Developing foresight ecosystems
Interest in and use of foresight has been growing in the UK government. However the Government Office for Science found that there is a limited evidence base on the impact of foresight work. The majority of case studies that are available focus on how specific projects or units have used foresight rather than how governments as a whole have done this. They therefore commissioned SOIF to carry out research that could inform their strategy to support the UK foresight ecosystem.
We took time up front to really understand our client’s needs. As a result, we took a broader approach to explore how different governments have developed their foresight ecosystems over time, and to map the features that can support integration of long-term thinking into policy-making at the most strategic level.
We pulled together evidence from a range of resources to generate insights on building effective foresight ecosystems. We developed a typology and long-listed 50 countries before prioritising a short-list to focus on. We carried out a literature review and semi-structured interviews. We developed case studies of how eight countries integrate foresight in a comprehensive way across policy-making. We facilitated a workshop with leading foresight practitioners from across the world. We also drew on SOIF’s own networks, knowledge, expertise from delivering foresight projects for governments, NGOs and multilaterals across more than 50 countries.
This work produced new insights into the four elements that are important for building resilient and adaptive foresight ecosystems:
- Culture and behaviour – understanding stakeholder needs, creating commitment, increasing knowledge of the impact of foresight
- Structures – locating the unit effectively in the heart of government, building capacity in departments, involving officials, putting coordination in place
- People – Building capability in a foresight team, increasing knowledge of a range of tools and approaches, building a network of local and international peers for support
- Processes – developing a programme of work, foresight research and analysis drawing on diverse methods, delivering set piece activities
These insights are being used to build capability and grow impact of foresight approaches in the UK government and beyond.Read the summary, full report and case studies here.