Where to find new directions for Finland?
For the first time ever, a separate foresight-insight work stage was included in the preparation of the foresight report, with the purpose of seeking new directions for Finland in a new way. A large number of experts participated in the related theme groups, organised in the autumn of 2012. In addition, a broad-based national debate was conducted on the www.2030.fi website and at regional events. The Internet questionnaire in the spring, and the analysis of material and workshops, formed the basis of this. They assisted in selecting six themes for the foresight process.
Sustainable growth and well-being through foresight
The Future 2030 foresight process was aimed at creating perspectives on future directions. In the beginning of its term, the Government agreed to submit a Foresight Report to Parliament, focusing on the themes of sustainable growth and citizens’ well-being. The time-frame of the review extends to 2030, which puts today’s teenagers in a key role in leading the way. The resulting foresight report also involved the review of foresight research and processes conducted elsewhere.
Independent representatives of research, businesses and citizens’ organisations were invited to participate in the foresight process. The contributions of ministries and interest groups will be channelled into the strategy phase and the actual report. Expert workshops sought fresh, bold ideas and desired future scenarios covering the period to 2030. People, and their needs, lay at the centre of this work. The aim was to identify sources of sustainable growth and well-being to which too little attention has been paid, rather than proposing solutions or measures, or creating a comprehensive vision for the future.
The next phase will involve preparation and the making of choices, i.e. strategic work, for the Government Foresight Report Together with other key materials on the future, such as the international benchmarking process, foresight results will form the starting point for government futures work.
Why the foresight process and a Government Foresight Report?
Once in each electoral period, the Government provides Parliament with Government Foresight Report on the long-term perspectives and options faced by society. The themes of each report each have a separate focus on strategic issues related to policy decisions to be taken in a 10-20 year period in question. The Government Foresight Report presents the views of the Government and gives the related policy decisions. In addition to the Government, Parliament participates in the consideration of the Report, which also provides issues for a broader-based debate within society. The Prime Minister's Office is responsible for the Government Foresight Report and promoting the implementation of policies within the given time frame.
How was the foresight process implemented and who contributed to the work?
The foresight process was conducted by taking a needs-based approach, through collaboration between the Prime Minister’s Office, the Finnish Innovation Fund Sitra, the Academy of Finland, and the Finnish Funding Agency for Technology and Innovation, Tekes. Extensive analysis material was produced for the range of themes subjected to foresight work: participating organisations’ material on trends and drivers, an extensive analysis and a summary of global and domestic research and analysis reports, plus a questionnaire making use of social media.
Furthermore, expert workshops and broad-based crowd sourcing were utilised in selecting the themes, as were top-down and bottom-up approaches and extensive interaction. The end result comprises six actual content themes and four horizontal themes.
The foresight process was conducted by means of interactive workshops. Each of the six themes had two chairs, responsible for leading the workshops and reporting. One of the workshop chairpersons represented business life, and the other the world of research and universities. In addition, special expert representatives were assigned to the horizontal perspectives – global, ICT, skills and competences, and resilience – cutting across the themes.
The views of regions and young people were included in foresight process, by organising regional discussion events, led by ministers, in seven university cities. The regional events shook up conventional thinking while comprehensive school, secondary high school and vocational students described their expectations. In addition, interest group discussions were conducted and utilising blogs and debates featuring on the Internet and social media. In order to integrate international perspectives into the process, interactive discussions were held with international top experts. Broader-based international validation and benchmarking remains to be implemented after the process.