Posts Tagged ‘ICT’

EFP Brief No. 194: Envisioning Digital Europe 2030: Scenarios for ICT in Future Governance and Policy Modelling

Monday, September 19th, 2011

This foresight exercise was conducted as part of the CROSSROAD Project – A Participative Roadmap for ICT Research on Electronic Governance and Policy Modelling, a FP7 Support Action that aimed to provide strategic direction, define a shared vision, and inspire collaborative, interdisciplinary and multi-stakeholder research in the domain. This research set out to help policy makers implement the Digital Agenda for Europe, the flagship initiative of the EU 2020 strategy launched to increase EU growth and competitiveness in the fast-evolving global landscape and address the grand challenges our world is confronted with today.

Combining ICT for Governance and Modelling to Assess Policy Impacts

In 2009, the European Commission’s Seventh Framework Programme (Work Programme ICT 2009-2010) launched a programme of research on ICT for governance and policy modelling, joining two complementary research fields that have traditionally been separate:

  • the governance and participation toolbox, which includes technologies such as mass conversation and collaboration tools; and
  • the policy modelling domain, which includes forecasting, agent-based modelling, simulation and visualisation.

These ICT tools for governance and policy modelling aim to improve public decision-making in a complex age, enable policy-making and governance to become more effective and more intelligent, and accelerate the learning path embedded in the overall policy cycle.

In 2010, the European Commission funded the support action: CROSSROAD A Participative Roadmap for ICT Research on Electronic Governance and Policy Modelling (www.crossroad-eu.net) in order to advance the identification of emerging technologies, new governance models and novel application scenarios in the field of governance and policy modelling.

The main goal of the CROSSROAD project was to design the Future Research Roadmap for this domain and to structure a research agenda, which could be fully embraced by the research and practice communities.

Overall, the research roadmap aims to push the boundaries of traditional e-government research to new limits and help resolve the complex societal challenges Europe is facing by applying ICT-enabled innovations and collaborative policy modelling approaches, which include the harnessing of collective intelligence, agent-based modelling, visual analytics and simulation, just to mention a few.

In this context, a foresight exercise was conducted to look at the future of ICT-enabled governance and develop a vision of the role of ICT research in shaping a digital European society in 2030 through four thought-provoking visionary scenarios.

The scenario design developed aimed to provide a structured framework for analysis of current and future challenges related to research on ICT tools for governance and policy modelling techniques. The scenario framework proposed was chosen to stimulate further debate and reflection on possible, radical alternative scenarios. It takes today’s world and constructs images of possible future worlds, highlighting ways in which key uncertainties could develop. The aim is to present clues and key impact dimensions, thus increasing the ability to foresee possible development paths for the application of ICT tools for governance and policy modelling techniques. Thus risks can be anticipated and better preparation can be made to take advantage of future opportunities. In turn, this outlines key elements to be taken into consideration for the further roadmapping and impact assessment of future research in this domain.

Four Views on European Information Society

Instead of attempting to forecast possible future ICT-enabled scenarios, four internally consistent – but radical – views were defined of what the future European Information Society might look like in 2030. These give four distinctly different visions of what Europe’s governance and policy making system could be and what the implications of each could be for citizens, business and public services.

Following the mapping and analysis of the state of the art in research themes related to ICT for governance, policy modelling and the identification of emerging trends, the main impacts on future research in this area were defined. They were further refined through an analysis of existing scenario exercises and the current shaping of policies and strategies for the development of the European Information Society.

The uncertainties underlying the scenario design were: 1) the nature of the dominant societal value system (more inclusive, open and transparent or exclusive, fractured and restrictive), and 2) what the response (partial or complete, proactive or reactive) could be to the acquisition and integration of policy intelligence techniques in support of data processing, modelling, visualisation and simulation for evidence-based policy making.

Accordingly, the key impact dimensions were classified on two axes: degree of openness and transparency (axis y) and degree of integration in policy intelligence (axis x). The axes represent ways in which social and policy trends could develop.

Based on these dimensions, scenarios were then developed in a narrative manner as descriptions of possible outcomes in selected key areas, representative of the European context, where emerging trends related to the development of ICT tools for governance and policy modelling techniques could have an impact.

The Open Society…

The vertical axis indicates the degree of openness and transparency in a society in terms of democratic and collaborative governance, which could be further enabled by ICTs. The most open and transparent society would be one where even traditional state functions are completely replaced by non-state actors through opening-up and linking public sector information for re-use. Such a society would be characterised by open standards and principles of transparency and accountability in governance and public management. An important aspect of this scenario would be the regulatory and technological solutions and also the socio-cultural attitudes to the basic digital rights underpinning the future Information Society. In fact, the concept of openness is not strictly related to technological solutions but rather to socio-cultural and organisational aspects that can be enabled and supported by technological advancement.

…and the Integration of Knowledge

The horizontal axis shows the degree of integration of data and knowledge and the mode of enabling collaboration between all stakeholders in policy design and decision-making. This involves the possibility – enabled by ICTs – to mash up data and information available from different sources in an ‘intelligent way’, meaning in a way that is efficient, effective and suitable to generate public value. It also involves the extent to which users, individually or as members of formal and informal social networks, can contribute to the co-design of policies, simulating and visualising the effects of legal and policy decisions, and engage in real-time monitoring and prior assessment of possible expected impacts at local, regional, national and pan-European levels. This horizontal axis is also associated with the capacity and willingness of policy actors to share power and change decision-making mechanisms in order to facilitate the redefinition of basic democratic freedoms in a collaborative fashion. This could go to the extreme of redesigning the traditional mission of the state and the role played by governance stakeholders. Again, ICTs are not the driving force; rather change is driven by changes in social values, attitudes and new paradigm shifts in terms of information management, knowledge sharing and the allocation of resources.

Scenarios for Digital Europe 2030

In the Open Governance Scenario, users will enjoy unprecedented access to information and knowledge. By shifting cognitive capacities to machines, humans will be freed from the work of memorising and processing data and information and will be able to focus on critical thinking and developing new analytical skills. This will enhance collective intelligence (both human and ICT-enabled). Humans will be able to use policy modelling techniques to help solve global challenges. Possibilities for the provision of personalised and real-time public services will be opened up. The online engagement of citizens and various governance stakeholders will increase. Citizens, businesses and researchers will have direct access to data they need, and this will create new opportunities for people to interact with and influence governance and policy-making processes and help to make progress in solving societal problems. Governance processes and policy-making mechanisms will be based on intelligent, ICT-enabled simulation and visualisation systems, which will be able to find meaning in confusion and solve novel problems independently of human-acquired knowledge. New, open ways of producing and sharing knowledge will radically change traditional governance and decision-making. This will herald an era of open innovation, with unimagined opportunities for research and technological development. Public, private and third sector institutions will start to listen more carefully to their stakeholders, and a sort of ‘molecular democracy’ will arise.

The Leviathan Governance Scenario assumes that an ‘enlightened oligarchy’ will emerge that uses high-tech tools and systems to collect and manage public information and services. Judgement and decision-making will be based on analytical processing of factual information from the many by the few for the benefit of all. Full-scale automatic simulations and policy intelligence tools will facilitate decision-making and the oligarchs will simply approve the recommendations of these tools for the best policy option for the majority of citizens. ‘Real-time governance’ will be possible where the government/citizen relationship is under total control. Public service delivery will be personalised without people having to ask, thus saving a great deal of time. Citizens will trust the government and will be willing to delegate their right of initiative. They will be persuaded to be happy with this situation, as no human-caused problems will exist; emotions and thoughts will be controlled and directed towards the public good. Citizens’ choices will be restricted by predefined and pre-calculated algorithms that optimise people’s performance. However, information overload or potential failure of information systems to respond to critical, unforeseen situations would result in chaos, with humans and devices not knowing how to respond.

In the Privatised Governance Scenario, society will be shaped by decisions taken by corporate business representatives. Discussion on social issues and about the role and behaviour of citizens will be muted, as people will be pawns whose needs and desires will be managed by large corporations. Interactive and participatory governance mechanisms will be sidelined, along with democracy as we know it today. Simulations based on data gathered by sensors and collected from continuously monitoring and analysing networks, businesses, customers and the environment will produce global information that will nonetheless be fragmented and owned by corporations. Systems will be threatened by frequent attacks from independent groups and dissident communities. The media will be owned by the large corporations and will generally support them. Misinformation and jamming campaigns will be launched, making it necessary to verify all information and data. In this scenario, there will be opportunities for high innovation and development due to the pressure of competition on a free market. However, such opportunities will be useful only for the limited number of users able to afford them. Risks will arise due to private interests and fragmentation of the public good, leading to a ‘fragmented society’ where social welfare services will not be guaranteed to all, thus exacerbating possible social tensions and conflicts.

The Self-service Governance Scenario envisages a society where citizens will be empowered to play the role of policy makers. In small expert communities, citizens will devise policies according to the do-it-yourself principle; they will choose from a menu of public services those they need and consent to. This ICT-enabled, self-organised society will be able to address emerging problems faster than traditional government could. Its creative, contextual solutions could prove to be more robust and resilient in a crisis. Nevertheless, the diversity of opinions between discrete communities may result in the deepening of existing divides and a lack of social cohesion. Insularity will afflict minorities most severely, as they lack local social networks and may run into communication problems due to language and cultural differences. However, thanks to efficient translation tools, the dissipative communities may, in the end, create a vibrant cross-cultural and multi-language society. The difference between success and failure will be marked by the distinction between creative group thinking and ‘crowd stupidity’. The process of the gradual disappearance of institutions and lack of trust in government will result in the need for new trust providers. Reputation management, for content and people, will play a significant role in service provision. As the majority of citizens will not be interested in participating in governance due to the lack of engagement culture, new Caesars may emerge who unify disparate groups but damage the subtle equilibrium between self-serving and collaborative cultures.

A Radically Different World Due to ICT Disruptions

In all the scenarios developed, the world in 2030 is expected to be radically different from today’s due to the unprecedented growth and speed of ICT uptake in several fields and the related impact ICT tools that enable governance and policy modelling techniques may have. The influences and drivers of innovation and renewal in the public sector, combined with increased financial pressure on states, will result not only in change, but will also affect the pace at which the state adapts to the new environment, to its new roles and to increased engagement with stakeholders and users.

Whichever scenario dominates in the future, conventional wisdom and familiar governance models will be challenged in the coming years as ICT-based disruptions impinge on democratic, consultative and policy-making processes. There is already evidence that the scope and scale of the transformations to come will have a major impact on society.

Since 2005, there has been a phenomenal growth in mass on-line collaborative applications, which has captured the imagination and creative potential of millions of participants – particularly the younger generations. In addition to new forms of leisure pursuits, community-building activities have also entered the political arena. Hence, these tools herald the transition to a different form of dynamically participative governance models.

Current Governance Models Not Appropriate

While such scenarios are readily imaginable, it is recognised that we currently do not have appropriate governance models, process flows or analytical tools with which to properly understand, interpret, visualise and harness the forces that could be unleashed. Present governance processes provide laws and regulations, interpret and define societal norms and deliver societal support services. Their legitimacy is derived through democratic processes combined with a requirement for transparency and accountability.

In a world that is increasingly using non-physical communication and borderless interaction, the traditional roles and responsibilities of public administrations will be subject to considerable change, and classical boundaries between citizens and their governments will become increasingly blurred. The balance of power between governments, societal actors and the population will have to adapt to these challenging new possibilities.

The scenarios developed as part of CROSSROAD served as an input to be compared with the integrated analysis of the state of the art in the domain of ICT for governance and policy modelling. Based on this comparison, a gap analysis was conducted to identify an exhaustive list of specific gaps where on-going research activities will not meet the long-term needs outlined by the future scenarios.

Through a participatory foresight process it was possible to bring together not only experts and interested parties from academia and research, industry and government, but also to involve directly policy-makers and other interested stakeholders. This exercise resulted in a substantial contribution to shaping the roadmapping of future research in the domain, thus proving to be useful and needed.

New Tools to Fully Exploit Mass Collaboration

Altogether, and due to the increasing demand for openness, transparency and collaboration that address broad governance and policy-making challenges, the scenarios identify the need for developing and applying ICT tools and applications that fully exploit the potential of mass collaboration and the open and participatory paradigm underpinning future technological developments and policy directions in Europe.

Research and innovation investment in this domain could create value for the EU community and avoid fragmentation of research efforts. It will require the development of a joint strategic research agenda on ICT for governance and policy modelling to support the building of an open, innovative and inclusive Digital Europe 2030. Innovation, sustainability, economic recovery and growth will in fact depend more and more on the ability of policy makers to envision clearly and effectively both the root causes and the possible solutions to complex, globalised issues.

Author: Gianluca Misuraca     gianluca.misuraca@ec.europa.eu
Sponsor: European Commission, Seventh Framework Programme, Work Programme ICT 2009-2010
Type: 1. European/international – covering issues from a European or even global perspective

2. Field/sector specific: focusing on ICT for governance and policy modelling

Organizer: European Commission, Joint Research Centre, Institute for Prospective Technological Studies
(JRC-IPTS), Seville, Spain
Duration: 01-12/2010 Budget: N/A Time Horizon: 2030 Date of Brief: June 2011  

 

Download EFP Brief No. 194_Digital Europe 2030

Sources and References

European Commission, JRC-IPTS Scientific & Technical Report (2010) Envisioning Digital Europe 2030: Scenarios for ICT in Future Governance and Policy Modelling, Editors: Gianluca Misuraca and Wainer Lusoli, EUR 24614 EN – 12/2010 – http://ipts.jrc.ec.europa.eu/publications/pub.cfm?id=3879

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.

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

Tuesday, May 24th, 2011

This exercise was part of an EU FP7 Blue Skies Project aimed at piloting, developing and testing in real situations a foresight methodology designed to bring together key stakeholders to explore the longer term challenges that face their sector (or cut across sectors) and to build a shared vision that could guide the development of the relevant European research agenda. This approach was applied to the first theme selected, namely “Application of Breakthrough Technologies to Adaptation to Climate Change in Agriculture”. This met the criteria for a sectorally driven topic, was research-driven and involved a clear and vital European policy challenge. Moreover, from an early stage, there was strong stakeholder engagement from the Standing Committee on Agricultural Research and the Directorate-General for Research in Agriculture, Forestry, Fisheries, Aquaculture.

Urgency of Agri-climate Challenge

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

Purpose

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

Linking Success Scenario and Ecosystem Mapping

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

The “Success Scenario Approach” is an action-based approach, which helps to generate a shared vision among senior stakeholders of what success in the area would look like, specified in terms of goals and indicators, which provide the starting point for developing a road-map to get there. The purpose of having such a vision of success is to set a ‘stretch target’ for all the stakeholders. The discussion and debate involved develops mutual understanding and a common platform of knowledge that helps to align the actors for action. In practice, the struc-ture of a workshop begins with a consideration of key drivers or challenges, builds a vision of success, and then focuses on actions to make the vision a reality. The work-shop helps to flag hidden bottlenecks and constraints pre-venting progress as well as windows of opportunity for joint policy coordination and action. Important outcomes of these workshops are the insights they provide in terms of the level of maturity in policy design and development and the viability and robustness of long-term policy scenarios to guide policy-making. The workshops also provide indi-cations on whether there is a need for further discussion to refine thinking and policy design and/or to bring additional stakeholders into the discussion.

The workshop approach is supported by a mapping of the research and innovation ecosystem, a concept that stresses the interdependencies between actors in re-search and innovation – here understood broadly to include policy as well as industrial innovation. The map articulates the identities and roles of key actors, the networks in place and the flows of money and knowl-edge. It also provides an overview of existing initiatives and the level of maturity of the system, how well it is working and whether networks need to be re-aligned or re-configured. Towards the end of the process, road-maps or implementation plans are developed identifying the key steps to be taken to put European research in the area on the appropriate footing.

Challenges in Three Key Areas

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

Cluster 1: Pests and Diseases

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

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

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

Cluster 2: Climate change impacts on water and land

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

Cluster 3: Socio-economic impacts

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

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

Agri-climate Success Scenario for 2050

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

Elements of the foreseen policy approach included:

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

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

Foresight Helps Adapt to Climate Change

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

Download EFP Brief No. 176_Foresighting the AgriClimate Ecology

Sources and References

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