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What is Foresight : Definition

Foresight covers activities aiming at:

  • thinking,
  • debating,
  • shaping the future.

Thinking the future:

Forecasting, technology assessment, future studies and other forms of foresight try to identify long term trends and thus to guide decision-making. Foresight that emerged in the recent years mostly in Europe aims at identifying today's research and innovation priorities on the basis of scenarios of future developments in science and technology, society and economy.

Debating the future:

Foresight is a participative process involving different stakeholders. The latter may include public authorities, industry, research organisations, non-governmental organisations, etc. The process can be organised at different levels: cross-national, national, or regional. Open discussion between the participants is encouraged, for example in the form of panels.

Shaping the future:

Foresight aims at identifying possible futures, imagining desirable futures, and defining strategies. Results are generally fed into public decision-making (for example, which research priorities deserve public funding), but they also help participants themselves to develop or adjust their strategy.

Thinking, debating and shaping the future is even more essential today because the complexity of science, technology and society interrelationships, the limitation of financial resources, the increasing rate of scientific and technological change impose on governments and the actors in the research and innovation system to make choices.

See also: Why Foresight ?