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FORESIGHT IN THE FIELD - The Mutual Learning Exercise

Author

Emma Coroler

May 4, 2023

Sharing lessons learned in foresight practices and experiences is important for the exchange for an impactful foresight community. The Mutual Learning Exercise can help foster community building and foresight capacities in different member states.

Foresight studies, previously known as future studies or futures research, have a rich history dating back to the 1960s and 1970s. Over the years, these studies have expanded significantly in many countries, especially in the field of research and innovation (R&I).

As we face rapid changes and uncertainty in today's world, there is a growing demand for policymakers to incorporate systematic foresight into their decision-making processes. By providing strategic intelligence and a long-term perspective, foresight can help governments better anticipate future opportunities and challenges. The OECD has emphasized the need for all governments to build greater anticipatory capacity and stresses the importance of institutionalizing the use of strategic foresight in R&I policy. Indeed, foresight has proven instrumental in informing the design and implementation of R&I policy through three distinctive roles linked to targeted impacts: corrective (addressing systemic failure and policy lock-ins), disruptive (focus on crisis and transition), creative (stimulating enabling conditions for new structures)


The EU's response to ongoing crises and future challenges involves addressing this growing demand for strategic foresight. This includes efforts to create a European foresight community by connecting national institutionalized foresight. This strategy is notably being developed in the context of the European Commission-funded Mutual Learning Exercise (MLE) on research and innovation foresight (R&I foresight).


The MLE aims to create a platform for the exchange of valuable information, experiences, and innovative practices in the field of research and innovation (R&I) foresight across EU and associated countries. By fostering collaboration between different groups, the MLE seeks to inspire the development of impactful R&I foresight communities as an important element of the European Research Area (ERA).


The MLE is focussing on 5 topics that have led or will lead to the publication of thematic papers:

  • Overview of R&I foresight.

  • Institutionalising foresight capability creating wide foresight communities in the R&I system.

  • Citizens’ engagement approaches and methods.

  • Foresight, the twin transition, and potential disruptions.

  • From foresight for Smart Specialisation to engagement in EU Research Programmes, Missions, and Partnerships.


The first thematic paper examines the current state of foresight in the EU, including practices at the national level in both public and private sectors, success factors and challenge to future foresight practices.


The second thematic paper, published in March 2023, delves deeper into the challenges and success factors for research and innovation (R&I) foresight. The paper explores how government foresight plays a role in various countries, the foresight community building process across Europe, and the main findings of a dedicated survey conducted as part of the Mutual Learning Exercise on foresight between October and November 2022.


The first part highlights the diverse approaches and experiences of Member States and other advanced countries that have contributed to an expanding role for government foresight. The paper identifies parameters that significantly influence the extent to which foresight plays a role in government, such as the country's size and location, the maturity of policy context, the level of internationalization, and the success of institutionalizing foresight.


In the second part, the focus shifts to the European level, highlighting opportunities to create a European foresight community, building on existing institutionalized foresight at the national level. It also discusses recent strategies put in place such as the EU-wide Foresight Network, EU Foresight-on-Demand, or the Foresight Europe Network of the Millennium Project. The final part of the paper covers the key findings of a dedicated survey conducted as part of the Mutual Learning Exercise on foresight between October and November 2022.


These thematic papers as well as those still forthcoming share the goal of advancing the development of a community and enhancing the capacity of member states to take part in foresight and R&I policy planning through enhanced knowledge-sharing, cooperation, and active learning.


This is an article from the Horizon Future Watch Newsletter (Issue 1, May 2023), presented by Foresight on Demand

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