Why we use foresight

Foresight is the disciplined exploration of alternative futures.

Policy makers use foresight techniques and conduct studies to explore different scenarios in a structured way to confront complex challenges and help create a better future. 

Foresight helps to

  • evaluate current policy priorities and potential new policy directions
  • see how the impact of possible policy decisions may combine with other developments
  • inform, support and link policy-making in and across a range of sectors
  • identify future directions, emerging technologies, new societal demands and challenges
  • anticipate future developments, disruptive events, risks and opportunities

How it works

Foresight starts by gathering information about possibilities,abilities and intentions.

This information is then processed by 'strategic intelligence' and 'sense-making' to provide policy makers with information that will support their present-day decisions and help them shape the future.

Types of foresight activities

Strategic Foresight

These activities support the development of proposals for the EU research and innovation framework programme and its biannual work programmes.

Horizon Scanning

The search for early signs of important changes in society, science and technology. This is an important part of the intelligence underpinning the Commission's policy proposals.

Foresight-based policy

The exploration of future policy issues and options through expert groups and specific studies. They develop foresight-based policy lessons and recommendations.

Who contributes to foresight for research and innovation policy?

Many foresight research projects are being funded via Horizon 2020.

Foresight activities are also carried out by the Joint Research Centre and the European Political Strategy Centre.

A network of correspondents across all relevant departments ensures coordinated use of foresight with regard to science, technology and innovation.