Foresight & Scenarios Background

Foresight enables to support decision-making by analyzing possible futures. Several definitions of foresight exist, which major and common features were summarized by Miles et al. (2008):

 

- Long-term orientation aimed to inform on the ongoing decisions set by assumptions that the future can be improved by enhanced understanding of opportunities and threats, driving forces and underlying processes of change;

 

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

 

- Involvement of a wide range of experts and often stakeholders in order to access relevant knowledge, to engage more participants in the policy process, and to establish networks for the ongoing coordination of actions and sharing information;

 

- Crossing disciplinary boundaries and professional compartments in order to address emerging world problems that know nothing of these impediments. This often requires extensive “translation” and fusion of knowledge from different sources.

Scenario development is among the most widely used methods in foresight (Popper, 2008). The IPCC (2013) states that “a scenario is a coherent, internally consistent and plausible description of a possible future state of the world. It is not a forecast; rather, each scenario is an alternative image of how the future can unfold”. Scenarios can be categorized as exploratory and normative scenarios. Exploratory scenarios identify drivers and represent possible futures, while normative scenarios illustrate how certain target can be achieved. 

BonaRes focuses on agricultural soil management foresight including the development of soil management scenarios at the German national (DE-SMPs) and regional (RSMPs) levels. The main aims of the BonaRes Foresight are to:

  1. Identify relevant soil-related research questions by addressing which the risks and opportunities of emerging technologies and practices can be assessed with further contribution to the decision-making.
  2. Develop common framework conditions for socioeconomic and integrated scenarios that allows for comparability and connectivity within the BonaRes studies. For example, exploratory scenarios on agricultural soil management can be a basis for soil modelling (e.g. BODIUM) in order to test the effectiveness of proposed agricultural soil management paths and associated policies.
  3. To inform stakeholders on potential development paths and associated ongoing and upcoming actions. Scenario-based stakeholder involvement allows to enrich scenarios by bringing a wide range of expertise and knowledge on soil management together.

Amer M., Daim T.U., Jetter A. (2013): A review of scenario planning. Futures 46:23-40. doi: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.futures.2012.10.003

 

Durance P., Godet M. (2010) Scenario building: Uses and abuses. Technological Forecasting and Social Change 77 (9):1488-1492. doi: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.techfore.2010.06.007

 

IPCC (2013) http://www.ipcc-data.org/guidelines/pages/definitions.html. Last access 11 June 2018

 

Miles I., Harper J.C., Georghiou L., Keenan M., Popper R. (2008). The Many Faces of Foresight. In: Georghiou L., Harper J.C., 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: https://doi.org/10.1108/14636680810918586 (pdf)