Participatory foresight: Preventing an impact gap in the EU's approach to sustainability and resilience

Briefing 15-12-2021

The concepts of 'sustainability' and 'resilience' have been steadily gaining prominence in the EU's political discourse. Most recently in 2019, the von der Leyen Commission placed the goal of increased sustainability – environmental, social and economic – at the heart of its European Green Deal set of policy initiatives. As the EU achieves higher levels of sustainability, it will be more resilient, that is, capable of better withstanding a future crisis or shock, whether in the form of another pandemic, an economic downturn or a climate emergency. By putting sustainability and resilience at the centre of its strategic foresight framework, the EU can anchor specific policy objectives in broader narratives about its future. However, this may also carry a risk of creating an 'impact gap' – a mismatch between citizens' and stakeholders' expectations, on the one hand, and actual outcomes of policies, on the other. This briefing examines how participatory foresight can help to address a potential impact gap in the EU's endeavours related to sustainable resilience and strategic autonomy.