Policymaking is becoming increasingly fast moving, with challenges more global and interrelated. Societal shocks, such as the COVID-19 pandemic and geopolitical changes, have made it clear: policies must be versatile, forward-thinking, and responsive to future changes. This creates a need for anticipatory methods, such as foresight and forecasting, which can help inform policy action and increase societal resilience to crisis and change.
This Policy Brief provides an orientation for policymakers who consider using anticipatory methods. The Policy Brief is structured into four “Building Blocks”: dealing with uncertainty, qualitative scenario building, microsimulation models and game-based scenarios. It briefs policymakers on the benefits and limits of these approaches and provides examples of how they can be used to answer different policy challenges.
- Using anticipatory methods in policy should start with identifying the specific question and timeframe for which insights are needed.
- It is fundamental to assess which anticipatory methods have the potential to paint the kind of “bigger picture” often needed in long-term policy planning.
- The outputs of anticipatory methods depend on having relevant and robust data.
- Anticipatory methods are a process rather than a one-time assessment. The value is to use them throughout the policy cycle, and to update and improve the data or models along the way.
- When communicating outputs from assessments of possible futures, think about the audience – what type of output will be most accessible for them?
- Transdisciplinary collaboration is vital for carrying out accurate and helpful anticipatory assessments. Different perspectives across disciplines and sectors widen the scope of what is known about the future.
The recommendations in this Policy Brief are based on the assessments of leading foresight and forecasting experts, who shared their expertise in a workshop in November 2023 as part of the “Policy Lab” of the EU-funded research project Towards a Resilient Future of Europe (“FutuRes”).
This publication was funded by the European Union’s Horizon Europe Programme, Grant Agreement n° 101094741. The views and opinions expressed are however those of the author(s) only and do not necessarily reflect those of the European Union. Neither the European Union nor the granting authority can be held responsible for them.
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