Posts Tagged ‘safety’

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

Tuesday, May 24th, 2011

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

EFP Brief No. 161_Roadmap Environmental Technologies

EFP Brief No. 160: Future Jobs and Skills in the EU

Tuesday, May 24th, 2011

The renewed Lisbon strategy stresses the need for Europe to place more emphasis on anticipating skill needs. Globalisation, technological change and demographic developments (including ageing and migration) pose huge challenges in that respect, comprising both risks and opportunities. At the same time, a lack of information on future skill needs has been a long-standing concern in Europe. With specific targets set in the Lisbon strategy, the need for regular forward-looking assessments has gained momentum. Subsequently, this resulted in the recent New Skills for New Jobs initiative by the European Commission, and related European projects aimed at identifying future job and skills needs using quantitative modelling approaches. While having advantages of robustness, stakeholders as well as the European Commission identified a clear need for complementary, more qualitative forward-looking analysis. Consequently, the European Commission (DG EMPL) earlier this year commissioned a series of 17 future-oriented sector studies (Horizon 2020) on innovation, skills and jobs following a qualitative methodology. The final results of these studies will become available in spring 2009, and will be followed by a number of other initiatives over the year to come and beyond.

EFMN Brief No. 160_Future Jobs and Skills

EFP Brief No. 157: Roadmap Robotics for Healthcare

Tuesday, May 24th, 2011

The main aim of this study was to provide key research policy recommendations for the application of robotics in healthcare in the research programmes of the EC. The study also aimed at raising awareness about important new developments in this field among a wider audience. To this extent, a roadmap of promising applications of robotics in healthcare and associated R&D was developed, taking into account the state of the art as well as short and long-term future possibilities with a time horizon ending in 2025.

EFMN Brief No. 157_Robotics for Healthcare

EFP Brief No. 156: Healthy and Safe Food for the Future – A Technology Foresight Project in Central and Eastern Europe (Futurefood6)

Tuesday, May 24th, 2011

Futurefood6 is a project developed to assist Central and Eastern European countries in reaching international standards throughout the whole food chain and, in turn, to enhance overall European competitiveness by developing an industry that stands for safety, diversity, sophistication and products of a high quality. It mobilises stakeholders from the food industry, research, academia, the state and public sector, decisionmaking bodies and the public to create a desirable set of future visions for the food industry in Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) for 2020.

EFMN Brief No. 156_Futurefood6

EFP Brief No. 152: Combining ICT and Cognitive Science: Opportunities and Risks

Tuesday, May 24th, 2011

Many experts think that the technological convergence of previously separated sciences like nanotechnology, biotechnology, information and communication technologies and cognitive sciences will have a deep, long-term impact on society and economy. Key actors in society need to become aware of the challenges linked to converging applications (CA) and take decisions in support of developing them. By analysing CA-related opportunities and risks at a very early stage, we hope to contribute to reducing possible adverse effects in the future.

EFMN Brief No. 152_ICT and Cognitive Science

EFP Brief No. 143: Teagasc 2030: Reinventing the Irish Agri-Food Knowledge System

Sunday, May 22nd, 2011

Teagasc means ‘teaching’ or ‘instruction’ in Gaelic. It is the name of the food and agricultural research, education and advisory body in Ireland. By 2006, fundamental changes happening to the Common Agricultural Policy in Europe were already being felt throughout the Irish agri-food sector. New and emerging issues were gaining importance and looked likely to have an impact on the sector. It was necessary to ask how Teagasc could maintain its relevance to clients and stakeholders as it moved ahead. The study builds upon previous foresight exercises and long-term strategic studies undertaken in Ireland and the EU.

Employing Knowledge for  Developing a Positive Vision  and Creating Opportunities

Teagasc 2030 was designed to establish a broadly-shared vision of what the Irish agri-food and rural economy would look like in 2030 and a vision of what Teagasc could become as the leading science-based knowledge organisation in the sector. It set out to develop the strategic capabilities of Teagasc, improve its ability to provide proactive leadership on complex issues, identify strategies and mechanisms to maximize the impact of its knowledge generation and procurement, technology transfer and education activities through innovation support and to develop an internal culture of continuous renewal.

The Steering Committee (SC) included key Teagasc managers, high-level representatives from relevant organisations, such as the university system and the Environmental Protection Agency,influential business leaders from both the farming and food sectors, as well as international experts. The members of the SC played a decisive role in the process in that they were fully engaged and provided constructive input each time the group convened. The Working Group (WG), consisting of Teagasc employees aided by two international consultants, was responsible for the detailed planning and execution of the exercise. The Foresight Panel (FP) consisted of experts from Teagasc, representatives of the farming and food sectors, as well as experts from the research community, including a commercial research service provider. FP members participated in and contributed to workshops and other activities organized by the WG.

Early consultations with the SC reinforced the need for a structural approach that went beyond the traditional sectoral view. The SC emphasized the need for new strategic capabilities that would enable the organisation to operate in a rapidly changing context. One of the first tasks of the WG was to review foresight exercises on food, agriculture and the rural economy that had been conducted previously, whether in Ireland or around the world, start a discussion on the scope of the exercise and get agreement on the nature of the results it should provide. The first observation of the WG was that previous foresight exercises on food, agriculture and the rural economy tended to focus on problems related to commodity markets and the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) system of payments. It was resolved at an early stage that Teagasc 2030 would have to do more than this by identifying how knowledge could help create opportunities for young people in the sector and by developing a positive and realistic vision of an innovation-led rural economy.

The work itself was organized in two phases. A Divergent Phase, where the main purpose was to study issues relating to the organisation, the sector and the broader economy in a creative and exploratory fashion, brought in outside knowledge and expertise, as well as relevant case-studies from abroad. The second Convergent Phase focused on choices to be made about desired outcomes, long-term visions for the future of Teagasc and the context in which it would operate, as well as the practical immediate steps to be taken on the basis of an action plan. Just before the end of the Divergent Phase a Radical Thinkers Workshop was organized to challenge peoples’ thinking and try to overcome any remaining inertia or scepticism as regards new ideas and the necessity for change.

The Divergent Phase

This consisted of paper writing on a number of key topics that provided important background to the members of the Foresight Panel. The papers were especially important as they allowed people who are not experts in a domain to get an overview of what is happening. The real action, however, was in a series of four workshops (WS).

Turning Towards a
Knowledge Based Bio-Economy

WS1 consisted of a scoping and profiling activity to determine the boundaries of the Teagasc 2030 exercise and to verify that the FP included a sufficiently broad range of actors. Important discussions arose concerning how agriculture and food related to the use of land in Ireland, the relationship between this and both the rural and national economy, how both the theatre and the actors might be changing, and how there was a need to revisit ideas of who the typical Teagasc client was, is now or would be in the future. The immediate output of this workshop was strongly criticized by the SC as not being radical enough. It was thought too traditional or sentimental in its attachment to ‘land’. The modern reality consists of urban agriculture, gardens on the sides of buildings, forests, marine and lake habitats, greenhouses and bio-reactors, as well as a food industry that has long outgrown a dependence on local production and that in some sectors relies almost entirely on imports for raw material inputs. This workshop started a process of reflection that lasted until the end of the exercise.

The feedback of the SC on the results of this first workshop was very important. Its intervention ensured that some of the issues addressed in the workshop did not conclude pre-maturely, but stayed open and continued to be debated for the best part of a year. New ideas need time to mature. The workshop started a process whereby traditional and ultimately limited thinking about farming and the rural economy were replaced with entirely new thinking about the knowledge-based bio-economy or KBBE.

WS2 focused on trying to understand relevant drivers of change, the factors shaping the future of Teagasc and the environment in which it operates. The focus was on identifying the drivers and the impacts that they could have on the economy in 2030. The discussion included references to trends and trend breaks. The exercise was intended to help people develop their ‘intuition’ about 2030.

WS3 focused on strategic issues and started the process of formulating the opportunities and challenges that the various sectors and stakeholders would face in 2030. By this stage the concept of the ‘Sustainable KBBE’ had started to come into focus.

WS4 was about developing scenarios to further develop thinking about the ‘Sustainable KBBE’ in 2030, to further explore and define the issues and challenges, and to identify the big questions, whose answers would impact on the structures and programmes of Teagasc going forward.

A Radical Thinkers Workshop was timed to take place between WS3 and WS4 to provide new ideas to the ongoing foresight process. This consisted of a series of talks followed by discussions, involving speakers from a variety of areas who were capable of presenting challenging views on relevant topics. It involved scientists, geographers, venture capitalists and policy makers. For some participants it was an opportunity to hear for the first time about a renewable chemicals industry based on crops grown for their chemistry rather than for food, feed or fibre. For others, it was an opportunity to hear what foreign experts think. A venture capitalist provided his vision of where important opportunities for investment would arise in future. A Danish speaker raised important questions about the organisation of research and innovation when he explained that, while Denmark performs about 1% of all global research, Danish industry requires access to the other 99% of global research if it is to achieve or maintain global competitiveness.

The Convergent Phase

This consisted of a series of three workshops involving the FP and had to provide an actionable plan for the transformation of Teagasc. Such a plan would require the commitment of Teagasc senior managers. It had to be something they would own and act upon. To make sure that they were adequately prepared, a series of internal meetings was arranged involving senior managers and representatives of the WG to help them understand the implications of the exercise, identify the main axes of change for the organisation and anticipate the detailed requirements of the last workshop. Although the foresight workshops were usually animated by members of the WG with help from the external consultants, the goal was for key sessions of the final workshop to be led by members of senior management with support from the WG. At the same time, an internal dissemination or consultation process took place involving all parts of the organisation. The goal was to explain what was happening and gather feedback on the changes required for moving forward. An external consultation process separately involved farming and food industry representatives. It too explained the ideas that were emerging. It gathered feedback and inputs from Teagasc clients as inputs to the final stages of the foresight exercise.

WS5 was dedicated to the development of scenarios about the Sustainable KBBE. In particular, the goal was to develop more specific thinking about the role of knowledge, learning, research, innovation, training and advice in the sector in 2030.

WS6 was used to finalize the scenarios and flesh out a vision for the sector in 2030 along with an identification of its knowledge requirements and the role that Teagasc would occupy in the system.

WS7 was devoted to the issue of organizational transformation and the directions of change for Teagasc. The senior management meetings played a significant role in determining the structure of this last meeting. Based on their discussions it was decided to focus on transformation under the major headings of leadership, partnership and governance.

The issue of leadership originally emerged in meetings of the SC and was echoed in discussions with industrial stakeholders. Leadership gaps emerged on long-term scientific and technological issues not only for small and medium-sized enterprises, but for larger companies as well.

The Vision of a  Sustainable Bio-Economy

One of the most important results was the development of a vision for the Agri-Food and Rural Economy in 2030 as a knowledge intensive, innovative, internationally competitive and market-led bio-economy. This helped to place the sector at the centre of something big and positive, with significant opportunities that would play a role not only in the rural economy, but also in the general knowledge economy, via its contribution to climate change, energy security, sustainability and the transition to a post-petroleum era.

Recognizing that countries with excellence in agriculture have opportunities for moving up the value-chain by selling not only their products but their know-how, the final report speculated about a time when the most important export of the dairy sector in Ireland might no longer be its milk, cheese, yoghurt and functional foods, but its management expertise and its technical knowledge about the organisation of competitive dairy production systems.

The Four Pillars of the KBBE

From an Irish perspective it made sense to complete this vision by distinguishing four pillars of the KBBE:

  • Food Production and Processing, which mainly represents mature industries where competition is relentless and global, where competitiveness often relies on efficiencies of scale, automation and process technologies, as well as scientific management and competitive sourcing.
  • Value-Added Food Processing, which includes advanced food processing and food service, functional foods, as well as food-additives and ingredients, bio-actives, nutraceuticals and cosmaceuticals. This sector is fast moving and innovative. There is continuous adoption and improvement of technologies for production, processing, distribution and preparation. Supply chains are constantly changing and considerable attention is given to intangibles such as patents,brands, provenance and traceability.
  • Agri-Environmental Goods and Services includes foodsafety and traceability, animal welfare, energy security, climate, clean air and water, fertile soils, bio-diversity, areas of public amenity, natural beauty and those of importance for cultural heritage. Although these are normally treated as spin-offs from other activities based on multifunctionality, they are given a separate identity in recognition of the overall role they will play in the quality of life of citizens, in energy and climate security as well as in the overall sustainability of society and the economy.
  • Energy and Bio-Processing includes the production of feedstock for bio-fuels and bio-polymers. This sector makes substantial investments in harnessing knowledge. It places great importance on knowledge as a factor of production. It corresponds to new and emerging areas of science and to entire new markets. It is characterized by a high level of risk and provides opportunities for government support to lead markets. This sector is where highvalue-added and commodity sectors of the future are being created.

Demographics Facilitating Change

A key observation concerning the future of Irish agriculture was the observation that approximately 40% of farmers in Ireland would retire in the next 10 years and that almost all farms would change hands at least once by 2030. This pointed to an opportunity to use the unavoidable dynamic of retirement and property transfer to restructure the farming sector so that land as a natural resource could make the greatest possible contribution to the economy. This would include enabling successful farmers to increase the area they manage and less successful ones to move on perhaps using models based on leasing.Discussions arose about ‘future farmers’ and ‘foresight farmers’. It is possible that the land transfers that will happen in the coming years will give rise to a younger, better educated and more international generation of farmers. Armed with agricultural MBAs, or degrees in bio-technology, many will approach farming as a business more than a family tradition or vocation. Their approach would be less sentimental and more scientificentrepreneurial. Such farmers represent very different clients for Teagasc than those it has served before.

Leadership, Partnership and Governance

One of the most important currents of debate throughout this foresight exercise concerned the traditional push-approach to technology transfer, the so-called ‘linear model’. The old approach was summarized as follows
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whereas Teagasc in 2030 would need to focus on innovation support that would resemble something more like this:
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One challenge that emerged was the need to become more demand-led as an organisation. Another challenge emerged from the recognition that no organisation can meet all of its research or knowledge needs internally and that an increasing share of these would need to be sourced outside. This is something that traditional research organisations are not used to doing, and, in future, they will need to engage both private and public service providers, as well as cooperate with international knowledge networks.

The vision that emerged for Teagasc as an organisation in 2030 was that of an organisation suffused with a culture of support for innovation by its clients, capable of:

  • providing leadership where necessary on innovationrelated issues,
  • developing and maintaining the partnerships required for research, innovation, technology transfer and education,
  • employing governance mechanisms to assure relevance and accountability to its clients and stakeholders.

Creation of a Permanent Foresight Unit

In many ways, the implementation of the action plan started even before the exercise was finished. A part of the action plan is a natural continuation of consultations with major stakeholder groups that was started as part of the foresight process. The most immediate and tangible result was the creation of a permanent foresight unit within Teagasc to oversee the implementation of the Teagasc 2030 action plan and to support other foresight activities as needed within the organisation.

The action plan is outlined in the Teagasc 2030 report. It includes steps to create a broader culture of innovation within the organisation and to intensify systematic interaction with client groups and stakeholders. It addresses reform of personnel structures to enable greater mobility of staff within the organisation, facilitate transdisciplinary work and align incentives with the needs of clients. Other structural reforms include a focus on network-based activities, as well as timelimited project-network-like interventions such as technology platforms and commodity working groups that pool the resources of partners and involve stakeholders in management.

The general message of Teagasc 2030 is a positive one based on the opportunities offered by the KBBE, not only for actors currently involved in the agri-food and rural economy, but for a whole new generation of bio-entrepreneurs who may have no prior link to the land.

The key to success continues to be innovation. What is new is the pace of innovation and the need for organisations such as Teagasc to operate simultaneously on several fronts in a more international context and in shorter time frames. The challenge for Teagasc in the future will be to increasingly channel its efforts and resources towards support for innovation, in particular for the development of the knowledge-partnerships required by clients for innovation in the KBBE.

Authors: Patrick Crehan – Patrick.Crehan@cka.be, Lance O’Brien – Lance.Obrien@teagasc.ie, Gerry Boyle – Gerry.Boyle@teagasc.ie, Owen Carton –  Owen.Carton@teagasc.ie
Sponsors: Teagasc the Irish food and agricultural research, advisory and training body
Type: Structural foresight
Organizer: Teagasc, CKA and SEZ
Duration: 1.5 yrs
Budget: €300,000
Time Horizon: 2030
Date of Brief: July 2008

Download: EFMN Brief No. 143_Teagasc 2030

Sources and References

All background papers, scenarios and proceedings as well as the final report are available from the Teagasc 2030 website at www.teagasc.ie/foresight/index.htm. The papers and presentations of the Radical Thinkers Workshop are available at http://www.teagasc.ie/publications/2007/20070725/index.htm.
Lance O’Brien is the head of the new Foresight Unit. He can be contacted at lance.obrien@teagsc.ie.

EFP Brief No. 142: Foresighting Food, Rural and Agrifutures in Europe

Sunday, May 22nd, 2011

Through a renewed mandate in 2005 aimed at strengthening the coordination of research efforts in Europe, the Standing Committee on Agricultural Research (SCAR) launched a foresight process to consider the prospects for agriculture in 2015 – 2020 and to help identify political answers to the challenges raised. In July 2006, the European Commission’s Directorate-General Research set up a Foresight Expert Group to support SCAR in identifying long-term research priorities to support a European knowledge-based biosociety. The group was given the remit to formulate possible scenarios for European agriculture in a 20-year perspective allowing for the identification of evidence required (for more robust policy approaches) and innovation needs in the medium to long-term.

Europe’s Agrifuture Challenges

Europe’s agri-food industries and broader rural economies are being rapidly reshaped, predominantly by global trends and policy developments, combined with a diverse range of nonmonetary issues, including food safety/security, environmental sustainability, biodiversity, biosafety and biosecurity, animal welfare, ethical foods, fair trade and the future viability of rural regions. European agri-futures are evolving within the context of the EU’s overarching policy drives (Lisbon and Gothenburg), which project Europe as

  • the most competitive and dynamic knowledge-driven (sustainable) economy, and
  • a responsible global player, particularly vis-à-vis developing countries.

The point of departure for addressing these policy drives is not to consider them as mutually irreconcilable, but to define the most appropriate and effective approaches for creating synchronous efforts thereby generating added value. The ‘agrienvironmental’ measures in Europe’s Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) have been promoting development that incorporates environmental issues and CAP in general is being reoriented towards a wider rural policy perspective integrating environmental issues and rural development perspectives.

Terms of Reference

The Foresight Expert Group, composed of a chair, rapporteur and eight domain experts1, was tasked to work in close collaboration with the EC services involved and the SCAR working group, under the co-ordination of the Commission’s foresight unit (DG RTD E-3), to review and analyse foresight information relating to European agriculture in relation to eight major driving forces (economy and trade, science and technology, rural economy and regional development, societal and demographic changes, climate change, non-food and energy, environment, health). This analysis was to lead to a working paper for each driving force. Based on this analysis, the group of experts would agree on a minimum of three futures scenarios (20-year horizon) for European agriculture and an analysis of the implications for evidence required (for more robust policies) and innovation needs in the medium to long-term. The work was to take into account foresight activities on a global, European and national level, including other ongoing EU projects in this area.

The main objective of the exercise was to set research priorities for the medium to long-term. The terms of reference included:

  • The gathering and analysis of foresight information on the eight major drivers.
  • Preparation of a foresight paper on each of the major driving forces for agriculture in Europe and perspectives for agricultural research.
  • Using the information produced during the first part of the study to conduct a foresight exercise to predict possible futures scenarios (20 year perspective) for European agriculture.
  • On the basis of identified scenarios, to assess the implications for research and innovation requirements of European agriculture over the medium to long term.
  • To present a draft report based on papers presented on the “major drivers” at a foresight conference in early 2007 and production of a final report.

A Creative Disruption Approach

The expert group opted for a disruption scenario approach with four scenarios developed through a simple method, whereby each expert identified four “disruption factors” emerging over the next 20 years. These factors were grouped into three blocks: “climate disruption” (the most significant); “energy disruption” and “socialquestions: health, safety, employment. The following “wild cards” emerged:  “intellectual property” disruption and “monetary disruption”. Four scenarios emerged and a baseline scenario was subsequently developed.

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Disruption Scenarios
  1. Climate Shock starts with climate change and the acceleration of related environmental impacts as the driving disruption factor. This scenario combines a primary business as usual scenario – with differing geographical climate impacts, no European-level action is taken, and a crisis situation ensues – with a success scenario built into it at the end, where positive action is taken on a national level. It underlines a fundamental challenge that Europe will increasingly face with the onset of climate change impacts on agriculture, namely how to coordinate European policy responses to the diverse regional and local impacts of climate change bearing in mind different regional contexts and framework conditions.
  2. Energy Crisis focuses on energy supply vulnerability of Europe as the key disruption factor and the acceleration of related economic and societal impacts as the key drivers. This scenario also combines a business as usual scenario, a crisis engineered by the energy global players, with a success scenario developing at the end as a result of Internet-based community empowerment and action. It implies
    a strategic research emphasis at the European level to support in the short-term the improved networking of farmers and researchers with a view to addressing urgent knowledge needs, instituting faster mutual learning processes and supporting communities of practice.
  3. We Are What We Eat focuses on food health and society as sources of disruption jointly determining a more community and consumer-oriented research agenda. This scenario combines an initial crisis situation with a success scenario approach with clear guidelines for an effective European research agenda. It highlights the advantages of a citizen-oriented research where science and technology are effectively harnessed to address the real needs and concerns of citizens. The main priorities relate to quality, safe and functional foods for a range of emerging lifestyles and technologies to produce primarily citizenoriented enabling environments for knowledge production and exchange together with socially-driven, environmentally effective products, processes and services.
  4. Cooperation with Nature focuses on society, science and technology as key joint drivers evolving in a beneficially symbiotic relationship. This primarily utopian scenario projects an ideal situation where science and technology have been effectively deployed to ensure sustainable development at all levels. The key to addressing these needs is the transition to local small-scale production and a shortening and transparency in the food supply chain, and Internet, open learning, and ambient systems creating more globally aware, sustainability conscious consumers.

 

Agro-Food Sector Bound to Change

In spite of the excellent performance of Europe’s agro-food system in recent decades, the European Union is now facing a major disruption period in terms of international competitiveness, climate change, energy supply food security and societal problems of health and unemployment. Disruption means fast change, resulting in both positive and negative impacts and thus the main challenge facing agro-food actors is the speed of adaptation and proactive responses to secure a European lead in this area. Systemic approaches show that decentralised systems adapt themselves faster to change than centralized ones. A careful assessment of agricultural research and innovation systems is needed to identify and modify the places where centralised decision-making generates rigidity, in research as in policy.

Decentralised Adaptation

Decentralised adaptation relies on a high performance information system allowing the decision makers, each operating at his level, to use in real time the best upgraded data necessary to implement their rationality. Technology now offers the operational tools to put upgraded data at the disposal of the farmers and decision makers of the food chain and to allow an exchange of experience between actors.

Early Warning System

Through satellite imaging and Internet diffusion technologies it is now possible to build an early warning, free access information system on climate change and its long-term consequences for ecosystems. This system has still to be developed and marketed and training provided to the end users. The Internet is emerging as a powerful tool for facilitating the development of worldwide networks linking growing communities of practice in a number of agriculture-related areas and themes. The Internet not only changes the research framework and conditions, but also the link between researchers and endusers of research results and has the potential to facilitate a more proactive engagement of rural communities, farmers and citizens in the design and implementation of ongoing research and knowledge exchange activity. In order to facilitate these interactions, eEurope strategies at the European and national levels need to cater for the extension of broadband access at affordable prices to rural communities, farmers, citizens and other stakeholders.

Overcoming the Barriers towards  a Knowledge-based Biosociety

One of the major hurdles facing Europe in making the transition to knowledge-based agri-futures is the need to address the growing challenge of knowledge failures. European agricultural research is currently not delivering the type of knowledge that is needed by end-users in rural communities as they embark on the transition to the rural knowledge-based biosociety. The problems are not exclusive to agricultural research but are felt more acutely in this sector where the role of traditional, indigenous knowledge is already being undermined as a result of the growing disconnection with ongoing research activity.

New System of Education  and Knowledge Diffusion

The social dimensions of the shift to the knowledge-based biosociety are rendered more complex by the demographic and mobility/migration factors. They call for new systems of education and knowledge diffusion and careful consideration of the implications for education as we enter a new system characterised by a shift from engineering, physical and mechanical sciences to converging technologies.
Knowledge exchange strategies and policies, already in place in the more advanced EU member states, need to be formalised and given a higher profile at the EU level, as stand-alone strategies and not merely as add-ons to research and innovation policies and good practices shared with other member states. Knowledge exchange policies differ from innovation policies per se, although they also inter-connect with them. The main emphasis of knowledge exchange policies is to ensure the relevance and accessibility of knowledge to communities, farmers, consumers, young people and educational institutions.

A Case for Action

  1. More coordinated EU, national and regional policy responses to a range of challenges that affect the world rural agri-economy and facilitate the shift to a knowledge-based biosociety are
  2. An overview of emerging global trends, policy developments, challenges and prospects for European agri-futures point to the need for a new strategic framework for theplanning and delivery of research is called for, addressing the following challenges:
  • Sustainability challenge: facing climate change in the knowledge-based biosociety
  • Security challenge: safeguarding European food, rural, energy, biodiversity and agri-futures
  • Knowledge challenge: user-oriented knowledge development and exchange strategies
  • Competitiveness challenge: positioning Europe in agrifood and other agricultural lead markets
  • Policy and institutional challenge: facing policy-makers in synchronising multi-level policies
  1. The complex, dynamic inter-connection of challenges, facing European agriculture research from a forward-looking, 20year perspective requires strategic European policy responses right now. This will entail re-designing the institutional framework for research and putting in place a two-track approach for agri-futures research:
  • a transition research agenda to address the more immediate sustainability and safety/security concerns and the radical transformation arising from the reform of the CAP, combined with
  • a more long-term high-tech research agenda to ensure that appropriate high-tech research investments are put in place so that Europe’s agri-food industries and rural economies retain their competitive position in global markets.
  1. To raise the capacity of rural regions to generate, participate in and translate research developments into economic growth, a regionally-focused, demand-driven approach to research and innovation needs to be developed. A basic requirement is a dedicated funding system designed (i) to capitalise on regions’ comparative advantage, by mobilising all resources available towards attainment of context dependent and demonstrably attainable goals, and (ii) to exploit good practices and models in the governance and delivery of research, technology implementation and innovation.
  2. The competitiveness challenge and demographic decline facing rural communities, combined with reduced global financial support to agriculture, may lead the EU to adopt, under emergency pressure, a temporary protectionist Long-term, strategic and institutional capacities in knowledge transfer, public early warning on ecosystems evolution and decentralised systems of agricultural research and approaches are of even more central importance in the transition from a subsidies-driven to a knowledge-driven biosociety.
  3. Continued, active engagement in foresight is critical for enhancing the strategic and institutional capacities of Europe’s agricultural policy-making and research and knowledgetransfer organisations.
Authors: Jennifer Cassingena Harper Jennifer.harper@gov.mt
Sponsors: FEU Directorate-General Research
Type: EU Foresight Exercise
Organizer: EU Directoral-General Research Mr Elie Faroult elie.faroult@ec.europa.eu
Duration: July 2006
Budget: n.a.
Time Horizon: 2020
Date of Brief: April 2008

Download: EFMN Brief No. 142_ Agrifutures in Europe

Further Reading

Gaudin, Thierry et al. (2007), Foresighting food, rural and agri-futures.
http://ec.europa.eu/research/agriculture/scar/index_en.cfm?p=3_foresight
http://ec.europa.eu/research/agriculture/scar/pdf/foresighting_food_rural_and_agri_futures.pdf

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

Saturday, May 21st, 2011

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

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

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

Survey of Nine Countries

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

What is the Stiftung für Zukunftsfragen?

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

Health, Family, Friendship – Quality of Life in Europe

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

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

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

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

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

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

The citizens of the various countries express different fears:

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

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

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

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

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

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First Approach for the

Future of Europe

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

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

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

Sources and References

www.batstiftung.com

EFP Brief No. 134: Future Challenge for Europe: Providing Security and Safety to Citizens

Saturday, May 21st, 2011

As stated in the recent EC Communication on ‘Reforming the budget, changing Europe’ (SEC (2007) 1188), the European Union has a key role to play in ‘providing security and safety to citizens’. Especially in the aftermath of 11th Sept. 2001 security related issues are becoming an increasingly important facet of global society and have an increasing impact on economy and science. The issues are manifold and include protecting citizens and state from organized crime, preventing terrorist acts, and responding to natural and manmade disasters. Civil security issues are becoming more and more important to governments and national economies across the globe, and the EU is no exception. The EC sees security research as an important policy objective, which started in 2001 with a Preparatory Action on Security Research (PASR) and is now the tenth theme of the FP7 Cooperation programme. Security and safety technologies are seen to have applications in many sectors including transport, civil protection, energy, environment, health and financial systems.

Analysing EFMN Documents: TextAnalyst

A selection of 160 foresight and futures studies was taken from the EFMN database. These were studies with different backgrounds, scopes, themes, horizons and on different scales. The semantic data-mining tool ‘TextAnalyst’ was employed to analyse the texts. First, out of the 160 studies, a small number of relevant studies was selected that had titles strongly related to the researched topic. TextAnalyst analysed these texts and found the most relevant keywords and semantic relations between the most important words. These terms were compiled into a keyword list for the researched topic. This list of keywords was used to analyse all 160 selected studies. The TextAnalyst
yielded all sentences containing any of the keywords, with an additional hyperlink in the text file allowing to view
the context in which the sentence occurred. The TextAnalyst also gave a semantic relation between the searched keywords and other words. The related terms thus identified were added to the list of keywords. The summary of sentences that contained one or more words from the list of keywords was manually read in the original context and if the sentence or the section where the sentence occurred was regarded as providing new or additional information, this section was copied into a text file. In order to avoid any extreme out-of-context copying of sentences, statements that were part of a scenario description were not added to the file. After this analysis of the 160 studies, a text file was created containing sections of the original studies with information related to the selected topic
and the reference to the original document. The dictionary for the analysis presented here consisted of the
following terms: anticipation, crisis, defence, defence, emergency, enemy, intelligence, military, NBC, NRBC, prevention, protection, risk, safety, secure, security, surveillance, terrorism, terrorist, threat and weapon. This analysis is exclusively based on the review of 36 foresights and future-oriented studies completed between 2000 and 2007 – most of them in 2004-2005. While most studies were carried out at a national level in Europe, the pool of sources also included seven studies conducted at the EU-level, eight Japanese national studies, the
global study AC-UNU Millennium project, the supranational study on information and communication technology (ICT) in the Nordic countries, and one Finnish study of regional scope.

Limitations of the Analysis

Attention should be paid to the fact that, while all 36 studies address certain safety and security issues, they are not all equally detailed. In particular, whereas some foresights (e.g. the UK Foresight) provide an in-depth analysis of the state-of-theart of technology, as well as a detailed forward look, the significance of some one-sentence statements, as they are typically made in Delphi studies such as the 8th Japanese National Foresight, may be more limited. Such statements have been considered very carefully so as not to bias the analysis. From the above, it follows that the following analysis – based on a restricted number of foresights – neither intends to be exhaustive nor to provide an overview of security and safety-related issues weighted according to their importance for future EU policies. However, it might provide some interesting insights about future safety and security threats – as predicted in foresights – as well as how future technological, societal or economic developments and policies might help to combat them. Since some of the analysed foresights are quite old, this means that some of the proposed actions could already have been implemented.

Safety & Security:  A Crosscutting Issue

Safety and security issues are generally related to all kinds of natural and human-induced (intentional and non-intentional) disasters or risks, which can affect individuals, societies or nations. Important technological and political tasks in the context of the protection of citizens and vital infrastructures have addressed a broad spectrum of issues such as future threats and vulnerabilities of critical infrastructures in key sectors (e.g. information systems, financial systems, industrial plants, public buildings, transport systems and infrastructures, communication networks, energy infrastructures, food distribution systems, etc) or the impact of terrorism and organized crime on the development of civil societies.

From the selected studies two major areas were identified bearing future risks for society: civil security and IT security. The area of civil security can be divided into subsections as follows:

  • terrorism and crime prevention,
  • ensuring the safety and security of critical infrastructures,
  • food and chemicals safety, and
  • threats from climate change and natural disasters.

Civil Security

Terrorism and Crime Prevention

Terrorism is expected to become a growing threat to all parts of society in the future mainly for two reasons. Firstly, due to the NRBC (nuclear, radiological, biological and chemical) weapons, the proliferation of ballistic, tactical and cruise missiles, and, on another level, the proliferation of small arms, the use of technological objects (e.g. civilian aircraft) as weapons and the transfer of technical know-how have multiplied risk factors for our societies. Also terrorist activities are becoming networked and are increasingly seeking points of entry into international business and, through corruption, into public administration.

The threat from terrorism must be counteracted by increased international cooperation on all levels and increased spending for security.

Another aspect raised by the study by the Finnish Committee for the Future is that because of continued synergy among, and miniaturization of, everything from chemistry sets and pharmaceutical manufacturing to genetic and nanotech engineering terrorist attacks will be much simpler to conduct in the future. Eventually an individual (single individual being massively destructive, SIMAD), acting alone, will be able to create and deploy a weapon of mass destruction.

In the broader context of terrorism, general crime prevention is an important aspect. The Japanese studies suggest that the security provided by governments will deteriorate in the future; thus people must provide for their own protection. Means like physical access control and burglary alarm systems for private homes are seen to be possible substitutes. The British study ‘Strategic Futures Thinking’ concludes that new technologies, such as DNA profiling, will prove increasingly vital in criminal trials as will more sophisticated detection, surveillance and monitoring devices in the wider field of crime prevention.

Safety and Security of Critical Infrastructures

Energy and transport infrastructures (so-called ‘critical infrastructures’) are crucial to economy and society. Therefore, it is hardly surprising that their safety and security is addressed in different foresights – at a national and supranational level. The Finnish foresight ‘Finnsight 2015’, for instance, stresses the fact that modern societies have increasingly become vulnerable in the sense that any malfunctioning or failure of critical infrastructures may paralyse the whole society. The foresights identify several threats to critical infrastructures:

  • Critical infrastructures increasingly rely on ICT applications and they more and more depend on the reliability of broad and complex ICT networks. Protecting critical infrastructures is therefore closely related to protecting the ICT networks they are based on. In this regard, ICT liability has to be ensured; it will also be particularly important to prevent criminal intrusion and the misuse of networked-based infrastructures.
  • Of course, on a global scale, terrorism is expected to remain one of the main threats in the future. Several foresights such as the Fistera study and the UK Foresight therematching them with the personal identification provided at the point of embarkation). Indeed, the terrorism threat is expected to give further momentum to the development of specific markets such as imaging technologies (allowing for instance the detection of suicide bombers in case remote identification and containment become reality).
  • Transport safety for citizens also implies reducing the risk of accidents. Thanks to the diffusion and increasing affordability of ICT, use of intelligent transport systems based on telematics as well as video-surveillance systems are expected to become more widespread to improve transport safety, for instance, by reacting in case fatigue, recreational drug use or medication impair the performance of the driver of a car or the pilot of a plane. Intelligent transport systems may also help maximise transport and logistics efficiency leading to benefits in terms of increased productivity and economic growth.

Food and Chemical Safety

Quite surprisingly, and despite their relevance for everyday life and everyone’s health, issues related to food safety is rarely addressed by the foresights screened. Some, however, do highlight that ensuring food safety requires assessing the long-term impact of harmful chemicals (e.g. heavy metals) on human beings, crops, as well as livestock. Food safety is therefore closely related to preventing damage to the environment due to chemicals in general. Standardized and socially approved tools for the risk assessment of chemicals should hence be developed. In this regard, chemical analysis is expected to be facilitated in the future through the use of miniature chemical analysis systems. Regarding functional foods, the monitoring of the long-term consequences of their use is underscored as essential. The EU may have a role to play in assessing health claims and the safety of new functional food products entering the market. Providing transparent information on health issues, safe threshold limits for specific functional food products, as well as on storage requirements will also contribute to promoting food safety for the consumer.

Threats from Climate Change  and Natural Disasters

Some studies emphasize the risk from climate change and natural disasters. Particularly in Japan the risk from natural disasters such as volcano eruptions, avalanches and earthquakes is addressed. The development of new predictive systems is proposed. Systems to observe disasters such as communications satellites, GPS, unmanned aircraft, and so on should be implemented in order to better understand situations after disasters have occurred and to be able to respond more swiftly.

Nearly all studies addressing climate change raise the issue of flooding – often in connection with the expected rise of the sea level. For instance the UK Foresight study claims that climate change will have a high impact under every scenario due to two threats. Firstly, the coasts are expected to be especially at risk: relative sea-level rise could increase the risk of coastal flooding by four to ten times. Secondly, precipitation is expected to increase flood risks across the country by two to four times. Flooding in towns and cities will be one of the greatest challenges in the future. Building in areas at risk from flooding should be avoided or, if inevitable, space should be provided to accommodate flooding in river and coastal areas. In this context, the development of effective modelling capabilities to predict flooding and manage flood routes in intra-urban areas should be pursued.

The study by the Finnish Committee for the Future also expects that change in precipitation will result in water tables falling on all continents. Droughts in areas where 40% of the population depends on watersheds controlled by two or more countries call for new water management strategies that can mitigate the effects of migration, conflicts, etc.  The threat of storm surges in coastal areas will increase due to rising sea levels combined with changes in the number, location, and strength of storms.

Although flooding is seen as one of the main challenges of the future, at the same time, it is also acknowledged that predictions in this area are steeped in uncertainty, as in the case of climate change or demographic and socio-economic trends. Thus, one has to develop robust water management strategies that will yield satisfactory living conditions for a wide range of possible scenarios.

IT Security

IT security in general is seen as a major topic of the future. Society depends on vulnerable, complex information technology systems, which need to be protected.

One major issue is the protection of privacy in the sense of protection against loss of control over one’s personal data. Already nowadays, Wikis and mostly blogs may contain data and information about an individual that could easily be disclosed to unauthorised others, given the low levels of security and privacy protection implemented so far. This risk will be enhanced in the future because of the widespread use of ambient intelligence (AmI) with its heterogeneity (in contrast to closed, codesigned systems), its complexity of hardware and software (introducing the dependability challenge), its distribution of knowledge and resources (co-operation and interconnection), as well as the foreseen mobility needs (which introduces more vulnerability than in a static world). Radio frequency identification (RFID) implants in people can also cause a threat to privacy, since they permit easy and instantaneous identification and authentication of individuals. On the other hand, they can increase security, for example, by enabling parents to easily track down their children in case of abduction.

The major challenge is to balance privacy and security needs. There are various ways to protect privacy in the future. Legislation to protect data of a personal nature is one of them. Another is by implementing new security measures. The level of privacy and security will be defined more by the location from where data are accessed than by the place where they are actually physically stored.

Another fast-growing area will be the provision of trust and guarantee services in the payments markets. A suggested new measure is establishing a clearinghouse where banks can anonymously share information about security breaches. Also, telecommunication companies are increasingly offering payment services. The introduction of m-payment systems will require new risk management systems and co-operation between different providers. It also calls for improved protection of confidential data provided by customers. Although wireless networks already provide a more secure network than the ones offered in fixed-line markets, there is need for further measures. Among those suggested are enhanced use of digital signatures (a kind of unique electronic stamp), authentication and encryption. One study suggests replacing binary network security (access or not) by more complex security mechanisms thereby granting differential access to different actors.

Three Prevailing Issues

Taking the limits of the applied methodology into account, the analysis of 36 foresights and future-oriented studies, which were completed between 2000 and 2007, yielded three major security and safety issues: terrorism, IT security and natural disaster protection in the context of the global climate change. Concerning terrorism, studies seem to perceive growing future threats to all parts of society mainly because of modern societies’ increasing dependence on computer networks and critical infrastructures and also because of the growing proliferation of NRBC agents, ballistic missiles and small arms. In the broader context of terrorism general crime prevention is also an important aspect.
IT security in general is seen as a major concern of the future. Important issues in this field are related to the protection of privacy in terms of protecting against the loss of control over personal data and to the containment of future risks connected with the widespread use of ambient intelligence (AmI), RFID chips or wireless networks. The studies addressing natural disaster protection predict rising global threats of climate change causing flooding, storms and other weather anomalies in the future. Such studies also expect that the change in precipitation will result in water tables falling on all continents, which calls for new water management strategies capable of mitigating the effects of migration, conflicts, etc.

Authors: Anette Braun (braun_a@vdi.de),   Nils Elsner (elsner@vdi.de), Andreas Hoffknecht (hoffknecht@vdi.de),  Sabine Korte (korte@vdi.de), Sylvie Rijkers-Defrasne (rijkers@vdi.de), Olav Teichert (teichert@vdi.de) – Future Technologies Division at VDI TZ
Type: Overview
Date of Brief: February 2008

 

Sources and References

  • ‘Reforming the budget, changing Europe – A public consultation paper in view of the 2008/2009 budget review’, Commission of the European Communities, SEC(2007)1188 final, Brussels, 12.9.2007.
  • ‘Meeting the challenge: the European security research agenda’, report of the European Security Research Advisory Board, September 2006.
  • 8th Japanese Foresight – Agriculture, forestry, fisheries and foods (2005)
  • 8th Japanese Foresight – Electronics (2005)
  • 8th Japanese Foresight – Environment (2005)
  • 8th Japanese Foresight – Frontier (2005)
  • 8th Japanese Foresight – Information and Communications (2005)
  • 8th Japanese Foresight – Manufacturing (2005)
  • 8th Japanese Foresight – Social Technology (2005)
  • AC-UNU Millenium Project – Antiterrorism Scenarios (2005)
  • Austrian BMVIT Safety and Security Research 2011 – EFMN Brief 33 (2005)
  • Dutch NRLO – Functional Foods Position and Future Perspectives (2001)
  • EC Ambient Intelligence in Everyday Life (AmI@Life) (2003)
  • EC High Level Expert Group (HLEG) – Foresighting the New Technology Wave

– Converging Technologies – Shaping the Future of European Societies (2004)

  • EC IPTS – D1gital Territ0ries (2007)
  • EC IPTS – The Future of M-payments (2001)
  • EC IPTS-ESTO – Future Bottlenecks in the Information Society (2001)
  • EC IPTS-ESTO Roadmapping Project – Healthcare Technologies Roadmapping – The Effective Delivery of Healthcare (2003)
  • Finnish Committee for the Future – Democracy and Futures (2006)
  • Finnish ESF – Uusimaa 2035 Scenario Project (2004)
  • Finnish TEKES – FinnSight 2015 (whole exercise) (2006)
  • FISTERA – Key European Technology Trajectories – 2nd Report (2004)
  • French FutuRIS (2004)
  • French Ministry of Defence – PP30 – Prospective Plan of the French Defense Policy in 30 Years (2004)
  • Turning the Water Wheel Inside Out. Foresight Study on Hydrological Science in The Netherlands (2005)
  • UK DEFRA – Climate Change Scenarios for the United Kingdom (2002)
  • Greek National Technological Foresight (Whole Exercise) (2005)
  • Ireland Marine Foresight (2005)
  • Japanese Optoelectronic Industry and Technology Development Association – Optical Technology Roadmap (2003)
  • Nordic Innovation Centre – ICT Foresight – Nordic foresight and visions on ICT in healthcare, security, the experience economy and production systems (2005-2007)
  • Strategic Futures Thinking – meta-analysis on published material on drivers and trends (2001)
  • UK National Foresight – Cyber Trust and Crime Prevention (2004)
  • UK National Foresight – Exploiting the Electromagnetic Spectrum (2004)
  • UK National Foresight – Flood and Coastal Defence (2004)
  • UK National Technology Foresight Programme – Foresight IT 2000 (2000)
  • UK National Technology Foresight Programme – Foresight Financial Services (2000)
  • UK National Technology Foresight Programme – Crime Prevention Panel

(2000)

 

Download: EFMN Brief No. 134_Safety_and_Security

EFP Brief No. 133: The Role of the EU in the World

Saturday, May 21st, 2011

The purpose of the present brief is to explore how foresight studies perceive, interpret and handle the EU’s role in the world. The examination of its role can be interpreted in different ways, can include a wide range of perspectives, and can apply to various levels of reference (political, social, economic, technological, scientific etc.). We have focused on the concerns and challenges the European Commission has noted as of major importance in the coming years.

The Multi-faceted ‘Role  of the EU in the World’

The role of the EU in the world, in the view of the European Commission, is a multifaceted one. This is expressed in the documents Socioeconomic Sciences and Humanities Workprogramme 2007-2008 (p. 4, 23-26) and Reforming the Budget, Changing Europe. A Public Consultation Paper in view of the 2008/2009 Budget Review (sect. 2.1). The underlying reasoning in all of the documents analysed is that the EU has to increase its role and presence worldwide. This is considered a necessity, both to be able to protect its interests and values successfully as well as to contribute to world stability and development drawing upon its broad experience, strengths and unique characteristics.

Increasing the role of the EU is seen as imperative in response to the implications of and challenges brought by globalisation, the changing interactions between world regions and the rise of new global players. A second line of argumentation emphasizes the need to develop crosscutting policies to face global challenges that go beyond national borders like climate change and biodiversity, demographic change and migration, competitiveness, terrorism and organised crime, or sustainable energy. A third line of argumentation refers to the increasing role of the European dimension in boosting knowledge, mobility,competitiveness and innovation within a globalised environment of scientific and technological progress.

Text Analysis & Intelligent Reading

The methodology applied to identify and retrieve the information relevant to the subject matter involved ‘text analysis’ as well as ‘intelligent reading’ of relevant studies and reports.

The text analysis involved 160 studies from the EFMN database. These studies represent a variety of backgrounds, scopes, themes, horizons and scales. First, a small number of relevant studies with a title strongly related to our research topic was selected. Using the semantic data mining tool “Text analyst”, the texts were then analysed to identify the most relevant keywords and semantic relations between them. This list of keywords was then used to analyse the 160 selected studies.

Thus sentences including any of the keywords were identified. These were then read in the original context. If the section in which the sentence occurred was regarded as providing new or additional information, then it was also marked as relevant. The final result was a text file containing the relevant sentences and sections from the original studies with information related to the selected topic and a reference to the original document.

The EU’s role in the world being a very broad, general and international topic, we did not expect it to be treated as a core subject in relevant foresight studies. Foresight studies usually focus on more specific challenges and issues. They examine more generic challenges at the level of defining the background and setting the framework of analysis. Furthermore, most of the foresight studies have a national or regional, rather than a European or international scope.1 These factors limited the related information yielded by the text analysis even though a second round of text analysis was carried out including foresight studies of a trans-/international scope only. In consequence, additional documents considered relevant were also reviewed. These included EFMN publications and background documents as well as reviews of books dealing with the future of Europe.

EU as a Global Player

The role of the EU in relation to the changing interactions between world regions and the rise of new global players is examined in foresight studies from a whole range of perspectives (political, socio-economic, technological, scientific and cultural).

Towards European Democracy and Citizenship

The political aspect given to the EU’s role examines the internal challenges the EU has to face to further develop the definition of European citizenship as well as the degree to which the EU’s institutional architecture can be a model for new forms of governance.

In the study Democracy and Futures (Finnish Committee for the Future), R. Cinquegrani analyses different aspects of the concept of democracy within the context of the European Union. Several issues are addressed ranging from understanding and managing the connection between all the new and different social, economic and political positions inside the EU to defining a European democracy and citizenship or handling exclusivists’ conceptions of the state and the consequent implications for minority issues.

Governance Models for the Developing World

There are diverse views on the role that the EU can play as a model for the democratisation of the developing world. In the Democracy and Futures study, T. Murata examines the future of democracy in India and China and the degree to which these countries can be models for democracy in the developing world. He argues that many developing states needing better governance structures are likely to find a better match in the well established Indian model rather than the existing US model or the currently developing European one. India has a long tradition of liberal representative government and has been dealing relatively effectively with large language, ethnic, religious and communal divides.
Despite its recent economic growth, India remains part of the developing world due to its large poor and agrarian population, and large, poorly integrated territory. Thus, it is likely that its solutions are more applicable to the many developing states which are the same countries often referred to as “emerging democracies” in Africa, Central Asia, South Asia, the Middle East, and Indonesia and the Philippines.
Regarding China the author asserts that the conspicuous lack of a liberal, representative democracy and the communist regime are counterbalanced to a certain point by a passionate desire for political participation in China. In addition, its historical support for anti-colonial, pro-independence struggles allows China to enjoy respect and legitimacy in many parts of the developing world. Many also see a major possibility for the Chinese people to successfully “leapfrog” into a new political future having a fair chance of incorporating current technologies to better approximate true democracy than the currently dominant representative government. These considerations, along with the fact that many nonOECD nations consider standards of living and political systems of the First World to be unachievable, may lead the developing world to identify with and derive images of their future from major Third World powers.

The Soft (but Dominating) Power of the EU

However, the opposite view on the role of the EU as a governance model is also found in literature. M. Leonard, for example, in his book Why Europe Will Run The 21st Century (2005) argues that the basis for American power (the ability to wage war trans-continentally and the ubiquity of American popular culture) has reached its natural limits. Against this he compares the European method of influence, which relies heavily on so-called ‘soft power’. In contrast to the previous study, he considers the European method as the more influential with the developing ‘BRIC’ nations (Brazil, Russia, India, and China).

The BRIC nations are more interested in the European model of capitalism delivering prosperity, security and greater levels of equality to its citizens. This contrasts to the US model where the winner takes all. The rising nations are encouraged by the way in which the EU has allowed tiny nations to leverage their influence. They can either join the EU or start their own regional association to overcome a ‘unipolar’ world. Eventually, the EU may be encouraged to develop a ‘Union of Unions’. It is in this way that Europe will run the 21st century.

Another example is J. Rifkin’s book about The European Dream (2004). In examining how the world will develop in the future, Rifkin, an enthusiastic advocate of the European model, notes that the market economy and the nation state are not designed for instant global communication and the networked world, which is already rapidly developing. Thus, he anticipates that the EU will develop decentralised and polycentric models of governance giving the EU the role of a rule-maker and gatekeeper rather than a governor and enforcer. The European model is being exported to other parts of the world replacing the crucible of US soft power as the ideal to which the world aspires. The European Dream expresses global connectivity without losing the sense of cultural identity and locality, freedom in relationships with others and the pursuit of quality of life, leading to the championing of human rights and the rights of nature.

The Role of the EU in Facing Global Challenges

The importance of the EU in the world is not seen only in political terms. Significant weight and responsibility is placed especially on facing global challenges and threats that go beyond national borders. Many foresight exercises point out the fact that future challenges (which are mostly not limited to a specific country) cannot – or at least not only – be addressed at a national level and, moreover, the supranational dimension and, in particular, the European dimension should be taken into account.

The FinnSight 2015 study states clearly that to implement Finland’s national vision as well as the positive impacts of scientific and technological development Finland needs to actively search for European and global partners. According to the French study Technologies-Clés 2010, it is not only necessary to take the European dimension into consideration, moreover the importance of national industry policies decreases in the globalised context.

Foresight exercises point out the following domains for which a common European answer to future challenges is necessary: ageing population; country differences in infrastructures; spatial and rural development/ environment and agriculture; competitiveness (for instance in the domain of information and communication technology it is only possible at the European level); energy (the successful promotion of wind energy for instance is only possible at the European level); security (nongovernmental and governmental action at a national as well as the international level has to be coordinated); social issues (challenges like social cohesion).

Safeguarding Socio-economic Growth

Interestingly, people see the success of the EU model of socioeconomic development as being both aspired to and threatened by the so-called global powers.

As the French FutuRIS study notes, the development of eastern and southern Asia will lead to major changes on the global geopolitical and economic map, which will modify the balance of power in the area of research and innovation. If Europe does not devote enough resources to this area, growth, which is already at risk of slowing down, will be compromised. This will leave Europe in a difficult position between Asia, with its dynamic growth, and the US, which is expected to continue to devote considerable resources to research and innovation. To provide a rough overview, world GERD is expected to rise from € 629 to € 1,320 billion over the next 20 years (on a constant euro basis), with the percentage claimed by the US down slightly from 36.6% to 33.0%, while Europe-15 will see its share fall from 22.3% to 17.5%. China will rise to 14.9% and industrial Asia to 24.1% (Japan, Korea, Taiwan, Indonesia, Thailand, Singapore and Malaysia).

Other studies (Globalisation Trends, 2006) note the rapidly rising Chinese R&D intensity as well as the rapid development in sectors like motor vehicles. They warn that the complementarities (and thus less direct competition) that the EU now enjoys with China are fading away and that future trading conditions for European companies will be more demanding. On the other hand, they argue that Europe has no need to fear globalisation. Unlike the US and Japan, the EU has managed to maintain its dominant world market share position despite the emergence of countries such as China as major trading powers.

Referring to growth in the non-OECD economies the study Globalisation and Macroeconomic Policy (2007) argues that GDP growth will remain well above that in the OECD economies, reflecting higher productivity growth and more favourable demographic developments. Per capita output in the non-OECD economies is projected to rise by close to 5% per annum over the next two decades if globalisation continues at its current pace, compared with growth of 2% per annum in the OECD regions. Amongst the non-OECD countries, China and non-OECD Europe would enjoy the largest increases in per capita output.

EU to Lead International Cooperation

The scientific and technological aspect of the role of the EU is seen as of major importance for the future. Even more so international cooperation is highlighted. The SCOPE 2015 project, covering four regions of the world (countries of the Commonwealth of Independent States [CIS] excluding Russia, Latin America excluding Brazil, Maghreb and Mashreq, and Sub-Saharan Africa excluding South Africa), seeks to demonstrate the utility of foresight to EC policy makers and others concerned with cooperation with developing countries in research, technology and innovation.  The specific purpose of the project was to produce ten-year scenarios focused upon contextualised scientific and technological developments in selected regions of developing countries with a view to drawing implications for European research, technological development and innovation cooperation policy.

The study Emerging S+T Priorities in the Triadic Regions identifies scientific and technological developments and research priorities where Europe could take the lead in the years to come. Several strategies are proposed to prevent a decline of the European science and technology positioning in the eventuality of the Lisbon strategy failing, which are combined with the consolidation of current trends that emphasize economic factors for supporting research and innovation.

In addition, a number of foresight studies (like FISTERA or Transport and Mobility in an Enlarged Europe 2020) focus on examining the future of specific research fields and associated sectors on a European if not international scale.

Building the European Research Area

Another aspect of the role of the EU appearing in foresight studies is linked to the Lisbon and Barcelona objectives and the development of the European Research Area (ERA). For example, in the Ukrainian STI 2025 foresight exercise a clear orientation toward integration into the EU is deemed the best way for an effective modernization of the national science and technology system. The competitiveness imperative enshrined in the Lisbon Strategy is tackled in the exercise Imagineering Ireland – Future Scenarios for 2030: the future of Ireland is seen as being strongly linked with the future of the EU. A common integrated European policy in the maritime sector is the starting point of the exercise Malta Marine 2020. The foresight exercise East German Cross Border Regions, also considering cross-border regions in Poland and the Czech Republic, aims to initiate cross-border innovation strategies to further the development of the regional economy.
The analysis of the ERA dimension in the foresight exercises revealed that the Lisbon goals and raising the R&D intensity is a major concern in many foresight exercises. Due to the increasing R&D competition at the global scale, cooperation between research institutions – also beyond national borders – has become increasingly important.

Furthermore, several European scenarios have been developed as the basis for drawing up national or regional scenarios within foresight exercises. Yet, there are quite a few cases where the foresight exercise makes no connection to the European dimension and recommendations mainly focus on the local level of implementation.
This ‘myopia’ concerning the European dimension hardly comes unexpected given that national and sub-national
exercises are typically framed to address local settings. The social and cultural aspects of the EU’s role have rarely been a core feature examined in foresight studies. The social fabric of the EU states with their beliefs and needs has been of explicit concern to only a few exercises (Imagineering Ireland – Future Scenarios for 2030; Futur Radar 2030; Aufbruch Musik – German Music 2020). Though coming from different thematic backgrounds, they all broach the demise of traditional values,customs and beliefs and the need for developing new ones.

Conclusions

The interpretation of the challenge facing the EU in strengthening its importance worldwide includes a wide range of perspectives as expressed in the respective European Commission documents. From a first scan and analysis of relevant foresight studies it can be argued that this challenge is definitely not a core subject of discussion in foresight exercises. This is not surprising given their national, regional or local focus. However, upon close scrutiny, it can be claimed that the foresight studies do indeed cover all the different aspects and perspectives relevant to this challenge. Adopting a greater role worldwide is perceived as a necessity for the EU to successfully cope with the consequences associated with globalisation, the changing interactions between world regions and the rise of new global players. Accordingly, it is also seen as imperative for the EU to play a leading role in international cooperation to deal with global challenges. Some consider the European model as a suitable model of governance
for the developing world even though the success of the EU model of socio-economic development is being aspired to
and at the same time threatened by the so-called new rising global powers.

Authors: Effie Amanatidou amanatidou@atlantisresearch.gr
Type: Overview Brief
Date of Brief: February 2008

Sources and References

  • EFMN WP4 Team Report: Genesis of the EFMN issues short-list 2007, First Step: Analysis of EFMN Brief along ERA-related criteria.
  • European Commission, C(2007)2460 of 11 June 2007; SEC(2007) 1188 final, http://ec.europa.eu/budget/reform/issues/article_5958_en.htm.
  • Leonard, M. (2005), Why Europe Will Run The 21st Century,Fourth Estate (book review by Stephen Aguilar-
    Millan / European Futures Observatory:http://www.eufo.org/index_files/Page631.htm).
  • Popper, R., Keenan, M., Miles, I., Butter, M., Sainz, G. (2007),EFMN Mapping Global Foresight Outlook 2007 Report.
  • Rifkin, J. (2004), The European Dream: How Europe’s Vision of the Future Is Quietly Eclipsing the American
    Dream, Polity Press, (book review by Stephen Aguilar-Millan/ European Futures Observatory: http://www.eufo.org/index_files/Page349.htm).
  • Rijkers-Defrasne, S., Korte, S., Pechmann, A., Amanatidou,E., Psarra, F. (2007), EFMN Issue Analysis Final Report 2007 – Emerging Knowledge-based Economy and Society.

Selection of foresight studies analysed
Finnish Committee for the Future – Democracy and Futures (2006); Global Trade Integration and Outsourcing (2006); Globalisation and Macroeconomic Policy (2007); Globalisation Trends
(2006).
Austrian BMVIT Safety and Security Research 2011; Danish Teknologisk Fremsyn 2020; East German Cross Border Regions; Emerging S+T Priorities in the Triadic Regions; FinnSight 2015; FISTERA; Foresight for Rural Ireland 2025; Futur Radar 2030; FutuRIS; German Music 2020; Imagineering Ireland
– Future Scenarios for 2030; Malta Marine 2020; SCOPE 2015 Project; Technologies Clés 2010; Transport and Mobility in an Enlarged Europe 2020; Ukrainian STI 2025.

Download: EFMN Brief No. 133_EU_’s_Role