This report has set out with two objectives: to moderately reduce our uncertainty when it comes to the future, and to propel us into action shaping it. One cannot be achieved without the other: high degrees of either certainty or uncertainty can lead to inaction, but inaction would mean our certainties are worthless. This also means that the success or failure of this report is not determined by whether 2030 will actually appear roughly as described here – but by the extent of the action it generated. After all, foresight does not replace the future – it informs the future. In that sense,
Foresight is to decision-making what reconnaissance is to warfare.
Without it, we risk stumbling ahead rather than following a strategic vision. When it is well done, it will guide our efforts, help us avoid mistakes and focus our aim. When it is even better done, it stimulates ideas, opens new avenues of thinking, and infuses us with the élan and drive to be proactive about what is to come. To achieve this, foresight does not necessarily have to be accurate. Rather, it must be creative, counterintuitive, and even slightly controversial. If this report is read in 2030 with amusement, then it is hopefully because we spurred ourselves and others into action. When foresight fails to force decision-makers to take action, it has failed altogether.
Although it may sound like a truism, this exercise is particularly important now: even though humanity continually faces challenges and has to take decisions, the decade of the 2020s will be one of decision-compression. In other words, decisions taken in this period will set the course well beyond 2030 and have ripple effects which are not easily undone. In other words, they will create the mega-trends for the coming generations – for good or ill.
Action will be complicated by the crowded agenda: from climate change to economic transformation to a changing world order, the list of disruptions is long. In addition, the instability which often accompanies moments of transition will mean that resources will often be diverted to priorities in the present rather than those linked to the future. To avoid this, regular foresight exercises or even dedicated units can remind us to stay the course.
No matter how tumultuous the coming years will be,
Not losing sight of our goals for the future will be the most important task.