There is a clear and growing need for the ability to anticipate change to be embedded in policy. This is critical not only to be able to respond and adapt to new situations before they occur, but also to shape the future, building upon mutual understanding and common visions to be jointly pursued.
For policy responses to address all the pressing current global challenges, especially when these are seen separately from one another, is clearly a demanding task. Institutions face greater complexity and difficulty in providing solutions in due time if the policy focus extends beyond the challenges that societies face today, seeking to anticipate future challenges and transform them into opportunities.
This is the rationale for the European Commission study "Facing the future: time for the EU to meet global challenges" carried out by the Joint Research Centre, Institute for Prospective technological Studies (JRC-IPTS) for the Bureau of European Policy Advisors (BEPA) of the European Commission (EC).
This work is in line with the EC's political agenda for 2009 and complements previous work undertaken by the Directorate Science, Economy and Society of DG Research in cooperation with BEPA.
Aim of the project
The aim is to provide a comprehensive picture of the main trends ahead and possible future disruptive global challenges, and to examine how the EU could position itself to take an active role in shaping a response to them. The work described in the final project report brings a fresh perspective, by linking widely accepted quantified trends towards 2025 and beyond with experts' and policy makers' opinions on the likely consequences of these trends and wild cards.
The methodology used combines an extensive analytical review of recent future oriented studies, followed by a wide online consultation of the identified issues, and use of multi-criteria quantitative analysis (Robust Portfolio Modelling) to prioritise the resulting issues. Key issues were then presented and discussed in a workshop with selected experts and policy makers. The final report presents policy messages for the EU with a view to enabling a transformation of present and future challenges into opportunities and can serve as an input for building a vision for the EU in 2020, as proposed by the Commission's President in his political guidelines for the next Commission.
The report brings to the forefront three interrelated challenges for the EU and the world, and offers options to transform them into opportunities for long-term EU policy making. Improving citizens' empowerment and participation through the increased use of Information and Communication Technologies, searching for greater policy alignment towards sustainability, and establishing global partnerships between industry, government and society to build shared values and common visions on the future are among the key messages for EU policy makers.
The final project report can be downloaded here.
The issues assessed through the survey and the additional issues provided by the survey participants can be found here.