Foresight for unknown, long-term and emerging risks, Approaches and Recommendations

CSER researchers, led by Clarissa Rios Rojas, produced a detailed summary of foresight, futures and horizon scanning techniques that we have developed for the study of extreme risks and that could be implemented within the UK policy context. This was a submission of evidence to The House of Lords Select Committee on Risk Assessment and Risk Planning.


Foresight approaches have played an increasing role in our efforts to understand and develop ways of addressing global risks. They enable us to engage a range of expertise in exploring possible future scenarios, technological and societal trends, their drivers, interactions and potential consequences. Outputs can then feed into decisions and actions to manage these risks and avoid undesirable futures. We have adapted and implemented methods used in other fields, and continue to build our capabilities to evaluate the effectiveness of different approaches so that we can refine them and share robust methods and tools with others working in this – and related – areas. In this submission we outline: a) Some of the foresight and horizon scanning methods we apply in our work that are demonstrated to be useful when managing unknown, long-term and emerging risks. We recommend that the government and other key stakeholders strengthen their approach to risk assessment by using more of the insights coming from these types of studies. b) A set of recommendations for policymakers on how to maximise the potential benefits from foresight and horizon scanning in general, including the importance of promoting broad participation and transparency.

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