Posts Tagged ‘sustainability’

EFP Brief No. 253: Egypt’s Desalination Technology Roadmap 2030

Thursday, February 14th, 2013

This project was an activity within the framework of Egypt’s Vision 2030 project carried out by the Center for Future Stud-ies in the Egyptian Cabinet’s Information and Decision Support Center, with the aim of identifying the future needs for desalination technology development, charting a series of research and development activities that will result in cost-effective, efficient revolutionary desalination technologies that can meet the national future needs, and providing short and long term action agenda to guide desalination research and investments in Egypt till the year 2030.

Investment to Meet National Needs

Water shortage is a worldwide problem, where 40% of the world population is suffering from water scarcity. In Egypt, the per capita water share was 771 CM/capita/year in 2005, which is below the international standards of “water poverty line” of 1000 CM/capita/year. Due to the long time horizon required to implement the Upper Nile development projects, directing efforts towards non-conventional water sources – such as; water recycling; reuse of drainage water; treated industrial and sewage effluents; rainfall harvesting; and desalination – provides a short term solution to the water shortage problem. Water desalination should top the agenda of developing non-conventional water resources, since desalination technologies have developed substantially over the last fifty years, especially with the development of “Reverse Osmosis” (RO) technology in the sixties leading to significant reductions in the cost of desalination. Therefore, due to the great advances which occurred in the field of desalination globally, and the noticeable increase in awareness of the importance of such a technology among decision-makers in Egypt, the Center for Future Studies (CFS) at the Cabinet’s Information and Decision Support Center (IDSC) has taken the initiative to develop a desalination technology roadmap for Egypt in the year 2030. The desalination roadmap is a program-planning document that identifies the most appropriate desalination technologies and their related R&D projects that Egypt needs to invest in to meet the national needs.

Developing and R&D Agenda

The desalination roadmap is a program-planning document that identifies different desalination technology alternatives and their related R&D projects, and the milestones for meeting future national needs of water resources. Due to its role in investigating the future of Egypt in different areas, the Center for Future Studies (CFS) at the Cabinet’s Information and Decision Support Center (IDSC) has taken the initiative to develop a desalination technology roadmap for Egypt. The project objectives are:

  1. To identify future needs for desalination technology development.
  2. To chart a series of R&D activities that will result in cost-effective, efficient revolutionary desalination technologies that can meet future national needs.
  3. To establish development activities that will accelerate the rate of improvement of current-generation desalination technologies, and therefore allowing these technologies to better meet the short-term national needs.
  4. To develop short-term and long-term action agendas for the required desalination R&D projects in Egypt till 2030.
  5. To improve communication within the R&D community and between this community and the end users.

Technology Roadmapping Methodology

The desalination technology roadmap project was divided into three main phases: roadmap initiation, technical needs assessment, and technical response development. The first phase was concerned with the preparation of the actual roadmapping process and involved agreement on the roadmap’s scope, leadership, participants and deliverables. This phase involved constituting the Desalination Steering Committee (DSC), validating the need to roadmap and clearly portraying this need in a clear vision statement.

The second phase was Technical Needs Assessment: which involved technical needs definition, by assessing current capabilities and identifying the capability gaps and associated R&D goals. This was carried out by the Steering Committee’s core research group who conducted research in the field of desalination, in general, and in Egypt, in particular to determine recent breakthroughs in desalination technologies and how far Egypt has reached in this field. This was followed by identifying and specifying the areas of technical risks/opportunities, and correspondent technical solutions that are either available, or currently under development through a series of brainstorming sessions to identify potential alternate solutions. This phase resulted in a number of critical objectives associated with each need highlighted in the vision statement, and which certain research projects are meant to fulfill. These targets aim at challenging the R&D community to pursue and achieve major technological breakthroughs to be used in future projects, and should only be developed if key projects are not scheduled to start for another 10 years or more.

The final phase of the project was the Technical Response Development, which involved identifying relevant technological areas and research projects (e.g thermal, membranes, alternative, reuse, and cross-cutting research areas) to meet the metrics of each critical objective, and involved brainstorming to identify all possible technical approaches which represent the mechanisms for achieving the critical objectives. This phase resulted in a Broad Strategic Action Agenda which serves as a guideline for the R&D projects required on the short and mid/long term by providing prioritized suggested R&D projects, their duration and an estimated budget.

Most activities associated with the roadmapping process were conducted through committees or workgroups, and a number of focus group meetings were sequenced and scheduled for all work groups to come together, share results, and reach consensus on the defined targets or critical objectives. In addition, a number of individual follow-up meetings took place.

The Desalination Roadmapping Team was composed of the Desalination Steering Committee (DSC) and the Desalination Working Group (DWG). The main responsibility of the DSC was to oversee the technology roadmapping process, and guide it in the direction of achieving the vision statement or the final goal. The DWG is a committee representing a group of experts in desalination technology, environmental engineering, water resources planning, and energy resources. Their main responsibilities were to brainstorm technology options responsive to the technology strategies provided by the DSC, as well as the costs, benefits and risks of the different options.

Good Water Quality Free of Charge

Upon identifying the steering committee, a meeting was held to highlight the main national needs facing Egypt’s water resources in the future till 2030. This meeting was held among a number of prominent experts in the field of water resources and desalination, and accordingly, the following broad vision for desalination was formulated and agreed-upon to cover the main national needs as below:

“Develop desalination technologies that aim to secure cost-effective, drinkable, fits for its uses and sustainable water for Egypt in 2030”.

National Needs and Critical Objectives to Meet National Needs

Following the extensive literature review carried out by the research team during the second phase of the roadmapping process, the technical needs of Egypt in the field of desalination were identified and were mainly focused on capitalizing on the availability of abundant renewable resources in Egypt, mainly solar and thermal energy. As determined by the agreed-upon vision, Egypt’s main national needs with respect to water can be categorized as:

  • Cost-effective water: In Egypt, as in many countries, there is no direct charge for water services provided for agriculture, while water provided for domestic and industrial uses is subsidized. Farmers receive water free of charges and are only responsible for pumping costs from the manual pump to the field. However, the provision of water free of charges to farmers began to pose an increasing burden on the government especially in the face of increasing costs for O&M and irrigation and drainage system rehabilitation, due to the increasing population and construction of mega projects. As with regards to the municipal and industrial sectors, it is estimated that government subsidies amount to 70% of water service in the industrial sector and 88% in the municipal sector. The rate for domestic water supply in Greater Cairo is about LE 0.13/m3, which is much lower than the cost of providing raw water (around 0.56/m3). Charging users for water and water services in Egypt is a sensitive issue, as it involves political, historical, social, and economic factors.
  • Drinkable water: Access to safe drinking water and sanitation is considered a basic human right, however providing this service and securing the required investments are a real challenge for the government. In Egypt, over 90% of Cairo’s drinking water is drawn from the Nile, which has provided high quality water during the 1970’s and 1980’s. However, the Nile’s water quality showed increasing deterioration in the 1990’s due to increased industrial and agricultural discharges, and also contamination from human sewage. In addition, water quality provision was increasingly threatened by the inefficient infrastructure and deteriorating distribution systems and water treatment plants.
  • Water fits for its uses: Given the worsening water situation in Egypt due to the massive and increasing demand by the agricultural sector, supplementary non-conventional sources including desalination of sea and brackish water, and reuse of waste water, represent very important sources to ensure maximum water allocation for its uses. In general, desalinated seawater costs about more than twice the price of freshwater used in irrigation and hence is considered too expensive for all types of agricultural production. However, desalination costs have decreased to nearly one-tenth of what it was 20 years ago, and are likely to continue falling due to continuous advances in the field. This declination in cost is likely to make the use of desalinated sea or brackish water feasible for wide use in both agricultural and industrial fields.
  • Sustainable water. Achieving the national need of providing sustainable water resources requires that policy makers widen their scope on the main users of water, to include the environment as well as the traditional industry, agriculture and household users. This measure is crucial in the future in order to overcome the unsustainable “hydrological” debt that Egypt faces today, as its future water flows are more or less fixed while consumption is increasing at an enormous rate leading to water depletion.
Quantifying the Objectives

These are the objectives for each national need that the different proposed desalination technologies are expected to fulfill. These objectives gained consensus by the experts who have participated in this study.

Near Term Critical Objectives (2015):

  • Reduce capital cost by 20%
  • Increase energy use by 10%
  • Decrease operating and maintenance cost by 20%
  • In-house manufacture of renewable energy (RE) units
  • Increase public awareness, education/training on the importance of desalination.
  • Water quality meets drinkable water standards identified by Egyptian Environmental Affairs Agency (EEAA)
  • Develop science related concentrate specific regulations
  • Microbial removal
  • Provide water for supplementary irrigation coupled with greenhouse irrigation
  • Water use in industry
  • Reduce cost of desalinated water by 20%
  • In-house manufacture of RE
  • Maintain stability of reclaimed water over time
  • Brine reuse for other purposes

 

Mid/Long Term Critical Objectives (2030):

  • Reduce capital cost by 50%
  • Increase energy efficiency by 50%
  • Reduce operating cost by 50%
  • In-house manufacture of multi stage flashing (MSF)/Multi Effect Distillation (MED) desalinating plants
  • Develop small desalination units for remote areas
  • Address cumulative issues related to concentrate and enhance regulations
  • Wider water for supplementary irrigation coupled with greenhouse irrigation
  • Wider water use in industry
  • Reduce cost of desalinated water between 60-80%
  • Development of new systems projects
  • Use of nuclear energy for large desalination plants using CANada DUterium Oxide Uranium (CANDU) technology.
Desalination Technologies to Address Critical Objectives: Research Areas with the Greatest Potential

The Roadmapping Team identified three main technology areas where R&D is needed in order to create the next-generation desalination technologies. These technologies and their associated research areas are:

  1. Solar/Thermal Technologies:
  • Design and manufacture of solar stills
  • Application of a reflection reduction solution to the glass of solar desalination units
  • continuous improvement in material enhancement for solar desalination unit
  • Multistage evacuated solar desalination system
  • Multiple effect humidification/ dehumidification at ambient temperature (solar)
  • Solar multistage condensation evaporation cycle
  • Enhancement of reverse engineering of national made (5000 m3/day) MSF (or MED) units (existing 5000 m3/day of Sidi Krir & Euon Mosa could be used for verification)
  • Solar PV-RO system
  • Develop solar ponds for energy and concentrate management
  1. Membrane Technologies
  • Enhancement of in- house manufacture of RO technology
  • Enhanced evaporation through Multistage Condensation Evaporation Cycle
  1. Other Technologies
  • Manufacturing of stand alone small desalination units (1.0 – 20 m3/day)
  • Integrated complex for water production (solar stills), electricity (wind, solar, bio mass), food (greenhouses self sufficient of irrigating water, rabbit, sheep and birds breeding), and salts (chemical salts, artemia & fish nutrients).
  • Ionization of salty water for irrigation
  • Secondary treatment of brine for salt production
  • Integrated complex for water production (solar stills), electricity (wind, solar, bio mass), food (greenhouses self sufficient of irrigating water, rabbit, sheep and birds breeding), and salts (chemical salts, artemia & fish nutrients )
  • The biology of salty water, including understanding of environmental impacts, using bacteria for beneficial treatment, etc.

Expectations of Impacts

Given that the critical objectives that are to be achieved by the roadmap are divided into short-term and mid/long term, it was seen as most suitable to divide the strategic plan for desalination into a strategic plan to achieve short term critical objectives and another strategic plan to achieve mid/long term critical objective

Mid/Long Term High Priority R&D Projects
  • Manufacturing of stand alone small desalination units (1.0 – 20 m3/day). Duration: 10 years, Expected Cost: L.E10 million.
  • Integrated complex for water production (solar stills), electricity (wind, solar, bio mass), food (greenhouses self sufficient of irrigating water, rabbit, sheep and birds breeding), and salts (chemical salts, artemia & fish nutrients). Duration: 5 – 10 years, Expected Cost: L.E 2.5 million.
  • Storage of brackish water aquifers all over the country. Duration: 10 years, Expected Cost: LE 5 million
  • Bio technology using Bacteria, micro, plants…etc, that reduce amount of salt in seawater (e.g. Man-Grove). Duration: 12 years, Expected Cost: 2 million.
  • Combined nuclear power & desalination plants. Duration: 20 years, Expected Cost: 50 million.
Authors: Dr. Abeer Farouk Shakweer

Reham Mohamed Yousef reham.yousef@gmail.com

Sponsors: Egyptian Cabinet’s Information and Decision Support Center (IDSC)
Type: National Technology Foresight Exercise based on desk research and expert opinion
Organizer: Center for Future Studies
Duration: 2006 – 2007
Budget: n.a.
Time Horizon: 2030
Date of Brief: June 2011

Download EFP Brief No. 253_Desalination Technology Roadmap 2030

Sources and References

Abou Zaid, Mahmoud, “Desalination in Egypt between the Past and Future Prospects”, The News Letter of The Middle East Desalination Research Center, Issue 9, March 2000.
El-Kady, M. and F. El-Shibini, “Desalination in Egypt and the Future Application in Supplementary Irrigation”, National Water Research Center, Ministry of Public Works and Water Resources, July 2000.

Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), “Raising Water Productivity”, Agriculture 21 Magazine, Agriculture and Consumer Protection Department, March 2003, http://www.fao.org/AG/magazine/0303sp2.htm

National Research Council “Review of the Desalination and Water Purification Technology Roadmap”, The National Academies Press, Washington DC, January 2003.

EFP Brief No. 231: FreightVision Austria 2050

Tuesday, December 4th, 2012

The project Freight Vision Austria 2050 (FVA2050) aimed at providing a foresight study of freight transport and logistics futures in Austria by 2050. The intention was to explore the future of freight transport and logistics in particular, looking at technological progress and future innovation opportunities. A second aim was to outline a shared vision of an Austrian freight transport system by 2050 that would achieve European as well as national environmental and transport policy targets. The project FVA2050 was structured similarly to the European project FreightVision Europe (FVE 2050). FVA2050 was commissioned by the innovation section of the Austrian Ministry of Transport, Innovation and Technology. The objective was to set priorities and give a synopsis of key technologies and future innovation opportunities.

Coping with Increasing Demand for Freight Transport

Similar to economic growth, demand for freight transport in Europe is expected to double by 2050. As integration of the European internal market progresses and Europe represents one of the most competitive economic regions of the world, export industries all over Europe are expected to grow. This will particularly concern small, export-oriented national economies at the centre of Europe, such as Austria, which are strongly affected by freight transportation. Experts estimate that freight transport will increase across all transport modes.

Rising pressure on infrastructure capacity, an increasing environmental burden and upcoming conflicts over failing to achieve CO2 emission and noise reduction targets are likely. However, from a regional perspective, increase in transport demand might not affect the overall transport network in Austria apart from the main traffic axes. FVA2050 was informed by the general vision of the European Commission for a most competitive and sustainable transport system in Europe. This includes “growing transport and supporting mobility while reaching the 60% CO2 reduction target” (European Commission 2011, p.5). However, priorities from a regional perspective may differ from those defined at the European level. Other environmental policy targets, such as particulate matter or noise and vibration reduction, can be considered equally important.

Most freight transport in ton/kilometres is regional and not long distance freight transport. From a regional perspective, future scenarios revolving around reregionalisation are thus more feasible than scenarios based on internal market integration and globalisation. From a regional point of view, traffic congestion is a problem of infrastructure bottlenecks and not of the overall European transport network. The main challenge here is to coordinate environmental and transport-related policy targets across different policy levels and policy areas.

Stakeholder and Expert-driven Approach

The FVA 2050 project pursued an expert-driven, forwardlooking approach. Stakeholders and experts from different areas relevant to freight transport in Austria participated. Among them, in particular, demand-side actors from transport and logistics companies, but also researchers, NGOs and public administration representatives at the national and the state level (Länder). The aim of FVA 2050 was to explore possible futures of freight transport and logistics in Austria up to 2050. The participating stakeholders and experts outlined a shared vision and, in the process, blueprinted structural change in the freight transportation system to achieve the European CO2 emission targets and other transport and environmental policy objectives, such as minimising road fatalities, abating noise and particulate matter pollution and reducing congestion. Ideas and opinions on how to transform the current freight transport system towards this vision were discussed in detail, particularly ideas concerning technology and innovation pathways towards the future.

Scenarios and Socio-economic Trends and Trend Breaks

In the first workshop, the initial task was to outline framework scenarios describing possible socioeconomic futures that reflect the social and economic environment in which freight transport and logistics activities can be imagined to take place in the future. Four framework scenarios came out of this exercise: two scenarios reflecting current socio-economic trends and two scenarios taking potential trend breaks into account. Drivers, trends and trend breaks were jointly investigated. The experts drafted storylines for socioeconomic scenarios in group exercises and later developed them into coherent future stories:

· Trend scenario “Growth and liberalisation”
· Trend scenario “Growth and regulation trends”
· Trend break scenario “Oil & energy price shocks”
· Trend break scenario “Regionalisation & shrinking”

In the second foresight forum, the participants identified relevant technology and innovation pathways towards the future from a present point of view and perspective. They assessed options and obstacles of technological progress from the present to the future and opportunities for future innovations, considering the socio-technical context embedding and the socio-economic conditions shaping them. The final task of the second foresight workshop was to sketch out a shared vision of a structurally changed freight transport system for Austria that would allow to attain the different policy targets by 2050. The third foresight workshop was dedicated to further specifying the vision of a structurally changed freight transport system by 2050, including the main actions necessary to achieve it. However, in the end, the focus was mainly on technological steps towards this vision.

The main mission of FVA 2050 was to identify relevant priorities for the upcoming process of setting the national technology research agenda for research and innovation funding. A final, rather normative exercise allowed to define more radical technological steps. The incremental key technology and innovation opportunities initially identified by an explorative method were thus complemented by a range of blue-sky and out-of-the-box technology and far horizon innovation opportunities. The foresight exercise created a vision for a structurally changed Austrian freight transport system by 2050 and drafted a range of socio-economic framework scenarios.

Finally, the major outcomes were a synopsis and a prospective assessment of key technologies and future innovation opportunities up to 2050 and beyond. Around 80 experts and stakeholders of the Austrian freight transport system participated in FVA 2050, an average of 30 participants in each workshop. The foresight was implemented by a consortium of six partners: the AIT Departments Foresight & Policy Development and Mobility, the Department of Logistics at the University of Applied Sciences in Upper Austria and the Department of Production Logistics Management at the University of Economics and Business in Vienna. ProgTrans AG from Switzerland delivered a transport demand outlook for 2050. Transver Gmbh delivered an environmental impact assessment referring to the transport demand trends of ProgTrans AG. Most partners had already been involved in the European funded foresight FreightVision Europe (2007–2009).

They were thus invited to propose a similar forwardlooking and foresight activity for Freight Transport and Logistics 2050 and beyond in Austria. The Ministry of Transport, Innovation and Technology (bmvit), the two major Austrian funding agencies (FFG, AWS) and the two major national rail and road infrastructure operators (OEBB, ASFINAG) assisted the foresight. They were all involved in an advisory board.

Shift to Rail versus Electrification of Road Transport

The foresight study Freight Vision Austria 2050 was performed during three large stakeholder workshops. Most of the stakeholders participated in all three workshops, which gave the exercise a particular continuity. Prior to each workshop a discussion paper was drafted by the consortium members and distributed among the participants. This discussion paper was based on desk analyses and outcomes of the preceding workshops.

The future dialogue started with an intensive discussion of the transport demand outlook presented at the first workshop. The prognosis anticipated a doubling of freight transport demand by 2050. This growth in freight transport demand can be expected to lead to a relevant increase in transport activities across all transport modes. An increasing shift to rail transport and even a bigger increase in road transport is estimated. Inland waterway transport is expected to remain at moderate levels due to exterior infrastructure.

The transport demand outlook and the projections of freight transport activities by 2050 were discussed controversially. On the one hand, the experts agreed that a significant increase in transport could be expected to come with economic growth. On the other hand, the experts questioned the anticipated doubling of trans-European freight transport, pointing out that a return to a regionalisation of production networks and supply chains could change the trend. However, the outlook gave definite alert that freight transport is expected to increase until 2050. Particularly on the main axes, transport infrastructure capacities in Austria may not at all be prepared to accommodate such growth.

The rather controversial discussion in the beginning motivated the preparation of four distinct socio-economic framework scenarios. At first, storylines were developed and elaborated into coherent stories of potential socioeconomic futures. In a second step, the scenarios were discussed regarding their overall feasibility. For example, the scenario on growth and liberalisation was assessed as less feasible than initially expected. The experts did not perceive it to be an option to leave freight transport futures to liberal markets alone; regulation and public policy were considered just as necessary to cope with increasing freight transport demand. Thus the second trend scenario on growth and regulation was seen as more feasible than the first scenario of full market liberalisation.

The experts anticipated a future of European freight transport where the primacy of the “free movement of goods” should no longer be interpreted as free choice among all means of transport along all European transport infrastructure axes. The Zurich Process for cross-alpine freight transport (CAFT) – a cooperation between the transport ministers of the alpine member states – was an example mentioned in this context. The experts pointed out that they explicitly expect a trans-European initiative to push the road to rail shift in the future.

Rising Oil Price as Moderate Driver towards New Technologies

Even more interesting was the dialogue regarding the two trend-breaking scenarios. The first of these socioeconomic scenarios was rather similar to trend break scenarios in other transport-related foresight exercises. None of the experts rated an oil price increase as a shock event but as a moderate driver towards technological alternatives such as the electrification of road transport or alternatively fuelled vehicles. Another discussion focussed on a return of regionalisation and local production networks. Instead of more European market integration, the shrinking of the internal market was seen as a potential socioeconomic future triggered by increasing global protectionism and global economic conflicts. By comparison, in 2009, such a socio-economic framework had not at all been envisioned in FreightVision Europe 2050.

In the second foresight workshop, the discussion focussed on relevant environmental and transport policy targets for freight transport futures. It was difficult to come to a conclusion. Although there are strong trends toward harmonising environmental and transport policy targets in the European multilevel governance system, there is obviously still an open debate whether these objectives ought to be seen as a planning horizon or as guidelines for the future. Policy targets at one policy level may conflict with policy targets at other levels. The involved stakeholder and expert group decided to take European policy targets in addition to national targets as a frame of reference while addressing this frame in a rather general way based on a shared vision of how to shape the Austrian freight transport system by 2050 (structural change) by taking into account an increase in freight transport demand by 30-40% by that time.

Towards a “Network of Networks”

As the core of this foresight process, a shared vision of the Austrian freight transport system in 2050 was blueprinted. The participants illustrated their ideas and visions in a group exercise and further discussed their ideas and expectations for the future. All illustrations were integrated in a single shared vision scenario. A European transport network will be achieved by 2050. European legislation will serve to drive and harmonise environmental and transport regulations. However, a single European transport network is expected to be achieved as a network of networks with a European main axes infrastructure network at its core, but tightly connected with inter-regional, regional and urban mobility networks. Communication and information technologies will progress and allow to more closely connect these networks while allowing for many alternative mobility patterns for travelling and transporting goods. In a far-distant perspective, private sector mobility and transport might decline since European industries can be expected to more strongly revolve around knowledge-based services.

In 2050, freight transport at medium (up to 300 km) and long distance (above 300 km) will be fully intermodal, with a considerable shift to rail transport. European infrastructure axes for all transport modes will be integrated into one single corridor network. Road transport (below 300 km) will be widely electrified with large numbers of charging stations providing the necessary infrastructure. However, electrification of road transport may not be feasible for heavy duty transport. Last-mile transport will still be mainly road-based and rely on individual transport modes. Automated systems and pipe networks are expected to be deployed in urban areas.

Logistics in 2050 will be organised rather centrally under strict rules and requirements set at the European level. Third parties are going to organise logistics in crossregional or regional and urban distribution networks. Large interregional distribution centres will be established on a European scale. Tri- and bimodal hubs will be situated along the main transport corridors near manufacturing sites and will profit from information and communication concentration and renewable energy clusters (smart grids). Significantly improved freight demand management will reduce empty and half-full trips; this will include alternative modes of operation, for instance so-called milk runs for circular distribution.

Another main exercise in the foresight FVA2050 was to sketch a list of technology trends in the near (2020), medium (2035) and distant future (2050). The main areas discussed in the transport-related technology and innovation debate were:
· Intelligent transport systems
· Green freight and logistics
· Intermodal freight transportation
· Innovative infrastructure technologies

In these areas, particular technology and innovation pathways were assessed. Communication and information technologies as well as alternative vehicles and new materials were introduced as enabling technologies.

Smart Technologies to Improve Capacity, Greening and Safety

From 2020 to 2035, supply and transport chains will be further “smartened” by ICT. Information management systems will enable systems that calculate ecological impact. Between 2035 and 2050, most infrastructure and freight vehicles will be equipped with communication modules enabling real-time multimodal transport information. Autonomous and semi-autonomous vehicle systems are expected to increase capacity and safety by platooning. A similar revolution like the container will provide new opportunities for intermodal transport with swap bodies to serve the European internal market. Automated harbour and hinterland transport, including vertical and horizontal loading systems, is expected to allow 24-hour operation. A European transport network will include a Europe-wide network of intermodal transport hubs. Transport infrastructure will be connected to energy infrastructure as a smart mobility/energy grid. In a distant perspective, from 2035, distributive intelligence in command and control will give rise to decentralised robot systems: smart objects, pipe networks and other simple track systems.

New Alternatives for Distances above 300 km

One of the key questions raised in FVA 2050 was if electrification of road freight transport might also be viable at medium and long distances in the future – a measure that is thought to play a significant role in achieving future European CO2 emission reduction targets. Experts believe that a shift to rail freight transport for distances above 300 km and even below 300 km for regional distribution will be a significant option in the long term. However, additional measures are required, for instance, regional rail/road distribution centres serving the first and last mile by an electric fleet. This has direct implications for future mobility and transport as well as transport-related technology and innovation policies.

Download the brief: EFP Brief No. 231_FreightVision Austria 2050.

Sources and References

COM(2011) 144: White Paper. Roadmap to a Single European Transport Area – Towards a competitive and resource efficient transport system, http://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=COM:2011:0144:FIN:EN:PDF

Seibt, C., Rath, B., Wilhelmer, D., Zajicek, J., Toplak, W., Hofmann-Porkopczyk, H., Starkl, F., Bauer, G., Stefan, K., Schmiele, J. (2012): Freight Vision Austria 2050. Final Report. AIT Report No. 42, Vienna, see www.ait.ac.at/fva2050

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

Tuesday, October 23rd, 2012

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

The De-growth Scenario:
Policy Implications for the EU

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

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

When Costs of Growth Exceed Benefits

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

Making Indexes and Statistics Scientifically Sound

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

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

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

New Approach in Statistical Analysis Needed

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

Our results support the validity of the threshold hypothesis, especially for the years following the oil crisis. Figure 1 demonstrates this in the case of Finland.
223_bild1
Figure 1

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

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

De-growth Strategy for the European Union

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

Questioning the Consumption Paradigm

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

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

The Finnish Case: Evidence for the Anti-Growth Strategy

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

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

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

Dynamics of Economic & Social Development Have Changed Dramatically

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sources and References


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

EFP Brief No. 191: Transportation & Logistics 2030

Thursday, August 18th, 2011

The following foresight brief presents the findings of the innovative real-time Delphi study “Transportation and Logistics 2030 Vol. 2” prepared by PricewaterhouseCoopers’ transportation unit and the Supply Chain Management Institute (SMI) at the EBS Business School, Germany. Overall, 104 experts assessed 16 projected futures in terms of probability of occurrence, impact on the transportation and logistics (T&L) industry, and desirability of occurrence. By deriving conclusions organised around four general themes, possible scenarios for the future of logistics were drawn. The purpose was to identify key developments in the T&L industry by the year 2030. In addition, the effects on the transport infrastructure environment from a governmental and an engineering and construction industry perspective were assessed and opportunities for governments were derived.

The Need for Planning in T&L

The development of transport infrastructure requires a long-term planning horizon. Ports, airports, roads and railroads all share a commonality: their life cycle spans are fairly long. Thus, long-term foresight is needed to estimate the demand for transport infrastructure and assess its impact on the economy and the environment. Long-term thinking is a requirement to finance construction, operation and maintenance of infrastructure.

Scenario techniques are an essential addition to traditional forecasting methods. Trusting solely on trend extrapolations and single-point forecasts does not account for the paradoxes in transport. For example, who could have predicted that the amount of transports would decrease between 1995 and 2005 in a Western European country while politicians were talking about investing in infrastructure to meet the increase in freight transportation? What actually increased is the transport service provided for goods. Less goods were transported but over longer distances and/or in smaller batches. Governments and everyone in T&L industry faced the need to respond, and lucky were those with a contingency plan on hand.

In pursuit of such a long-term perspective, the study aims to develop a comprehensive view of the T&L industry in 2030. The outlook is developed by interpreting scenario evaluations, identifying opportunities, applying a cross-industry perspective and deriving extreme scenarios. The next sections will focus on the results of the first two issues (i.e. scenarios and opportunities).

Innovative Real-time Delphi Study

The study employs an innovative version of the Delphi survey method. The Delphi is designed as an Internet-based, almost real-time survey that increases the validity of results by streamlining the classical procedure (see Gnatzy et al., 2011; Gordon & Pease, 2006).

Overall, 16 key future projections were organised around the four general themes “Supply & Demand”, “Finance”, “Competitiveness” and “Sustainability” of transport infrastructure. The projections were assessed by 104 invited experts in terms of probability of occurrence (0-100%), impact on T&L if they occurred (5-point Likert scale) and desirability (5-point Likert scale). Furthermore, experts could optionally provide qualitative arguments and reasons for their answers.

Once an expert evaluated a projection, the statistical group opinion of all experts was calculated and visualised immediately. The group opinion was presented in a box-and-whisker plot. In addition, the qualitative arguments given by the other experts were also shown. In the light of this new information, the experts were able to revise their initial assessment.

Upon completing the survey, a consensus portal was activated showing an overview of all answers given and how the answers related to average group opinion at that point in time. During the survey period, experts were able to access the consensus portal at any given time in order to check whether they were in line with group opinion or deviated from it. The experts could also adjust their assessments at any time if they wished to do so.

The expert panel included a large number of designated experts from business, mainly C-level executives and decision-makers from global companies. The selection criteria for potential experts based on industry, educational background, experience and function led to the following distribution:

  • 28% transport infrastructure operators/ developers
  • 27% transport infrastructure users
  • 24% academics
  • 11% associations
  • 10% politicians

Participants were based in 29 countries around the world ensuring a balanced and global view: the emerging countries accounted for a significant share of 38% and the developed countries for the remaining 62%.

Results of the Delphi

Unlikely to Close the Gap between Emerging and Developed Countries

Figure 1 summarizes the results for the area “Supply & Demand”. The resulting demand for transport infrastructure is unlikely to be met by 2030. Although emerging countries are investing heavily in transport infrastructure, it is unlikely that the infrastructure provision gap to developed countries will be closed completely within this period. Megacities are likely to attract more projects since investors “follow the money”. Road tolls and congestion charges are likely to have become an instrument to match supply and demand of transport infrastructure in 2030.

Fiscal Constraints Impede Public Funding of Transportation Infrastructure

The second major theme relates to financing transport infrastructure. The results are shown in Figure 2. Governments, although aware of the need for major investments in transport infrastructure, are likely to face strong financial constraints over the next 20 years. For many governments, the task of maintaining the current infrastructure will leave little scope for funding investments in new transportation infrastructure. While governments are likely to remain responsible for local and national transportation infrastructure, private investors seek economies from focusing on national and international large scale transportation systems.

Transportation Infrastructure Tailored to Fit Represents a Competitive Advantage

The evaluated scenarios for “Competitiveness” in T&L in 2030 are shown in Figure 3.

Getting transport infrastructure right remains a competitive advantage as efficient supply chains are a major investment factor. To enhance a competitive advantage, fully integrated infrastructure systems with modern information and communication technology (ICT) present a major enabler for cutting-edge transport developments. Thus, transport infrastructure development can strongly benefit from advancements in digital infrastructure. Moreover, forming clusters based on close collaboration of industry, academia and government will benefit regions by activating new potentials in transportation infrastructure development.

Sustainability Poses the Greatest Challenge

Ensuring the sustainability of transportation infrastructure is probably the most significant challenge to be faced over the next 20 years. The opinion of the experts is shown in Figure 4.

Clearly, transport infrastructure and its networks have a strong effect on the environment. In addition to its ability to stimulate economic growth, transport infrastructure will increasingly be assessed in terms of its environmental compatibility. Increased regulations in the form of emission trading systems or other systems are likely to enhance this compatibility.

Environmental costs of transport infrastructure will become an integral part of assessing the full costs of a T&L project. These costs will need to be calculated into the business case of any of these projects.

Innovation Will Be Critical

Flexible planning will be key to logistics service providers, supply chain players, transport infrastructure operators, users and owners since transport infrastructure systems will remain imperfect. Especially in emerging countries, innovative supply methods based on local adaptability and simplicity have to compensate the lack of transport infrastructure.

Governments need to target the implications of the trends in “Supply & Demand” as well. As shown in Figure 5, access to rural transport infrastructure is not a matter of course.

The RAI index estimates the proportion of the rural population that has adequate access to transport systems. Governments need to offer investment incentives to ensure that less investment-attractive rural areas will stay connected to regional conurbations. Governments play an important role in managing supply and demand for transport infrastructure. The surveyed experts believe that road tolls and congestion charges could be a powerful lever to reduce traffic and raise capital to invest in more sustainable modes of transportation.

The financial boundaries clearly impact T&L. Logistics service providers need to assess the availability of capital and the willingness of a government to invest in transport infrastructure when entering a new market.

Governments need to find a balance between investments in new transport infrastructure and ongoing maintenance of existing facilities. It will be essential to incorporate future maintenance needs in all new projects as well. In addition, a shift in focus from upfront costs towards lifetime costs is needed to ensure whole life funding. Rather than a one-size-fits-all approach to finance these activities, public authorities need to find strategies to share risk and responsibility with private investors for individual projects.

In order to stay competitive, logistics service providers should join clusters to actively collaborate with governments, academia and operators of transport infrastructure. Knowledge exchange and management across company borders will be a key success factor over the next 20 years.

In 2030, it is even more essential for governments to maintain, upgrade and expand transport infrastructure in order to ensure and attract foreign direct investments. To achieve this, information and communication technology must be incorporated as the path to be taken towards developing a cutting-edge transportation infrastructure.

In order to ensure eco-friendliness of transport infrastructure by 2030, independent bodies could be established that rate transport solutions in terms of their environmental compatibility. In addition, efforts should be made to reduce demand and optimise capacity.

Innovation will be critical in finding these new eco-friendly transport solutions for T&L. More than ever, companies in T&L will need to collaborate to better manage transport emissions in order to cope with the expansion of emission trading systems.

Transport infrastructure developers should be aware of the long-term environmental costs. They will need to assess the entire life cycle of construction, operation and deconstruction to consider harmful environmental effects as well as environmental benefits.

Opportunities for Governments

To close this overview of the Delphi study, we will focus on some promising future opportunities related to transport infrastructure from a governmental perspective over the next 20 years. Figure 6 summarizes these for the four areas identified. The radar depicts the (generic) outcome of several future workshops based on the described scenarios.

Figure 6: Opportunity radar

In Supply & Demand, governments may actively counter the trend of a “rural exodus” by setting up basic transport infrastructure, offering public-private partnerships and implementing other financing mechanisms. In order to reduce congestion in city centres and its side effects, governments may abolish parking spaces at public institutions while ensuring good connections to public transport. Governments might use innovative infrastructure constructions such as sky walks and sky trains or underground distribution systems to lessen the burden on existing transportation infrastructure on the ground. A full automatic continuous conveyor could reduce transport bottlenecks at ports and other hubs by moving containers away from the point of handling to their desired destination quickly. For governments to deal with changing demand, re-usable transport infrastructure comparable to unit assembly systems could be developed.

Governments need to think of ways of how to finance the increasing demand for transport infrastructure. One idea relates to private sponsoring. For example, sponsoring stadiums, such as “Signal Iduna Park” or “Gilette Stadium”, could involve financing parts of the necessary transport infrastructure. Tax benefits and other incentives could be used to encourage companies to drive less while individual charges for the use of small parts of infrastructure (e.g., bridges) represent opportunities for reducing demand.

Future CO2 absorbing materials could be used in new road constructions and could possibly make a big contribution to environmental protection. Self-healing roads through the use of bio-concrete or nanotechnology could reduce maintenance costs. In the same vein, the idea of bacteria-produced roads might be an innovative way for governments to build transport infrastructure in rural areas in the very long-term.

Lastly, governments could use the idea of self-sufficient eco-cities to address the need for a sustainable future infrastructure.

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

Tobias Gnatzy                         Tobias.Gnatzy@ebs.edu

Philipp Ecken                          Philipp.Ecken@ebs.edu

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

Sponsors: PricewaterhouseCoopers, Germany
Type: Single issue brief – European/international
Organizer: EBS Business School, Supply Chain Management Institute, Dr. Heiko von der Gracht
Duration: 12/09-05/10 Budget: N/A Time Horizon: 2030 Date of Brief: July 2010  

 

Download EFP Brief No. 191_Transportation and Logistics 2030

Sources and References

Gnatzy, T., Warth, J. & von der Gracht, H. A. (2011): Validating an Innovative Real-Time Delphi Approach -– A methodological comparison between real-time and conventional Delphi studies. In: Technological Forecasting & Social Change, corrected proof, in press.

Gordon, T. & Pease, A. (2006): RT Delphi: an efficient, “round-less” almost real time Delphi method. In: Technological Forecasting & Social Change 73, (2006) 321–333.

Ruske, K-D; Kauschke, P; Reuter, J; Montgomery, E; von der Gracht, H; Gnatzy, T; Darkow, I-L. (2010): Transportation & Logistics 2030. Volume 2: Transport infrastructure – Engine or hand brake for global supply chains? PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) & Supply Chain Management Institute (SMI). www.tl2030.com

World Bank (2009): Retrieved February 22, 2010 from http://www.worldbank.org/transport/transportresults/headline/rural-access/index.html

EFP Brief No. 163: EFONET: Assessment of Energy Foresight in the EU

Tuesday, May 24th, 2011

Within the EFONET Coordination Action, an analysis of the state of the art of energy foresight activities in the EU countries has been carried out in order to assess the transferability of the “good practices” learnt from the national foresight experiences towards energy foresight on the European level.

EFP Brief No. 163_EFONET Assessment of Energy Foresight

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. 151: Furniture Foresight Centre – CEFFOR®

Tuesday, May 24th, 2011

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

EFMN Brief No. 151_Furniture Foresight Centre

EFP Brief No. 149: EU-Africa Energy Partnership: Implications for Biofuel Use

Sunday, May 22nd, 2011

This brief intends to provide an overview of the rationale underlying the EU-Africa Energy Partnership, in addition to an analysis of the potential implications of this policy on the development of sub-Saharan African nations. It is posited that the partnership could have potentially negative repercussions if critical uncertainties are not sufficiently taken into account, and that it is in the EU’s best interest to ensure that outcomes are genuinely equitable. The research also has implications for other developing nations around the world seeking to further their economies and raise living standards by means of engaging in the global biofuels industry.

Europe, Energy Security and Biofuels

It is widely acknowledged that the energy security of the EU, as a whole, is deficient with respect to meeting future energy requirements. At the same time, the EU has resolved to de-crease its carbon footprint and wean itself off from environ-mentally damaging fossil fuels. A further concern is that even if the developed world manages to arrest the proliferation of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions the developing world will still continue to pollute.
To address these important issues, the EU has developed the EU-Africa Energy Partnership. The rationale, broadly speak-ing, is twofold:

  • Secure the EU’s energy supply and allow its member states to meet challenging emissions reduction targets.
  • Provide sub-Saharan African economies with a further export market, in addition to allowing these nations to leapfrog to lower-emissions technologies.

Although the partnership deals with renewable energy in its broadest sense, there appears to be great emphasis on the cul-tivation of biomass used in the production of renewable fuels such as ethanol and biodiesel, for which there is increasing demand within the EU. Despite the ostensibly sound intentions of the policy, it remains to be seen whether the energy partner-ship will truly be mutually beneficial.
The aim of this brief is to examine the critical uncertainties that could potentially damage the workability and equitability of the energy partnership. A key consideration, here, is that the partnership has seemingly been formulated under ceteris pari-bus conditions. Thus, the partnership’s success is predicated on the continuation of existing trends, such as growth in bio-fuel demand and the ability to cultivate biomass at market-friendly prices in the future. Yet, the increasing complexity of technological systems, the advent and potential adoption of new technologies, in addition to climate change, means that it cannot be assumed that all things will indeed remain equal.

EU Biofuel Policy

The EU has set targets for biofuel usage within the member states. Policy measures designed to stimulate biofuel use were introduced in 1992. The overall aim has been to reduce the cost of biofuels in comparison with conventional petroleum products, which otherwise would be higher given the produc-tion costs and economic risk associated with fluctuations in oil price and the value of biomass-derived by-products (Cadenas and Cabezudo, 1998).
The EU Commission set a political target of substituting 20 percent of conventional biofuels by 2020 (European Commis-sion, 2001, p. 45). The even more ambitious COM(2006)845 proposed that biofuel targets for transport fuel should be 20 percent for the same year. The EU Biofuels Directive (2003/30/EEC) requires member states to ensure that a mini-mum proportion of fuels sold are biofuels (see Faaij, 2006). The aim is to ensure that 5.75% of conventional fuels are re-placed by biofuels, although the Biomass Action Plan (BAP) has concluded that these targets will not be reached (Commis-sion of the European Communities, 2006, p. 6).
There is thus a growing requirement for biofuel production within the EU and indeed a growing demand for biofuels (es-pecially biodiesel). Since the EU member states do not have the capacity to increase biomass cultivation without causing an increase in food prices (a politically unpalatable outcome), it has been deemed necessary to look for alternative ways to satisfy this demand.

Energy Partnership

In this context, the EU-Africa Energy Partnership emerges as an important component of the EU’s aim to increase the use of bio-fuels for transport within the member states, thereby allowing the EU to meet challenging biofuel targets, contribute to global GHG mitigation strategies (such as Kyoto), and address concerns regarding energy security. The partnership is argued to be mutually beneficial, since it will also promote economic and social improvement in sub-Saharan African countries and allow such nations to switch to more environmentally friendly patterns of energy use.
The partnership is intended to promote greater interconnectiv-ity between energy systems and ensure a diversity of energy options (Commission of the European Communities, 2006, p. 15). Although there is reference to alternative energy sources, such as hydropower (ibid.), there is clearly an emphasis on greater biomass cultivation and biofuel production, perhaps to the detriment of other energy solutions.
Energy security is obviously an important component of the partnership. Sub-Saharan Africa thus has the ability to sup-plement volatile supplies (and pricing) of OPEC oil with bio-mass cultivated in the region. Although the sub-Saharan re-gion is also clearly not especially stable, it at least has the ca-pacity to offset some of the risk associated with dealing with OPEC countries.

Production Processes

Given the current high cost of second-generation biofuel pro-duction processes (which use the whole organic matter as a feedstock), it can be assumed that the bulk of the biofuel feed-stocks grown in sub-Saharan Africa would be used in arguably inefficient first-generation production processes. Here, only the sugars and starches (rather than the whole plant) are used for ethanol production, while only the extracted vegetable oil is used in biodiesel production (Charles et al., 2007).

Critical Uncertainties

It is necessary to look at the critical uncertainties that could impact on the success of the EU-Africa Energy Partnership.

Climate Change

The energy partnership, in as much as it relates to promoting sub-Saharan Africa as a source of biofuel feedstock, assumes that current climatic conditions will prevail. Yet climate change could mean that climatic conditions in areas currently suitable for agricultural endeavour might militate against prof-itable biomass cultivation.
There are a number of critical factors associated with climate change that need to be taken into account:

  • Increased uncertainty with regard to rainfall patterns: This will problematize when to plant and place pressure on water use, with potential social repercussions.
  • Increased and more severe meteorological phenomena: Floods could wipe out entire fields; storms could damage or destroy harvests, while uncontrolled fires (resulting from co-factors of drought, thunderstorm activity or hu-man action) could do likewise.
  • Increased incidence and severity of pestilence: Changed climatic conditions could make crops more susceptible to pests, thereby increasing the need to employ pesticides (with cost penalties and potential impact on the local envi-ronment and human health).

These factors, when taken together, suggest that it will be more difficult to plan for weather-related phenomena into the future. Thus, claims of increased energy security within the EU resulting from the partnership need to be tempered with the realization that traditional agricultural techniques do not guarantee constant and predictable harvests, while climate change may exacerbate uncertainty.

Environmental Impacts

Agriculture has brought about widespread environmental deg-radation around the world. Thus, it is important to bear in mind the potentially negative impacts that intensified farming practices will have on ecosystems in sub-Saharan nations, in addition to the region as a whole.
The possible factors that could lead to negative environmental impacts are as follows:

  • Increased use of fertilizers: Run-off from fertilizers in-creases the incidence of algal bloom in aquatic environ-ments; fertilizers lead to an increased level of atmospheric N2O harmful to the ozone layer; and fertilizer production and distribution is energy inefficient and contributes to greenhouse gas proliferation.
  • Increased use of pesticides: Pesticide run-off pollutes local watercourses, results in a loss of biodiversity when food supplies for higher organisms are reduced, can flow throughout food-chains, thereby leading to chemical build-up in higher organisms, especially avian fauna; pro-duction processes and distribution incur GHG penalties, can be harmful to human life and can contaminate water supplies (of particular importance in developing nations).
  • Increased threat of deforestation: Expanding biofuel mar-kets may prompt changes in land-use, potentially leading to deforestation, entailing significant biodiversity and CO2 penalties.

These factors could be aggravated if a greater demand for bio-fuels in the EU member states is occasioned and if changing weather patterns result in a need to ‘make hay while the sun shines’. Such a demand could effectively see the EU exporting local environmental degradation from its member states to sub-Saharan Africa. Environmental degradation could also lead to opportunity costs resulting from a loss of potential eco-tourism income.

Technological Change

Biofuels, at best, will be an important component in a future energy mix. There are no indications that biofuels will ever replace petroleum-derived products on a one-for-one basis (Di Lucia and Nilsson, 2007). Biofuels enjoy a clear advantage over other potential energy solutions, especially since they take advantage of existing infrastructural systems (Foresight Vehicle, 2004). This ensures that switching costs are reduced.
On the other hand, there is the threat that biofuels will be ren-dered redundant by other technologies. There is much evi-dence throughout history to suggest that over-reliance on a single natural resource for a nation’s prosperity is not sustain-able over the long-term. For example, Chile, which prospered on the basis of its export of sodium nitrate (saltpetre), lost this advantage when scientists developed a synthetic alternative.
Some threats to the increasing importance of biofuels are as follows:

  • Increase in use of nuclear energy (and thus ‘clean’ elec-tricity).
  • Switch to cleaner second- (and third-) generation biofuel production processes.
  • Development of a hydrogen economy (predicated on the availability of clean, renewable energy, such as from the sources listed below).
  • Other energy paradigms, for instance, geothermal, hy-droelectric, photovoltaic, wind etc.

Thus, over-capitalization in biomass cultivation for first-generation production processes (in particular) may lead to un-sustainable increases in foreign debt, in addition to severe job losses and resultant social upheaval. In a worst case scenario, more efficient technologies, if they become widely adopted around the globe, could lead to the biofuel industry’s collapse.

Opportunity Costs

Even if the biofuel industry remains important, over-emphasis on biomass cultivation could result in a failure to develop in-dustries that have the potential to contribute greater value added to sub-Saharan African economies. This would espe-cially be the case if insufficient attention were paid to process-ing the feedstock in sub-Saharan Africa, as could occur in na-tions traditionally focussed on exporting natural resources.
Biomass cultivation, in the event of an ever-increasing de-mand for biofuels, would not merely translate into sub-Saharan African countries gaining an OPEC-like significance on the world stage. This is especially the case given a) the potentially wide dispersal of biomass cultivation and b) the high likelihood that biofuels would remain one of several al-ternative energy solutions. African biomass would also have to compete with that cultivated in North and South America, and also in South-East Asia and the Indian subcontinent. Given that these regions are already more highly industrialized than most sub-Saharan African nations, it is plausible that greater value added would occur in these regions.
There is also a danger that biomass cultivation in sub-Saharan Africa could engender an increased dependency on multi-national corporations involved in agribusiness. There are al-ready substantial links to agriculture in developing nations and the research-intensive products, including seeds, support sys-tems and expertise, being offered by multinational agribusi-ness entities.

Export Commodity Dependency

Sub-Saharan Africa has a long history of supplying European nations with raw materials to be used in value-adding produc-tion processes. There is thus the potential for this situation to continue if Europe resolves to view the region merely as source of inexpensive feedstock for biofuel production, rather than as a knowledge-intensive producer in its own right.
Many of the economic and social problems faced today in sub-Saharan Africa are deeply rooted in history. When the Euro-pean colonial powers partitioned Africa, they viewed the colo-nies as suppliers of raw materials for their factories. Farmland traditionally used for food cultivation, even after the inde-pendence of the former colonies, was turned over to cash crops such as cocoa, cotton, coffee and rubber. The result was that Africa exported what it did not need, and imported what it did, thereby leading to substantial trade deficits and continued indebtedness (Carmody, 1998). This is because the low price obtained for cash crops rarely if ever matches the relatively high price paid for imported food, in addition to luxury goods and hardware desired by affluent members of society.
It is important to be awake to the potential for ongoing com-modity dependence to occur, especially if the EU pays insuffi-cient attention to developing sub-Saharan Africa as an energy producer rather than merely an agricultural supplier.

Investing in Sub-Saharan Future

It is possible to formulate a number of potential policy impli-cations that would add rigour to the energy partnership.

  • Moving away from first-generation biofuels: A continued emphasis on first-generation biofuel production processes reinforces sub-Saharan Africa as a supplier of cash crops.There are inherent problems with first-generation biofuel production processes. A failure to address these and move demand towards more efficient second-generation proc-esses could lead to a global undermining of confidence in biofuels as a source of renewable energy.
  • Ensuring environmental sustainability: This is tied closely to the previous consideration, but also with the necessity of preventing local and regional environmental degrada-tion as a result of poor farming practices or indeed wide-spread change in land-use. There is a need to develop mechanisms to ensure that increasing demand for biofuels within the EU does not lead to catastrophic environmental impacts in sub-Saharan Africa.
  • Investing in sub-Saharan Africa’s future: The energy partnership should be used as a component in an overall strategy to enhance economic development in the region. A failure to do so will result in greater amounts of envi-ronmental degradation (including greenhouse gas emis-sions) over the long-term.

In short, the nations of the region need to acquire their own energy security and processing infrastructure. The EU-Africa Energy Partnership must serve as a vehicle to promote these ends. To achieve this end, sufficient political will over the long-term to propagate cleaner biofuel production processes is required. If not, the biofuels market could be irreparably com-promised and the partnership with it, with grave implications for not only the EU and sub-Saharan Africa, but also the planet as a whole.

 

Authors: Michael Charles michael.charles@scu.edu.au
Sponsors: Southern Cross University, Australia
Type: Single issue, energy policy
Organizer: n.a.
Duration: n.a.
Budget: n.a.
Time Horizon: 2018
Date of Brief: July 2008

Download: EFMN Brief No. 149_EU-Africa Energy Partnership

Sources and References

  •  Cadenas, A., and Cabezudo, S., 1998. Biofuels as sustain-able technologies: perspectives for less developed coun-tries. Technological Forecasting and Social Change 58(1–2), 83–103.
  • Carmody, P., 1998. Constructing alternatives to structural adjustment in Africa. Review of African Political Econ-omy 25(75), 25–46.
  • Charles, M.B., Ryan, R., Ryan, N., and Oloruntoba, R., 2007. Public policy and biofuels: the way forward? En-ergy Policy 35(11), 5737–5746.
  • Di Lucia, L., and Nilsson, L.J., 2007. Transport biofuels in the European Union: the state of play. Transport Policy 14(6), 533–543.
  • European Commision, 2001. Green Paper: Towards a European Strategy for Security of Supply. Directorate-General for Transport and Energy.
    http://ec.europa.eu/energy/green-paper-energy-supply/doc/green_paper_energy_supply_en.pdf
  • European Commission, 2006. Communication from the Commission: An EU strategy for Biofuels—Impact As-sessment. Commission Staff Working Document COOM (2006) 34 final.
    http://ec.europa.eu/agriculture/biomass/biofuel/sec2006_142_en.pdf
  • Faaij, A.P.C., 2006. Bio-energy in Europe: changing technology choices. Energy Policy 34(3), 322–342.
  • Foresight Vehicle, 2004. Foresight Vehicle Technology Roadmap: Technology and Research Directions for Fu-ture Road Vehicles, Version 2.0.
    http://www.foresightvehicle.org.uk/public/info_/FV/TRMV2.pdf

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

Sunday, May 22nd, 2011

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

The Role of Regions in Increasing EU Competitiveness

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

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

Benefits of Applying Foresight  for Regional RTDI Policy Making

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The ForTransRIS Project – Transregional Foresight to Improve Regional RTDI Policies

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The three issues identified were:

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

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

Transregional Foresight as a Strategic Policy Resource

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

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

Download: EFMN Brief No. 148_Transregional Foresight

 

Sources and References

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

EFP Brief No. 147: ERoSC – The Socio-economic Impact of Emerging Social Computing Applications

Sunday, May 22nd, 2011

ERoSC is an exploratory research project that aims at studying the socio-economic impact of emerging social computing applications. The exploratory research scheme of the European Commission Joint Research Centre’s Institute for Prospective Studies (IPTS) is an internal instrument aimed at building up competence in strategically relevant scientific fields. The ERoSC project has been awarded as the IPTS 2007  Exploratory Research project. Its purpose is to identify and discuss current and future socio-economic implications of social computing and to identify policy options for Europe.

A Multi-faceted Approach to Socioeconomic Impacts of Social Computing in European Context

In less than five years, social computing (SC), that is, digital applications that enable interaction and collaboration, whereby users are participants (co-creators not end-users) and interconnected (the network as a collective resource), has shifted from a niche activity into a phenomenon engaging tens of millions of Internet users. Nevertheless, there is very little research and evidence on the socio-economic impact of SC in the European context.

Set in this context, the main objectives of ERoSC can be summarised as follows:

  • explore the socio-economic impact of social computing;
  • assess the sustainability of social computing applications (business models and viability);
  • assess the position of Europe in this field; and identify options for EU research and innovation policies.

Technological innovations have been scanned for available supply and demand data. Usage and the impact of SC in specific sectors have been explored using different analytical techniques, such as case studies, comparison of existing data and in-depth interviews. Finally, an expert workshop was conducted to validate the data. Peer reviewing by experts was used as an additional quality management tool.

Measuring and Analysing Social Computing

Social Computing is entering into a new stage of development. Blogging, photo- and video-sharing, social networking and social gaming have been adopted by some half of Internet users worldwide (around 25% in Europe), and high levels of growth in Europe have been reported in areas like blogging or online video. New social platforms are emerging that enable people to create more and richer content, which in turn generates network effects.

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Social computing activates new market segments, for instance women or ‘silver surfers’ (people aged 55 or older).

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People interplay with technology in many different ways. The majority of users tend to be ‘free riders’, that is, using SC content created by a ‘thin’ layer of core users (the ‘creators’). In Europe, roughly a third of Internet users also make use of SC contents, 10% provide feedback, 10% share contents, and only around 3% are those ‘creators’. Moreover, the intensity of use of SC applications is very diverse, for instance, people can be at the same time ‘creators’ and ‘free riders’.

Mobile – the ‘Next Frontier’?

A lot of innovation is taking place around mobile social computing. Mobile social computing, however, does not mirror the user participation of desktop-based social computing. Only a small user base has so far adopted mobile social computing, though there is evidence of growth. In the EU (selected countries), almost a third of mobile subscribers upload videos or photos on video/photo-sharing sites, with only 2.6 % accessing a social network via their mobile phones and 5.5 % watching video online. Teens are the most active users of mobile social computing.

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The ‘Tag Cloud’ of Social Impacts of Social Computing

Social computing allows for more room for personal and social creativity, and it is a new means to develop and construct personal identities. Moreover, identity is now transformed by technology.

The ‘always–on’ trend raises concerns about this new form of dependency, where people need to first communicate with others to feel their own feelings. The networks of virtual ‘friends’ becomes as significant as ‘real’ life ones, evolving into new forms of social capital that is, social computing will encourage social networks that are well connected (bonding social capital) rather than bridge between different networks (bridging social capital). The proximity of celebrity condition gets closer (‘my 15-minutes of fame’).

Social computing allows for enhanced social participation, for instance in politics, and better informed citizens for different roles in society, such as as a voter, learner, patient or consumer.

At the same time, the dynamics of privacy is changing.  Personal data recorded in databases are ‘perfectly transferable in space,[and] indefinitely preservable in time’ (Poster 1995). New social threats are emerging such as stalking and bullying or chains of suicides.

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Economic Impacts of Social Computing

Social computing provides sources of revenue both for users and platforms. More important, social computing is a driver for competitiveness. Impacts can be observed on industry itself, for example media or ICT industry, but also on other industries using SC. More targeted marketing and user research, both based on user profiles and content interests, are opening new channels to markets. New employment possibilities are emerging through social networks and new opportunities to utilize user innovations for product development or as an interface between companies and customers and for more efficient work processes.

In order to realize the potential positive impact, there is a need to meet a number of challenges of productivity, security and training.

Policy Options for Europe

In order to put forward informed policy implications, proper measurements are needed. There is a lack, however, of internationally comparable data on social computing from national statistical sources, while data is available coming mostly from non-official sources. This points to the need for better and systematic measurements and internationally comparable data. Improvement of official statistics (e.g. OECD, Eurostat) by adding categories of Internet use by activity questions to surveys could be one possible avenue for meeting this need.

The implications of social computing for policies for education, health, inclusion and for the policy making process itself should be considered. In addition, policies could be developed to provide the necessary framework conditions that would favour people and companies (in particular start-ups) staying in Europe, including promoting entrepreneurship and dealing with intellectual property rights (IPR) and copyright issues that might prevent the further development of SC.

There is also room for policy activities to address social cohesion and exclusion of groups of people such as elderly and migrants, to support democratisation and eParticipation processes.

Another European strength lies with mobile technologies and mobile connectivity, together with a marked lead in mobile devices, hence providing a possibility for Europe to further develop relevant services, applications and platforms for mobile 2.0.  An opportunity for Europe would also be to provide better access to public data, as such data are typically used in SC applications (e.g. mash-ups) to provide added value. Opening public data sets to allow citizens to create their own services could provide a boost to the use of SC, providing privacy and security concerns are adequately accommodated.

Authors: Corina Pascu                        corina.pascu@ec.europa.eu
Sponsors: European Commission,  The Institute for Prospective Technological Studies JRC-IPTS
Type: Exploratory research (internal research scheme)
Organizer: European Commission, The Institute for Prospective Technological Studies JRC-IPTS, IS Unit   Contact: Yves Punie            yves.punie@ec.europa.eu
Duration: 2007 – 2008
Budget: n.a.
Time Horizon: 2010
Date of Brief: June 2008

Download: EFMN Brief No. 147_ERoSC – Social Computing

Sources and References

http://is.jrc.ec.europa.eu/ is the main website where all reports and other information will be made available.

Pascu, C. (2008), ‘An Empirical Analysis of the Creation, Use and Adoption of Social Computing Applications’, EUR 23415, IPTS Report, European Commission,at http://ftp.jrc.es/EURdoc/JRC46431.pdf

Ala-Mutka, K. (2008), “Social Computing: the case of collaborative content”, IPTS Report, European Commission, forthcoming.

Cachia, R. (2008), “Social Computing: the case Social networking”, IPTS Report, European Commission, forthcoming.

Punie, Y., (Ed.) (2008) “The Socio-Economic Impact of Social Computing: Proceedings of a validation and policy options