Forward Looking Activities (FLAs) include all systematic and participatory studies and processes to envision possible futures, in a proactive and strategic way, and examine and design pathways towards desirable outcomes. They involve a broad range of methods and techniques with complementary qualitative and quantitative facets, exploratory and normative, which stimulate strategic prospective thinking.
Anticipation, horizon scanning, technology assessment, ex ante impact assessment, foresight, futures analysis and scenarios development and Delphi propose various tools for the elaboration of long-term strategic visions. They usually include evaluation of trends and uncertainties, assessment of processes and interactions and analysis of policy in dialogue with key stakeholders.
Despite the abundance of FLAs, very few are organically linked to the decision-making process and nourish long-term policies at the European level. Most of them are nationally focused, while frontiers also between the social, economic and scientific fields still persist. Overcoming these bottlenecks and developing a "European" vision for FLAs is of crucial importance for EU policies.
The European Forum on Forward Looking Activities has the mission to enhance collective intelligence and help devise better European policies, and research & innovation policy in particular, which need a long term perspective. Given the fragmentation of such activities in Europe with many initiatives nationally focused, there is urgency for 'Europeanising' visions in areas of strong EU involvement.
To do this, the Forum needs to:
- Aggregate the results of outstanding Forward Looking Activities supported by European programmes or other organisations;
- Offer advice on how to exploit these results for the early identification or refinement of existing and emerging grand societal challenges that could have far-reaching scientific and technological implications for Europe;
- Provide advice and evidence on how these trends may affect the European research and innovation systems; link these changes with the political processes;
- Build genuine stakeholder commitment to action.
In order to fulfil its tasks, in an optimal way, the Forum has to bring together high-level experts and stakeholders and be able to mobilise, quickly and flexibly, the best available expertise and interact with key networks. It will be managed by a dedicated Bureau, reporting to a Sounding Board and an outer group of Invited Members (experts and stakeholders). The Bureau and the Sounding Board will consist of permanent members to ensure operational stability, while the Invited Members will change continuously to allow the renewal of the Forum.
The Bureau will consist of the Chair and a maximum of ten high-level experts/key stakeholders who will meet regularly (4-6 times per year) to select the Forward Looking Activities which will be debated by the Forum and adopt the main recommendations to European decision makers. The Bureau shall ensure the interface with the Commission and the Forum.
The Sounding Board will comprise maximum fifteen Corresponding Members in intense interaction with the Buro; these members will meet with the Buro 2-4 times per year and debate in-depth the selected Forward Looking Activities and contribute to the recommendations.
Finally, the Group of Invited Members will consist of maximum fifteen experts and stakeholders selected in relation to specific studies, countries and events.