Futures Studies and Strategy Development

For the timely recognition of threats and opportunities, and, as a society, to react to them effectively, we need to explore the future. Within Public Design for Water, the Futures Studies and Strategy Development knowledge field focuses specifically on this activity. We scan the horizon in search of societal and technological developments, among others for drinking water utilities and Water Authorities, but also in an integrated manner and jointly with all stakeholders in the field. On this basis, we develop future scenarios.

Methods and projects within Futures Studies and Strategy Development

In our DWSI learning alliance, we use think-tank sessions and social learning, together with strategists and policy-advisors, to make sense of the developments that we signal. We identify the associated opportunities and risks for the water sector, clarify the current paradigms, and develop strategic building blocks to initiate changes. This provides input for programming research agendas, to define priorities for innovation programmes, but also to choose concrete measures and take decisions.

We also develop future scenarios that provide a reference point for policy development and planning. For the Water Authorities we organise a yearly Scenario Thinking course, as a means of learning to deal with complexities and uncertainties of the future. Through the use of backcasting, we render these plans concrete. We conduct futures studies for individual organisations, but increasingly also within area planning processes or for groups of stakeholders. In this manner, we help society deal with future changes and to steer towards societal value.