures.

Design and Analysis of the Country Case Studies

The BLOSSOM country case studies were developed following a common approach. Each started by identifying several important aspects:

Institutions
· Central body for futures thinking vs. diffuse structures across departments
· Internal vs. external advisory bodies
· Formal vs. informal networks
· Role of parliament/parliamentary bodies
· Maturity of formal futures work

Mechanisms
· Permanent vs. ad hoc arrangements
· Degree of independence of futures/foresight bodies
· Formal vs. informal reporting

Process
· Stakeholder vs. expert led futures work
· Use of specific futures techniques, e.g. scenarios, horizon scanning
· Thematic range (cross-sectoral vs. sectoral)

In addition, at least two external factors are crucial for embedding futures thinking:
· Level of political support
· National administrative culture

The case study countries were selected to provide a range of cultural, geographical, institutional and administrative approaches, including countries that were at very different stages of implementing futures thinking. Detailed case studies were compiled and informed by interviews with senior officials in the respective member states. Following the production of individual country case study reports, SWOT analyses were undertaken for each country, providing the analytical framework for understanding which factors facilitated knowledge exchange from futures studies or research into practical policymaking in each country. These were then presented for each country as SWOT-tail diagrams. SWOT-tail© diagrams combine fishbone (Ishikawa) diagrams with SWOT analyses to provide a visual and concise summary analysis for each country. Clearly, there is no ‘one-sizefits-all’ solution; context and path dependency matter.

Development of Futures Thinking over Time

The country case studies revealed very different histories of futures thinking across the countries studied. Taking the introduction of a central foresight body as an example, the analysis showed that some countries (e.g. Portugal, Sweden) had long-standing central foresight bodies (since 1950s/60s) while most countries have established such bodies only since the 1990s. Some countries did not have a central foresight body at the time of the study (i.e. Hungary and Slovenia).

Commonalities and Diversity among Approaches

As noted, the country case studies analysed institutions, mechanisms and processes, and facilitated comparison between country approaches. This showed which approaches and structures were most and least common. A central foresight body, thematic studies and some use of scenarios in policymaking were all seen in 10 out of the 12 countries studied. However, less common were formalised foresight reporting requirements (5 countries), routine stakeholder involvement (5 countries) and horizon scanning formally in place (3 countries).

‘Maturity’ of Futures Work

Futures work and how it relates to environmental policy was classified by its ‘maturity’ into the categories mature, developing and nascent (see Figure 1). Futures work was considered most mature where it could mostly draw on permanent and formalised systems, diverse networks across levels of government and departments, and where experience of futures studies had a clear influence on policy. The category developing was applied where some features of futures work had been introduced and futures arrangements show evidence of lasting structures and influence. Futures work was considered nascent where futures arrangements were in their infancy, i.e. mainly ad hoc or fragmented, or where institutional structures or governance arrangements to facilitate futures thinking in policy at the level of national government has only recently been introduced.

Parliamentary body/role of parliament: Some of the case studies, notably Finland, have shown that parliaments can play an important role in supporting futures thinking.

Internal body: In most countries, some form of futures work is performed in government departments (whether regularly or ad hoc) although not all have a central body that coordinates or advises across all areas of government.

External body: In the Netherlands and United Kingdom, no single centralised body deals with foresight. There are a number of external bodies/agencies that engage in futures work. In Slovenia, the Bled Strategic Forum, which works on long-term thinking at national and European levels, has sponsored debates about long-term futures, drawing thinkers from politics, industry and academia from all over Europe.

Process

Routine stakeholder involvement: The degree of consultation varies between countries, with Finland and Austria at one end of the scale with a high degree of participation and France on the other with comparatively little. Generally, the foresight topics are determined through consultations with expert stakeholders. Stakeholder participation is widespread among most futures programmes across the member states studied and driven by policy needs.

Thematic or sectoral: Cross-sectoral studies appear to be more common in the environmental sphere, even in countries that undertake both types.

Horizon-scanning system in place: Only a few countries have formally established horizon-scanning systems either centrally or within, for example, environmental agencies.

Mechanisms

Formally independent body/degree of independence: Trade-offs between access and independence are dealt with in different ways across countries. In most countries, this is somehow related to how the governmental institutions work.

Permanent or ad hoc arrangements: In general, the most effective bodies for futures studies have had a permanent role and structure within government. Some countries have created ad hoc groups for specific studies.

Governance Culture and Political Support

Governance culture and tradition of futures thinking: A long-standing tradition of futures thinking does not in itself facilitate the embedding of futures thinking in policymaking. Those with the most mature systems tended to have either a strong participatory, consensus-building governance culture (Finland, Sweden, the Netherlands) or a strong external advocacy tradition, as well as strong centralised government and policymaking (the United Kingdom).

Interdisciplinarity and interdisciplinary approaches: The increasing importance of interdisciplinarity and interdisciplinary approaches can be observed among the many environment-related futures studies considered.

Evidence versus strategy: It is apparent that in a few countries futures studies are used to develop or contribute to the evidence base upon which policies are built (and therefore often strongly associated with ‘science’ and science ministries), but they are also used to identify potential strategic priorities and ensure that the strategies developed have a view to the long term. The distinction between evidence and strategy is not absolute but, based on the individual country reports, it does appear that futures work is generally used for two sometimes distinct purposes: to inform strategic priorities or contribute to the evidence base upon which policies are built, using different methods.

Political support and policy needs: A further element that can shape the approach to futures thinking is the specific need in the policy sector (Netherlands, Poland, United Kingdom, Germany) or influenced by work in other countries (France inspired by Finland, Hungary by the United Kingdom). In all four countries with nascent futures systems — Hungary, Poland, Slovenia and Spain — advanced technology foresight work in other countries has been prominent. Another important criterion for embedding futures work in policymaking is a government policy calling for the use of futures studies.

Follow-up: The use of follow-up and feedback to futures studies seems to support the successful implementation of futures thinking in policymaking.

Key Success Factors for Embedding Futures Thinking in Environmental Policymaking

Policy demand and political support would appear to be overwhelmingly the most significant factor.

Need for policy-led futures thinking: policy interest and support may be key, and high-level ambassadors or ‘champions’ can help promote and influence the inclusion of futures studies in policymaking. High quality of studies helps to provide credibility and convince policymakers.

Resources: skills and capacity are required for a successful forward-looking programme.

Timeliness and relevance: to be taken up by policymakers, a futures study must be relevant to needs and available when needed.

Stakeholder engagement and participation: broad participation is an important success factor as it increases legitimacy and helps establish familiarity and understanding.

Potential role for parliament: Although parliamentary involvement is not necessarily a success factor, it may be important for facilitating democratic engagement in longterm environmental policymaking as well as a shift of futures work beyond a largely expert-driven process.

Barriers to Success

A major barrier, alluded to above, is the fundamental challenge for futures thinking in the science-policy debate and the dominant focus of government administration on electoral, legislative and budgetary cycles. Other barriers are:
· Departmental upheaval and reorganisation in the wake of establishing institutional arrangements for futures thinking
· Departmental silo mentality
· Lack of futures skills and awareness amongst officials and politicians
· Problems of scale: large futures studies can be unwieldy and miss their window of opportunity
· If not policy-driven, then futures thinking is unlikely to influence policy
· Cultural barriers (administrative traditions)

Recommendations for Action

Rather than rely on a trickle-down effect, there are active efforts governments can make to improve the integration of futures thinking into policymaking. These actions should include:

· capacity building,
· knowledge brokerage through networks,
· coordination of futures work through networks across government: to avoid duplication, to facilitate crosssectoral (thematic) studies,
· institutional arrangements that create policy demand, for instance formalised requirements for futures thinking, building futures thinking into long-term strategy development, formalised reporting requirements on government policy and a parliamentary role for futures thinking,
· techniques for prioritising futures studies (from systematic horizon scanning to top-down and bottom-up stakeholder, public and parliamentary involvement in the prioritisation process),
· clarity on the distinction between policy-relevant futures work and more blue-skies academic futures work (the former responding to policy demand, the latter pushing the boundaries and development of tools, techniques and approaches);
· sufficient resources to build capacity, networks and institutional arrangements;
· increasing participation, including the broad public: new technologies and innovative methods could be used to bring in a wider and more diverse range of opinions and ideas, as well as to disseminate study results and their implications.

Download EPF Brief No. 241_Embedding Futures Thinking in Environmental Policymaking.

Sources and References

EEA, 2009, Looking Back on Looking Forward: A Review of Evaluative Scenario Literature, EEA Technical Report No. 3/2009.

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. 192: Delphi-based Disruptive and Surprising Transformation Scenarios on the Future of Aviation

Thursday, August 18th, 2011

Our study intends to present disruptive and challenging events, i.e. wildcard scenarios, with a significant impact on the aviation industry. We aim to assist decision and policy makers in preparing for the future and enrich decision making processes on possible courses of action by presenting a robust and reliable decision support system and creating awareness for opportunities in strategy and policy. We demonstrate how a Delphi survey (in our case a real-time variant) can be applied as a starting point to systematically develop wildcard scenarios by conducting a deductive wildcard analysis.

Combining Delphi with a Wild Card Approach

In an increasingly uncertain environment, planning uncertainties force policy and decision makers to foster strategic forecasting and technology planning processes, including future-oriented technology analyses (FTA). In spite of its growing importance, the recent expansion of FTA has paid little attention to conceptual development, research on improved methods, methodological choice or how best to merge empirical/analytical methods with stakeholder engagement processes. This is especially the case for Delphi surveys, which are one of the most commonly used tools in FTA. We address this issue by demonstrating how an innovative web-based real-time Delphi can ensure validity and reliability of foresight activities via taking relevant drivers of change into account, such as technology, socio-culture, politics, the economy and the environment. Our highly standardised scenario development process applies qualitative as well as quantitative measures and equips policy and decision makers with a robust and reliable decision support system.

We outline specifically how the Delphi method can be used to identify wildcard developments deductively and at an early point in time (Däneke, von der Gracht et al. 2010) while we also illustrate inductive wildcard analysis.

Furthermore, the results of our study and adjacent analyses allow to derive an ‘opportunity radar’, which depicts a range of opportunities and challenges for governments and companies (von der Gracht, Gnatzy et al. 2010). Our ‘radar’ is the product of several participatory future workshops in which the examined scenarios were discussed. It is designed to provide a pragmatic but also creative perspective on the future while displaying opportunities with different degrees of innovativeness.

Innovative Real-time Delphi

The study employs an innovative version of the Delphi method (von der Gracht, Gnatzy et al. 2011) and is designed as an Internet-based, almost real-time survey, which increases the validity of results by streamlining the classical procedure. Our Delphi method combines quantitative as well as qualitative research approaches to ensure a high level of scientific rigour and thus refutes objections raised in the past on grounds of expert panel biases or time scale disadvantages (EC 2004).

Furthermore, we have introduced methodological and usability improvements so that Delphi remains a valuable tool for FTA procedures. Such improvements are the ‘ease-of-use facilitator portal’, the ‘consensus portal’ and a ‘graphical real-time feedback’, which reduce drop-out rates and speed up the whole process.

Delphi Data Sample and Analysis

Within the scope of our Delphi survey (Linz and Rothkopf 2010), 57 aviation strategists, C-level executives, aviation researchers and consultants evaluated 40 projections in terms of probability (scale from 0-100%) and desirability of occurrence (5-point Likert scale) as well as impact on the aviation industry (5-point Likert scale).

In addition to their quantitative assessments, participating panellists were able to provide qualitative statements to support their numerical estimations and discuss relationships between factors thought to shape future developments. Based on the assessments and more than 1,300 collected verbal arguments offered in support of the individual expert expectations, relevant extreme and wildcard scenarios were deducted, enabling contingency planning and preparation for unforeseeable and disruptive events (Cuhls and Johnston 2006). Furthermore, the arguments and comments provided the foundation for later storytelling and the identification of weak signals, wildcards, outlier opinions and mainstream arguments.

Delphi-based Deductive Wildcard Analysis

The deductive wildcard analysis aimed at developing and analysing company and market-specific wildcards. Since the kind of data required for such an analysis is generally not readily available, the wildcards have to be developed from scratch. Due to the complexity of the future and the unpredictability associated with complexity, the number of potential surprises is virtually endless. Therefore, it is impossible to identify all possible wildcards in an exhaustive manner. Nevertheless, the deductive wildcard analysis provides an adequate approach for identifying those issues relevant to a specific company at a reasonable cost.

In the first step, the critical future assumptions have to be identified. In a second step, wildcard scenarios are deducted on the basis of a qualitative Delphi data analysis and scenario techniques. This is followed by the development of plausible scenario origins and paths. Fourth, relevant wildcards have to be elaborated. And finally, possible strategies and policies need to be developed in order to enable linkage between strategy and daily business requirements. The wildcard transfer has to be conducted through a process of storytelling, contingency planning and the set up of an early warning system.

Inductive Wildcard Analysis

The inductive wildcard analysis is based on the idea of manifold archetypical wildcards that generally have to be taken into account by policy makers and business leaders. Those wildcards can represent internal (e.g., financial failure) or external disruptive events (e.g., natural disaster). The wildcard analysis consists of five incremental steps.

First, potential wildcards have to be collected. Second, the wildcards identified need to be assessed in terms of relevance to politics and business. In a third step, relevant wildcards must be selected. The wildcards thus selected are then elaborated with regard to their operative and strategic implications. Finally, possible strategies and policies are developed and implemented.

The Future of Aviation between Terrorist Threats and New Fuel Technologies

Based on the survey data, we derived several wildcard scenarios for the year 2025, which address manifold aspects ranging from natural catastrophes to technological revolutions (Linz and Rothkopf 2010).

(1) Aviation Terrorism Reloaded

Since 9/11, the fear of terrorist attacks has increased tremendously. Important hubs and large airports especially could become the focus of physical aggression.

(2) Spread of a Global Pandemic

New pathogens originate worldwide on a regular basis. The potential impact of a prolonged global pandemic on aviation networks has become apparent in the case of SARS in Asia in 2002/2003.

(3) Natural Catastrophes

Major impacts can evolve from volcanic activities as in 2010, but danger might also arise from space. Planet Earth has always been subject to impacts from comets and asteroids, which pose a potential source of danger to life and property.

(4) Deglobalisation, Relocation and Protectionism

Intense worldwide economic shocks could provoke a fundamental re-thinking of free trade resulting in strict protectionism.

(5) Energy Revolution

An energy revolution based on a scientific breakthrough would render all the traditional energy sources obsolete. Nuclear fusion and zero-point generators, which do not require fuel to produce heat and energy, could be technologies of this kind.

(6) Revolution in Transportation Technologies and Concepts

New transportation technologies and concepts are being discussed that could revolutionise air transportation or pose significant opportunities and threats to the aviation industry.

(7) The Fabbing Society

‘Fabbing’ means the direct fabrication of objects from computer models. So far, the technology has only been applied in the industrial sphere. However, with technical advancements and falling equipment prices, these technologies could also be made available for private use by 2025.

Based on current and expected risks, we set up a process to develop a set of future chances and opportunities, which is represented by our ‘opportunity radar’ (Linz and Rothkopf 2010).

The ‘opportunity radar’ focuses on promising opportunities related to aviation over the next 15 years. Some of them are already near implementation while others remain visions by current standards.

Applying the Results in the ‘Competitiveness Monitor’

The results of our research have already been used on several occasions. Multiple workshops with stakeholders from the aviation industry were held. There, the implications of the measures for the different stakeholder groups were further discussed. In addition, the methodological results from the wildcard and opportunity analysis have contributed to the joint research project ‘Competitiveness Monitor’ (CoMo) conducted as part of the EffizienzCluster LogistikRuhr of the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research. The CoMo will combine three foresight tools in a single IT-based futures platform. This platform will integrate user specific information from (1) a trend database (TDB), (2) a collaborative prediction market application and (3) an individual future workshop.[1]

With our research, we aim to assist decision and policy makers in preparing for the future. Therefore, we present disruptive and challenging events, i.e. wildcard scenarios. Furthermore, we provide a robust and reliable decision support system to assist decision and policy makers in making informed and sound decisions in the light of complexity.

[1] We presented detailed findings from the Competitiveness Monitor project in our 4th FTA 2011 conference papers (1) “Competitiveness Monitor: An integrated foresight platform for the German leading-edge cluster in logistics” and (2) “Trend Database design for effectively managing foresight knowledge – A sophisticated FTA content base architecture to enable foresight processes”.

Authors: Steffen Schuckmann                      Steffen.Schuckmann@ebs.edu

Dr. Marco Linz                                Marco.Linz@ebs.edu

Dr. Heiko von der Gracht                 Heiko.vonderGracht@ebs.edu

Dr. Inga-Lena Darkow                      Inga-Lena.Darkow@ebs.edu

Sponsors: German Federal Ministry of Education and Research1
Type: Single issue brief
Organizer: Center for Futures Studies, EBS Business School, Marco.Linz@ebs.edu
Duration: 06/10 – 05/13 Budget: 2.3m € Time Horizon: 2025 Date of Brief: June 2011  

 

Download EFP Brief No. 192_Future of Aviation

Sources & References

Cuhls, K. and R. Johnston (2006). ‘Corporate FTA’, Anchor Paper, Proceedings of the Second FTA Seville Seminar, Future-Oriented Technology Analysis: Impacts on Policy and Decision Making. Seville, IPTS.

Däneke, E., H. A. von der Gracht et al. (2010). ‘Systematische Wildcard-Analyse mit Hilfe der Delphi-Methode am Beispiel Future of Aviation 2025.’ In: Gausemeier, Jürgen (ed.) 2010: Vorausschau und Technologieplanung Paderborn, Heinz Nixdorf Institut. 6: 419-440.

EC (2004). New Horizons and Challenges for Future–oriented Technology Analysis – Proceedings of the EU-US Scientific Seminar: New Technology Foresight, Forecasting & Assessment Methods. F. Scapolo and E. Cahill, European Commission, Joint Research Centre (DG JRC), Institute for Prospective Technological Studies.

Linz, M. and A. Rothkopf (2010). The Future of Aviation. Global Scenarios for Passenger Aviation, Business Aviation and Air Cargo. St. Gallen, BrainNet.

von der Gracht, H., T. Gnatzy, et al. (2010). Transportation & Logistics 2030. Volume 2: Transport infrastructure – Engine or hand brake for global supply chains? PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC)/ Supply Chain Management Institute (SMI).

von der Gracht, H. A. and I.-L. Darkow (2010). ‘Scenarios for the logistics services industry: A Delphi-based analysis for 2025.’ International Journal of Production Economics 127(1): 46-59.

von der Gracht, H. A., T. Gnatzy, et al. (2011). New Frontiers in Delphi Research – Experiences with Real-Time Delphi in Foresight. Conference Volume of the WorldFuture 2011, Vancouver, Canada. In Press.

EFP Brief No. 187: Using Foresight to Involve Industry in Innovation Policy

Thursday, August 4th, 2011

The brief describes the design and implementation of a success scenario workshop used in Malta to allow industry to give a foresight-based input to the design of innovation policy. The exercise drew upon the results of several industry-level studies in the small new EU member state aimed at identifying the drivers and inhibitors of private sector R&D and innovation investments.

Re-designing Regional Innovation Strategy

The exercise drew upon the results of several industry-level studies in Malta aimed at identifying the drivers and inhibitors of private sector R&D and innovation investments.

The segmentation of this micro-ecosystem into three types of firms – start-ups, SMEs and large firms – linked by a complex network and common framework conditions, provided the backdrop for a future-oriented exploratory exercise that considered the implications of the drivers of R&D and innovation in future markets, products, processes and services.

The brief describes the methodology and results of this workshop aimed at designing creative measures for innovative futures and hence encouraging firms to increase the level and effectiveness of their R&D expenditure. Lessons for the use of the success scenario approach for innovation are discussed.

Innovation is a key to the survival and growth of businesses in the present global competitive environment. Yet for many firms it remains a daunting challenge. Government today recognises that it must provide the conditions in which enterprises can flourish, and this includes provision of policies and support measures that help firms bring successful innovations to the market. Some policy measures in this area are longstanding, but the changing environment means that there is a need for constant review and adaptation to meet firms’ current and future needs.

The Futurreg Project

At the time this exercise was undertaken, Malta was reappraising its innovation policy support framework. The national agency responsible for enterprise support and innovation (Malta Enterprise) was developing a regional innovation strategy (MARIS).

Futures approaches were applied as part of this innovation strategy through Futurreg, an Interreg3c project aimed at promoting the use of foresight in ongoing regional development projects. The other main actor was the Malta Council for Science and Technology, which represented the Malta partner in Futurreg. The Council provided foresight support to MARIS and used the project to consult business and other stakeholders on necessary measures to support future innovation needs. This brief describes the findings of a success scenario workshop that had three aims:

  • to define a broad framework for a future-oriented national innovation policy,
  • to create an enhanced and shared understanding of the drivers of innovation,
  • to explore success scenarios and design new measures tailored to the specific needs of three types of Malta-based companies (see below).

The workshop brought together major stakeholders in innovation, including business leaders representing the three targeted groups of firms, public entities and other agencies supporting local business, and university experts. The basic idea was that by looking at drivers of innovation in the future and by identifying key deficiencies of firms in Malta in their ability to respond to these drivers, it would be possible to design policy measures that would address those deficiencies in the most effective way. In advance of the workshop and in consultation with stakeholders, a number of key drivers of innovation were identified, including economic, political, environmental, security, health, social change and ICT factors.

Success Scenario Workshop: Action-based Approach

The success scenario approach used was developed at the University of Manchester and has been applied in exercises setting UK national strategy for ICT, biotechnology and nanotechnology as well as in policy-related areas such as university-industry links (Cassingena Harper and Georghiou, 2005), international scientific cooperation policy (Georghiou et al., 2006), infrastructure policy (Keenan and Popper, 2007) and the development of the European Research Area. Ian Miles has described the success scenario approach in terms of two elements:

  • Desirability: capturing a vision of what could be achieved or aspired to by the sponsoring organisation or the wider community that it represents.
  • Credibility: the scenario is developed with the assistance and validated by a sample of experts in the area chosen to reflect a broad range of interests and usually including both practitioners and researchers (Miles, 2002).

It is an action-based approach, with the shared vision among senior stakeholders of what success in the area would look like being specified in terms of goals and indicators, which provide the starting point for the process of developing a roadmap to get there. The purpose of having such a vision of success is to set a ‘stretch target’ for all the stakeholders. The discussion and debate involved develops mutual understanding and a common platform of knowledge that helps to align the actors for action.

Discussion of Drivers of Innovation in Firms

The success scenario workshop on Creative Measures for Innovative Futures convened on 15 May 2007. In line with the national research and innovation strategy developed last year by MCST, where it was noted that MCST and Malta Enterprise have shared competencies in the area of research and innovation policy and need to work together in developing new measures, this workshop provided a setting for creating a synergy of efforts in innovation. The workshop offered an opportunity to bring together the insights of relevant stakeholders from business, academia, government and business support agencies in innovation policy design. There was a good representation of all sectors at the event.

The previous Futurreg-MARIS workshop held in March 2007 highlighted the fact that a number of important initiatives are underway focused on promoting innovation in business, namely the MARIS, METIC and Forlink projects. The local industry studies carried out through these projects identified a number of inhibiting factors to innovation and also a range of opportunities in terms of niche areas to be exploited. The aim of the follow-up workshop in May 2007 was to build on this substantial work and place it in a more futures-oriented context where alternative approaches can be openly identified and discussed.

Figure 1 (below) shows the simplified process of the workshop. Items in blue shading represent the inputs coming from previous stages, yellow shading represents group work and green the plenary sessions. The workshop was attended by 45 experts, drawn primarily from the private sector and government but involving also academia.

In the plenary warm-up session, the key drivers of innovation were presented and discussed in order to identify immediate gaps from a local business perspective. Participants were then divided into three working groups, representing the needs and interests of three main types of firms. Workshop participants felt that innovation policies could best be distinguished by an amended classification of three types of firms:

  • Type 1: start-ups
  • Type 2: SMEs
  • Type 3: large firms

The working groups discussed the key drivers and identified the ones that are most relevant to their future development strategies and visions. They focused on the following questions:

  1. Which drivers are currently influencing innovation in your sector?
  2. Which drivers are likely to influence innovation in your sector in the next five to ten years?
  3. What are the likely future trends in innovation in your sector? In your products? In your services and processes?
  4. Are any innovation drivers or trends missing?

The plenary session focused on defining the impact of drivers of innovation on each of these types of firms. Participants were then asked to map the drivers according to their level of importance.

The working groups then focused on identifying the main deficiencies to innovation based on the RICO framework, which separates needs into four broad categories:

  • Resources: Insufficient resources to undertake the work without public funds, which is generally true for academic research and accepted for business R&D that is either highly uncertain and/or where social returns justify an investment that does not meet private criteria.
  • Incentives: Scientific structures or the market provide insufficient incentives for socially desirable behaviour, for example, academic-industrial collaboration. Fragmented or risk averse markets may also obstruct innovation.
  • Capabilities: Organisations lack key capabilities needed for the innovation process, for instance, the ability to write business plans or raise venture capital.
  • Opportunities: Generation of opportunities for innovation provides one of the main justifications of public support of science. Need also to consider how firms can get hold of such opportunities through knowledge transfer/exchange.

Participants were then asked to map the drivers according to their level of importance. A similar map was produced from a discussion of deficiencies drawing upon an earlier exercise (see Figure 3 below).

In the afternoon, the workshop entered into its more creative phase by using the results of the morning session to design Creative Measures for Innovation Support. Working groups then identified appropriate innovation policies to address the particular needs emerging in their discussion. The final plenary session captured the inputs to define a desired and feasible national portfolio of innovation policy measures and instruments.

Innovation Success Scenario for Malta: Change of Culture and Culture of Change

The Success Scenario for Malta takes as its core theme “change of culture and culture of change” as culture emerged as the key driver of innovation, featuring strongly in relation to the discussion on drivers, deficiencies and measures.

Shared Public-Private Innovation Concerns

The key innovation policy challenge for Malta is defining and spearheading a national political and economic vision in a more coherent and integrated way and ensuring broad societal acceptance. Government and enterprise face a number of innovation challenges relating to growing environmental, energy and security concerns and share a set of systemic concerns regarding improved networking and knowledge transfer across sectors and organisations; this involves links between business and academia in particular. Business and government have an enhanced demand for more innovative solutions to societal needs, sparked by the growing sophistication of needs and the emergence of more intelligent consumers and citizens.

Our Success Scenario Pathway: Synergetic relationships need to be developed between the public and private sectors through closer collaboration between government and business on key innovation concerns. Public innovation support to business could target:

  • Engaging stakeholders in implementing a national political vision and renewal while allowing for a dynamic feedback loop and learning.
  • Helping firms to innovate and sustain economic growth and profitability and to provide innovative solutions to societal needs; supporting firms in coping in innovative ways with the challenges presented by the physical environment, including energy and infrastructure; providing firms with capacities for providing innovative solutions to specialised customer demand.
  • Facilitating access to new technologies and knowledge.

The main features of the emergent success scenario were:

  • A political vision on innovation, targeting branding of InnovativeMalta and the provision of innovative solutions for the societal needs spearheaded.
  • This will be implemented through a National Innovation Platform and a strategy for capitalising Xon the small country advantage and geostrategic position coupled with the diffusion of a culture favourable to innovation and risk-taking – a ‘can do’ culture.
  • An ecosystem of well-networked organisations engaged in mutual learning for self-sustaining growth through the nurturing of constant adaptation and learning processes. This will be supported through a state-of-the-art support infrastructure and an accessible national knowledge platform to provide the springboard for innovation.
  • Firms are well-networked to customers at home and abroad and attuned to market intelligence; they scan and make use of enhanced in-house innovation management capabilities.

A series of detailed policy measures targeted to each of the three firm types was also produced.

Innovation Policy: Responding to Drivers of the Future

The success scenario approach is a tool tailored to the needs and realities of senior decision-makers in the public and private sectors while it maximises the chances of engaging real stakeholders at a level of seniority sufficient to implement emerging visions.

The device of a 24-hour workshop only works with extensive preparation to develop framework and contextual information. Innovation policy provides a natural focus for foresight approaches because of the need to respond to the drivers of the future. The framework used needs to be properly grounded in a theory of innovation to ensure that it is not merely an exercise in producing a wish-list.

Iterations and follow-up exercises and activities can provide an ideal opportunity for continuing the discussion on the feedback received, extending the debate to a new cluster of stakeholders or those who were unable to attend the first event. Such activities allow updating the scenarios and recommendations and support reviewing implementation and obstacles to progress.

Authors: Jennifer Cassingena Harper     jennifer.harper@gov.mt

Luke Georghiou                       luke.georghiou@mbs.ac.uk

 
Sponsors: DG Regio, EU Commission, Interreg 3C and Government of Malta  
Type: N/A  
Organizer: Malta Council for Science and Technology  
Duration: January-July 2007 Budget: N/A Time Horizon: N/A Date of Brief: September 2007

 

Download EFP Brief No 187_Using Foresight to Involve Industry in Innovation Policy

Sources and References

Cassingena Harper, J. and Georghiou, L. (2005): ‘Foresight in innovation policy: shared visions for a science park and business–university links in a city–region’, Technology Analysis and Strategic Management 17.

Georghiou, L., Keenan, M., Popper, R., Harper, J., Crehan, P. and Clar, G. (2006): SCOPE 2015 – Scenarios of future science and technology developments in developing countries 2015, Report to European Commission 2006

Miles, I. (2002): Scenarios and Foresight – Towards a Constructive Integration, PREST, mimeo, July.