In recent decades Foresight and other forward-looking activities (FLA) gained ground as a tool of science, technology and innovation (STI) policy. The number of FLA studies is globally rising. To some extent, foresight is governed by context-depended issues; however there are also common features in the objectives, methodology, and recommendations made. Mapping allows codifying and analyzing a bulk of FLA experiences gained worldwide. This in turn will contribute to enhancing performance of such activities and therefore of STI policy as a whole.
The paper provides rationales for Futures Studies mapping, considers related opportunities and challenges, reviews lessons learned from early mapping efforts. It focuses on the large-scale EU-funded mapping project “European Foresight Platform” (EFP). Using this project as illustration, the paper describes mapping routines, the selected indicators of mapped Foresight initiatives, including their objectives, participants, target groups, methodologies, outcomes and recommendations. It discusses the potential and the limitations of particular mapping tools as well as possible applications of gained knowledge. Basing on mapping results, policy-makers, for example, are able to identify gaps to be addressed with relevant policy tools, Mapping also allows Foresight practitioners to develop strategies for further research and shape expert networks for their implementation.
The 2-day kick-off conference of the European Foresight Platform has been held on June 14 and 15, 2010 at the Vienna French Cultural Institute in Austria. With over 80 attendees and about 20 presenters the event has been a huge success by bringing together international professional foresight communities, representatives from the European Commission and policy as well as the EFP consortium and the interested general public.
A variety of different foresight and forward-looking projects and institutions have been presented at the conference. It has been a tour through all different perspectives of future-related activities which included quantitative forecasting and modeling, scenario development, technology forecasts and roadmaps, societal and cultural oriented future studies, participatory elements in foresight, weak signal and wild card research, foresight databases and ideas about new methods like using gaming and social networks for foresight and forward looking activities.
As the European Foresight Platform (EFP) project can be seen as the follow up of the European Foresight Monitoring Network (EFMN), the EFP Mapping Environment will be based on the proven concept of the EFMN Mapping activities. However, the lessons learned during the EFMN project will be integrated in the new EFP Mapping Environment.
The Mapping Environment will be both (a) an independent working environment for the EFP WorkPackage 2 activities lead by the University of Manchester and (b) a “plug-in” section of the EFP website (lead by TNO). The main objectives of developing a fully operational mapping environment are:
- To map foresight practices, outcomes and players
- To analyse key features and outputs of foresight exercises
- To put in place an interactive “Mapping Environment” for data input/validation/output
- To provide a common space to share and discuss foresight findings and documents
- To interact and share information with other work packages (especially the website)
- To network the Mapping Environment with other EC projects/networks (i.e. ERAWATCH, METRIS, iKNOW)
- To generate appealing information about practices and key findings of foresight exercises (producing annual mapping reports for different readership)