Written by Risto Nieminen,
Things change. In the European political environment and in the world in general, society has lately changed faster than ever before. Volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity (VUCA) have increased considerably. Today’s challenges are increasingly fast-moving, interconnected, and complex.
Policy-makers nevertheless need solid information on which to base legislation. A systematic approach to scanning and analysing future risks and opportunities increases the accuracy and effectiveness of legislative processes.
How can policy-makers keep ahead of the cycle? Anticipating and preparing for future events is essential for proactive, as opposed to reactive, policy-making. Moreover, contingency planning often assumes a return to the status quo following disruptive events, such as the 2008 financial crisis; when in the current complex environment this may not always be the case.
It is obviously impossible to predict future events with certainty. Nevertheless, the Members of the European Parliament may turn to the European Parliamentary Research Service (EPRS) for advice. The EPRS has developed a ‘radar approach‘, a first step in a process that provides policy-makers with new conceptual tools for anticipating future challenges and planning effective strategies to respond.
The ‘radar approach’ expands on the ‘classical’ linear presentation of possible future events, to provide a visual image that uncovers the links between a large number of seemingly non-related issues. The concept connects information such as long-term trends analysis and scientific foresight, and combines it with short- to medium-term political risks and opportunities. Members can use the tool to navigate uncertainty in the global environment, and to better understand the interconnectedness of complex events, and the current and future environment more generally.
Future developments of the ‘radar’ could include scenario building and stress testing – another powerful tool to explore the future, based on assumptions regarding the factors that drive development.
Do you have a view on elements that should be included in this new policy-making tool? Please feel free to tell us – leave a comment below.