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Foresight? Contribution to the debate on the future of EU agricultural policy

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Strategic foresight is increasingly being used as a technique to help organisations anticipate and prepare for potential challenges or opportunities. Its application to agricultural and rural development policies is examined in this briefing. A range of relevant foresight studies are identified and examined across a number of elements, covering: the identification of key drivers of change; the nature of the scenarios they present (including the role of technology and precision farming); and food security as well as the territorial dimensions relating to the future of Europe’s rural areas.

These findings are analysed for their implications for future policy-making in respect of EU agriculture and rural development matters. In the field of public policy, there is a growing realisation that the policy process has to address many challenges such as: advancing greater policy integration; identifying and applying the lessons from previous experience of policy implementation; maximising the use of the available evidence base, and considering and adopting a long-term view of the future through forward thinking involving the development of different scenarios.

Foresight studies recognise the multi-disciplinary nature of the challenges facing agriculture and the importance of ‘interconnected policy-making’. The potential also exists for strategic foresight to be applied at different territorial levels.

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SOURCE: European Parliament Think Tank