Views of future can influence decisions today
The article provides an overview of the main principles of foresight. These are: focus on actions, involvement of interested parties, a range of future scenarios, as well as disciplinary and methodologic variety. The authors stress that foresight differs from forecasts, as it is impossible to predict the future and the future is not predetermined, but can be shaped by the combined influence of today’s actions and decisions. Consequently, the aim of foresight is not to propose a single outcome, but to create different future scenarios together with the decision-makers and experts. Taking those into account, the decision-makers can influence future developments.
The activities of the Foresight Centre, founded by the Riigikogu, are based on the above principles. The main mission of the Foresight Centre is to contribute to the strengthening of the legislative power in making strategic decisions. In the period of 2017–2018 the Foresight Centre will concentrate on three main spheres that were identified through consultations with experts and decision-makers. These are public (e-)governance, rules in work relations, and productivity.
The aim of the public (e-)governance study is to link the e-state development with public sector reforms. The study will try to establish if and how discretion and organization of state services can be brought closer to the citizens, as well as if and how participatory democracy can become more wide-spread through skilful use of technology.
The studies on the future of labour aim to connect the scenarios of population development, changes in work formats and work relations through time, as well as legal and tax effects of these. An additional goal is to collect and systematize experimental ideas developed in Estonia and worldwide on the possible fundamental changes in the regulation of the labour market.
Through the use of metaanalysis, productivity studies aim to establish a cleaner picture of the factors that affect productivity. Studies might focus on connections between productivity and quality of management, between research and development, or between export and international value chains.
The Foresight Centre intends to provide alternative scenarios for these three topics for the period till 2030. The Foresight Centre is to provide main points for decision-making. In order to carry out the studies, key policy shapers and experts from respective areas will be engaged. The studies will be carried out by the Foresight Centre with the help of an international experts’ network. The Foresight Centre also provides a regular overview of the activities of think tanks around the world.