Shared visions, common research futures
Foresight is currently broadly accepted as being a key element in the creation of future oriented and outward looking visions and strategies. It is now crucial to capitalise on the experience of the Foresight activities of recent years in Europe and to discuss possible developments of EU Foresight in the near future. EU Foresight needs to be assessed, rethought, and redesigned in a way to become better integrated and have a higher coherence with EU level activities. New inputs and ideas for the future of Foresight at all levels of the EU are necessary. For this reason, a set of preparatory activities have been carried out by the Science and Technology Foresight Unit, aiming at the definition of Foresight activities in FP7.
On 6 April 2005, the European Commission has issued its proposal for the 7th Framework Programme for Research, Technological Development and Demonstration Activities (2007-2013). (For collaborative research in Socio-economic Sciences and the Humanities, see in the proposal document Annex I, theme 8, page 31). The Commission's proposal accords an important role to and opportunities for the Social Sciences and Humanities (SSH), both in terms of budget as well as of the range of actions and types of instruments. One key dimension of collaborative research in SSH is Foresight. The Commission proposes to support Foresight activities on major science, technology and related socio-economic issues such as the future demographic trends and the globalisation of knowledge and evolution of research systems, as well as of the future developments in and across major research domains and scientific disciplines.
The first part of this issue relates to the current Foresight activities implemented in FP6 with the setting up of the “European Science and Technology Foresight Knowledge Sharing Platform”, as a result of the recommendations provided by the previous High Level Experts Groups. Mention is also given to the setting up of a new expert group on “Key technologies for Europe 2020” whose main purpose will be to synthesise the analytical and Foresight work existing at national and European levels in the different emerging areas of Science and Technology.
The second part of the issue relates to the different preparatory actions carried out to define the future Foresight activities for FP7. Firstly, the mid-term assessment gave an insight into, on the one hand, the initial results from FP5 and FP6 and, on the other hand, the potential for impact of the expected outcomes of the Foresight activities. Secondly, an open consultation was designed to collect views and comments on how the indirect S&T Foresight activities should be implemented in FP7. This consultation does not concern the EU direct activities of the Joint Research Centre (Institute for Prospective Technological Studies).
After the "Information" society, the "knowledge-based" society, the "risk"; society, the “creative age” is the most recent trend attempting to analyse the shift from the industrial society to a new form of social and economic organisation. “Society and economy” is changing driven by the rise of human creativity, which is becoming a key source of competitive advantage.
This issue will also present a new publication produced by the Science and Technology Foresight Unit (in the Foresight Working Documents series) on “The future of Creative Industries: implications for Research policy” (EUR 21471). It identifies the possible research needs for the sector, based on main policy challenges, not only technological challenges but also issues such as cultural diversity, the circulation and exchange of cultural products and the influence of innovation on the consumption patterns.
Europe has to develop its own approach to global issues: therefore finding common fields of interest and stimulating interaction between different actors is critical to that effort. At he International Foresight Conference “The Future of Europeans in the Global Knowledge Society” (13-14 April 2005, Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium) the intention was to discuss the new insights European futures studies experts and actors bring to global issues while addressing the main critical questions concerning the future of the Europeans in the Global Knowledge Society.