For policy development it is important to contemplate about territorial futures and to investigate what is likely to happen in territorial terms if a major societal change or incident occurs. This can in principle be a specific change in the economic, social or ecological framework conditions for Europe, its regions and cities affecting significantly their development opportunities and challenges. It can also be an innovative idea or technology that will change basic modalities for society and daily life of European citizens.
The aim of investigating various possible territorial futures is to inform and prepare policy makers related to the potential consequences, opportunities and challenges of future eventualities. Foresight studies in general serve policy development; they can advise policy makers on how to ensure that their current policies are robust in the light of future uncertainties and give them the opportunity to think about risk prevention as well as develop opportunities as part of strategic planning of long-term coherent policies. Foresight studies can also serve the agenda setting, including identifying issues for policy attention.
Territorial foresight studies shall make the territorial element for policy makers explicit. For these studies to be useful, policy-makers at various governance levels need to be encouraged to use them, to discuss the territorial dimension of policy initiatives and to foster a better understanding of how territorially blind policies can benefit from making the best use of the diversity of territorial development potentials.
The main objective of this project is on the one hand to contribute to understanding possible territorial consequences, opportunities and challenges, of three «what-if» questions and with that to support policy development and agenda setting at relevant scales (European, national, regional and local). On the other hand the aim is to develop more general guidelines for territorial foresight studies within ESPON.