Foresight & Scenarios Background 
What is foresight?  

Foresight is a way of looking into how the future might evolve in order to inform present day decision-making. Several definitions of foresight exist, for which Miles et al. (2008) summarized major, common features:


- “Long-term orientation, aimed at informing ongoing decisions in the present […]   and grounded in the      assumption that the future is in many ways open and can be shaped in positive ways by improved              understanding of opportunities and threats,driving forces and underlying processes of change;


- Use of a range of formal tools and techniques for developing long-term analyses – including survey           methods like Delphi, scenario workshops, and more explorative trend analysis, and often drawing on         the results of modelling, SWOT studies, and many other methods […];


- Involvement of a wide pool of expertise, and often stakeholders more generally, to access relevant             knowledge, to engage more participants in the policy process,and to establish networks for ongoing           coordination of action and sharing of information;


- Crossing disciplinary boundaries and professional compartments, to be able to address emerging               real- world problems that know nothing of these impediments. This often requires extensive                       “translation” and fusion of knowledge from different sources.” (Miles et al. 2008: 14)

Scenario development is among the most widely used methods in foresight (Popper 2008). Scenarios are used as explorative as well as normative scenarios. Explorative scenarios, on the one hand, represent different possible futures that ideally give indications of the space of possible developments. Normative scenarios, on the other hand, show possible futures that realize specific norms, for instance the most sustainable versus the least sustainable scenario. 


- “The word scenario is often used in an abusive manner to qualify any particular    
   set of hypotheses.” (Durance and Godet 2010). But they are more than that. For instance, Herman               Kahn who is often cited as the one of the crucial figures in the development of scenario planning                 defined scenario as ‘‘a set of hypothetical events set in the future constructed to clarify a possible               chain of causal events as well as their decision points.’’ (Kahn and Wiener 1967 in Amer et al. 2013 and     in Durance and Godet 2010). The IPCC states that “A scenario is a coherent, internally consistent and         plausibl description of a possible future state of the world. It is not a forecast; rather, each scenario is       ealternative image of how the future can unfold.” (IPCC 2013)


In the BonaRes Centre we are doing foresight on agricultural soil management, including the development of management scenarios. We have three sets of reasons for doing so:


- Looking at how soil management may develop in the future gives us indications 
  on what research questions are relevant to be addressed by soil research to 
  assess risks and opportunities of emerging technologies and practices to inform 


- The foresight can inform other scenario activities in collaborative BonaRes 
  projects so as to use a common framework of assumptions for socioeconomic 
  and integrated scenarios that allows for comparability and connectivity of 
  different assessments.


- The foresight scenarios are also being developed to inform external 
  stakeholders about potential development paths and reasons for actions. The 
  scenarios which will be created in collaboration with stakeholders are enriched 
  by using their information on soil management as input for modelling activities 
  in the BonaRes Centre. Together with the soil modelling and the sustainability 
  assessment activities, we create comprehensive scenarios to support 

Amer M, Daim TU, Jetter A (2013) A review of scenario planning. Futures 46:23-40. doi:


Durance P, Godet M (2010) Scenario building: Uses and abuses. Technological Forecasting and Social Change 77 (9):1488-1492. doi:


IPCC (2013) Last access 11 June 2018


Miles I, Harper JC, Georghiou L, Keenan M, Popper R (2008) The Many Faces of Foresight. In: Georghiou L, Harper JC, Keenan M, Miles I, Popper R (eds) The Handbook of Technology Foresight and Practice. Edward Elgar, Cheltenham, UK Popper R (2008) How are foresight methods selected? Foresight 10 (6):62-89. doi:doi:10.1108/14636680810918586