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Archived articles: Conference announcement: Foresight
Posted by Jeroen on Friday, June 07 2002 @ 19:01:24 CEST
News and announcements
Europe's Regions Shaping the Future - The Role of Foresight
September 24-25, 2002

Globalisation and Regional Governance; the Role of Foresight for Policy making in an Enlarged European Union (EU)

As much as global, international and national policies and conditions shape and penetrate regional activities, regional responses to these challenges determine the fate and speed of regional development. Regions limiting their responses to playing along with the global crowd will become undistinguishable in the crowd and thus will not be rewarded in the global market-place. Global and international competitiveness depends increasingly on an active search for and development of the regional strengths and peculiarities that need to be marketed regionally and globally. Regional innovation systems associated with regionally specific innovative networks seem to govern the opportunities for becoming a dynamic and forceful player in the local and global environment. In addition, a regional focus helps all actors to become aware of their potential capabilities and with that to improve their performance. In the end, the region may develop a stronger feeling of identity and a strategic vision of its present and future path to prosperity. Regional Foresight and assessment institutions can play a catalytic role for establishing regional innovation initiatives, monitor performance and suggest improvements and changes in the course of implementation.

Technology Foresight
Technology Foresight (TF) and Technology Assessment (TA) activities play an important role for giving guidance to policy makers from the public and private sector. They are important for the development and management of future-oriented innovation systems. Though technological changes are not predictable in the long run, TF/TA activities provide robust orientation assisting decision makers in detecting and identifying opportunities for further development. Furthermore they point out the networks of actors necessary to take advantage of these opportunities, and they are able to identify the barriers, risks and obstacles that need to be addressed to avoid these problems in advance. This is why governments and other relevant actors in innovation systems, have become increasingly interested in Foresight methods and best practices.

Foresight in a regional perspective
Regional Foresight fills a demand for ways to address strategic questions in a locally restricted but socially comprehensive manner. On a regional level one can involve a wide constituency of societal stakeholders and make use of innovation networks that operate beyond traditional boundaries. Currently the wide diversity of Foresight efforts indicates that Europeans are embracing the possibilities for engaging in regional innovation forms of Foresight and TA. However, there is still not enough cooperation and exchange of best practice among the various regions, and with activities at other governance levels, missing advantages, e.g., in the form of economies of scale, cost-efficiency, and shared knowledge gains. Thus it seems appropriate to think that networking regional Foresight activities, and embedding them thoroughly in policy design and implementation is the most effective way to build synergies and to foster learning effects across the different regions and policy fields. This has become all the more important at the eve of the Enlargement of the EU. Progress in the cooperation with the Candidate Countries could probably be achieved more thoroughly and rapidly at the regional level, and, once established in the field of Foresight and TA, joint activities in any other policy field might proceed more smoothly.

Background of the conference
The strength of Europe, its diversity and multi-cultural tradition, can be made a driving force for technological and organisational innovation. The many levels of governance structures within Europe as a whole and within each country provide an excellent prerequisite for a productive and effective combination of diversity and ingenuity when it comes to economic, organisational and social innovations. In 2001, the Commission has established a high level expert group on Mobilising the Regional Foresight Potential for an Enlarged EU, to contribute to the debate on a new European Governance, to the involvement of the Candidate Countries in the European integration process, and to the success of the "Lisbon Strategy". The group has successfully dealt with:
  • - different aspects of regional Foresight (effectiveness and efficiency; adaptation to different circumstances; benchmarking and quality control; alternative methods; etc.)
  • - linking regional Foresight to other fields and horizontal issues (to socio-economic policy development in knowledge-based economies; self-generative innovation capability; social knowledge management; sustainability; multi-level governance structures; importance for cohesion and candidate countries; etc)
The group members themselves, as well as the results of their work will constitute an important input to the conference. In addition, other high level policy makers and experts from Europe and outside Europe will share their knowledge and experience in this event.

Goals of the conference
Involving various Commission Services, European organisations, and policy makers and experts from Member States and Candidate Countries, the conference aims at contributing to the networking of regional decision-makers, as well as foresight practitioners, promoters and stakeholders throughout Europe's regions. The first day is dedicated to inserting regional Foresight in a broader context (European Governance, Enlargement, Lisbon Strategy, European Research Area) and presenting concrete results already achieved in this field in different European regions. The objective of the second day is to actively engage, on the one hand, promoters and sponsors of regional foresight (national and regional authorities, Commission Services, other supporters), and, on the other, practitioners and stakeholders (participants from the public and private domain) to develop ideas for new activities to harness the potential of Foresight to contribute to the Lisbon goals. There will be ample opportunity for this, as both the 'demand' and the 'supply' side will be broadly represented in the conference.
The creation of European consortia of Regional Foresight Initiatives could be one of the outcomes, strategic contributions to the realisation of the European Research Area (ERA), the far reaching goal of European research policy in the coming years. Regional Foresight activities will support the ERA by reinforcing and widening European unity through coordinated diversity and strengthening regional development in all Member States. This will be specifically important for the candidate and cohesion countries: They can develop their own path to modernization and innovation, and still link to all types of European networks and regions. Therefore, the conference focuses on regions both in Member States and Candidate Countries, with additional expert input from outside Europe.

Participants of the conference The conference is directed at the following persons:
  • Decision makers in and for the Regions in Europe;
  • Members/Representatives of Stakeholder Groups;
  • Representatives of regional TF/TA centres and initiatives;
  • TF/TA specialists;
  • Officials from Member States and Candidate Countries - national, regional, local;
  • Officials from Commission Services, e.g. Directorates General RTD, REGIO, ENTR, ENLARG, JRC;
  • Members of the European Parliament;
  • Committee of the Regions;
  • other interested parties.
For the program and more information, visit the conference website www.regional-foresight.de.


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