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Foresight

Brussels, January 28, 2023

To Professor Charles Hyart

 

1. Russia is a European power

Россия есть Европейская держава

Russia is a European power. This was a phrase I often heard repeated by Charles Hyart (1913-2014), my teacher of language and of history of Russian civilisation at the University of Liège[1]. It appears in Article 6 of the Nakaz of Empress Catherine II of Russia (1729-1796), the Instruction she issued in 1767 to the Legislative Commission responsible for harmonising the laws. This work was an authentic treatise on political philosophy, inspired by L’esprit des Lois (1748) of Montesquieu (1689-1755) and by the Italian jurist Cesare Beccaria (1738-1794). It was written in French, then translated into Russian by the Tsarina herself [2]. The phrase appearing in this Article 6 underlines that there was, at least in the minds of certain leaders – despots, enlightened or otherwise –, a desire to impose the notion of a European Russia on both Russians and Westerners.

This orientation did not first emerge in the 18th century. Ever since Ivan IV, known as Grozny, the Terrible (1530-1584), the first Tsar of Russia who reigned from 1547 to 1584, Russia had regularly opened itself up to the West, and in particular to the English through the Northern ports. Peter the Great (1672-1725), who reigned from 1694 to 1725, began a genuine process to westernise the country. This movement continued until the Common European Home, the concept created by Mikhail Gorbachev (1931-2022), even if there were a number of pendulum swings which saw Russia’s European identity sometimes enhanced and sometimes rejected[3]. Some actors viewed the westernisation of their country as a process of derussification. They considered it a betrayal of the triumphant heritage of Byzantium from which Russia arose. They opposed Westernisation, which they regarded as deviance, in the name of slavophilia – Slav nationalism –, asianity or eurasianism, which were permeating the vastness of the two continents straddled by Russia[4].

But it was also in the name of this vastness that, despite her intellectual proximity to Denis Diderot (1713-1784) and to Alembert (1717-1783), Catherine the Great wrote in Articles 9 and 11 of her Instruction that:

[…] The sovereign is absolute; for there is no other authority but that which centers in his single person that can act with a vigour proportionate to the extent of such a vast dominion. […] Every other form of government whatsoever would not only have been prejudicial to Russia, but would even have proved its entire ruin [5].

We will not descend into such determinism.

The Western Europeans’ view of Russia also varied: the violent presence of the Cossacks of Tsar Alexander I  (1777-1825), conqueror of Napoleon (1769-1821), experienced by Liège, the Ardenne, then Paris in 1814, and then the fear of troops from a Russia who was “the policeman of Europe”, the Russia of Nicolas I (1796-1855), threatening the Belgian Revolution of 1830 from afar, gave way, after the Crimean War (1853-1856) [6], to the Franco-Russian Alliance of 1892 and to the bloody confrontation of 1914-1918 which led to the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk of 3 March 1918. This treaty, in which the central empires imposed peace on the Eastern front, meant, for Russia, the loss of Ukraine, the Baltic States and the Caucasus, against the backdrop of the anti-Bolshevik crusades pursued by the Allies: the English, French, Italian, American and Japanese intervened directly and militarily until 1920 [7].

Then came the fascination exerted by Petrograd, then Moscow, the new capital of a Bolshevik socialism, on our intellectuals and proletariat, until the end of the 20th century for some. A land existed, said André Gide (1869-1951) in 1936, where utopia was becoming reality [8], and which, increasingly, asserted itself as a global superpower with the United States, as French sociologist Alexis de Tocqueville (1805-1859) had foreseen a century earlier, in 1835, in Democracy in America:

There are, at the present time, two great nations in the world which seem to tend towards the same end, although they started from different points: I allude to the Russians and the Americans. Both of them have grown up unnoticed; and whilst the attention of mankind was directed elsewhere, they have suddenly assumed a most prominent place amongst the nations; and the world learned their existence and their greatness at almost the same time.

All other nations seem to have nearly reached their natural limits, and only to be charged with the maintenance of their power; but these are still in the act of growth; all the others are stopped, or continue to advance with extreme difficulty; these are proceeding with ease and with celerity along a path to which the human eye can assign no term [9].

 

2. The Second Russian Revolution

The arrival of Mikhail Gorbachev in the Kremlin in March 1985 was a major bifurcation which triggered a reversion movement in Europe. The backdrop was characterised by the partial failure of the implementation of the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE), held in Helsinki in 1975 [10]. It was also a period of tensions over the siting of missiles in Europe, the invasion of Afghanistan, and the Polish crisis in the early 1980s.

From 1985 to 1986, the reforming Russian leader developed an idea which he presented in a speech he gave in London in 1984: in his view, Europe is our common home [11]. This initial signal enabled the European Economic Community, the following year, to begin negotiations with Moscow for the purpose of preparing a draft agreement on trade and cooperation. One of Gorbachev’s collaborators, Vladimir Lukin, a diplomat at the Foreign Ministry of the Russian Federation (MID), noted in 1988 that the European Common Home proclaimed by President Gorbachev represents the home of a civilisation on the periphery of which we have remained for a long time. Lukin, the future ambassador to Washington, noted that this process, which at that time was growing in Russia and in a number of countries in the East, had, everywhere, the same historical dimension, namely the dimension of a return towards Europe [12].

With his New Thinking, Gorbachev continued his reform of the USSR [13]. In his famous speech of 7 December 1988 at the United Nations in New York, the Kremlin leader showed a new face of Russia and undertook to withdraw from Germany and from Eastern Europe a substantial portion of the Soviet troops stationed there.

A few months later, on 6 July 1989, before the Council of Europe in Strasbourg, where, in 1959, General de Gaulle (1890-1970) had evoked the idea of a Europe from the Atlantic to the Urals [14], Mikhail Gorbachev announced the repeal of the Brezhnev doctrine. This dealt with the right of the USSR to intervene in the socialist countries to defend the Communist doctrine and its territorial acquisitions. It was in this speech that the First Secretary of the Soviet Communist Party repeated the words of Victor Hugo (1802-1885) on the United States of Europe, uttered in 1849:

[…] the day will come when you, France, you, Russia, you, Italy, you, England, you Germany — all of you, all the nations of the continent — will, without losing your distinguishing features and your splendid distinctiveness, merge inseparably into some high society and form a European brotherhood … the day will come when only the battlefield will be markets open for trade and minds open to ideas [15].

President Mikhail Gorbachev at the Council of Europe in Strasbourg, 6 July 1989 (Photo capture INA)

In this speech, Gorbachev gave a broad explanation of his European Home concept and concluded that, by uniting, Europeans would be able to address the challenges of the 21st century.

[…] We are convinced that what they need is one Europe — peaceful and democratic, a Europe that maintains all its diversity and common humanistic ideas, a prosperous Europe that extends its hand to the rest of the world. A Europe that confidently advances into the future. It is in such a Europe that we visualise our own future [16].

At the time, this Soviet project, with its increasingly social-democrat orientation, was strongly supported by French President François Mitterrand (1916-1996) who tried to bolster its content, notably when he outlined the following plan on television on 31 December 1989:

On the basis of the Helsinki agreements, I expect to see the birth of a European Confederation, in the true sense of the word, in the 1990s, which will involve all states of our continent in a common organisation with continuous exchange, peace and security [17].

In Mitterrand’s view, the Pan-European union, the confederation he announced in his speech at the Elysée Palace, was not intended to replace the EEC.

In this context, the Warsaw Pact member countries and the NATO countries signed the Paris Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe. Likewise, in the wake of this, Moscow endorsed the Charter for a New Europe, adopted by the 34 countries at the end of the same summit, organised ahead of the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE) of 19-21 November 1990 [18]. This charter dealt with respect for democratic pluralism and human rights and freedoms, and it aimed to open a new era:

We, the Heads of State or Government of the States participating in the Conference on Security and Co-operation in Europe, have assembled in Paris at a time of profound change and historic expectations. The era of confrontation and division of Europe has ended. We declare that henceforth our, relations will be founded on respect and co-operation. Europe is liberating itself from the legacy of the past. The courage of men and women, the strength of the will of the peoples and the power of the ideas of the Helsinki Final Act have opened a new era of democracy, peace and unity in Europe [19].

 Hopes were clearly very high. In fact, according to Professor Hiski Haukkala, by signing the Paris Charter, Gorbachev signaled the end of a competing Soviet normative agenda for the future development of the European international society. Once again it was Europe’s turn to condition Russia’s place in Europe [20].

 

3. The seeds of a future problem

However, in late June 1991, after the Conference of the European Confederation held in Prague, on the initiative of François Mitterrand and endorsed by Vaclav Havel (1936-2011), President of Czechoslovakia, it seemed that it was a failure [21]. Mitterrand’s former advisor on the matter wrote that, in this case, the French President’s only mistake was being right too soon. His clear thinking collided with the convergence of conservatism (that of the Americans, who primarily wanted to maintain their influence in Europe) and impatience (that of the countries of Eastern Europe, who were keen to climb aboard the Community train) [22]. The acceleration of the processes of opening up to the countries of the East, German reunification, and the hostility of the United States to a process in which they were not involved caused the demise of the Confederation and the Common Home [23]. Jacques Lévesque, Professor at UQAM, expressed it thus:

The rapid and unexpected collapse of the regimes of Eastern Europe brought about the ruin of Gorbachev’s ideology of transition and European policy by depriving it of the essential drivers for its implementation and caused the disintegration of the Soviet Union itself [24].

In December 1991, Gorbachev’s USSR imploded in favour of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), dominated by the Russian Federation.

In spring 1992, after these events, Andrei Kozyrev, Foreign Minister under Russian President Boris Yeltsin (1931-2007), stressed the future importance for Russia of being part of the European structures and confirmed the value of active participation in the European process. Use of the norms and expertise accumulated in the European context would, he observed, be of great help in solving the internal problems of Russia and of the other former Soviet republics[25]. Under his influence, Russia applied for membership of the Council of Europe in May 1992, joining it on 28 February 1996 [26]. This was a significant step, too often forgotten. In November 1992, Russia also entered into negotiations with the EEC with a view to a partnership and cooperation agreement on shared democratic values, respect for human rights, and entrepreneurship. This agreement was signed on 24 June 1994 in Corfu (Italy), where Russia and the European Union declared themselves mutual strategic partners [27]. This was another important step in the rapprochement between Russia and Europe. This rapprochement was not merely a signature on paper: from 1990 to 1994, the EEC was responsible for 60% of the international aid to Russia via the TACIS programme [28], and it became one of Moscow’s leading commercial partners, representing more than a third of Russia’s foreign trade [29].

This process of rapprochement suffered as a result of NATO’s marginalisation of Russia during the Balkan wars [30]. This marginalisation triggered anti-Western sentiments and cost Kozyrev his job, despite his efforts to bring about, in the face of increasingly strong Russian nationalist pressure, a switch from his policy to a defence of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), a vital interest of Russia [31].

In January 1996, Kozyrev was replaced by Yevgeny Primakov (1929-2015). A brilliant academic who spoke several languages, including Arabic and French, Primakov was in favour of a multipolar diplomacy in which Russia would assume a Eurasian power role, including in the ‘near abroad’ countries of the former Soviet republics. This multipolarity was viewed on the other side of the Atlantic as a desire to harm the United States on all fronts [32]. Europe, however, was still a favoured partner of Russia when a strengthened partnership agreement was signed in November 1997 [33]. The attractiveness of Europe for the Russians had lost the euphoria of the early days, especially as Brussels was showing increasing irritation through its constant criticisms, particularly concerning the Chechen question. In March 1999, it was the unilateral intervention triggered by the US Administration in Kosovo which caused a crisis with NATO; it reached its climax with the occupation by Russian paratroopers of Slatina-Pristina airport on 12 June 1999 [34]. This was also the time of the NATO expansion to include the “countries of the East”.

The US leaders and their West German counterparts skilfully derailed Gorbachev’s plans, offering NATO membership to East Germany, without making any formal promises, not in writing at any rate, on the future of the alliance [35]. But Mary Elise Sarotte, Professor of history at the University of Southern California, highlighted this when she recalled that James Baker, former Secretary of State under George H. W. Bush (1924-2018), from 1989 to 1993, had written in his memoirs: almost every achievement contains within its success the seeds of a future problem. She observed that, by design, Russia was left on the periphery of a post-Cold War Europe. A young KGB officer serving in East Germany in 1989 offered his own recollection of the era in an interview a decade later, in which he remembered returning to Moscow full of bitterness at how “the Soviet Union had lost its position in Europe” [36].

His name was Vladimir Putin, and he would one day have the power to act on that bitterness [37].

 

4. Outstretched hand and closed fist

The arrival of Vladimir Putin at the Kremlin took place against a background of détente with the West, when the post-9/11 war on terror and the development of energy cooperation with Western Europe were major factors.

As the first Russian leader to address the Bundestag, in September 2001, Vladimir Putin began his speech in Russian then continued at length in the language of Goethe, Schiller and Kant. He underlined the importance of European culture by recalling the significant contribution made by Russia to that culture which, he noted, has known no borders and has always been a common asset. And he continued:

As for European integration, we not just support these processes, but we are looking to them with hope. We view them as a people who have learned the lesson of the Cold War and the peril of the ideology of occupation very well. But here, I think, it would be pertinent to add that Europe did not gain from that division either.

It is my firm conviction that in today’s rapidly changing world, in a world witnessing truly dramatic demographic changes and an exceptionally high economic growth in some regions, Europe also has an immediate interest in promoting relations with Russia.

No one calls in question the great value of Europe’s relations with the United States. I am just of the opinion that Europe will reinforce its reputation of a strong and truly independent centre of world politics soundly and for a long time if it succeeds in bringing together its own potential and that of Russia, including its human, territorial and natural resources and its economic, cultural and defense potential [38].

Alongside this outstretched hand, the Kremlin leader lamented the objections that remained with the West and demanded loyalty from NATO by questioning the soundness of the expansion to the East and bemoaning the inability to reach an agreement on antimissile defense systems. Closing his speech about German-Russian relations, Vladimir Putin spoke of his conviction that Germany and Russia were turning over a new page in their relations, thereby making our joint contribution to building a common European home [39].

In the years that followed, Europe became the principal commercial partner of a Russia whose GDP growth reached 7% per year from 2000 to 2007 [40]. This favourable climate meant that the Russian-European Summit in St Petersburg in May 2003 was a great success. At this Summit, the Russian and European diplomats defined four spaces: a common economic space, a common space of freedom, security and justice, a common space of cooperation in the field of external security, and a common space on research and education [41]. The Moscow Summit of May 2005 outlined a series of roadmaps for the implementation of these cooperation spaces founded on security and stability. The Russians and Europeans agreed to actively promote them in a mutually beneficial manner, through close result-oriented EU-Russia collaboration and dialogue, thereby contributing effectively to creating a greater Europe without dividing lines and based on common values [42].

However, once again the geopolitical context collapsed. The Chechen terrorist attacks in Moscow (2002) and in Beslan (2004), the effects of the eastward expansion of the European Union in 2004 to include eight post-communist countries, meaning that Russia’s ‘near abroad’ – especially Belarus and Ukraine – became Europe’s ‘near abroad’, and the suspicion of European support for the colour revolutions – Georgia in 2003, Ukraine in 2004, and Kyrgyzstan in 2005 – led to a new Russian distrust of Europe. Simultaneously, the blatant human rights violations of Vladimir Putin’s regime and especially the assassination, in 2006, of Moscow-based journalist Anna Politkovskaya dashed the European hopes that had arisen from the 2003 Summit.

Russian president Vladimir Putin delivers his remarks about « Russia’s Role in World Politics » during the 43rd Annual Conference on Security Policy in Munich, Germany, Feb. 10, 2007. The theme for the conference is « Global Crisis-Global Responsibilities. » Defense Dept. photo by Cherie A. Thurlby (released)

It was a frustrated Vladimir Putin who attended the 43rd Munich Conference on Security Policy on 10 February 2007. As Professor Richard Sakwa from the University of Kent wrote, Putin, who was probably the most European leader his country had ever known, intended to bring his country into a new phase of international relations [43]. The Russian president issued a direct challenge to the unipolar model established by the role of the United States in the world and advocated a return to a multipolar world which took account of the economic realities of the planet: China, India, and BRICS, including Russia, had emerged, he pointed out. And although the Kremlin leader at the end of his mandate again evoked the idea of “the great European family”, he mainly denounced the insecurity which the NATO expansion was causing at the Russian borders, stating:

I think it is obvious that NATO expansion does not have any relation with the modernisation of the Alliance itself or with ensuring security in Europe. On the contrary, it represents a serious provocation that reduces the level of mutual trust. And we have the right to ask: against whom is this expansion intended? [44]

When the new president Dmitri Medvedev entered office on 7 May 2008, all this tension seemed to be forgotten. The Foreign Policy Concept which the President of the Russian Federation approved on 15 July 2008 called for strategic relations to be established with the European Union on a solid, modern legal basis and for a legal space to be created under the auspices of the Council of Europe which would extend across the whole of Europe.

The main objective of the Russian foreign policy on the European track is to create a truly open, democratic system of regional collective security and cooperation ensuring the unity of the Euro-Atlantic region, from Vancouver to Vladivostok, in such a way as not to allow its new fragmentation and reproduction of bloc-based approaches which still persist in the European architecture that took shape during the Cold War period. This is precisely the essence of the initiative aimed at concluding a European security treaty, the elaboration of which could be launched at a pan-European summit [45].

Thereupon, Moscow called for the construction of a genuinely unified Europe, without dividing lines, through equal interaction between Russia, the European Union and the United States. In addition, since Russia was asserting itself as the biggest European State with a multinational and multiconfessional society and centuries-old history, the Kremlin offered to play a constructive role in ensuring a civilizational compatibility of Europe, and harmonious integration of religious minorities, including in view of the various existing migration trends. The new policy concept also called for a strengthening of the role of the Council of Europe, and of the OSCE, and announced the desire of the Russian Federation to develop its relations with the European Union, a major trade, economic and foreign-policy partner. Russia also stated that it was interested in establishing a strategic partnership with the European Union and mutually beneficial relations with the countries in the Union [46].

The ambiguities between the Atlantic democracies also increased. Whereas the United States primarily viewed NATO as a leadership instrument whose role included bringing partners together on missions that might extend beyond the European theatre, the countries of Eastern Europe essentially saw NATO as an instrument of peace in Europe. For their part, the new members from Central and Eastern Europe viewed the Alliance as a bulwark against a Russia which they still feared. As Charles Kupchan wrote, the preoccupation of these countries rendered them open to a Euro-Atlantic order focused more on NATO than on the European Union. This analysis led the professor of International Relations at Georgetown University in Washington, to argue in favour of allowing Russia to join the Atlantic Alliance [47].

To respond to NATO’s continued expansion eastwards, the new military doctrine of Moscow regarded the enlargement of NATO as a major external threat, especially when the alliance contemplated allowing Georgia and Ukraine to join. In anticipation of the annual OSCE meeting in Athens, on 1 December 2009, Sergey Lavrov, Foreign Minister of the Russian Federation since 2004, presented a draft treaty on European security, which worried the Europeans and irritated Washington. This reorganisation of the security architecture was based on the idea that any action taken by one of the parties, individually or collectively, including as part of an international organisation, alliance or military coalition, had to take into account the interests of the other signatory parties to the treaty. The European Union responded politely, while drawing attention to the fact that this new proposal should in no way affect the current security obligations of the Member States of the Union [48].

In 2010, a number of initiatives appeared to offer a new momentum in relations between Russia and the West. At the United Nations, Russia voted in favour of sanctions against Iran, which was perceived positively in Brussels. As Russian Prime Minister, Vladimir Putin welcomed his Polish counterpart Donald Tusk in Katyn and expressed remorse regarding the massacre carried out in Poland in 1940 on the orders of Stalin (1878-1953). In April 2010, in Prague, President Dmitri Medvedev signed the New Start Treaty with President Barack Obama with the aim of limiting the number of intercontinental ballistic missiles. The following month, NATO troops, at the cordial invitation of the Russians, marched in Red Square to commemorate the 65th anniversary of the victory over Nazism [49]. Efforts were also maintained on both sides to cement certain cooperation activities. At the EU-Russia Summit at Rostov-on-Don, in spring 2010, a Partnership for Modernisation (P4M) was launched in a relaxed atmosphere, but it failed to deliver any significant improvement in a relationship which some people already viewed as a compromise [50]. It is true that there was a growing feeling of unease in Europe over the reliability of the Russian energy supply [51]. The conflict in South Ossetia between Russia and a Georgia which seemed to be aligning itself with the West also increased tensions at diplomatic and military levels.

 

5. Relations during the stalemate

In July 2013, however, Russian minister Sergey Lavrov published an article in the highly respected international academic publication, the Journal of Common Market Studies; the former Russian representative at the UN (1994-2004) stated that:

European history cannot be imagined without Russia, just as the history of Russia cannot be imagined apart from Europe. For centuries, Russia has been involved in shaping European reality in its political, economic and cultural dimensions. Yet the debate of how close Russia and its west European partners can be and to what degree Russia is a European Country has also been going on for centuries.

Minister Lavrov also pointed out that, in recent years, […] we have an unprecedented opportunity to fulfil the dream of a united Europe [52]. Nevertheless, it was debatable whether that opportunity had passed.

 

President of the European Council Herman Van Rompuy at the European University in St. Petersburg, 5 September 2013 (Photo European University)

Less than two months later, on 5 September 2013, European Council President Herman Van Rompuy, who was in St Petersburg for the G20 meeting, delivered a lecture at the European University. His words echoed those of Victor Hugo in 1849 and of Vladimir Putin in 2001, among others:

[…] We Europeans, we know one another. We – the French, the Prussians then Germans, the Swedes, the Dutch, the Italians, the Poles, the British, the Russians, and all the others, we have read each other’s books, we listened to each other’s music, we believed in the same God, we have engaged in battles between various sides, we spoke and traded with, and learned from each other, and at times have misunderstood each other. Perhaps we are, as has been said, one “European family”. But then again, one must be careful with a word like that, because to me it immediately brings to mind the first line of Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina: « All happy families resemble one another, each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way. »! I would say that the European family can be happy in its own way. I would say that the European family can be happy in its own way [53].

However, as with Putin’s speech in the Bundestag, the remainder of the text hinted at problems, with Herman Van Rompuy observing:

We share common borders, and also common neighbours. Ukraine, Armenia, Moldova which matter to us both, have to define their own path. But in our view, for Ukraine, an Association Agreement with the European Union would not damage the country’s long-standing ties with Russia. Why should it have to be a case of ‘either/or’? [54]

The creation of the Eurasian Customs Union (ECU) between Russia, Belarus, and Kazakhstan in 2010 and the ambition to transform it rapidly into a genuine Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) could be interpreted as an initiative aimed at countering the growing presence of the European Union in the post-Soviet area. The Euromaidan demonstrations, which broke out in Ukraine in 2013 at the refusal of President Viktor Yanukovych to sign the Association Agreement with the EU in favour of an agreement with Russia, seemed to realise the Kremlin’s worst fears of seeing its ‘near abroad’ grow in importance.

The annexation of Crimea in March 2014, and in particular the shooting down over the Donetsk region of Malaysian Airlines flight MH-17 from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur on 17 July 2014, triggered European economic sanctions. These sanctions accelerated the breakdown in relations, especially as they significantly encouraged the rapprochement between Brussels and Kiyv: on 16 September 2014, the Association Agreement was ratified by the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine and the European Parliament. Recalling the statement by US Vice-President Joe Biden that the American leadership had cajoled Europe into imposing sanctions on Russia even though the EU had initially been opposed, Sergey Lavrov pointed out that, for several years, Russia had over-estimated the independence of the European Union and even big European countries. The Foreign Minister of the Russian Federation repeated this view in 2017 [55].

Echoing the words of Russian historian Sergei Medvedev, relations between Europe and Russia had then reached stalemate [56]. At a meeting in Brussels on 14 March 2016 chaired by the Italian politician Federica Mogherini, European High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, the Foreign Ministers of the 28 Member States unanimously adopted five principles aimed at guiding the Union’s policy on Russia:

– implementation of the Minsk agreement on the Donbas region of September 2014 and February 2015[57] as the key condition for any substantial change in the European Union’s stance towards Russia;

– strengthened relations with the EU’s Eastern partners and other neighbours, in particular in Central Asia;

– strengthening the resilience of the EU (for example, energy security, hybrid threats, or strategic communication);

– the need for selective engagement with Russia on issues of interest to the EU;

– the need to engage in people-to-people contacts and support Russian civil society[58].

These clearly stated positions illustrated but also contributed to the estrangement between Europe and the Russian Federation. Russia was also, and increasingly, openly ignoring the Union as an institution, as demonstrated by the visit to Moscow, in February 2021, of Josep Borrell, which coincided with the expulsion of European diplomats in the case involving Russian opposition figure Alexei Navalny [59]. Russia seems to be gradually detaching itself from Europe, wrote the EU High Representative upon his return from this difficult trip[60].

The European Union’s commitment towards the Ukrainians had become increasingly evident since the Russian aggression of 24 February 2022. At the Foreign Affairs Council of 17 October 2022, the ministers took a number of important decisions after being informed of the military escalation and the strikes on Kiyv by the Russian army. They agreed to establish an EU military assistance mission to support the Ukrainian armed forces. The mission would train around 15,000 soldiers on EU territory. They also agreed to allocate €500 million in respect of the European Peace Facility to finance supplies intended for the Ukrainian forces, thus increasing military assistance to Ukraine to €3.1 billion[61].

This commitment clearly provided arguments for Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov when he declared, on 20 October 2022, that the supplies of weapons from the European Union to Kiyv made it a “stakeholder in the conflict” in Ukraine and that countries who supply weapons to Ukraine were “sponsors of terrorism[62].

 

6. Conclusion: power is not an emotion

6.1. From Kant to Hobbes…

Since their earliest contacts, the countries and peoples of Western Europe have had complex relations with Russia. The analysis of these relations is based on the preliminary questions of, firstly, what Russia is and, secondly, what Europe is, questions which are impossible to answer. Intuitively, we feel that it is an issue of temporality: the complex relationship between our present and our past, between history and future: the world to come, aspirations, plans.

The European Union and Russia do not use the same geopolitical grammar [63], since, in Moscow’s view, Europe often discredits itself through its soft power, which is perceived by the Kremlin, and by other governments, as a weak and haphazard hieratic policy. The shift in the discourse of several representatives of the European Union since the aggression in March 2022 has also surprised observers. This was the case when, on 13 October 2022, European Commission Vice-President and High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Josep Borrell, declared, in response to the bellicose rhetoric of Vladimir Putin, that a Russian nuclear attack against Ukraine would provoke such a powerful answer that the Russian army would be annihilated [64]. The nature and the legitimacy of such statements is debatable. As Kathleen R. McNamara, Professor at Georgetown University and an expert in European issues, wrote in an article of The Washington Post entitled Is Venus becoming Mars?, whereas, previously, the European Union had sought to rise above the fray in the struggles between major powers, attempting to offer a peaceful alternative to violence and coercion, European leaders seemed to be trying to remake the European DNA and become a traditional power player [65]. This change was particularly surprising to McNamara since, in her book on constructing authority in the Union, published in 2017, she argued that the policy of the European Union, since it sought to complement rather than compete with the nation States that form the Union, rendered its authority inherently fragile [66].

The American neo-conservative historian and political scientist Robert Kagan, who was based in Brussels in the early 2000s, had also described the European Union as a particularly weak and passive actor in international relations, denouncing it as entering a posthistorical paradise of peace and relative prosperity by referencing the realisation of the Perpetual Peace of Immanuel Kant (1724-1804), published in 1795 [67]. Kagan also expressed in a very gendered and well-known phrase that Americans are from Mars and Europeans are from Venus. He observed that rather than viewing the collapse of the Soviet Union as an opportunity to flex global muscles, Europeans took it as an opportunity to cash in on a sizable peace dividend [68].

Kagan, who wrote Of Paradise and Power in 2003, denounced both Gaullism and Ostpolitik, as well as the European conviction that the United States’ stance towards the Soviet Union was too confrontational, too militaristic, and too dangerous. In this work, which focused on relations between the United States and Europe, Kagan drew a distinction between Western Europe, especially France and Germany, and the nations of Central and Eastern Europe, which, because of their different histories, had a historically ingrained fear of Russian power and, therefore, a more American perception of Hobbesian realities [69]. To explain this analysis, it is worth noting that in Leviathan, his famous treaty published in 1651, the English philosopher Hobbes (1588-1679) stated that:

[…] Fear of oppression disposes a man to strike first, or to seek aid through society, for there is no other way for a man to secure his life and liberty.

Men who distrust their own subtlety are in better shape for victory than those who suppose themselves to be wise or crafty. For the latter love to consult, whereas the former (fearing to be outdone in any negotiations) prefer to strike first  [70].

 Yet since fear was a communicative passion, it placed men in a state of perpetual defiance in which Hobbes calls for a war of every man against every man.

In this war of every man against every man nothing can be unjust. The notions of right and wrong, justice and injustice have no place there. Where there is no common power, there is no law; and where there is no law, there is no injustice. In war the two chief virtues are force and fraud. Justice and injustice are not among the faculties of the body or of the mind [71].

The French philosopher and political scientist Jean-Marc Ferry, who taught at the Free University of Brussels and at the University of Nantes, offered a rather curt criticism of Kagan’s analysis, stating that the American had not understood the philosophical breakthrough which meant that the European Union, and in particular some of its Member States (France, Germany and Belgium), were leaning towards the increasingly important perspective of a cosmopolitan rule of law [72]. Ferry observed that the nations of Europe were weaker half a century ago than they were today, including in relation to America.

Today, they have the power – he continues – to assert a “Kantian” orientation towards the United States.

Ferry criticised Kagan for confusing and conflating power and violence. The philosopher pointed out that Europe’s challenge was precisely that it could have power in Europe without resorting to violence.

As “Kantians”, Europeans rely on a power which is a moral and a critical power rather than a physical power. […]  It is clear that if, like the United States, one claims always to be right and only ever to fight for the Righteous (since adversaries embody evil, we ourselves would embody good), it would be difficult to have a genuine discourse on Right. It demands a historical – as it were – sensitivity to what Hegel called “causality of fate”. There is, on the part of the Americans, barely any serious attempt to understand the historical reasons why the vast majority of the States is organised in an authoritarian, or even totalitarian, way; and that, therefore, it is unrealistic to want to introduce democracy by force without considering the context. However, Europeans are undoubtedly sensitive to history – almost overly so [73].

Returning to Josep Borrell, in his speech to the ambassadors on 10 October 2022, the High Representative of the European Union endorsed the view that we Europeans are too much Kantians and not enough Hobbesians [74]. As the researcher Kathleen McNamara noted in The Washington Post, the reference to Hobbes is a striking reminder of the Kagan’s disdainful view of the European Union as a weak, cosmopolitan actor [75]. However, McNamara also observed that there was no robust military capacity behind the threat uttered by Josep Borrell on 13 October that would ensure the annihilation of the Russian army.

This view is also repeated more scathingly by Dmitri Medvedev, Vice-President of the Russian Security Council, in Pravda on 14 October 2022, when he described Josep Borrel as a great strategist and great military leader in a non-existent European army [76].

 

6.2. More RealPolitik for Europe?

In a collective work published in September 2022 entitled « Ukraine, the first global war », Nicole Gnesotto observed that, for Europe to be a power, its responsibility would involve agreeing to examine its principles against reality. (…) An end to the Ukrainian crisis, she points out, assumes that Europe accepts that it must go beyond the diplomacy of values and return to Realpolitik [77]. In her recent work « Europe: adapt or perish », the French historian recalls the importance of the report produced by the former Belgian statesman Pierre Harmel (1911-2009) in 1967 for the North Atlantic Council. This new edition from the new alliance evangelist, to echo the words of the former Foreign Minister in a speech in the Belgian Chamber [78], aimed not only to ensure a collective defence of the Atlantic area but also attempted to reduce East-West tensions. As Harmel wrote:

The easing of tensions is not the final objective: the ultimate goal of the Alliance is to achieve a just and lasting peaceful order in Europe, accompanied by the appropriate security guarantees, the ultimate goal of the alliance [79].

This purpose of the Harmel Exercise is still fundamentally relevant. Moreover, evoking the failure of an attempt to rebuild relations between Europe and Russia on the initiative of France in May 2021, Gnesotto called for military power to be put in its proper place, for it to be made an essential element of diplomatic credibility, a tool at the service of intelligence, negotiation, and persuasion [80].

It is said that now is not the time. But there will come a time when the grievances of the various parties on the ground will have to be taken into consideration [81].

However, this was also the conviction which Dominique de Villepin expressed very clearly when talking about innovation in diplomacy and in capacity to propose a new way: even, stated the former Prime Minister of France during the presidency of Jacques Chirac (1932-2019),

[…] when one has an adversary whom one believes to be in the wrong, a war criminal, evil, one must go part of the way. Otherwise, nothing happens [82].

The French sociologist Edgar Morin goes further: he outlines, even for today, the foundations of a peaceful compromise between the warring parties. At the end of his analysis, he advocates for Ukraine a neutrality similar to Austria, or even European integration. And he adds that it would be important to envisage, in future, the inclusion of Russia in the European Union as a positive outcome of Russian-Western relations. Anticipating possible strong reactions from readers, Morin observes that:

The anti-Russian hysteria, not only in Ukraine but also in the West, and especially in France, should eventually decline and disappear, in the same way as the nationalist hysteria of Nazi Germany and the anti-German hysteria which identified Germany and Nazism [83].

 In his work on perpetual peace, the great Prussian philosopher Kant observed that, in any event, the battlefield is the only court in which States argue for their rights; but victory, through which they win the case, does not decide in favour of their cause [84]. Admittedly, this was before the United Nations tried unsuccessfully, after two global holocausts, to establish the Perpetual Peace he held so dear.

Nevertheless, I feel that Europe must not abandon its Kantian ambition to favour the power of law over that of violence. However, one can concur with Henry Kissinger’s view that the most effective foreign policy is one that marries the principles of power and legitimacy [85], provided that the legitimacy is also the legitimacy of Law: power and legitimacy in a Europe which is faithful to its values and avoids the American debate between deep-engagers who favour US leadership via NATO and restrainers who favour disengagement and observe that their troops have remained twice as long on operations since the end of the Cold War than during that period [86].

It is for the Europeans themselves to take responsibility for who they are; if possible from the Atlantic to the Urals.

Admittedly, the price to pay for the Union seems very high today, since it involves having, simultaneously, a European diplomacy equal to the task, in other words one which relies more on power than on emotion, a military power which guards and protects us and gives us independence from the United States, and a diplomatic power which offers a genuine opportunity to communicate with a voice other than violence.

 

Philippe Destatte

@PhD2050

 

[1] This text originated in a lecture presented at the Blue-Point in Liège on 24 October 2022 at the initiative of Rotary International. I would like to thank Caroline Goffinet and Alain Lesage for their initiative. I am grateful to my historian colleague Paul Delforge for his careful review of the manuscript and his suggestions. As the subject is particularly vast, we will refer to the recent abundant scientific literature on the subject, including: Tom CASIER and Joan DE BARDELEBEN ed., EU-Russia Relations in Crisis, Understanding Diverging Perceptions, Abingdon, Routledge, 2018. – David MAXINE, Jackie GOWER, Hiski HAUKKALA ed., National Perspectives on Russia European Foreign Policy in the Making, Abingdon, Routledge, 2013. – Tuomas FORSBERG & Hiski HAUKKALA, The European Union and Russia, London, Palgrave Macmillan, 2016. – Romanova, Tatiana ROMANOVA and David MAXINE ed., The Routledge Handbook of EU-Russia Relations, Structures, Actors, Issues, Abingdon: Routledge, 2021. – Stephan KEUKELEIRE & Tom DELREUX, The Foreign Policy of the European Union, Bloomsbury Academic, 2022.

[2] Nicholas V. RIASANOVSKY, Histoire de la Russie des origines à nos jours, p. 283-285, Oxford University Press – Robert Laffont, 2014. – Iver B. NEUMANN, Russia’s Standing as a Great Power, 1494-1815, in Ted HOPF ed., Russia’s European Choice, p. 13-34, New York, Palgrave MacMillan, 2008.

[3] Tom CASIER, Gorbachev’s ‘Common European Home’ and its relevance for Russian foreign policy today. Debater a Europa, 2018, 18, p. 17-34. https://kar.kent.ac.uk/66331/

[4] Walter LAQUEUR, Russian Nationalism, in Foreign Affairs, vol. 71, nr 5, Winter 1992-1993, p. 103-116.

[5] Marie-Pierre REY, La Russie face à l’Europe, d’Ivan le Terrible à Vladimir Poutine, p. 144, Paris, Flammarion, 2002.

[6] That humiliating defeat ended the half-century in which Russia was the sole guardian of the system in Europe. Hiski HAUKKALA, A Norm-Maker or a Norm-Taker? The Changing Normative Parameters of Russia’s Place in Europe, in Ted HOPF ed., Russia’s European Choice ..,. p. 41 & 43. – H. Haukkala is Professor of International Relations, Faculty of Management and Business at the University of Tampere.

[7] N. V. RIASANOVSKY, Histoire de la Russie…, p. 522-523.

[8] André GIDE, Retour de l’URSS, Paris, Gallimard, 1936. Rappelé par Marie-Pierre REY, La Russie face à l’Europe, d’Ivan le Terrible à Vladimir Poutine, p. 12, Paris, Flammarion, 2002.

[9] Alexis de TOCQUEVILLE, Democracy in America, Translator Henry Reeve, p. 485,

http://seas3.elte.hu/coursematerial/LojkoMiklos/Alexis-de-Tocqueville-Democracy-in-America.pdf

[10] Hiski HAUKKALA, A Norm-Maker or a Norm-Taker? The Changing Normative Parameters of Russia’s Place in Europe, in Ted HOPF ed., Russia’s European Choice ..,. p. 47.

[11] M.-P. REY, Europe is our Common Home, A study of Gorbachev’s Diplomatic Concept, in The Cold War History Journal, volume 4, n°2, Janvier 2004, p.33–65. https://digitalarchive.wilsoncenter.org/document/%20116224%20.pdfGorbachev at the United Nations, President Gorbachev, addressed at the United Nations General Assembly, December 7, 1988. https://www.c-span.org/video/?5292-1/gorbachev-united-nations – Text provided by the Soviet Mission, Associated Press, https://apnews.com/article/1abea48aacda1a9dd520c380a8bc6be6 – See Richard SAKWA, Gorbachev and His Reforms, 1985-1990, New Jersey, Prentice Hall, 1990.

[12] Vladimir LUKIN, in Moskovskie Novosti, n° 38, 1988, in Neil MALCOM ed., Russia and Europe: An End to Confrontation?, p.14, London, Pinter, 1994 – M.-P. REY, « Europe is our Common Home »: A study of Gorbachev’s diplomatic concept, in Cold War History, vol. 4, 2, p. 33-65, 2004.

[13] Mikhail GORBACHEV, Perestroika: New Thinking for our Country and the World, New York, Harper & Collins, 1987.

[14] C. de GAULLE, Discours de Strasbourg du 23 novembre 1959.

[15] Inaugural speech of the Peace Congress, delivered in Paris on 21 August 1849 in Victor HUGO, Œuvres complètes, Actes et Paroles, t.1., Paris Hetzel, 1882. – Stéphanie TONNERRE-SEYCHELLES, Victor Hugo et les Etats-Unis d’Europe, 8 avril 2019. Blog Gallica, https://gallica.bnf.fr/blog/08042019/victor-hugo-et-les-etats-unis-deurope-i?mode=desktop

[16] Address given by Mikhail Gorbachev to the Council of Europe (Strasbourg, 6 July 1989) https://www.cvce.eu/obj/address_given_by_mikhail_gorbachev_to_the_council_of_europe_6_july_1989-en-4c021687-98f9-4727-9e8b-836e0bc1f6fb.htmlVictor Hugo said that the day would come when you, France, you, Russia, you, Italy, you, England, you Germany — all of you, all the nations of the continent — will, without losing your distinguishing features and your splendid distinctiveness, merge inseparably into some high society and form a European brotherhood (…). The day would come when the only battlefield would be markets open for trade and minds open to ideas. (…) We are convinced that what they need is one Europe — peaceful and democratic, a Europe that maintains all its diversity and common humanistic ideas, a prosperous Europe that extends its hand to the rest of the world. A Europe that confidently advances into the future. It is in such a Europe that we visualise our own future.

[17] Allocution de M. François Mitterrand, Président de la République, à l’occasion de la présentation de ses vœux, Paris, dimanche 31 décembre 1989, Texte intégral, République française, Vie publique. https://www.vie-publique.fr/discours/139496-allocution-de-m-francois-mitterrand-president-de-la-republique-loc

[18]. Hubert Védrine notes: for the United States, it is intolerable to think of founding a European confederation without them. Hubert VEDRINE, Les mondes de François Mitterrand, Paris, A. Fayard, 1996. – in Une vision du monde, p. 489-491, Paris, Bouquins, 2022.

[19] Charter of Paris for a New Europe, Paris, November 21, 1991. https://www.osce.org/files/f/documents/0/6/39516.pdf

[20] H. HAUKKALA, A Norm-Maker or a Norm-Taker? The Changing Normative Parameters of Russia’s Place in Europe, in Ted HOPF ed., Russia’s European Choice ..,. p. 52.

[21] The newspaper Le Monde described the Prague Conference of 12-14 June 1991 as being as politically inoffensive as a Sorbonne symposium, see: Une initiative controversée de M. Mitterrand, Prague accueille les Assises de la Confédération européenne, in Le Monde, 13 juin 1991. https://www.lemonde.fr/archives/article/1991/06/13/une-initiative-controversee-de-m-mitterrand-prague-accueille-les-assises-de-la-confederation-europeenne_4160582_1819218.html – The place of the United States in this initiative seemed to be at the heart of the press conference of the two presidents at the end of the conference: Conférence de presse conjointe de M. François Mitterrand, Président de la République, et M. Vaclav Havel, président de la République tchécoslovaque, notamment sur le rôle des Etats-Unis dans la construction de l’Europe, la notion géographique de l’Europe et l’éventuelle intégration de la Tchécoslovaquie à l’OTAN, Prague, June 14, 1991, République française, Vie publique.

https://www.vie-publique.fr/discours/133511-conference-de-presse-conjointe-de-m-francois-mitterrand-president-de-l

[22] Jean MUSITELLI, François Mitterrand, architecte de la Grande Europe, Paris, Institut François Mitterrand, 5 février 2012. https://www.mitterrand.org/francois-mitterrand-architecte-de.html Our translation. – Frédéric BOZO, Mitterrand, la fin de la guerre froide et l’unification allemande, p. 344-361, Paris, Odile Jacob, 2005. – Sylvain KAHN, Histoire de la construction de l’Europe depuis 1945, p. 224, Paris, PuF, 2021.

[23] M.-P. REY, La Russie face à l’Europe…, p. 429.

[24] Jacques LEVESQUE, 1989, la fin d’un empire, L’URSS et la libération de l’Europe de l’Est, Paris, Presses de Science Po, 1995. – The Enigma of 1989: The USSR and the Liberation of Eastern Europe, Berkeley, University of California Press, 1997. – J. LEVESQUE, Soviet Approaches to Eastern Europe at the Beginning of 1989, in CWIHP Bulletin, 12/13, 2001.

[25] Andrei KOZYREV, Russia: A Chance for Survival, in Foreign Affairs, vol. 71, no 2, Spring 1992, p. 1-16. https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/russia-fsu/1992-03-01/russia-chance-survival

[26] The Duma ratified the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms by the Federal Law of 30 March 1998.

[27] S. KAHN, Histoire de la construction de l’Europe…, p. 279.

[28] The EU’s TACIS programme supports democratisation, strengthening of the rule of law and the transition to a market economy in the New Independent States (NIS), which emerged from the break-up of the Soviet Union. These countries are the following: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kirghizstan, Moldova, Mongolia, Uzbekistan, Russia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Ukraine. https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/FR/TXT/?uri=LEGISSUM:r17003

[29] M.-P. REY, La Russie face à l’Europe…, p. 433.

[30] Ph. DESTATTE, Russia in Nato, Thinking the Unthinkable? in Cadmus Journal, Report to the World Academy of Art and Science on War in Ukraine, Global Perspectives on Causes and Consequences, p. 38-76, July 2022.

http://www.cadmusjournal.org/files/pdfreprints/vol4issue6/Russia-in-NATO-Thinking-the-Unthinkable-PDestatte-The-War-in-Ukraine-July-2022.pdf

[31] Julie DESCHEPPER, Le moment Kozyrev : retour sur les fondements de la politique étrangère post-soviétique, in La Revue russe, n°45, 2015, Les années Eltsine, p. 79-89. p. 86. https://www.persee.fr/doc/russe_1161-0557_2015_num_45_1_2689#russe_1161-0557_2015_num_45_1_T8_0084_0000

[32] N. S. RIASANOVSKY, Histoire de la Russie…, p. 748. L’historien américain écrit : pour monter une coalition mondiale antiaméricaine sous la bannière de la « multipolarité », la Russie est prête à tous les sacrifices (…).

[33] ACCORD DE PARTENARIAT ET DE COOPÉRATION établissant un partenariat entre les Communautés européennes et leurs États membres, d’une part, et la Fédération de Russie, d’autre part, 28 novembre 1997. https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/FR/TXT/HTML/?uri=CELEX%3A21997A1128%2801%29#d1e214-3-1

[34] Mary Elise SAROTTE, Not one inch, America, Russia, and the Making of Post-Cold War Stalemate, p. 308, New Haven and London, Yale University Press, 2021. – Bill CLINTON, My Life, Ma vie, Random House – Odile Jacob, 2004, p. 902-903.

[35] Ph. DESTATTE, Russia in Nato, Thinking the Unthinkable? in Cadmus Journal, Report to the World Academy of Art and Science on War in Ukraine, Global Perspectives on Causes and Consequences, p. 38-76, July 2022.

http://www.cadmusjournal.org/files/pdfreprints/vol4issue6/Russia-in-NATO-Thinking-the-Unthinkable-PDestatte-The-War-in-Ukraine-July-2022.pdf

[36] M. E. SAROTTE, Not one inch…, p. 19-20.

[37] Mary Elise SAROTTE, A Broken Promise? What the West Really Told Moscow about NATO expansion, in Foreign Affairs, Sept-Oct 2014, p. 90-97.

[38] Vladimir PUTIN, Speech in the Bundestag of the Federal Republic of Germany, September 25, 2001. http://en.kremlin.ru/events/president/transcripts/21340

Vidéo : https://www.c-span.org/video/?166424-1/terrorist-attacks-us

[39] I am convinced that today we are turning over a new page in our bilateral relations, thereby making our joint contribution to building a common European home. Vladimir PUTIN, Speech in the Bundestag… September 25, 2001. http://en.kremlin.ru/events/president/transcripts/21340

[40] Hiski HAUKKALA, From Cooperative to Contested Europe? The Conflict in Ukraine as a Culmination of a Long-Term Crisis in EU–Russia Relations, in Journal of Contemporary European Studies, 2015, 23:1, p. 25-40, p. 30.

[41] M.-P. REY, La Russie face à l’Europe…, p. 437.

[42] Richard SAKWA, Russia against the Rest, The Post-Cold War Crisis of World Order, p. 256, Cambridge University Press, 2017.

[43] Richard SAKWA, Frontline Ukraine, Crisis in Borderlands, p. 30-31, London, Bloomsbury Academic, 2021.

[44] The stones and concrete blocks of the Berlin Wall have long been distributed as souvenirs. But we should not forget that the fall of the Berlin Wall was possible thanks to a historic choice – one that was also made by our people, the people of Russia – a choice in favour of democracy, freedom, openness and a sincere partnership with all the members of the big European family. Vladimir PUTIN, Speech and the Following Discussion at the Munich Conference on Security Policy, February 10, 2007.http://en.kremlin.ru/events/president/transcripts/24034

Video : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JLjG1THpeNQ

[45] The Foreign Policy Concept of the Russian Federation, 12 January 2008. Approved by the President 15 July 2008. http://en.kremlin.ru/supplement/4116

[46] The Foreign Policy Concept of the Russian Federation, 12 January 2008.

[47] Charles A. KUPCHAN, NATO’s Final Frontier, Why Russia Should join the Atlantic Alliance, in Foreign Affairs, Vol. 89, Nr 3, May-June 2010, p. 100-112, p. 103. https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/russian-federation/2010-05-01/natos-final-frontier

[48]  Conclusions of the EU/Russia Summit European Parliament resolution of 17 June 2010 on the conclusions of the EU/Russia summit, 31 May – 1 June 2010. https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/?uri=CELEX:52010IP0234

[49] Walter LAQUEUR, Moscow’s Modernization Dilemma, Is Russia charting a New Foreign Policy, in Foreign Affairs, Vol. 89, Nr 6, Nov. – Dec. 2010, p. 153-160. https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/russia-fsu/2010-11-01/moscows-modernization-dilemma

[50] H. HAUKKALA, From Cooperative to Contested Europe?, p. 30sv. – Boris TOUMANOV, Un peu de détente politique à Rostov, dans La Libre Belgique, 31 mai 2010. https://www.lalibre.be/international/2010/05/31/un-peu-de-detente-politique-a-rostov-JPZY2E3B3VHKFD24QRZUW2532Q/

[51] In January 2009, Russia pretended to stop gas deliveries to Europe. S. KAHN, op. cit., p. 271.

[52] Sergey LAVROV, State of the Union Russia-EU: Prospects for Partnership in the Changing World, in Journal of Common Market Studies, Vol. 51, p. 6-12, July 9, 2013.

[53] Herman VAN ROMPUY, Russia and Europe, Today, Lecture at the European University at Saint-Petersburg, 5 September 2013. https://www.consilium.europa.eu/uedocs/cms_data/docs/pressdata/en/ec/138657.pdf

[54] Ibidem.

[55] Richard SAKWA, Russia against the Rest. The Post-Cold War Crisis of World Order, p. 259-260 and 261, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2017. – Exclusive: « We will survive sanctions » says Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov to FRANCE24, 17 Dec. 2014. On 17 December 2014,.

[56] Stalemate may be the most appropriate definition of the present quality of EU – Sergei MEDVEDEV, The Stalemate in EU-Russia Relations, Between ‘Sovereignty’ and ‘Europeanisation, in Ted HOPF ed, Russia’s European Choice, p. 215–232, Basingstoke, Palgrave Macmillan, 2008. – H. HAUKKALA, From Cooperative to Contested Europe?, p. 30. – Fabienne BOSSUYT & Peter VAN ELSUWEGE ed, Principled Pragmatism in Practice, The EU’s Policy Towards Russia after Crimea, Leiden, Brill, 2021. – Derek AVERRE & Kataryna WOLCZUK eds, The Ukraine Conflict: Security, Identity and Politics in the Wider Europe, Abingdon, Routledge, 2018. – Marco SIDDI, The partnership that failed: EU-Russia relations and the war in Ukraine. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/362542921_The_partnership_that_failed_EU-Russia_relations_and_the_war_in_Ukraine.

[57] S. KAHN, op. cit., p. 279.

[58] Foreign Affairs Council, 14 March 2016, European Council, Council of the European Union, https://www.consilium.europa.eu/en/meetings/fac/2016/03/14/

See also: Facts and figures about EU-Russia Relations. Nov. 4, 2022. https://www.eeas.europa.eu/sites/default/files/eeas-eu-russia_relation-en_2021-07.pdf

[59] Tatiana KASTOUEVA-JEAN, La Russie après la réforme constitutionnelle, dans Thierry de MONTBRIAL et Dominique DAVID, RAMSES 2022, p. 147, Paris, IFRI-Dunod, 2021.

[60] Josep BORRELL, Ma visite à Moscou et l’avenir des relations entre l’UE et la Russie, Bruxelles, European Union External Action (EEAS), 7 février 2021. https://www.eeas.europa.eu/eeas/ma-visite-%C3%A0-moscou-et-lavenir-des-relations-entre-lue-et-la-russie_fr

[61] Foreign Affairs Council, 17 October 2022.

https://www.consilium.europa.eu/en/meetings/fac/2022/10/17/

[62] Guerre en Ukraine : la Russie accuse l’Union européenne d’être partie prenante dans le conflit, Paris, AFP, 20 octobre 2022.

[63] Sylvain KAHN, Histoire de la construction de l’Europe…, p. 323.

[64] Jorge LIBOREIRO, Ukraine war: Russian army will be « annihilated » if it launches a nuclear attack, warns Josep Borrell, in Euronews, October 14, 2022. https://www.euronews.com/my-europe/2022/10/13/the-russian-army-will-be-annihilated-if-it-launches-a-nuclear-attack-warns-josep-borrellTop EU diplomat says Russian army will be ‘annihilated’ if Putin nukes Ukraine Josep Borrell said that the West’s answer to a nuclear attack would be ‘powerful’ but not nuclear. Le Monde with AFP, October 13, 2022. https://www.lemonde.fr/en/european-union/article/2022/10/13/top-eu-diplomat-says-russian-army-be-annihilated-if-putin-nukes-ukraine_6000230_156.html

[65] Kathleen R. MCNAMARA, The EU is turning geopolitical. Is Venus becoming Mars?, EU Diplomat Josep Borrell warned the Russian Army will be « annihilated » if it launches a nuclear attack. These words suggest a more assertive European Union, in The Washington Post, October 17, 2022. https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2022/10/17/eu-annihilate-russia-putin-borrell/

[66] K. MCNAMARA, Politics of Everyday Europe: Constructing Authority in the European Union, Oxford University Press, 2017.

[67] Immanuel KANT, Toward Perpetual Peace and Other Writings on Politics, Peace and History, Translated by David L. Colclasure, New Haven and London, Yale University Press, 2006. https://platypus1917.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/07/kant_towardperpetualpeacebook.pdf – E. KANT, Œuvres philosophiques, III, Les derniers écrits, coll. Bibliothèque de la Pléiade, Paris, Gallimard – NRF, 1986.

[68]. Robert KAGAN, Power and Weakness, Policy Review, June & July 2002, p. 1-2 & 8. http://users.clas.ufl.edu/zselden/course%20readings/rkagan.pdf – K. MCNAMARA, Politics of Everyday Europe…

[69] Robert KAGAN, Of Paradise and Power, America and Europe in the New World Order, p. 5-6, New York, Knopf Publishing Group, 2003.

[70] Hobbes’s Leviathan, Reprinted from the edition of 1651, Oxford, At the Clarendom Press – Oxford University Press, 1909-1965. https://files.libertyfund.org/files/869/0161_Bk.pdf – Brigitte GEONGET, Le concept kantien d’insociable sociabilité, Éléments pour une étude généalogique : Kant entre Hobbes et Rousseau, in Revue germanique internationale, 6, 1996. http://journals.openedition.org/rgi/577

[71] Thomas HOBBES, Leviathan… – Jean TERREL, Thomas Hobbes : philosopher par temps de crises, Paris, PuF, 2012.

[72] The concept obviously refers to the idea of a League of Nations and cosmopolitical law between the citizens of a universal state, dear to KANT in his text Idée d’une histoire universelle au point de vue cosmopolitique (1784) dans E. KANT, Œuvres philosophiques, II, Des prolégomènes aux écrits de 1791, coll. Bibliothèque de la Pléiade, p. 187-205 (traduction of Luc Ferry), Paris, Gallimard – NRF, 1985.

[73] Jean-Marc FERRY, A propos de La puissance et la faiblesse de Robert Kagan, Les Etats-Unis et l’Europe, ou le choc de deux universalismes, in Septentrion, p. 263-278, Jean-Marc Ferry, interview with Muriel Ruol, La puissance et la faiblesse. Les États-Unis et l’Europe, Bruxelles, La Revue nouvelle, janv.-fév. 2004/n° 1-2. https://books.openedition.org/septentrion/16389?lang=fr BEN Mokhtar BARKA, Jean-Marie RUIZ, dir., États-Unis / Europe : Des modèles en miroir, Villeneuve d’Ascq, Presses universitaires du Septentrion, 2006.

[74] EU Ambassadors Annual Conference 2022: Opening Speech by High Representative Josep Borrell, Brussels, October 10, 2022.

https://www.eeas.europa.eu/eeas/eu-ambassadors-annual-conference-2022-opening-speech-high-representative-josep-borrell_en

[75] K. MCNAMARA, Politics of Everyday Europe…

[76] Medvedev: Borrell’s remarks about Russian nuclear strike, in Pravda, 14 October 2022. https://english.pravda.ru/news/world/154434-medvedev_borrell/

[77] Nicole GNESOTTO, La puissance n’est pas l’émotion, Conversation avec Laurent Greilsamer, dans E. FOTTORINO dir., Ukraine, Première guerre mondialisée, p. 37, Paris, Éditions Le 1, 2022. Texte du 9 mars 2022.

[78] Vincent DUJARDIN, Pierre Harmel, Biographie, p. 620, Bruxelles, Le Cri, 2004. – Annales parlementaires, Chambre, 26 avril 1966, p. 26.

[79] V. DUJARDIN, Pierre Harmel…, p. 649.

[80] N. GNESOTTO, L’Europe: changer ou périr, p. 217, Paris, Tallandier, 2022.

[81] Emma ASHFORD, The Ukraine War will end with negotiations, Now is not the time for talks, but America must lay the groundwork, in Foreign Affairs, October 31, 2022. https://www.foreignaffairs.com/ukraine/ukraine-war-will-end-negotiations

[82] Dominique de VILLEPIN, Pour stopper la guerre, le « principe actif » de la diplomatie, dans E. FOTTORINO dir., Ukraine, Première guerre mondialisée…, p. 46.

[83] Edgar MORIN, Pour le compromis et la paix, dans Éric FOTTORINO dir., Ukraine, Première guerre mondialisée…, p. 33.

[84] E. KANT, Projet de paix perpétuelle, coll. La Pléiade…, p. 347.

[85] Richard SAKWA, Russia against the Rest, The Post-Cold War Crisis of World Order, p. 255, Cambridge University Press, 2017.

[86] Jolyon HOWORTH, Les Etats-Unis face à leurs engagements extérieurs, Deep engagement contre restreint, dans Thierry de MONTBRIAL et Dominique DAVID, RAMSES 2023, p. 232-235, Paris, Ifri-Dunod, 2024. – Andrew J. BACEVICH, The Age of illusions: How America Squandered its Cold War Victory, New York, Metropolitan Books, 2020.

Hour-en-Famenne, 10 décembre 2022

La Déclaration de Politique régionale wallonne du 16 septembre 2019 indiquait la volonté du Gouvernement de Wallonie de mettre en place des outils de gestion des risques afin de pouvoir prévenir et réagir rapidement lors des crises et aussi d’aléas climatiques et sanitaires (p. 75). La DPR précisait également que des mesures seraient prises pour protéger les ressources en eau, notamment face aux risques de pollutions, au maintien et au développement des habitats naturels humides ou aux problèmes d’approvisionnement (p. 82). D’autres types de risques devaient également être anticipés comme les risques numériques et sanitaires (exposition aux ondes, p. 90), les risques menant à l’exclusion et à la pauvreté (p. 117), les risques chimiques (phytosanitaires, p. 118), etc. [1]

Les événements majeurs que la Wallonie a connus depuis l’adoption de ce document – la pandémie liée au Covid-19, les stress climatiques (inondations de 2021, sécheresse de 2022), la crise énergétique multifactorielle – ont interpellé l’ensemble des acteurs, des citoyennes et des citoyens. Les impacts de ces événements ont été et restent considérables, même s’ils ont connu et connaissent des impacts différents selon les parties prenantes et les localisations. Ainsi, la pandémie n’a pas frappé les différents territoires de manière identique : elle s’est attaquée davantage aux régions présentant une densité élevée ; les inondations ont frappé des vallées où la présence d’une urbanisation importante induisant une artificialisation des sols a été mise en question, la sécheresse et les grandes chaleurs ont des effets différents sur les campagnes ou dans les zones urbaines. À la densité de l’habitat s’ajoutent d’autres facteurs de vulnérabilité, d’exposition au risque, comme l’âge croissant et le faible niveau socio-économique de nombreux habitants, leur capacité à relever les défis, c’est-à-dire leur résilience. Des questions structurelles de gestion des risques à l’échelle de l’ensemble des secteurs et des échelons administratifs se posent également [2]. En ce qui concerne les effets de la crise énergétique, la localisation est également déterminante : coût du chauffage, coût des déplacements, accès aux énergies fossiles et renouvelables, etc. On pourrait également analyser les impacts du terrorisme – qui semble parfois sorti de notre horizon intellectuel – à l’aune de cette localisation.

 

1. Les risques sont associés à des événements parfaitement descriptibles

Voici déjà plus de vingt ans, Michel Callon, Pierre Lascoumes et Yannick Barthe ont observé que la notion de risque est étroitement associée à celle de décision rationnelle. Selon eux, cette dernière nécessite la réunion de trois conditions pour que le décideur puisse établir des comparaisons entre les options qui s’ouvrent à lui. D’abord, être capable d’établir, de manière exhaustive, la liste des options ouvertes. Ensuite, il faut que, pour chaque option, le décideur soit en mesure de décrire les éléments, entités, qui composent le monde supposé par cette option. Enfin, il s’agit de réaliser l’inventaire des interactions significatives qui sont susceptibles de se produire entre ces différents éléments, entités. Les auteurs rappellent dès lors la notion d’états du monde possibles, qui se rapprochent des scénarios des prospectivistes [3].

Ajustées et amendées, les recommandations que faisait l’OCDE dans son rapport Renforcer la résilience grâce à une gouvernance innovante des risques (2014), pourraient servir de base à une nouvelle approche dans les matières du développement régional et territorial :

– favoriser une gouvernance des risques tournée vers l’avenir et tenant compte des
risques complexes ;

– insister sur le rôle de la confiance et mettre en avant l’action de longue haleine menée par les pouvoirs publics pour protéger la population ;

– adopter une définition commune des niveaux de risques acceptables par les parties
prenantes de tous niveaux ;

– définir une panoplie optimale de mesures de résilience d’ordre matériel et immatériel
(mesures portant sur les infrastructures et mesures de planification, par exemple) ;

– adopter une démarche à l’échelle de l’ensemble de la société afin d’associer tous les
acteurs au renforcement de la résilience ;

– reconnaître le rôle important des institutions et des blocages institutionnels dans
l’efficacité des mesures de gestion des risques afin d’augmenter le niveau de
résilience ;

– recourir à des cadres de diagnostic pour recenser les barrières d’ordre institutionnel
et réorganiser les incitations de façon à favoriser la résilience [4].

Dans La société du risque, le sociologue allemand Ulrich Beck (1944-2015) est allé plus loin, rappelant que les risques ne se résument pas aux conséquences et aux dommages survenus, mais qu’ils peuvent aussi désigner un futur qu’il s’agit d’empêcher d’advenir. La conscience que l’on a du risque ne se situe pas dans le présent, mais essentiellement dans l’avenir, écrit-il [5]. Les prospectivistes le savent, eux qui manient les Wild Cards, tant pour identifier des jokers qui peuvent survenir dans notre trajectoire que pour les utiliser comme stress tests sur le système et mesurer dans quelle mesure ces événements peuvent se transformer en opportunités réelles pour mettre en œuvre une vision souhaitable de l’avenir.

 

2. L’incertitude, produit de notre ignorance

Bien que les termes de risque et d’incertitude soient souvent utilisés de manière interchangeable, ils ne sont pas identiques. Ainsi, le risque désigne-t-il un danger bien identifié, associé à l’occurrence d’un événement ou d’une série d’événements, parfaitement descriptibles, dont on ne sait pas s’ils se produiront, mais dont on sait qu’ils sont susceptibles de se produire [6]. Quand des outils statistiques peuvent être mobilisés, on définit le risque comme la probabilité qu’un événement non souhaitable, indésirable, se produise et l’importance de l’impact de cette occurrence sur la variable ou le système en fonction de sa vulnérabilité. Ainsi, au facteur de probabilité qu’un événement advienne, s’ajoute un facteur de sévérité des conséquences de cet événement. Il en résulte un troisième facteur, subjectif, qui, sur base des deux premiers, évalue et éventuellement quantifie le niveau de risque [7].

C’est parce que la notion de risque joue un rôle capital dans la théorie de la décision rationnelle et dans le choix qu’elle suppose entre plusieurs états du monde ou scénarios, qu’il est sage – disent Callon et alii, de réserver son usage à ces situations parfaitement codifiées [8]. Dès lors, dans les situations d’incertitude, l’utilisation de cette notion de risque ne permet pas d’établir la liste et de décrire de manière précise les options du décideur ni l’état des mondes possibles qui permettraient d’élaborer une anticipation sérieuse.

Photo Mudwalker – Dreamstime

Dans un espace naturel, politique, économique, social, culturel, élargi et un monde complexe, l’émergence [12] incessante de facteurs et d’acteurs nouveaux rend impossible de construire et de disposer d’une connaissance raisonnable, sinon complète, de l’environnement, de ses effets – y compris perturbateurs – sur le système et donc de l’évolution de celui-ci.

 

3. Faire face à l’incertitude

Ainsi que les auteurs d’Agir dans un monde incertain l’ont montré, en situation d’incertitude, l’anticipation est impossible pour le décideur par défaut de connaissance précise des comportements et des interactions des éléments du système, des acteurs et facteurs qui constituent l’environnement. Mais, l’ignorance n’est pas une fatalité et (…) raisonner en termes d’incertitude, c’est déjà se donner les moyens d’en prendre la mesure [13].

En effet, l’ignorance n’est pas nouvelle et ne naît pas au XXIe siècle. Ce qui est nouveau, et – espérons-le, grandissant, c’est la conscience de cette ignorance. Néanmoins, comme le rappelaient, dans un texte produit en 1982 déjà, Daniel Kahneman et son collègue psychologue de l’Université de Stanford, Amos Tversky (1937-1996), l’incertitude est un fait auquel toutes les formes de vie doivent être préparées à faire face. Pour les inventeurs de la Théorie des perspectives [14] (Prospect Theory), à tous les niveaux de complexité biologique, il existe une incertitude quant à la signification des signes ou des stimuli et aux conséquences possibles des actions. À tous les niveaux, des mesures doivent être prises avant que l’incertitude ne soit levée, et un équilibre doit être atteint entre un niveau élevé de préparation spécifique aux événements les plus susceptibles de se produire et une capacité générale à réagir de manière appropriée lorsque l’inattendu se produit [15].

Si les chocs perturbateurs que nous avons connus depuis le début 2020 pouvaient être anticipés, leur puissance et leur complexité ont surpris tous les analystes [16]. Il n’est pas exclu que des catastrophes de ce type puissent se reproduire, ni que d’autres, ne faisant actuellement l’objet d’aucunes ou de peu de préoccupations, puissent se produire à l’avenir.

Il paraît dès lors indispensable de questionner les différentes politiques menées à l’aune de nouvelles émergences, de catastrophes ou d’autres risques potentiels qu’ils soient naturels ou anthropiques, distinction difficile à établir du fait de la transformation croissante des milieux biophysiques [17]. Le concept de catastrophe peut être nourri par l’étymologie indiquant non seulement un bouleversement brusque et effroyable – qui provoque la mort de nombreuses personnes -, mais aussi par la systémique au travers des travaux des mathématiciens René Thom (1923-2002) et d’Erik Christopher Zeeman (1925-2016). Il s’agit alors de discontinuités qui peuvent se présenter dans l’évolution d’une variable ou d’un système, entraînant des modifications de sa stabilité morphologique. Ainsi, la catastrophe relève-t-elle davantage des variables d’entrée (inputs) du système, de l’espace des paramètres, que du résultat de leurs évolutions. Pour Zeeman, il y a catastrophe lorsqu’une variété continue des causes entraîne une variation discontinue des effets [18].

Le géographe français Jérôme Dunlop note quant à lui que, alors qu’un risque résulte de la combinaison d’une vulnérabilité et d’un aléa, dont l’éventuelle occurrence détruirait tout ou partie des enjeux qui lui étaient exposés (êtres humains et richesses), on parle de catastrophe quand les enjeux détruits sont estimés majeurs par le groupe humain atteint. L’importance du risque lui-même varie avec l’importance des enjeux et celle de la probabilité d’occurrence de l’aléa. L’occupation humaine augmente d’ailleurs la probabilité de leur occurrence sur les milieux naturels. Ainsi, les risques d’inondations sont-ils largement majorés par l’urbanisation des lits majeurs des cours d’eau et par l’imperméabilisation des sols qui résulte du développement des réseaux routiers et de la croissance urbaine, ou encore par les mutations des paysages agraires [19]. Dès lors, c’est avec raison que l’historien Niall Ferguson, professeur à Oxford et à Harvard, observe que la distinction entre les catastrophes naturelles et les catastrophes causées par les êtres humains est purement artificielle. Il existe, constate-t-il, une interaction constante entre les sociétés humaines et la nature. L’exemple qu’il donne est que nous avons déjà mis en évidence en nous référant au désastre de Lisbonne : un choc endogène détruit la santé et la vie humaines en fonction de la proximité des habitats du lieu de l’impact [20].

 

Conclusion : les chocs perturbateurs comme occasions de transformations structurelles dans un système initialement pataud, voire bloqué

Une attention nouvelle se porte sur l’impact global de l’humanité sur le système terrestre dans son ensemble. C’est ce qu’on appelle aujourd’hui, l’anthropocène, en lisant cette époque comme une rupture [21].  Ainsi, peut-on considérer que si l’activité humaine a affecté la nature de telle sorte que les catastrophes naturelles, hydrométéorologiques et géophysiques se multiplient en faisant de nombreuses victimes, il est aujourd’hui indispensable de mieux appréhender les catastrophes et d’anticiper les risques [22].

La recherche a, depuis quelques décennies, pris conscience de la vulnérabilité  des territoires et des communautés. La vulnérabilité, déjà évoquée, pourrait être décrite comme une circonstance ou un contexte propre à certains groupes (ou territoires) qui se trouvent dans une situation de fragilité face à certains risques, et causée par la construction sociale persistante des risques. Dans cette perspective, la résilience désignerait le développement par le groupe ou le territoire des capacités de déployer des processus – ayant une incidence sur les pratiques – afin de réduire leur vulnérabilité à certains risques [23]. Les chercheurs ont construit de nouveaux concepts pour saisir ce phénomène et en identifier les types : vulnérabilité différentielle ou différenciée, vulnérabilité accumulée et vulnérabilité globale, etc. Il s’agit maintenant, notre attention étant renforcée par les chocs que nous subissons concrètement, de traduire ces questionnements en politiques publiques et collectives d’anticipation et de prévention, en déterminant, espace par espace, territoire par territoire, à quels risques nous sommes confrontés, quelles sont nos propres vulnérabilités ou comment se déclinent ici et là les vulnérabilités globales. Enfin, s’il existe des relations entre la vulnérabilité, le sous-développement et la pauvreté, il apparaît que la capacité de se remettre d’une catastrophe et de se préparer contre les risques est un élément plus critique que le niveau de pauvreté [24]. L’analyse des facteurs de risques, y compris climatiques [25], est encouragée par le Bureau des Nations Unies pour la Réduction des Risques de Catastrophes (UNISDR-UNDRR) [26]. Les travaux de cette institution, notamment ses rapports d’évaluation peuvent contribuer à construire un cadre méthodologique utile.

Complémentairement, on ne peut passer sous silence une des conclusions des travaux de l’anthropologue et historienne Virginia Garcia-Acosta, à savoir que la présence périodique de certains phénomènes naturels, comme les ouragans, a permis à certains groupes humains de pratiquer des changements culturels dans leur vie et leur organisation matérielle pouvant conduire à l’application de stratégies de survie et de possibilités d’adaptation [27]. Ainsi, comme l’indiquait déjà Edgar Morin dans La Méthode, en évoquant le concept de catastrophe, la rupture et désintégration d’une ancienne forme est le processus constitutif même de la nouvelle [28]. En d’autres termes, les chocs perturbateurs pourraient constituer de vraies occasions de transformations structurelles dans un système initialement pataud, voire bloqué.

Toute approche des risques et des catastrophes implique d’appréhender la question du risque acceptable dans une stratégie et sa mise en œuvre concrète, donc, également d’aborder la question difficile du principe de précaution, avec les outils multiples du développement régional et de l’aménagement des territoires [29].

Se doter d’outils, de dispositifs et de processus anticipateurs pour affronter l’incertitude constitue une sagesse de base de toute gouvernance contemporaine de nos sociétés [30]. Cette approche permettrait également de considérer les chocs perturbateurs comme autant d’occasions de transformations structurelles dans un système initialement pataud, voire bloqué face à l’ampleur des défis.

 

Philippe Destatte

@PhD2050

[1] Déclaration de Politique régionale wallonne, 2019-2024, Namur, 16 septembre 2019, 122 p.

[2] Dans son rapport Boosting Resilience through Innovative Risk Governance, OECD Reviews of Risk Management Policies, p. 16, Paris, OECD, 2014, l’OCDE écrit que : dans leur quasi-totalité, les pays de l’OCDE prennent systématiquement en compte les risques de catastrophe dans leurs stratégies et leurs plans sectoriels en matière d’investissements publics. L’importance attribuée à l’échelon local est illustrée par la mise en place de cadres juridiques pour les responsabilités locales avec, notamment, une réglementation tenant compte des risques pour l’occupation des sols et la promotion immobilière privée. – Voir aussi : Bassin de la Loire, France, Étude de l’OCDE sur la gestion des risques d’inondation, Paris, OCDE, 2010.

[3] Michel CALLON, Pierre LASCOUMES et Yannick BARTHES, Agir dans un monde incertain, Essai sur la démocratie technique, p. 37-39, Paris, Seuil, 2001.

[4] Boosting Resilience through Innovative Risk Governance, OECD Reviews of Risk Management Policies, p. 17-18, Paris, OECD, 2014.

[5] Ulrich BECK, La société du risque, Sur la voie d’une autre modernité (1986), p. 60-61, Paris, Flammarion, 2008.

[6] M. CALLON, P. LASCOUMES et Y. BARTHES, op. cit., p. 37.

[7] Carl L. PRITCHARD, Risk Management, Concepts and Guidance, p. 7-8, Arlington VA, ESI, 1997.

[8] Ibidem, p. 39.

[9] John KAY & Mervyn KING, Radical Uncertainty, p. 37, London, The Bridge Press, 2021.

[10] Philippe SILBERZAHN, Bienvenue en incertitude ! Survivre et prospérer dans un monde de surprises, p. 82, Paris, Diateino, 2021.

[11] Daniel KAHNEMAN, Olivier SIBONY, Carl R. SUNSTEIN, Noise, Pourquoi nous faisons des erreurs de jugement et comment les éviter, p. 144-146, citation p. 152, Paris, Odile Jacob, 2021.

[12] L’émergence peut être définie comme l’apparition ou l’évolution inattendue d’une variable ou d’un système qui ne peut résulter ou être expliqué à partir d’éléments constitutifs ou de conditions antérieures du système. La microbiologiste Janine Guespin y voit l’existence de qualités singulières d’un système qui ne peuvent exister que dans certaines conditions : elles peuvent éventuellement s’inter-convertir alors que le système conserve les mêmes constituants soumis à des interactions de même nature, si un paramètre réglant l’intensité de ces interactions franchit, lors de sa variation, un seuil critique. Janine GUESPIN-MICHEL coord. , Lucien SEVE e.a., Émergence, Complexité et dialectique, Sur les systèmes dynamiques non linéaires, p. 42, Paris, O. Jacob, 2005.

[13] M. CALLON, P. LASCOUMES et Y. BARTHES, Agir dans un monde incertain, p. 40sv et citation p. 41.

[14] Théorie descriptive de la décision en situation risquée. Voir Frédéric MARTINEZ, L’individu face au risque : l’apport de Kahneman et Tversky, dans  Idées économiques et sociales, vol. 161, no. 3, 2010, p. 15-23. https://www.cairn.info/revue-idees-economiques-et-sociales-2010-3-page-15.html

[15] Uncertainty is a fact with which all forms of life must be prepared to contend. At all levels of biological complexity there is uncertainty about the significance of signs or stimuli and about the possible consequences of actions. At all levels, action must be taken before the uncertainty is resolved, and a proper balance must be achieved between a high level of specific readiness for the events that are most likely to occur and a general ability to respond appropriately when the unexpected happens. Daniel KAHNEMAN, Paul SLOVIC & Amos TVERSKY, Judgment under uncertainty: Heuristics and biases, p. 509-510, Cambridge University Press, 2001.

[16] Voir Ph. DESTATTE, On demande de voir loin alors que le futur n’existe pas, Blog PhD2050, Hour-en-Famenne, 20 août 2021. https://phd2050.org/2021/08/20/futur-nexiste-pas/

[17] Cyria EMILIANOFF, Risque, dans Jacques LEVY et Michel LUSSAULT, Dictionnaire de la Géographie, p. 804-805, Paris, Belin, 2003. La définition du risque dans cet ouvrage est : probabilité d’un danger menaçant ou portant atteinte à la vie et, plus globalement, au cadre d’existence d’un individu ou d’un collectif. – Voir aussi : Yannick LUNG, Auto-organisation, bifurcation, catastrophe… les ruptures de la dynamique spatiale, Talence, Presses universitaires de Bordeaux, 1987.

[18] E.C. ZEEMAN, Catastrophe Theory, Selected Papers, 1972-1977, p. 615-638, Addison Wesley Publishing Co, Reading, Mass. – London – Amsterdam, 1977. – R. THOM, Paraboles et catastrophes, Entretiens sur les mathématiques, la science et la philosophie, p. 59sv, Paris, Flammarion, 1983.

[19] Jérôme DUNLOP, Les 100 mots de la géographie, p. 71-72, Paris, PUF, 2009.

[20] Philippe DESTATTE, On demande de voir loin alors que le futur n’existe pas, Hour-en-Famenne, 20 août 2021, Blog PhD2050, https://phd2050.org/2021/08/20/futur-nexiste-pas/

[21] Clive HAMILTON, The Anthropocene as rupture, in The Anthropocene Review, 3, 2, 2016, p. 93-106.

[22] Virginia GARCIA-ACOSTA, Catastrophes non naturelles et anthropocène, Leçons apprises à partir de perspectives anthropologiques et historiques, dans Rémi BEZAU & Catherine LARRERE dir., Penser l’anthropocène, p. 325sv, Paris, Presses de Sciences Po, 2018.

[23] V. GARCIA-ACOSTA, Catastrophes non naturelles et anthropocène…, p. 33.

[24] V. GARCIA-ACOSTA, Catastrophes non naturelles et anthropocène…, p. 329-330.

[25] Et les liens climat-santé : Jacques BLAMONT, Introduction au siècle des menaces, p. 505sv, Paris, Odile Jacob, 2004

[26] Le Bureau des Nations Unies pour la réduction des risques de catastrophe a été créé en 1999 pour assurer la mise en œuvre de la Stratégie internationale de Prévention des catastrophes.  https://www.undrr.org/

[27] V. GARCIA-ACOSTA, Prevencion de desastres, estrategias adaptivas y capital social, in Harlan KOFF ed., Social Cohesion bin Europe and the Americas, Power, Time and Space, p. 115-130, Berne, Peter Lang, 2009. – Catastrophes non naturelles et anthropocène…, p. 332.

[28] Edgar MORIN, La Méthode, 1. La nature de la nature, p. 44, Paris, Seuil, 1977. – René THOM, Stabilité culturelle et Morphogénèse, Essai d’une théorie génétique des modèles, Paris, Ediscience, 1972.

[29] Questionnement aigu et difficile s’il en est dans la « société du risque ». Voir notamment Dominique BOURG et Jean-Louis SCHLEGEL, Parer aux risques de demain, le principe de précaution, Paris, Seuil, 2001. – Ulrich BECK, Risk Society, Towards a New Modernity, London, Sage, 1992. – François EWALD, Aux risques d’innover, Les entreprises face au principe de précaution, Paris, Autrement, 2009.

[30] Tous les gouvernements, les organismes internationaux, les universités et les entreprises devraient avoir leur Cassandre, leur « Office national des avertissements », chargés d’identifier les pires scénarios, de mesurer les risques et de concevoir des stratégies de protection, de prévention et d’atténuation. Niall FERGUSON, Apocalypses, De l’antiquité à nos jours, p. 393, Paris, Saint-Simon, 2021.

Namur, January 16, 2022

When the deputy editor of the daily newspaper L’Echo, Serge Quoidbach, invited me, along with the three other participants at the roundtable discussion on the future of Wallonia, to propose a specific project, which was clear and straightforward and which unified all the Region’s stakeholders, I accepted immediately [1]. The specification from Serge Quoidbach, took its inspiration from the analysis of the economist Mariana Mazzucato, who had alluded to the simple, easily understood idea contained in the speech given by President John Fitzgerald Kennedy at Rice University in Houston on 12 September 1962 [2]. In its tagline we choose to go to the Moon in this decade, the President of the United States encapsulated the determination of the forces that would be mobilised, across all sectors of society. For Mariana Mazzucato, author of Mission Economy, A Moonshot Guide to Changing Capitalism, and The Entrepreneurial State [3], this goal, which was achieved in 1969 by the Apollo 11 Mission, stemmed from a new form of collaboration between the public authorities and the business community, resulting in benefits for the whole of society.

 

1. Once a wildcard, now a desirable future

The Wallonia Institute of Technology project, which is part of the 2068 Wallonia Odyssey vision, an operational foresight initiative launched by the Wallonia Union of Companies (UWE), is similar to the goal expressed by President Kennedy. It fully meets the requirement specified by L’Echo: it was conceived during a dialogue between researchers, public authorities, and representatives of the business world. Without divulging any secrets – this entire process has been managed transparently and in a spirit of partnership on the initiative of the managing director of the UWE, Olivier de Wasseige –, the Wallonia Institute of Technology was introduced as a wildcard [4] in October 2019, during a seminar on the impacts of future technological waves in the digital world and artificial intelligence on society and the opportunities and necessities induced for the business community. This seminar, which was held in two sessions, in Crealys (Namur) and then in Wavre, and driven by Pascal Poty (Digital Wallonia) and Antonio Galvanin (Proximus), identified 2030 as the deadline for regaining control of a foresight trajectory deemed hitherto chaotic. The working group felt that the creation of this Wallonia Institute of Technology was the moment when the stakeholders unexpectedly managed to reconfigure the political, territorial, and technological society of Wallonia and unite their efforts around an innovative concept. A most satisfying occasion, therefore.

The idea has flourished during the 2068 Wallonia Odyssey process. Once an unthinkable event, the Wallonia Institute of Technology has become a desirable future and is seen as a response to the long-term challenges in the goals of the vision developed and approved by the dozens of people taking part in the exercise. Discussions were held on creating a Wallonia Institute of Technology (WIT) as a genuine tool for structuring research and development and innovation, launched and funded jointly by the Government of Wallonia in partnership with businesses. The participants felt that, in the redeployment plan for Wallonia, the WIT was probably the most dynamic resource.

The vision specifies this tool: based on universities which have themselves been modernised, drawing inspiration from the German Fraunhofer models, the Carnot Institutes in France, and the Flemish VIB (Vlaams Instituut voor Biotechnologie) and IMEC (Interuniversity MicroElectronics Centre) initiatives, this fundamental initiative has ended the fragmented nature of research in Wallonia.

 By rationalising the numerous research centres, Wallonia has now reached a critical European size in terms of R&D.

 In addition, this action represents an integration template for all the ecosystems in Wallonia dating back to the start of the 21st century, which are too individualistic, too dispersed and too local.

 Based on technological convergence, and geared towards a more environmentally friendly future, the mission of the WIT is to focus on concrete solutions for the benefit of society, through businesses, based on the thematic areas supported by the competitiveness clusters, including plans for energy transition, energy storage, carbon capture at source, and sustainable and carbon-neutral cities.

These resources have encouraged the capitalisation of human intelligence, which has given meaning and energy to the younger generations through their mastery of technology and their job-creating competitiveness [5].

This action supported by the UWE is still in progress and is being adapted and adjusted based on the work being undertaken to monitor ongoing changes. Consideration of the strategy also raises the question of whether the desirable is possible. There are two parts to this question: firstly, are we capable of bringing the research organisations together to form critical European masses, and of overcoming the causes, both historical and institutional, of fragmented research? Secondly, do we have the budgetary resources to mobilise the research and development community, as Flanders has been able to do?

These questions are not new. They were put to the Regional Foresight College of Wallonia which, during its Wallonia 2030 and Bifurcations 2019 and 2024 exercises, discussed the long-term challenges associated with research and development. These mainly involved the necessary critical mass at the European level to address the fragmented nature of the research centres and their obvious competition, particularly in the context of calls for projects linked to European Structural Funds [6]. In parallel, the work undertaken by The Destree Institute in 2016 and 2017 on behalf of the Liège-Luxembourg Academic Pole revealed the limited public investment in R&D in Wallonia and, at the same time, the outperformance of one province – Walloon Brabant – and of one particular sector – life sciences, boosted by the company GSK. In 2017, apart from the new province, all the provinces of Wallonia had a total R&D expenditure per inhabitant lower than the European average (628 euro/inhabitant), the average of Wallonia (743.30 euro/inhabitant) and the Belgian average (1,045.50 euro/inhabitant). The total R&D expenditure in Walloon Brabant that year (the most recent year available in the Eurostat data) was 3,513.60 euro per inhabitant.

It is worth mentioning that, in Wallonia, 77% of R&D is carried out by businesses, 21% by universities, and less than 1% by the public authorities (figures for 2017). In addition, as also highlighted in the report of the Scientific Policy Council in 2020, the public authorities, as performers of R&D, play a very marginal role in the Wallonia Region. This is explained by the fact that the Wallonia Region has few public research centres [7].

This data, which highlights the fragility of the R&D landscape in Wallonia, justified the need to develop a process for closer integration of the research centres, in addition to the networking effort implemented by Wal-Tech for the approved research centres [8]. Nevertheless, on the one hand, this approach seems rather modest in the light of the challenges we are facing and, on the other, contact with the field shows that the stakeholders’ intentions appear to be a long way from integration, with each organisation jealously guarding its own, generally rather meagre, patch. The real question is whether anyone thinks that the Region is able to provide 600 or 700 million euro annually to create a IMEC [9] in Wallonia.

 

2. The exponential rate of technological development requires a commonality of interest and of resources

As an astute observer of technological trends, the analyst and multi-entrepreneur Azeem Azhar rejected the notion that technology is a neutral force, separate from humanity, that will develop outside society. It is, however, closely linked to the way in which we approach it, even if it remains fundamentally difficult, in an era of exponential technological development, to say how new innovations will transform our society. Such innovations interact constantly in our relationships with the economy, work, politics and our living environments. As the exponential era accelerates, observes Azhar, so general-purpose technologies disrupt our rules, norms, values and expectations and affect all our institutions. For this reason, he concludes, we need new forms of political and economic organisation[10]. He is thinking, naturally, of institutions that are sufficiently resilient, in other words, robust enough to handle constant change and flexible enough to adapt quickly. But, above all, we need to construct institutions that allow disparate groups of people to work together, cooperate and exchange ideas, which Azhar refers to as commonality [11]. More than simple cooperation or partnership, this commonality seems to be a genuine sharing of interests, resources and available assets to address challenges[12].

This idea of commonality is what led us, several years ago, to argue in favour of a University of Wallonia established across five or six geographical centres: the University of Wallonia in Mons, the University of Wallonia in Charleroi, the University of Wallonia in Liège, the University of Wallonia in Louvain-la-Neuve, the University of Wallonia in Namur, and the University of Wallonia in Brussels – if the Free University of Brussels (ULB) and the University Saint-Louis want to come on board [13]. The National Fund for Scientific Research (FNRS) would be included in this list, particularly as we believe it to be exemplary in certain respects. The rights and powers of the University of Wallonia would be exercised by the Board of its Governors and Directors: the President of the University, the rectors of each of the constituent universities throughout their term, the representatives of the university community (students, scientific staff, teaching faculty, technical staff), and eight qualified people appointed by the Government of Wallonia, including four prominent foreign individuals and four individuals from the private research and business sector. The Board of the Governors would be chaired by the President of the University of Wallonia, appointed for five years by the government of Wallonia on a proposal from the Board of the Governors. The President would deal exclusively with the work and duties associated with their position. The President and the Board of the Governors would ensure consistency and coordination of the research and teaching activities between the constituent universities through a policy of excellence, specialisation, and integration of the various sections, departments, institutes and research centres. The University of Wallonia would also include all University colleges and institutions offering short-term higher education in Wallonia.

This reform is based on radical empowerment and accountability for the university sector which, as a result, has a coherent decision-making structure for achieving objectives set collectively with representatives of society. It also allows each higher education and research institution to take its place within a group and contribute to developing a common trajectory and plan for society and citizens and for businesses, including associations. The latter will be able to help fund the university research and training, all the more so since they will be close to it and involved in it [14].

We should add that it is within this radically reworked framework of our higher education and research landscape that we want to position the Wallonia Institute of Technology (WIT), not by taking our inspiration from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology as part of a privatisation approach, but based instead on outstanding quality and openness to the world, to society and to businesses. This restructured university environment in Wallonia must also be consistent with the notions of scientific independence and creative potential, also inspired by the FNRS[15], which represent the best aspects of these institutions. It is, therefore, the commonality approach that must inspire them, including those that, today, are not part of the group.

 

3. The Wallonia Institute of Technology: A simple job?

Well, no, implementing this plan by 2030 is not straightforward. Nor was it for JFK and NASA to land their countrymen on the moon. But this was the requirement specified by the newspaper L’Echo. And long before this, as I have also mentioned, it was the 2068 Wallonia Odyssey initiative of the UWE and its 600 or more individual and institutional partners.

I will take the plunge by describing The Wallonia Institute of Technology, and then outlining the principles and the funding of this body within the University of Wallonia.

3.1. The Wallonia Institute of Technology is, like its Massachusetts counterpart, a multidisciplinary research institute specialising in technological convergence and dedicated to science and innovation. It is a central creation of the new University of Wallonia, and of the Government of the federal entity Wallonia, which has entered contractual relations with all the former universities to engender a new research and development and innovation approach for the benefit of citizens and businesses. In addition to the fundamental and applied research funds formerly allocated by the Wallonia Region and the French Speeking Community for the benefit of the universities, the Government has provided one billion euro per year to fund this initiative. These funds have been transferred from the regional support packages allocated to businesses, employment, and research (3.3 billion euro in the initial 2019 budget for the Wallonia Region). The initiative is supported and integrated into the Walloon economic ecosystem by the University, which now enjoys full autonomy, while the public authorities look after the partnership assessment of the impacts and results and check the legality of the decisions and expenditure in accordance with the management contract that is to be drawn up.

3.2. The principles on which the WIT is established within the University of Wallonia

3.2.1. Neither the University of Wallonia nor the Wallonia Institute of Technology require any additional structures. It is a question of integrating the existing tools into a polycentric approach with the philosophy of pooling and optimising resources based on a common vision in which the scientific, educational, and social roles are clearly redefined.

3.2.2. The University and the WIT have complete autonomy (including budgetary) from the Government, other than monitoring the impact analysis of the annual budget, which must comply with the decree that redefined the landscape and granted strategic autonomy to the University of Wallonia, including the WIT. Michel Morant and Emmanuel Hassan, on behalf of the LIEU network, drew on the works of the European University Association recently to highlight the benefits of university autonomy: academic autonomy, to determine student admissions, selection criteria, programmes and content, etc., organisational autonomy, to select, appoint and reject the academic authorities based on their own criteria, include external members in their governance organs, etc., financial autonomy, to manage the surpluses at their disposal, borrow, determine student registration fees, etc., and, lastly, human resources management autonomy, enabling universities to decide the recruitment procedures for academic and administrative staff, determine salaries, promotion criteria, etc. According to the authors, greater university autonomy appears to be a major factor in institutionalising the transfer of knowledge[16]. All these types of autonomy should be applicable to the University of Wallonia, whose mission will be to align the various standards in a cost-effective way.

3.2.3.  The auditing and partnership assessment for the new venture will be managed by the Court of Auditors, on the initiative of the Parliament of Wallonia.

3.2.4. The Wallonia Institute of Technology is an integrator of strategic fundamental research and high-level applied research. It engages in technological convergence and focuses on a few specific axes, under the supervision of the University’s Council of Governors and with the support of its scientific committee.

3.2.5. The purpose of the University is universal, and its territory is Europe and the world. The University of Wallonia will therefore capitalise on the international and interregional networks and partnerships established by each of its constituent institutions. Strengthening its influence in the European research and higher education sector should enable it to improve the calibre and quality of its key personnel.

3.3. Funding for the University of Wallonia and the WIT

3.3.1. The University of Wallonia has a total annual budget of around two billion euro from funds of the French Speeking Community of Belgium (1.6 billion euro)[17] and the Wallonia Region (around 300 million euro). The budget of the FNRS and the associated funds (around a hundred million euro from the French Community) are included in this figure [18].

3.3.2. The Wallonia Institute of Technology has a further sum of one billion euro, from the Wallonia Region support package for businesses, employment and research.

3.3.3. The mission of the approved research centres is to join this scheme, along with their regional funding, which should be encouraged by the Region and approved by the University of Wallonia.

I have been asked whether the Government and its administration will be sidelined by the autonomy of this scheme. That is certainly not the case. Both institutions relinquish their power of initiative in favour of a safeguarding role upstream and downstream of the process. For even a hopeless optimist like myself knows the major risk facing this project: that the universities remain committed to the old paradigm that of compromises and sharing resources, influences, and territories. And they excel in this area, as we know. Quite the opposite of the commonality promoted in this text.

 

Conclusion: the requirement to revolutionise our strategies and ways of thinking

The constitution of a Wallonia Institute of Technology, an organisation attracting laboratories and research centres into the university environment of genuine strategic and budgetary capability that is the University of Wallonia, could be the ideal time to implement a different regime to those described by Nathan Charlier for Flanders and Wallonia, which, ultimately, fail to meet the expectations both governments and societies and of researchers [19]. A new, ambitious model, conceived within a framework of autonomy and pragmatism, could go beyond the regimes of Science, Endless Frontier and economising the value attributed to research by strategic science, without being indifferent to society or to industrial application. Modernisation of fundamental research could be achieved in Wallonia through the independent decisions of the Council of Governors, which would recall the precepts of former European Commissioner Philippe Busquin, who always considered it necessary to allocate a large proportion of resources to fundamental research, believing it was, in the long term, a key element of innovation[20]. But without neglecting thorough applied research and keeping a constant eye on the business environment.

Tools such as Welbio [21] or Trail [22] would be invaluable for building effective interfaces, but there are others in other fields. The competitiveness clusters, possibly restricted in number and better financed, could continue their role as integrators of commercial, research and training activities in specific intersecting and promising fields, both regionally and internationally.

In addition, the challenges are not only in the area of research. While mention is frequently made – and rightly so – of the importance of science, technology, engineering, and maths (STEM), it is also time, as Azeem Azhar reminds us, to bring about a reconciliation between science and literature (humanities), the two cultures highlighted back in 1959 by Charles Percy Snow (1905-1980) [23] and still as far apart as ever. There are new frontiers to be crossed in the areas of teaching and higher education. Furthermore, Mieke De Ketelaere, a researcher at IMEC and an artificial intelligence expert, recently underlined the long-term importance of human skills: children, she writes, must prepare themselves for a digital future in which social skills have their place. Let us not take these skills away from them by making them think like computers [24].

Like going to the Moon in the 1960s, the creation of The Wallonia Institute of Technology at the heart of the University of Wallonia is a formidable challenge for the region and a vital tool for its necessary transformation. In his 1962 speech, mentioned above, President Kennedy outlined his motivation, which could also be ours.

We choose to go to the moon. We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win, and the others, too [25].

This path requires us to revolutionise our strategies and our ways of thinking. To surpass ourselves.

Some will say it is impossible. Others, those on whom we rely, will get down to work.

 

Philippe Destatte

@PhD2050

 

[1] This text is based on the background paper written for the panel organised by the newspaper L’Écho, Quatre personnalités se penchant sur l’avenir de la Wallonie, Le territoire wallon mine d’or pour l’emploi, Panel hosted by Serge QUOIDBACH, Alain NARINX, François-Xavier LEFEVRE and Benoît MAHIEU, with Florence Bosco, Isabelle Ferreras, Marie-Hélène Ska, and Philippe Destatte, in L’Écho, 18 December 2021, p. 15-18.

[2] Mariana MAZZUCATO, Mission Economy, A Moonshot Guide to Changing Capitalism, p. 3, Dublin, Allen Lane, 2021.

[3] M. MAZZUCATO, The Entrepreneurial State, Debunking Public vs Private Sector Myths, New York, Public Affairs, 2015.

[4] In foresight, a wildcard is an unexpected, surprising and unlikely event which may have considerable impacts if it occurs.

[5] Odyssée 2068, Une vision commune porteuse de sens, Finalité 2: https://www.odyssee2068.be/vision

[6] See also Ph. DESTATTE, La Wallonie doit reprendre confiance!, in Wallonie, Review of [Economic and Social Council of Wallonia, no.129, February 2016, p. 51-53: https://phd2050.org/2016/03/02/cesw/  – Ph. DESTATTE, Des jardins d’innovations: un nouveau paradigme industriel pour la Wallonie, Blog PhD2050, Namur, 11 November 2018: https://phd2050.org/2016/11/11/ntiw/

[7] Évaluation de la politique scientifique de la Wallonie et de la Fédération Wallonie-Bruxelles, 2018 and 2019, p. 48/103, CESE Wallonie, Pôle Politique scientifique [Scientific Policy Centre], December 2020.

[8] Wal-Tech, Mission: https://www.wal-tech.be/fr/mission/

[9] IMEC: https://www.imec-int.com/en/about-us

[10] Azeem AZHAR, Exponential, How Accelerating Technology is leaving us behind and what to do about it?, p. 254-258, London, Random House Business, 2021.

[11] A. AZHAR, Exponential…, p. 255.

[12] Commonality, the state of sharing features or attributes, a commonality of interest ensures cooperation. Angus STEVENSON ed., Oxford Dictionary of English, Oxford University Press, 3rd ed., 2010.

[13] Integration of the ULB and the UCLOUVAIN sites in Brussels, including Saint-Louis, would make it possible to dispense with difficult discussions such as those mentioned by Vincent VANDENBERGHE, Réflexions en matière de financement de l’enseignement supérieur en Fédération Wallonie-Bruxelles, Louvain-la-Neuve, 8 July 2021.

https://perso.uclouvain.be/vincent.vandenberghe/Papers/Memo_financementEnsSup_2021.pdf

[14] Ph. DESTATTE, L’Université de Wallonie pour pousser jusqu’au bout la logique de mutualisation, Blog PhD2050, Namur, 14 April 2014, https://phd2050.org/2014/04/14/uw/

[15] I am thinking of the debate initiated by the minister Jean-Marc Nollet in July 2013 on the notion of possible societal impacts of research. See Nathan CHARLIER, Gouverner la recherche entre excellence scientifique et pertinence sociétale, Une comparaison des régimes flamand et wallon de politique scientifique, p. 73-74, Liège, Presses universitaires de Liège, 2021.

[16] Michel MORANT et Emmanuel HASSAN, Vers un nouveau modèle pour la valorisation universitaire? Étude d’impact et d’évolution visant à améliorer la valorisation des résultats de la recherche universitaire, Report produced for the Minister for Higher Education and Research, p. 149-150, Liège, Réseau Liaison Entreprises-Universités, 31 October 2020.

[17] Projets de décrets comprenant les budgets pour l’année 2022 de la Communauté française, Rapport approuvé par la Chambre française de la Cour des Comptes, 26 November 2021, p. 27/63.

[18] The amounts have been identified based on the initial 2019 budget.

[19] Nathan CHARLIER, Gouverner la recherche entre excellence scientifique et pertinence sociétale…, p. 272 et seq.

[20] Laurent ZANELLA, L’Europe a besoin de plus d’Europe, avec Philippe Busquin, dans FNRS News, 121, February 2021, p. 42.

[21] Welbio is a virtual institute offering research programmes in the health sector (cancer, immunology, neurobiology, microbiology, metabolic diseases, asthma, cardiology, etc.). Welbio is involved, as a representative mission of the Walloon Region, in the Fonds de la recherche fondamentale stratégique [Strategic Fundamental Research Fund] (FRFS), a specialist fund of the FNRS. Welbio, in FNRS News, June 2021, no. 122, p. 16. – Céline RASE, WELBIO: le pas de la recherche fondamentale vers l’industrie, dans FNRS News, October 2019, p. 52-53.

[22] Launched on 10 September 2020, the objectives of TRAIL (TRusted AI Labs) is to offer all operators in the socio-economic sector the expertise and tools developed in the field of artificial intelligence by the five French-speaking universities (UCLouvain, UMONS, ULB, ULiège and UNamur) and the four approved research centres working in AI (Cenaero, CETIC, Multitel and Sirris) in partnership with the Agence du Numérique and AI4Belgium. TRAIL helps to mobilise research and innovation capabilities in the Walloon and Brussels Regions to support their socio-economic development in the field of artificial intelligence in line with the regional policies pursued in this field. https://trail.ac/

[23] Charles Percy SNOW, The Two Cultures, Cambridge University Press, 2012. – A. AZHAR, op. cit., p. 7.

[24] Geertrui Mieke DE KETELAERE, Homme versus machine, L’intelligence artificielle démystifiée, p. 168, Kalmthout, Pelckmans, 2020.

[25] John F. KENNEDY, Moon Speech – Rice Stadium, September 12, 1962, https://er.jsc.nasa.gov/seh/ricetalk.htm

Washington, September 8, 2021

200 Leaders Call for New UN Office to Coordinate Global Research to Prevent Human Extinction

Earth’s magnetic shield weakening, ocean-poisoning hydrogen-sulfide gas from advanced global warning, out-of-control nanotech and AI, are among the possible future threats to humanity, warn The Millennium Project, World Futures Studies Federation, and the Association of Professional Futurists.

In an open letter to UN Secretary-General António Guterres, internet pioneer Vint Cerf, Nobel Prize Laureate Oscar Arias, and other technological, business, political, technological, environmental, and academic leaders around the world are calling for a new UN Office of Strategic Threats to coordinate global research on long-range strategic or existential threats to humanity, and to their prevention.

The letter [attached] requests that the UN Secretariat conduct a feasibility study for the proposed UN Office. « The immediate crises always seem to overrule the long-term concerns about the future of humanity. So, we need a specific UN Office that just focuses on what could make us go extinct and how to prevent it, » said Jerome Glenn, CEO of The Millennium Project. »

The UN already has agencies that are addressing many of the serious trends today—such as decreasing fresh water per capita, concentration of wealth, and ethnic violence—but these do not pose a threat to the survival of our species.

Long-term threats

However, there are long-term threats that do, such as the ten below:

  • Weakening of the Earth’s magnetic shield that protects us from deadly solar radiation
  • Massive discharges of hydrogen sulfate (H2S) from de-oxygenated oceans, caused by advanced global warming
  • Malicious nanotechnology (including the « gray goo » problem)
  • Loss of control over future forms of artificial intelligence
  • A single individual acting alone, who could one day create and deploy a weapon of mass destruction (most likely from synthetic biology)
  • Nuclear war escalation
  • Uncontrollable, more-severe pandemics
  • A particle accelerator accident
  • Solar gamma-ray bursts
  • An asteroid collision.

« There is no single point for collaboration in the UN system that addresses such long-term threats to human survival, » said Ambassador Héctor Casanueva, former Chilean Ambassador to UN multilateral organizations in Geneva. « A UN Office on Strategic and Existential Threats to humanity could identify, monitor, anticipate, and coordinate strategic research on a global scale to prevent these threats, he suggested. « It would serve international agencies, multilateral organizations, nation-states, and humanity in general. »

The idea of a new UN Office was raised during the celebration of the annual « World Future Day » on March 1, 2021, a global online conference of nearly a thousand experts from 65 countries. The Millennium Project, which hosts World Future Day, suggested that a resolution be offered at the next UN General Assembly, to be held in September 2021. It would give the UN Secretariat the mandate to conduct a feasibility study of the proposed UN Office of Strategic Threats.

Open letter to the UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres for feasibility study of a UN Office of Strategic Threats

September 8, 2021

Dear Mr. Secretary General,

Long-range strategic threats to the survival of humanity are well-documented, ranging from the potential of advanced artificial intelligence growing beyond human control to weakening magnetic fields that protect life on Earth.

Although the United Nations includes agencies that are addressing many of the problems facing humanity today, there is no central office to identify, monitor, anticipate, and coordinate research on long-term strategic threats to humanity.

A UN Office on Strategic Threats, which would centralize and coordinate information and prospective studies on a global scale, could serve international agencies, multilateral organizations, nation-states, the private sector, academia, and humanity in general. We think that the Office could be created without putting pressure on the budget of the organization, reallocating resources and coordinating its work with universities and research centers around the world.

This idea was raised and discussed in detail during World Future Day, March 1, 2021, a 24-hour conversation of nearly a thousand experts from 65 countries, organized by several international associations of futurists and think tanks to discuss strategies for improving the global future.

The signatories of this open letter – academics, diplomats, scientists, and experts in foresight and strategy from different countries and sectors – ask Your Excellency to welcome and facilitate the adoption of a UN General Assembly Resolution at this September’s General Assembly that would give the General Secretariat the mandate to conduct a feasibility study on establishing a UN Office on Strategic Threats.

Sincerely,

  1. Asanga Abeyagoonasekera, Author, Geostrategist, Former Dir. of Foreign Policy & Security Think Tank, Sri Lanka
  2. Nancy Ellen Abrams, Author, Philosopher of Science, Attorney at Law, USA
  3. Sergio Abreu, Secretary General, Latin American Integration Association (ALADI), Uruguay
  4. Philip Omoniyi Adetiloye, Professor, Federal University of Agriculture, Nigeria
  5. Rosa Alegria, Representative, Teach the Future Brazil, Brazil
  6. Soledad, Alvear, Former Minister of Foreign Affairs, Former Senator, Chile
  7. Jan Amkreutz, Author, futurist, speaker, The Netherlands & USA
  8. Janna Q. Anderson, Executive Director, Imagining the Internet Center, Elon University, USA
  9. Yul Anderson, President, African American Future Society, USA
  10. Amara D. Angelica, Editor-at-Large, KurzweilAI, USA
  11. Shahar Avin, Senior Research Associate, Centre for the Study of Existential Risk University of Cambridge, UK
  12. Diana Baciuna, Local Councillor, Bucharest Borough 4, Romania
  13. Guillermina Baena Paz, VP Latin America WFSF, National Autonomous University of Mexico, Mexico
  14. Ying Bai, Vice President, Academy of Soft Technology, China
  15. SJ  Beard, Academic Programme Manager, Centre for the Study of Existential Risk Cambridge, UK
  16. Clem Bezold, Co-Founder, Institute for Alternative Futures, USA
  17. James Boyd, Complex Systems, SingularityNet, USA
  18. Pedro Bretes Amador, CEO and Co-Founder, NewWay, Foresight, Portugal
  19. Gregory Brown, Adjunct Professor, Georgetown University, Senior Analyst, CENTRA Technology, USA
  20. Steve Brown, Founder, The Futures Collaborative, USA
  21. James E. Burke, Foresight and Solutions Navigator, DeepDive Foresight, USA
  22. Iurie Calestru, Program Director, Institute for Development and Expertise of Projects, Moldova
  23. Franklin A. Carrero-Martinez, Sr. Dir. Global Sustainability, National Academy of Sciences, Eng., and Med., USA
  24. Hector Casanueva, VP Chilean Council of Foresight and Strategy, Former Amb. Geneva, Prof.-Res. University of Alcalá, Chile & Spain
  25. Shiela R. Castillo, Futures Learning Advisor, The Center For Engaged Foresight, Philippines
  26. Vint Cerf, Internet Pioneer, Google, USA
  27. Sadok Chaabane, Former Min. of Justice & Higher Educ., GM, Polytechnique Internationale University, Tunisia
  28. Richard J. Chasdi, Professorial Lecturer, George Washington University, USA
  29. Puruesh Chaudhary, Founder &President , AGAHI, Pakistan
  30. Marvin Cheung, Board Member, Unbuilt Labs, USA
  31. Thomas J. Christiffel, Principal, Regional Intelligence-Regional Communities, USA
  32. Epaminondas Christophilopoulos, Deputy Chair Foresight Team, Office of the President of  Greece, Greece
  33. Reynaldo Treviño, Cisneros, Consultant, Systems and Strategic Planning, Mexico
  34. Anthony Clayton, Professor, University of West Indies, Jamaica
  35. Deborah Clifford, Head of Finance, Woolworths, South Africa
  36. Jose Cordeiro, Executive Director, Ibero-American Foresight Network, Venezuela and Spain
  37. Raluca Coscodaru, Consultant/Professor, Innovation and entrepreneurship, Romania
  38. Catherine, Cosgrove, Futurist, Canada
  39. William Cosgrove, Former Vice President, World Bank, Canada
  40. Shermon Cruz, Executive Director, Center for Engaged Foresight, Philippines
  41. Cornelia Daheim, Founder & Dir. Future Impacts; Chair, Futures Circle, Min. of Educ. and Res., Germany
  42. Jim Dator, Professor Emeritus, University of Hawaii, Manoa, Hawaii
  43. Philippe Destatte, Director, The Destree Institute, Belgium
  44. Mara Di Berardo, Technologist, Institute Nanoscience of the National Research Council , Italy
  45. Simone Di Zio, Associate Professor, University G. d’Annunzio, Italy
  46. Pedro Miguel Diegues, Consultant, Foresight & Strategy, Portugal
  47. Peachie Dioquino-Valera, Advisor, Center for Engaged Foresight, Philippines
  48. Hugh T. Dugan, Former Special Assistant to the President, National Security Council, USA
  49. Paul Epping, Chairman, Xponential, The Netherlands
  50.  Jelel Ezzine, President, Tunisian Association for the Advancement of ST&I (TAASTI), Tunisia
  51. Daniel Faggella, CEO, Emerj Artificial Intelligence Research, USA
  52. Horacio Martin Ferber, Faculty, National University of Avellaneda, Argentina
  53. Elizabeth Florescu, Director of Research, The Millennium Project, Canada
  54. Eduardo Frei Ruiz-Tagle, Former President of Chile, Chile
  55. Michael Friebe, Prof. Health Tech., Otto-von-Guericke University Magdeburg, Germany
  56. Caroline Figuères, Former Director, International Inst. for Com. and Dev.(IICD), The Netherlands
  57. Luciano Gallón, Professor, Universidad Pontificia Bolivariana, Colombia
  58. Adolfo Arreola García, Professor, Anáhuac University, Mexico
  59. Banning Garrett, Faculty, Singularity University, USA
  60. Lydia Garrido Luzardo, UNESCO Chair Anticipation and Resilience, SARAS Institute, Uruguay
  61. Jose María Gil Robles, Former President , European Parliament, Spain
  62. Fausto Carbajal Glass, Member, Royal United Services Institute (RUSI)., Mexico
  63. Jerome C. Glenn, CEO, The Millennium Project, USA
  64. Willis Goldbeck, Founder, Foresight Education, USA
  65. Blaž Golob, CEO GFS Institute, Chair, Forum on Future of Europe, Slovenia
  66. Abhik Gupta, Vice-Chairperson, Tripura State Higher Education Council, India
  67. Antonio Gutelli, Docente, Juan A. Maza University, Argentina
  68. Miguel Angel Gutierrez, Director, Centro Latinomericano de Globalización y Prospectiva, Argentina
  69. Mohammad Habib, Partner, Director, MENA Region, Siegel® MCAN, Jordan
  70. Cathy Hackl, Chief Metaverse Officer, Futures Intelligence Group, USA
  71. William E. Halal, CEO, TechCast International, USA
  72. Aharon Hauptman, Fellow, Zvi Meitar Institute for Implications of Emerging Technologies, Israel
  73. Peter Hayward, Co-host, Futurepod.org, Australia
  74. Sirkka Heinonen, Professor Emeriti, Finland Futures Research Centre, Finland
  75. Lucio Mauricio Henao Vélez, CEO, Prospectiva.org, Colombia
  76. Éva Hideg, Professor, Corvinus University of Budapest, Hungary
  77. Brock Hinzmann, Partner, Business Futures Network, USA
  78. Cyrus Hodes, Chair AI Initiative, The Future Society, France
  79. Razvan, Hoinaru, Former Chief of Staff, EPP Romanian Delegation, EU Parliament, Romania
  80. Philip Horvath, Partner, Luman, Germany
  81. Adriana Hoyos, Professor/Senior Fellow, Instituto de Empresa (IE) Harvard University, Spain & USA
  82. Arnoldo de Hoyos, Professor, Pontificial Catholic University of Sao Paulo, Brazil
  83. Claudio Huepe, Director, Center of Sustainable Energy, Universidad Diego Portales, Chile
  84. Barry B. Hughes, Professor, University of Denver, USA
  85. Jan Hurwitch, Director, Visionary Ethics Foundation, Costa Rica
  86. Asif Iftikhar, Teaching Fellow, Lahore University of Management Sciences, Pakistan
  87. Enrique V. Iglesias, Former President, Intern-American Development Bank, Uruguay
  88. Lester Ingber, CEO, Physical Studies Institute LLC, USA
  89. Jose Miguel Insulza, former Secretary General, Organization of American States (OAS), Chile
  90. Silvia Iratchet, Institutional Relations, Suma Veritas Foundation, Argentina
  91. Abulgasem Issa, Associate Professor, Libyan Authority for Scientific Researches, Libya
  92. Garry Jacobs, President & CEO, World Academy of Art and Science, India
  93. Maciej Jagaciak, Member of the Board, Polish Society for Futures Studies, Poland
  94. Alejandro Jara, Former Associate DG WTO Geneva, Former Ambassador, Chile
  95. Robert E. Jarrett, Senior Fellow (ret.), US Army Environmental Policy Institute, USA
  96. Weiquing Jiang, Chairman, UN Ethics Chinese Union, China
  97. Zhouying Jin, Prof. and Former Director, Center for Technology Innovation and Strategy, Studies, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, China
  98. Maria João Rodrigues, Pres. Foundation for European Progressive Studies, Former Min. Employment, Former MEP and VP of the Group of the Socialists and Democrats, European Parliament, Portugal
  99.  Christopher B. Jones, Faculty, Walden University, USA
  100.  Michel Judkiewicz, Managing Director, Silver-Brains, Belgium
  101. Ted M. Kahn, CEO, DesignWorlds for Learning, USA
  102. David Kalisz, Head of Department , Management & Strategy, Paris School of Business, France
  103. Nikolaos Kastrinos, (signed in personal capacity) Foresight Team Leader, DG Research & Innovation, European Commission, Belgium
  104. Charlotte Kemp, Vice President, Global Speakers Federation, South Africa
  105. Stephen Killelea, Founder & Executive Chairman, Institute for Economics and Peace, Australia
  106. Tony Kim, President, Future Design Lab, South Korea
  107. Yusuke Kishita, Associate Professor, University of Tokyo, Japan
  108. Eric Klien, President, Lifeboat Foundation, USA
  109. Dana Klisanin, CEO, Evolutionary Guidance Media R&D, USA
  110. Norbert Kołos, Managing Partner, 4CF, Poland
  111. Tamás Kristóf, Associate Professor, Corvinus University of Budapest, Hungary
  112. Martin Kruse, Senior Executive Advisor & Futurist, Copenhagen Institute for Futures Studies, Denmark
  113. Osmo Kuusi, Adjunct Professor, Aalto University, Helsinki, Finland
  114. Annah Kyoya, CEO, Leadership Impressions Ltd, Kenya
  115. Mounir Labib, Academy of Scientific Research & Technology, Egypt
  116. Patricio Leiva Lavalle, Dir. Latin American Inst. of Intl Relations, Miguel de Cervantes Univ., Chile
  117. Gerd Leonhard, CEO, The Futures Agency, Zurich, Switzerland
  118. Tiziano Li Piani, R&D Engineer, Leonardo Labs, Italy
  119. Marilyn Lienbrenz-Himes, Assoc. Prof. Emeritus , George Washington University, USA
  120. Lt-Gen Naeem Khalid Lodhi, Former Secretary of Defence, Pakistan
  121. Thomas Lombardo, Director, Center for Future Consciousness, USA
  122. José A. LugoSantiago, Chief Futurist, Institute for Leadership & Strategic Foresight, USA
  123. Pavel Luksha, Founder, Global Education Futures, Russia
  124. Patricia Lustig, Chief Executive, LASA Insight Ltd, UK
  125. François Mabille, General Secretary, International Federation of Catholic Universities, France
  126. Luciano Rodrigues Marcelino, Director General, Interinstitutional Relations, DGRI, Private Technical University of Loja – UTPL, Ecuador
  127. Carlos Alonso von Marschall Murillo, Head, Prospective Analysis and Public Policy, Min. of Planning and Political Economy, Costa Rica
  128. Jorge Máttar, Executive Director, Centro Tepoztlán Víctor L. Urquidi, Mexico
  129. Philip McMaster, Co-Founder, World Sustainability Coop, China
  130. John F. Meagher, Consultant, Futurist/Occupational and Environmental Health, USA
  131. Ricardo Torres Medrano, Professor, Catholic University of La Plata, Argentina
  132. Alvaro Mendez, Co-Dir. Global South Unit, London School of Economics, United Kingdom
  133. Maria Mezentseva, Member of Parliament, Chair of Ukrainian Delegation to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, Ukraine
  134. Alvaro Cedeño, Molinari, Former Ambassador in Geneva, Costa Rica
  135. Cesar Monsalve Rico, Consultant, Development and Innovation Professional, Colombia
  136. Caryl Monte, CEO, International Wisdom Academy, Curaçao
  137. Iván Alonso, Montoya-Restrepo, Professor, National University of Colombia, Colombia
  138. Luz Alexandra Montoya-Restrepo, Professor, National University of Colombia, Colombia
  139. Juan Carlos Mora Montero, Professor of Planning & Foresight, National University, Costa Rica
  140. Morne Mostert, Director, Inst. for Futures Research, Stellenbosch University, South Africa
  141. Victor V. Motti, Director, World Futures Studies Federation, USA
  142. Leopold P. Mureithi, Professor of Economics, University of Nairobi, Kenya
  143. Eric Noël, Founder, Canada Towards 2030, Canada
  144. Kacper Nosarzewski, Partner, 4CF, Poland
  145. Pavel Nováček, Head Development & Environmental Studies, Palacký University, Czech Republic
  146. Erzsébet Nováky, Professor Emeritus, Corvinus University of Budapest, Hungary
  147. Concepcion Olavarrieta Rodriguez, Pres. Nodo Mexicano. El Proyecto del Milenio; Exec-Sec, RIBER, Mexico
  148. Erick Øverland, President, World Futures Studies Federation, Norway
  149. Karla Paniagua Ramírez, Head of Futures Studies, Center of Design and Communication, Mexico
  150. Ioan Mircea Pașcu, Former V.P., European Parliament; Former Minister of Defence of Romania, Romania
  151. Robert A., Pavlik, Futures/Environmental Studies, Marquette University, USA
  152. Martha Beatriz Peluffo Argón, Dean, Faculty of Education Sciences, Universidad de la Empresa, Uruguay
  153. Charles Perrottet, Principal, Futures Strategy Group, USA
  154. Jahna Perricone, Director of Mindfulness Programs, Center for Conscious Creativity, USA
  155. Jeremy Pesner, Doctoral Student, Carnegie Mellon University, USA
  156. Adrian Pop, Professor, National University of Political Science and Public Administration, Romania
  157. Mila Popovich, Founder, EVOLbing leadership, USA & Montenegro
  158. Patty Rangel, Author, International Astronautical Congress, Australia & Germany
  159. Kristian Ravić, Advisor, Office of the Mayor of Zagreb, Croatia
  160. Andrew W. Reynolds, Adjunct Professor, University of Virginia and DOS (ret.), USA
  161. Álvaro Ramírez Restrepo, Director, Futurion Ltda, Colombia
  162. Roman Retzbach, CEO, FutureInstitute Zukunftsinstitut, Germany
  163. Saphia Richou, Chercheur au LAREQUOI, Conseil en Prospective Stratégique et Coopétition, France
  164. Xiaobing Rong, Deputy Secretary General, UN international collaboration & coordination agency, China
  165. Stuart Russell, Center for Human Compatible Artificial Intelligence, University of California, USA
  166. Torben Riise, CEO, ExecuTeam; Founder, Institute for Futures Studies, Copenhagen, USA
  167. Clarissa Rios Rojas, Centre for the Study of Existential Risk, University of Cambridge, UK
  168. Stanley G. Rosen, Consultant, Strategy Analyst, USA
  169. Rebecca Ryan, Founder, CEO, NEXT Generation Consulting, USA
  170. Paul Saffo, Professor, Stanford University, USA
  171. Óscar Arias Sánchez, Former President of Costa Rica (1986-1990, 2006-2010), Nobel Peace Prize laureate, Costa Rica
  172. Rocco Santoro, Senior Statistician, Daccude, Italy
  173. Ramón Santoyo, President, WFS Mexican Chapter, Mexico
  174. Carlos Alberto Sarti Castañeda, Director, Fundación Propaz, Guatemala
  175. John M. Schmidt, Founder, CANSYNTH, Australia
  176. Kamal Zaky Mahmoud Shaeer, Chair, Council of Futures Studies and Risk Management, Academy of Scientific Research and Technology, Egypt
  177. Yair Sharan, Director, FIRS2T, Israel
  178. Mario Silberman, Former Ambassador, CTA, UNIDO/UNDP, Chile
  179. Mihaly , Simai, Former Chairman, United Nations University, Hungary
  180. Alexandra Sokol, Chief Sustainability Officer, EnviroDynamix, Santa Monica, CA, USA
  181. Roger Spitz, Founder, Disruptive Futures Institute, USA
  182. Maarten Steinbuch, Professor, Technical Univ. Eindhoven, Netherlands
  183. Veerappan Swaminathan, Founder & CEO, Sustainable Living Lab Pte Ltd, Singapore
  184. David Tal, President, Quantumrun Foresight, Canada
  185. Amos Taylor, Project Researcher, Finland Futures Research Center, Finland
  186. Rohit Talwar, CEO, Fast Future, UK
  187. Sadia Tariq, Research Associate, Sanjan Nagar Institute of Philosophy and Arts, Pakistan
  188. Paul Tero, Principal Consultant, Dellium Advisory, Australia
  189. Mohan Tikku, Journalist, Author, Futurist, Former Senior Fellow, Indian Council of Soc. Sci. Res., India
  190. Nicoleta Topoleanu, Human Resources Coach and Consultant, Romania
  191. Peter VanderWel, Principal Futurist, FutureVision, Netherlands
  192. Koen Vegter, Founder, Might Futures Design, Netherlands
  193. Sanja Vlahovic, Former Amb. of Montenegro to Italy, Malta and UN organizations in Rome, Montenegro
  194. Paul Werbos, Program Director(ret.), National Science Foundation, USA
  195. Jeremy Wilken, Broadcaster, Design for Voice podcast, USA
  196. Wilson Wong, Head of Insight & Futures, Horizon Scanning UK, UK
  197. Peter P Yim, CEO (retired), CIM3, Hong Kong & USA
  198. Jesús E. Caldera Ynfante, Dir., Intl and Interinstitutional Relations, La Gran Colombia University, Colombia
  199. Amy Zalman, CEO, Prescient, USA
  200. Xialin Zhang, Secretary-General, Intl. Cooperation Center for Future Strategic Research, China
  201. Duoyin Zhou, Deputy Director, UN International Collaboration &Coordination Agency, China
  202. Ibon Zugasti Gorostidi, Director, Prospektiker, Spain

Namur (Wallonia), August 28, 2021

Anticipating means visualising and then acting before the events or actions occur. This implies taking action based on what is visualised, which just goes to show how complex the process is and how problematic our relationship is with the future. The saying “to govern means to foresee » is at odds with this complexity principle. It also refers to individual responsibility. Blaming politics is a little simplistic and unfair, as it is up to each of us to govern ourselves, which means we must “anticipate”. Yet we are constantly guilty of not anticipating in our daily lives.

 

1. Our relationship with the future

 Our relationship with the future is problematic. There are five different attitudes, of which anticipation is merely the fifth. The first is common: we go with the flow; in other words, we wait for things to happen. We hope everything will go well. It is business as usual, or we have always done this as they say in Wallonia. We can also echo the words used by the miners whenever the colliery tunnels were shored up: it can’t hurt, it’s not dangerous, it’s strong, it’s reliable, etc. My father taught me to ridicule this cavalier attitude and, above all, to challenge it.

The second attitude is more active: it involves playing by the rules and working within the norms. The elected officials pay close attention to this, and so do we all. We have to have an extinguisher in our car in case of fire, but mostly to comply with the legal obligations, regulations, technical checks, and so on. Note that public buildings and businesses are also required to have them and to ensure that they are checked regularly. Very few people have one or more fire extinguishers in their house or apartment, and, even if they do, they may not be in working order or suitable for the different types of fire that may occur. We know that it is not a legal requirement, so most people don’t bother about it.

The third attitude towards the future is responsiveness: we respond to external stimuli, and we adapt quickly to the situations that arise. Images of firefighters and emergency workers come to mind, of course, and entrepreneurs as well. Responsiveness may be a virtue, but we know that it is sometimes ineffective in the face of fast-moving events. In defence of their discipline, futurists often quote a saying which they attribute to the statesman Charles-Maurice de Talleyrand-Périgord (1754-1838): when it’s urgent, it’s already too late.

The fourth attitude towards the future is preactivity: our ability – or lack of – to prepare for changes once they are foreseeable. The word foreseeable is clearly related to forecasting, in other words, an assumption is made about the future which is usually quantified and associated with a confidence index based on an expectation. This involves taking a number of variables and system elements into account against a background of previous structural stability and analysing them and their possible evolutions. The likelihood of these possible evolutions is then calculated. Validation is always uncertain due to the complexity of the systems created by the variables. A common example is the weather forecast: it gives me a probability of rain at a given time. If I am preactive, I take my umbrella or I pile sandbags in front of my doors.

The fifth attitude towards the future is proactivity. In his work on the Battle of Stalingrad – 55 years after the event –, British historian and former officer Antony Beevor criticises the German general Friedrich Paulus (1890-1957) for not, as the military commander, being prepared to confront the threat of encirclement which had been facing him for weeks, particularly by not retaining a strong, mobile, armoured capability. This would have enabled the Sixth Army of the Wehrmacht to defend itself effectively at the crucial moment. But, Beevor adds, that implied a clear assessment of the actual danger [1]. This means that, faced with expected and identified changes (I would say exploratory foresight), or even desired changes, which I will cause or create (I would then say normative foresight), I will take action. Anticipating means both visualising and then acting in advance, in other words, acting before the events or actions occur. That is why we could also say, with Riel Miller, that if the future does not exist in the present, anticipation does. The form the future takes in the present is anticipation [2].

 

2. A threefold problem to comprehend the future

We are all faced with a threefold problem when confronting the future. The first problem is that, in the tradition of Gaston Berger (1896-1960) [3], we are expected to look far ahead but, in reality, the future does not exist as an object of knowledge. Clearly, it does not exist because it is not written and is not determined, as Marx believed or as some collapse theorists today believe.

We are also expected to take a broad view and to reflect systemically. But forecasts only focus on a limited number of variables, even in the era of Big Data. Yet we find ourselves faced with systems which are all complex and interwoven in a tangle of unlikely events. We are all familiar with emergences [4] or sudden occurrences linked to the relationships between participants and factors within the system. When driving my car, I can anticipate a puddle, to avoid aquaplaning, or a patch of ice by telling myself that I must not break. But, in reality, I never know what my reaction will be when I feel my wheels shaking, or how my car, my tyres or the road surface will react. Similarly, I never know what the reaction will be of the drivers in front of me or behind me, or in the other lanes, or of the bird that happens to strike my windscreen at that precise moment. So, I have to deal with the complexity, but I cannot reduce it.

The third problem is that, faced with world systems of such complexity, my own knowledge tools are limited. We are trained in disciplines, epistemologies, knowledge methods, vocabularies, and scientific jargon which do not encourage multidisciplinarity (studying one discipline through several disciplines), interdisciplinarity (transferring methods from one discipline to another) or transdisciplinarity (a demanding approach which moves between, across and beyond disciplines), to echo the distinctions expressed by the Franco-Romanian physicist Basarab Nicolescu in response to the works of Jean Piaget (1896-1980) [5]. Our narrowmindedness and reluctance to open up affect our humility, encourage received ideas, create ambiguity (words do not have the same meanings), prevent the necessary constructive dialogue, and adversely affect collective intelligence.

A key achievement of the French economists and futurists Jacques Lesourne (1928-2020) and Michel Godet was to demonstrate the limits of forecasting, which looks to the past for invariants or relationship models to suggest its permanence or its relatively constant evolution in the future, leading to conditional forecasts: ceteris paribus, all things being equal”. Michel Godet’s major work is entitled The Crisis in Forecasting and the Emergence of the « La Prospective », (Pergamon, 1979). In it, he writes that it was on account of the philosopher Gaston Berger, who was himself nurtured on the reflections of Teilhard de Chardin (1881-1955) and Maurice Blondel (1861-1949), and numerous Anglo-Saxon sources of inspiration, that the foresight approach developed. This intellectual stance involves taking the past and future into consideration over the long-term, comprehending the entire system in a seamless way, and exploring capabilities and means of action collectively.

Against our cultural, mental, intellectual, scientific, social and political background, this approach is not encouraged. It does, however, move us on from the question “what is going to happen” to the question “what may happen” and, therefore, “what if?”. This is also linked to one of our major preoccupations: the short-, medium-, and long-term impact prior analysis of the decisions we take.

Foresight has developed methods based precisely on the issue of these emergences. In addition to analysing trends and trajectories – which can identify crises such as the global financial crash in 2008 –, it also works with wildcards: major surprises and unexpected, remarkable, and unlikely events, which may have significant impacts if they occur: the 9/11 attacks, the Icelandic volcano in April 2010, the Covid crisis in 2019, the floods in July 2021, and so on.

There is also much talk today of black swan events as a result of the work of Nassim Nicholas Taleb, formerly a trader and now professor of risk engineering at the University of New York. This involves identifying events that are statistically almost impossible – so-called statistical dissonance – but which happen anyway [6].

 

3. Constructing a political agenda for complexity

First of all, we must be sceptical about the retrospective biases highlighted by the economist, psychologist and future Nobel Prize winner Daniel Kahneman and his colleague Amos Tversky, which involve exaggerating, retrospectively, the fact that events could have been anticipated. These biases are linked to the need we all have to make sense of things, including the most random events [7]. When the unpredictable happens, it is intellectually quite easy for us to see it as predictable.

Next, it should be noted that political leaders are faced with the core issues of appropriation, legitimacy, and acceptability – especially budgetary – of a decision taken at the end of a dialogue and negotiation process involving multiple participants. The public will not necessarily be in favour of the government spending significant amounts on understanding problems they cannot yet visualise. Like St. Thomas, if they can’t touch it, they won’t believe it. At the outset, the population is not ready to hear what the politicians have to tell them on the matter, whether it involves a “stop-concrete” strategy or a perishable supply of masks. For experts and elected officials alike, it is no longer enough to make claims. They now have to provide scientific proof, and, above all, avoid denial, as the emotional link can be considerable. The significant role played by the media should also not be overlooked. For a long time, it was thought that a pandemic was an acceptable risk, as in the 1960s with the Hong Kong flu which caused at least a million deaths globally between 1968 and 1970, whereas the sight of Covid-19 victims in intensive care is unbearable and makes us less willing to accept the number of deaths. Remember how, in France, Health Minister Roselyne Bachelot was criticised and accused of squandering public money when she bought health masks and vaccines for swine flu (H1N1 virus) in 2009-2010. At the same time, humans have a great capacity to become accustomed to risk. Think of the nuclear sword of Damocles that was the Cold War, which continued until the early 1990s. We should also question whether this military nuclear risk – the anthropic apocalypse – has disappeared.

We constantly find ourselves needing to agree on the priority of the challenges facing us. Constructing a political agenda for such complexity is by no means clear, and political leaders wonder whether they will be criticised for starting works that may not seem urgent or sufficiently important to merit sustained attention, stakeholder mobilisation, and the resulting budgets.

Finally, governing not only means solving organisational problems, allocating resources and planning actions over time. It also means making things intelligible, as the French historian Pierre Rosanvallon points out [8]. The political world does not appreciate the importance of the educational aspect. In Belgium, politicians no longer go on television to talk to people directly and explain an issue that needs to be addressed. Government communications have disappeared; now, there are only televised addresses from the Head of State, who in this way becomes the last actor to communicate values to the public in this way.

 

Conclusion: uncertainty, responsibility, and anticipation

In May 2020, during the Covid-19 lockdown, the host of Signes des Temps on France-Culture radio, Marc Weitzmann, had the bright idea of recalling the first major debate of the Age of Enlightenment on natural disasters and their consequences for human populations [9], a debate between Voltaire (1694-1778) and Rousseau (1712-1778) about the Lisbon disaster of 1755 [10].

HRP5XD Lisbon Tsunami, 1755 – Woodcut – The Granger – NYC

On 1 November 1755 (All Saints Day), Lisbon was hit by a huge earthquake. Three successive waves between 5 and 15 metres high destroyed the port and the city centre [11], and tens of thousands of inhabitants lost their lives in the earthquake, tsunami and huge fire that followed. When he heard the news, Voltaire was deeply affected and, several weeks later, in view of the gravity of the event, he wrote a famous poem in which his intention was to go beyond mere evocation of the disaster and compassion for the victims.

Come, ye philosophers, who cry, “All’s well,”

And contemplate this ruin of a world.

Behold these shreds and cinders of your race,

This child and mother heaped in common wreck,

These scattered limbs beneath the marble shafts—

A hundred thousand whom the earth devours,

Who, torn and bloody, palpitating yet,

Entombed beneath their hospitable roofs,

In racking torment end their stricken lives.

To those expiring murmurs of distress,

To that appalling spectacle of woe,

Will ye reply: “You do but illustrate

The iron laws that chain the will of God »? [12]

In this “Poem on the Lisbon disaster”, from which these lines are a short excerpt, Voltaire ponders the appropriateness of attributing the event to divine justice, when, according to some so-called optimistic philosophers at the time, everything natural is a gift from God and, therefore, ultimately good and just [13]. Without calling divine power into question, Voltaire counters this concept, rejects the idea of a specific celestial punishment to atone for vices in the Portuguese capital, and instead declares fate responsible for the disaster.

As mentioned by Jean-Paul Deléage, who, in 2005, published in the Écologie et Politique review the letter which Rousseau sent to Voltaire on 18 August 1756, Voltaire went on to propose a new concept of human responsibility. This concept was social and political rather than metaphysical and religious. Thus, in his reply to Voltaire, Rousseau states as follows:

 (…), I believe I have shown that with the exception of death, which is an evil almost solely because of the preparations which one makes preceding it, most of our physical ills are still our own work. Is it not known that the person of each man has become the least part of himself, and that it is almost not worth the trouble of saving it when one has lost all the rest Without departing from your subject of Lisbon, admit, for example, that nature did not construct twenty thousand houses of six to seven stories there, and that if the inhabitants of this great city had been more equally spread out and more lightly lodged, the damage would have been much less, and perhaps of no account. All would have fled at the first disturbance, and the next day they would have been seen twenty leagues from there, as gay as if nothing had happened; but it is necessary to remain, to be obstinate around some hovels, to expose oneself to new quakes, because what one leaves behind is worth more than what one can bring along. How many unfortunate people have perished in this disaster because of one wanting to take his clothes, another his papers, another his money?  Is it not known that the person of each man has become the least part of himself, and that it is almost not worth the trouble of saving it when one has lost all the rest? [14] 

Whereas, for Voltaire, the Lisbon disaster was an accident and an unfortunate combination of circumstances, Rousseau feels that the natural seismic effects were compounded by the actions, urban choices and attitude of the people during the disaster. It is the responsibility of human behaviour that Rousseau highlights. In essence, he believes that, although Lisbon was destroyed, this was linked to the human decision to build a city on the coast and near a fault line. A lack of anticipation, perhaps.

Rousseau returned to these matters in his Confessions, in which he again absolves Providence and maintains that, of all the evils in people’s lives, there was not one to be attributed to Providence, and which had not its source rather in the abusive use man made of his faculties than in nature [15].

In the appropriately named Signes des Temps, or Sign of the Times, programme, Marc Weitzmann established a link between this debate, the question of uncertainty, nature and mankind, and the thoughts of French urbanist Paul Virilio (1932-2018). Scarred by the blitzkrieg and his lost childhood, and the idea that acceleration prevents anticipation and can lead to coincidence, Virilio, author of Speed and Politics (MIT Press, 2006), The Original Accidentl (Polity Press, 2007), and The Great Accelerator (Polity Press, 2012), emphasised that industrial and natural disasters progressed not only geometrically but also geographically, if not cosmically. In his view, this progress of contemporary coincidence requires a new intelligence in which the principle of responsibility permanently supplants the principle of technoscientific effectiveness, which is, considers Virilio, arrogant to the point of delusion [16].

Thus, as in Rousseau, our natural disasters seem increasingly inseparable from our anthropic disasters. All the more so since, as we now know, we have through our human and industrial actions altered the course of time in all its meanings: climate time, as well as speed time, or acceleration.

The fine metaphor used by futurists on the need to have good headlights at night – the faster we travel, the brighter they need to be – seems somewhat outdated. While, today, we are collectively wondering whether the road still exists, we can still enjoy inventing, plotting, and carving out a new path. For, in the words of Gaston Berger, the future is not only what may happen or what is most likely to happen, but is also, and increasingly so, what we want it to be. Predicting a disaster is conditional: it involves predicting what would happen if we did nothing to change the situation rather than what will happen in any event [17].

Risk management will remain a fundamental necessity on the path we choose. What is more, any initiative involves a degree of uncertainty which we can only ever partially reduce. This uncertainty will never absolve our individual and collective responsibilities as elected representatives or citizens. This uncertainty, in turn, creates a duty of anticipation [18].

Anticipation culture must feature at the heart of our public and collective policies. To that end, we must employ foresight methods that are genuinely robust and operational, along with impact prior analyses for the actions to be taken. That is the only way to tackle a new future without false impressions.

In his conclusions of The Imperative of Responsability, Hans Jonas decreed that, facing the threat of nuclear war, ecological ravage, genetic engineering, and the like, fear was a requirement for tackling the future [19]. We must treat anticipation in the same way. Thus anticipation meets hope, each being a consequence of the other.

 

 

Philippe Destatte

@PhD2050

Related paper: Increasing rationality in decision-making through policy impact prior analysis (July 12, 2021)

 

Direct access to PhD2050’s English papers

 

[1] Free translation from: Antony BEEVOR, Stalingrad, p. 231-232 et 252 , Paris, de Fallois, 1999.

[2] Riel MILLER, Futures Literacy: transforming the future, in R. MILLER ed., Transforming the Future, Anticipation in the 21st Century, p. 2, Paris, UNESCO – Abingdon, Routledge, 2018.

[3] Gaston BERGER, L’attitude prospective, dans Phénoménologie et prospective, p. 270sv, Paris, PUF, 1964.

[4] According to the systemist Edgar Morin, emergence is an organizational product which, although inseparable from the system as a whole, appears not only at the global level, but possibly at the level of the components. Emergence is a new quality in relation to the constituents of the system. It therefore has the virtue of an event, since it arises in a discontinuous manner once the system has been constituted; it has of course the character of irreducibility; it is a quality which cannot be broken down, and which cannot be deduced from previous elements. E. MORIN, La méthode, t.1, p. 108, Paris, Seuil, 1977. – The concept of emergence finds its origin in George Henry Lewes. To urge that we do not know how theses manifold conditions emerge in the phenomenon Feeling, it is to say that the synthetic fact has not been analytically resolved into all its factor. It is equally true that we do not know how Water emerges from Oxygen and Hydrogen. The fact of an emergence we know; and we may be certain that what emerges is the expression of its conditions, – every effect being the procession of its cause. George Henry LEWES, Problems of Life and Mind, t. 2, p. 412, London, Trübner & Co, 1874. – André LALANDE, Vocabulaire technique et critique de la philosophie, p. 276-277, Paris, PUF, 1976.

[5] See: Transdisciplinarité in Ph. DESTATTE & Philippe DURANCE dir., Les mots-clés de la prospective territoriale, p. 51, Paris, La Documentation française, 2009. http://www.institut-destree.eu/wa_files/philippe-destatte_philippe-durance_mots-cles_prospective_documentation-francaise_2008.pdf

[6] Nassim Nicholas TALEB, The Black Swan, The Impact of the Highly Improbable, New York, Random House, 2007.

[7] Daniel KAHNEMAN & Amos TVERSKY, Prospect theory: An Analysis of Decision under Risk, in Econometrica, Journal of the econometric society, 1979, vol. 47, nr 2, p. 263-291. https://www.jstor.org/stable/1914185?seq=1

[8] Pierre ROSANVALLON, Counter-Democracy, Politics in an Age of Distrust, Cambridge University Press,  2008.

[9] Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Lettre à Monsieur de Voltaire sur ses deux poèmes sur « la Loi naturelle » et sur « le Désastre de Lisbonne », présentée par Jean-Paul DELEAGE, dans Écologie & politique, 2005, 30, p. 141-154.

https://www.cairn.info/revue-ecologie-et-politique1-2005-1-page-141.htm

[10] Cfr Marc Weitzmann, Le Cygne noir, une énigme de notre temps, ou la prévision prise en défaut, avec Cynthia Fleury, Bruno Tertrais et Erwan Queinnec, Signes des Temps, France Culture, https://www.franceculture.fr/emissions/signes-des-temps/le-cygne-noir-une-enigme-de-notre-temps-ou-la-prevision-prise-en-defaut

[11] Sofiane BOUHDIBA, Lisbonne, le 1er novembre 1755 : un hasard ? Au cœur de la polémique entre Voltaire et Rousseau, A travers champs, 19 octobre 2014. S. Bouhdiba est démographe à l’Université de Tunis. https://presquepartout.hypotheses.org/1023 – Jean-Paul POIRIER, Le tremblement de terre de Lisbonne, Paris, Odile Jacob, 2005.

[12] Translation taken from the Online Library of Liberty, https://oll.libertyfund.org/quote/voltaire-laments-the-destruction-of-lisbon-in-an-earthquake-and-criticises-the-philosophers-who-thought-that-all-s-well-with-the-world-and-the-religious-who-thought-it-was-god-s-will-1755.

VOLTAIRE, Poème sur le désastre de Lisbonne (1756), Œuvres complètes, Paris, Garnier, t. 9, p. 475. Wikisources : https://fr.wikisource.org/wiki/Page:Voltaire_-_%C5%92uvres_compl%C3%A8tes_Garnier_tome9.djvu/485

[13] We are talking about theodicy here. This consists in the justification of the goodness of God by the refutation of the arguments drawn from the existence. This concept was introduced by the German philosopher and mathematician Gottfried Wilhelm Leibnitz (1646-1716) in an attempt to reconcile the apparent contradiction between, on the one hand, the misfortunes that prevail on earth and, on the other hand, the power and the goodness of God. LEIBNITZ, Essais de théodicée sur la bonté de Dieu, la liberté de l’Homme et l’origine du mal, Amsterdam, F. Changuion, 1710. – See Patrick SHERRY, Theodicy in Encyclopedia Britannica, https://www.britannica.com/topic/theodicy-theology. Accessed 28 August 2021.

We know that in his tale Candide, or Optimism, published in 1759, Voltaire will deform and mock Leibnitzian thought through the caricatural character of Pangloss and the formula everything is at best in the best of all possible worlds … VOLTAIRE, Candide ou l’Optimisme, in VOLTAIRE, Romans et contes, Edition établie par Frédéric Deloffre et Jacques Van den Heuvel, p. 145-233, Paris, Gallimard, 1979.

[14] Translation from Internet Archive, Letter to Voltaire, Pl, IV, 1060-1062, p. 51.

 https://archive.org/details/RousseauToVoltairet.marshall/page/n1/mode/2up?q=lisbon,

Lettre à Monsieur de Voltaire sur ses deux poèmes sur la « Loi naturelle » et sur « Le Désastre de Lisbonne », 18 août 1756. in Jean-Paul DELEAGE, op. cit.

[15] J.-J. ROUSSEAU, Confessions, IX, Paris, 1767, cité par Sofiane BOUHDIBA, op. cit.

[16] Paul VIRILIO, L’accident originel, p. 3, Paris, Galilée, 2005.

[17] G. BERGER, Phénoménologie et prospective…, p. 275. (Free translation).

[18] Voir à ce sujet Pierre LASCOUMES, La précaution comme anticipation des risques résiduels et hybridation de la responsabilité, dans L’année sociologique, Paris, PUF, 1996, 46, n°2, p. 359-382.

[19] Hans JONAS, The Imperative of Responsability, In Search of an Ethics for the Technological Age, The University of Chicago Press, 1984.

Namur, July 12, 2021

Challenges such as the imminent strategic choices posed by the European structural funds, the Recovery programme underway within the Government of Wallonia, questions on the interest in and the value of installing 5G, and whether it is even necessary, along with issues surrounding the implementation of a guaranteed universal income, and other energy, climate and environmental issues, raise the question of the impact of the decisions made by both public and private operators [1].

In their recent work The Politics Industry, while analysing the shortcomings and failure of American democracy and the possibilities for reconstructing it, Katherine M. Gehl and Michael E. Porter call for policy innovation. Katherine Gehl, founder of the Institute for Political Innovation, argues that laboratories of democracy have a role to play in the transformations within the political and social system itself to help governments achieve their objectives and, above all, to achieve the results their citizens deserve [2]. Although the authors, who are immersed in the business and entrepreneurship culture, focus primarily on democratic engineering in order to restore its negative effects on economic competitiveness, the issue of prior, objective analysis or assessment of the impacts that political decisions can have on society and its economy is not high on their agenda. In the absence of this type of approach, we believe that criticising policymaking and its lack of rationality – along with demonstrating the absence of general interest and common good – appears futile.

The weakening of a strong impact analysis probably contributed to Philippe Zittoun’s description, based on the work of the celebrated economists, sociologists and political scientists Herbert Simon (1916-2001) and Charles Lindblom (1917-2018), of complex cognitive tinkering. In this tinkering process, the necessary rational links between problem, objective, solution, tools, values and causes are absent [3]. Ignorance, intuitions, ideology and inertia combine to give us answers that look plausible, promise much, and predictably betray us, write the recent winners of the Nobel Prize for Economics, Abhijit Banerjee and Esther Duflo [4].

Dreamstime – Dzmitry Skazau

1. What is policy impact prior analysis?

The purpose of impact analysis is to establish a comparison between what has happened or will happen after the implementation of the measure or programme and what would have happened if the measure or programme had not been implemented. This comparison can be referred to as the programme impact [5].

Policy impact prior analysis can help to refine decisions before they are implemented and to comprehend their potential effects in different economic environments. The impact assessment provides a framework for understanding whether the beneficiaries do actually benefit from the programme, rather than from other factors or actors. A combination of qualitative and quantitative methods is useful to give an overview of the programme impact. There are two types of impact analysis: ex ante and ex post. An ex-ante impact analysis attempts to measure the expected impacts of future programmes and policies, taking into account the current situation of a target area, and may involve simulations based on assumptions relating to the functioning of the economy. Ex ante analyses are usually based on structural models of the economic environment facing the potential participants. The underlying assumptions for the structural models involve identifying the main economic actors in the development of the programme and the links between the actors and the different markets to determine the results of the programme. These models can predict the programme impacts [6].

In April 2016, in their common desire for Better Regulation, the European Parliament, the Council of the European Union and the European Commission decided to increase and strengthen impact assessments [7] as tools for improving the quality of EU legislation, in addition to consulting with citizens and stakeholders and assessing the existing legislation. In the view of these three institutions, impact assessments should map out alternative solutions and, where possible, potential short and long-term costs and benefits, assessing the economic, environmental and social impacts in an integrated and balanced way and using both qualitative and quantitative analyses. These assessments must respect the principles of subsidiarity and proportionality, as well as fundamental rights. They must also consider the impact of the various options in terms of competitiveness, administrative burdens, the effect on SMEs, digital aspects and other elements linked to territorial impact. Impact assessments should also be based on data that is accurate, objective, and complete [8].

In recent years, the European Commission has gone to great lengths to update its technical governance tools in its efforts to achieve better regulation. This concept means designing EU policies and laws so that they achieve their objectives at the lowest possible cost. For the Commission, better regulation does not involve regulating or deregulating, but rather adopting a way of working which ensures that policy decisions are taken openly and transparently, are guided by the best factual data available, and are supported by stakeholder participation. Impact assessment (or impact analysis) is an important element of this approach to policy issues, as are foresight (or forward-looking) tools, and tools used for stakeholder consultation and participation, planning, implementation, assessment, monitoring etc., which are part of the public or collective policy cycle, and even, by extension, the business policy cycle [9].

Better regulation covers the entire political cycle, from policy conception and preparation, to adoption, implementation, application (including monitoring and enforcement [10]), assessment and revision of measures. For each phase of the cycle, a number of principles, objectives, tools and procedures for improving regulation are used to build capacity for achieving the best possible strategy.

Although impact assessment is not a new tool, since it was theorised extensively in the 1980s and 1990s [11], its role in the process has been strengthened considerably by the European Commission, to the extent that, in our view, it is now of central importance. Even its content has been broadened. The Better Regulations Guidelines of 2017 highlight this transparency and draw a distinction with assessment practices: in an impact assessment process, the term impact describes all the changes which are expected to happen due to the implementation and application of a given policy option/intervention. Such impacts may occur over different timescales, affect different actors and be relevant at different scales (local, regional, national and EU).  In an evaluation context, impact refers to the changes associated with a particular intervention which occur over the longer term [12]. The Guidelines glossary also states that impact assessment is an integrated process for assessing and comparing the merits of a range of public or collective policy options developed to solve a clearly defined problem. Impact assessment is only an aid to policymaking / decision-making and not a substitute for it [13].

Thus, impact assessments refer to the ex-ante assessment carried out during the policy formulation phase of the policy cycle.

This process consists in gathering and analysing evidence to support policy development. It confirms the existence of a problem to be solved, establishes the objectives, identifies its underlying causes, analyses whether a public action is necessary, and assesses the advantages and disadvantages of the available solutions [14].

The Commission’s impact assessment system follows an integrated approach which assesses the environmental, social and economic impacts of a range of policy options, thereby incorporating sustainability into the drafting of EU policies. The impact reports formatted by the Commission also include the impacts on SMEs and on European competitiveness and a detailed description of the consultation strategy and the results achieved [15].

2. Complex, public-interest processes that make democracy more transparent

In a parliamentary context, impact studies designed as ex-ante assessments of legislation satisfy, firstly, an ambition to overhaul policy practices, secondly, an open government challenge to make public debate more transparent, and, thirdly, a desire for efficiency in the transformation of public and collective action, since assessment means better action. Generating knowledge on the objectives, the context, the resources, the expected results and the effects of the proposed policies means giving both parliamentarians and citizens the means to assess the consequences of the recommended measures. It also means supporting public decision-making by plainly revealing the budgetary impacts of the decisions policymakers want to make. These advantages are undoubtedly ways to revitalise our democracies [16].

Used for prior assessment of legislation, impact assessment aims to analyse all the behaviors and situations that present a direct or indirect causal link with the legislation being examined, to identify the unforeseen effects, the adverse effects [17]. It involves identifying the genuine changes expected in society which could be directly associated with the prescriptive (legislative or regulatory) measures implemented by the actors involved in the policy [18]. It is therefore understandable that questions relating to concerns such as the impact of technological choices on health or the extent to which the legislation is consistent with climate and sustainable development objectives are essential questions posed in impact studies [19].

Measuring the impact is therefore the key challenge of the assessment, but it is also the hardest issue to tackle from a methodological point of view [20]. As indicated in the Morel-L’Huissier-Petit report submitted to the French National Assembly in 2018, assessing the mobilisation of resources and the control of public expenditure when implementing legislation or a policy is the driving force for more effective public action which is able to innovate and evolve its management methods in order to adapt positively to the paradox of modern public action: how to do better with less, against a backdrop of cutting public expenditure, rising democratic demands and Public Service expectations, and accelerating economic and social trends [21]. This report also recommends expanding impact studies to cover tabled legislative proposals and substantial amendments in order to supplement the content, review the impact studies already accompanying the legislative proposals, develop robust impact and cost simulators and use them regularly, and, lastly, organise discussions within committees and at public hearings dedicated to assessing impact studies [22].

Concerning the low-carbon strategy, France’s High Council on Climate indicated, in December 2019, that, with regard to environmental and particularly climate assessment, the existing impact studies have not achieved their potential: they cover only a small portion of the legislation adopted (legislative proposals of parliamentary origin and amendments are not included), they are rarely used, and they are often incomplete [23].

However, these assessment works of the High Council on Climate are very interesting from a methodological perspective. When supplemented, impact prior analyses can be considered to follow a seven-stage process, guided by a compass as shown below.

Overall, it might be argued that the impact of a policy is all its effect on real-world conditions, including: 1. impact on the target situation or group, 2. impact on situations or groups other than the target (spill over effects), 3. impact on future as well as immediate conditions, 4. direct costs, in terms of resources devoted to the program, 5. indirect costs, including loss of opportunities to do other things. All the benefits and costs, both immediate and future, must be measured in both symbolic and tangible terms and be explained with concrete equivalences [24].

The main purpose of any ex-ante assessment is without doubt to clarify the political objectives from the outset, for example before voting on a law, and to help define or eliminate any incompatibilities within or between the general objectives and the operational objectives [25]. The fundamental problem seems to be that the impacts of changes brought about by public policies are often minor, or even marginal, compared with those caused by external social and economic developments. It then becomes hard to get the message across [26]. That is why demonstrating a significant public policy impact often means having to deal with a major programme, or series of programmes. The measures must be properly conceived, properly financed and made sustainable over time [27]. These measures can be discussed with stakeholders or even with citizens, as was the case with the measures in the independence insurance bill debated at the citizens’ panel on ageing, organised by the Parliament of Wallonia in 2017 and 2018 [28].

More than simply a judgment, impact assessment is a learning approach whereby lessons can be learned from the policy or action being assessed, and the content improved as a result. Any assessment requires collaboration and dialogue between its key participants, namely the representatives, assessors, beneficiaries of the policies, programmes, projects or functions, and stakeholders, in other words the individuals or bodies that have an interest in both the policy or programme being assessed and the results of the assessment. Assessment in this sense is merely a process in which the actors themselves adopt the thinking on the practices and the results of the subject being assessed [29]. The methods may be many and varied, but the key points are probably the ethics of the assessment and some essential quality criteria: a high-quality model, a large amount of robust data, meeting expectations, and genuine consideration of the common good [30].

 3. Interests and obstacles for a strategic intelligence tool

Impact prior analysis is one of the strategic policy intelligence tools promoted by the European Commission. It also respects the following principles:

principle of participation: foresight, evaluation or Technology Assessment exercises take care of the diversity of perspectives of actors in order not to maintain one unequivocal ‘truth’ about a given innovation policy theme;

principle of objectivisation: strategic intelligence supports more ‘objective’ formulation of diverging perceptions by offering appropriate indicators, analyses and information processing mechanism;

principle of mediation and alignment: strategic intelligence facilitates mutual learning about the perspectives of different actors and their backgrounds, which supports the finding of consensus;

principle of decision support: strategic intelligence processes facilitate political decisions and support their successful subsequent implementation  [31].

An impact assessment can therefore be broken down into traditional cost-benefit measures and measures relating to areas such as sustainable development, environment, technological innovation and social impact. The Sustainability Impact Assessment has been developed by the European Commission and includes a detailed analysis of the potential economic, social, human and environmental impacts of ongoing commercial negotiations. These assessments are an opportunity for stakeholders from the EU and the partner countries to share their points of view with the negotiators [32].

In recent decades, the literature on policy assessment has increased substantially and new methodologies have been developed to identify the causal effects of policies [33]. In addition, the openness approaches pursued by governments and parliaments are introducing democratic innovation aspects which need to be taken into account. Although the quality of the impact analysis methods, particularly environmental (air, water, ecological systems, socio-economic systems, etc.), has been improved and diversified considerably since the beginning of the 2000s, especially through the works of Christopher Wood [34] and Peter Morris and Riki Therivel [35], it must be acknowledged that, in practice, these processes are rarely applied and that, often, the public authorities prefer not to activate them. However, major clients such as the European Commission and the OECD are becoming increasingly demanding in this area in terms of assessment and climate/energy indicators. This is also a real opportunity to create closer links between impact assessments and public inquiries.

Beyond the technical sphere of civil servants and experts, many elected representatives tend to perceive policy impact prior analysis as an additional layer on top of the decision-making process – which generates a degree of indifference – rather than a beneficial layer which represents real added value for stakeholders.

We also know that, when taken to the extreme, impact assessment is a tool that can hinder or even prevent legislative and programme-based action. The Anglo-Saxons have an extreme vision of efficiency, even going as far as the concept – assumed – of a regulatory guillotine [36]. This fairly radical approach may involve two paths: one in which, faced with the proliferation of ex ante assessment procedures, the political system risks rigidity, the other in which, for fear of generating additional prescriptive complexity, the elected representatives avoid all legislative change. The OECD is interested in this aspect [37].

In this way, prior policy impact assessment could open a lively debate on legislative relevance. Something that is always healthy, particularly in parliamentary settings.

 

Philippe Destatte

@PhD2050

 

[1] I would like to thank Sarah Bodart, analyst and economist at The Destree Institute’s Wallonia Policy Lab, for her advice and suggestions for finalising this paper.

[2] Katherine M. GEHL & Michaël E. PORTER, The Politics Industry, How Political Innovation Can Break Partisan Gridlock and Save our Democracy, p. 179, Boston, Harvard Business Review Press, 2020.

[3] Philippe ZITTOUN, La fabrique politique des politiques publiques, p. 146, Paris, Presses de Sciences-Po, 2013. – Charles E. LINDBLOM, The Policy-Making Process, Prentice-Hall, 1968.

[4] Abhijit BV. BANERJEE and Esther DUFLO, Économie utile pour des temps difficiles, p. 439-440, Paris, Seuil, 2020. – See also Esther DUFLO, Rachel GLENNESTER and Michael KREMER, Using Randomization in Development Economics Research: A Toolkit in T. Paul SCHULZ and John STRAUSS ed., Handbook of Development Economics, vol. 4, p. 3895–3962, Amsterdam, North-Holland, 2008.

[5] Lawrence B. MOHR, Impact Analysis for Program Evaluation, p. 2-3, Chicago, The Dorsey Press, 1988.

[6] Shahidur R. KHANDKER, Gayatri B. KOOLWAL, Hussain A. SAMAD, Handbook on Impact Evaluation: Quantitative Methods and Practices, p. 19-20, Washington, World Bank, 2010.

https://openknowledge.worldbank.org/handle/10986/2693.

[7] The OECD defines impact as the positive or negative, primary and secondary long-term effects produced by an intervention, directly or indirectly, intended or unintended.  Niels DABELSTEIN dir., Glossaire des principaux termes relatifs à l’évaluation et à la gestion axées sur les résultats, p. 22, Paris, OECD, 2002. http://www.oecd.org/dataoecd/29/21/2754804.pdf

See also the EVALSED glossary: Nick BOZEAT (GHK) & Elliot STERN (Tavistock Institute) dir., EVALSED, The Resource for the Evaluation of Socio Economic Development, Sept. 2013: Impact: The change that can be credibly attributed to an intervention. Same as « effect » of intervention or « contribution to change ». – A consequence affecting direct beneficiaries following the end of their participation in an intervention or after the completion of public facilities, or else an indirect consequence affecting other beneficiaries who may be winners or losers. Certain impacts (specific impacts) can be observed among direct beneficiaries after a few months and others only in the longer term (e.g. the monitoring of assisted firms). In the field of development support, these longer-term impacts are usually referred to as sustainable results. Some impacts appear indirectly (e.g. turnover generated for the suppliers of assisted firms). Others can be observed at the macro-economic or macro-social level (e.g. improvement of the image of the assisted region); these are global impacts. Evaluation is frequently used to examine one or more intermediate impacts, between specific and global impacts. Impacts may be positive or negative, expected or unexpected. – Philippe DESTATTE, Evaluation of Foresight: how to take long-term impact into consideration? For-learn Mutual Learning Workshop, Evaluation of Foresight, Seville, IPTS-DG RTD, December 13-14, 2007. – Gustavo FAHRENKROG e.a., RTD Evaluation Tool Box: Assessing the Socio-economic Impact of RTD Policies. IPTS Technical Report Series. Seville, 2002.

[8] Better Regulation, Interinstitutional agreement between the European Parliament, the Council of the European Union and the European Commission, Brussels, 13 April 2016.

[9] Better Regulation Guidelines, Commission Staff Working Document, p. 5sv, 7 July 2017 (SWD (2017) 350.

[10] Application means the daily application of the requirements of the legislation after it has entered into force. EU regulations are applicable from their effective date, while rules set out in EU directives will apply only from the effective date of the national legislation that transposes the EU directive into national law. Application covers transposition and implementation. Better Regulation Guidelines…, p. 88.

[11] For example: Saul PLEETER ed., Economic Impact Analysis: Methodology and Application, Boston – The Hague – London, Martinus Nijhoff, 1980.

[12] Better regulation guidelines, p. 89, Brussels, EC, 2017.

[13] Ibidem.

[14] Szvetlana ACS, Nicole OSTLAENDER, Giulia LISTORTI, Jiri HRADEC, Matthew HARDY, Paul SMITS, Leen HORDIJK, Modelling for EU Policy support: Impact Assessments, Luxembourg, Publications Office of the European Union, 2019.

[15] Better Regulation Guidelines…, p. 13.

[16] Pierre MOREL-L’HUISSIER and Valérie PETIT, Rapport d’information par le Comité d’Évaluation et de Contrôle des politiques publiques sur l’évaluation des dispositifs d’évaluation des politiques publiques, p. 7-24,  Paris, National Assembly, 15 March 2018.

[17] Geneviève CEREXHE, L’évaluation des lois, in Christian DE VISSCHER and Frédéric VARONE ed., Évaluer les politiques publiques, Regards croisés sur la Belgique, p. 117, Louvain-la-Neuve, Bruylant-Academia, 2001.

[18] In simple terms, a successful impact assessment aims to establish the situation that society would have experienced in the absence of the policy being assessed. By comparing this fictional, also called counterfactual, situation to the situation actually observed, a causal relationship can be deduced between the public intervention and an indicator deemed relevant (health, employment, education, etc.). Rozenn DESPLATZ and Marc FERRACCI, Comment évaluer les politiques publiques ? Un guide à l’usage des décideurs et praticiens, p. 5, Paris, France Stratégie, September 2016.

Cliquer pour accéder à guide_methodologique_20160906web.pdf

See also: Stéphane PAUL, Hélène MILET and Elise CROVELLA, L’évaluation des politiques publiques, Comprendre et pratiquer, Paris, Presses de l’EHESP, 2016.

[19] This extension can also be found in the AFIGESE definition: Impact: social, economic and environmental consequence(s) attributable to a public intervention. Marie-Claude MALHOMME e.a., Glossaire de l’Évaluation, p. 77, Paris, AFIGESE- Caisse d’Épargne, 2000.

[20] Jean-Pierre BATTERTI, Marianne BONDAZ and Martine MARIGEAUD e.a., Cadrage méthodologique de l’évaluation des politiques publiques partenariales : guide, Inspection générale de l’Administration, Inspection générale des Finances, Inspection générale des Affaires sociales, December 2012

http://www.ladocumentationfrancaise.fr/rapports-publics/124000683-guide-cadrage-methodologique-de-l-evaluation-des-politiques-publiques-partenariales

[21] Pierre MOREL-L’HUISSIER and Valérie PETIT, Rapport d’information

[22] Pierre MOREL-L’HUISSIER and Valérie PETIT, Rapport d’information... p.11-13

[23] Where there is evidence that some provisions of a law have a potentially significant effect on the low-carbon trajectory, whether positive or negative, the text initiator decides to steer the text towards a detailed impact study relating to the national low-carbon strategy (SNBC). This detailed study is the subject of a detailed public opinion on its quality, produced by an independent authority with the capacity to do so. This process must be concluded before the legal text is tabled in Parliament. It is suggested that Parliament should expand detailed impact studies relating to the low-carbon strategy to cover legislative proposals. Évaluer les lois en cohérence avec les ambitions, p. 5-6, Paris, High Council on Climate, December 2019.

[24] Thomas R. DYE, Understanding Public Policy, p. 313, Upper Saddle River (New Jersey), Prentice Hall, 2002. The impact of a policy is all its effect on real-world conditions, including : impact on the target situation or group, impact on situations or groups other than the target (spillover effects), impact on future as well as immediate conditions, direct costs, in terms of resources devoted to the program, indirect costs, including loss of opportunities to do other things. All the benefits and costs, both immediate and future, must be measured in both symbolic and tangible effects. – See also: Shahidur R. KHANDKER, S.R., Gayatri B. KOOLWAL, & Hussain A. SAMAD, Handbook on Impact Evaluation, Quantitative methods and practices, Washington D.C, World Bank, 2010.

[25] Paul CAIRNEY, Understanding Public Policy, Theories and Issues, p. 39, London, Palgrave-MacMillan, 2012.

[26] Karel VAN DEN BOSCH & Bea CANTILLON, Policy Impact, in Michaël MORAN, Martin REIN & Robert E. GOODIN, The Oxford Handbook of Public Policy, p. 296-318, p. 314, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2006.

[27] Th. R. DYE, op. cit., p. 315.

[28] Ph. DESTATTE, Que s’est-il passé au Parlement de Wallonie le 12 mai 201 ?7 Blog PhD2050, Namur, 17 June 2017, https://phd2050.wordpress.com/2017/06/17/panel2/

[29] Philippe DESTATTE and Philippe DURANCE dir., Les mots-clefs de la prospective territoriale, p. 23-24, Paris, La Documentation française, 2009.

Cliquer pour accéder à philippe-destatte_philippe-durance_mots-cles_prospective_documentation-francaise_2008.pdf

[30] Jean-Claude BARBIER, A propos de trois critères de qualité des évaluations: le modèle, la réponse aux attentes, l’intérêt général, dans Ph. DESTATTE, Évaluation, prospective, développement régional, p. 71sv, Charleroi, Institut Destrée, 2001.

[31] Alexander TÜBKE, Ken DUCATEL, James P. GAVIGAN, Pietro MONCADA-PATERNO-CASTELLO ed., Strategic Policy Intelligence: Current Trends, the State of the Play and perspectives, S&T Intelligence for Policy-Making Processes, IPTS, Seville, Dec. 2001.

[32] Sustainability Impact Assessment (SIA) https://ec.europa.eu/trade/policy/policy-making/analysis/policy-evaluation/sustainability-impact-assessments/index_en.htm

[33] Massimo LOI and Margarida RODRIGUES, A note on the impact evaluation of public policies: the counterfactual analysis, JRC Scientific & Policy Report, Brussels, European Commission, Joint Research Center, 2012. (Report EU 25519 EN).

[34] Christopher WOOD, Environmental Impact Assessment, A Comparative Review, Harlow, Pearson Education, 2003. (1st ed. 1993).

[35] Peter MORRIS & Riki THERIVEL, Methods of Environmental Impact Assessment, London – New York, Spon Press, 2001.

[36] Thanks to Michaël Van Cutsem for this remark. http://regulatoryreform.com/regulatory-guillotine/

[37] La réforme de la réglementation dans les pays du Moyen-Orient et d’Afrique du Nord, Paris, OCDE, 2013.

Referring to a study in March 2017 by the Institute for the Future (Palo Alto, California), the Mosan Free University College (HELMo) [1] noted, at the start of the 2018-2019 academic year, that 85% of the jobs in 2030 have not yet been invented [2]. The HELMo team rightly pointed out that population ageing, climate and energy changes, mass migrations and, of course, digital technologies, robotisation and other scientific advances are all drivers of change that will revolutionise the entire world. Highlighting its vocational emphasis as a higher education institution, it wondered whether the jobs for which it was training people today would still exist tomorrow. At the same time, its Director-President Alexandre Lodez, along with the teaching staff representative, lawyer Vincent Thiry, and the student representative, pointed out that HELMo did not only want to train human operational resources in response to a particular demand from the labour market, but also wanted to train responsible citizens capable of progressing throughout their careers and lives. Everyone was asking a key question: What, therefore, are the key skills to be consolidated or developed?

I will try to answer this question in three stages.

Firstly, by mentioning the global upheavals and their effects on jobs. Then, by drawing on a survey carried out by futurists and experts from around the world this summer, the results of which were summarised in early September 2018. And finally, by a short conclusion expressing utopia and realism.

1. Global upheavals

On the issue of technical and economic changes, we could proceed by mentioning the many contemporary studies dealing with this topic, including those by Jeremy Rifkin [3], Chris Anderson [4], Dorothée Kohler and Jean-Daniel Weisz [5], François Bourdoncle and Pierre Veltz and Thierry Weil [6]. We could also describe the New Industrial Paradigm [7]. Or, to reflect current events, we could even call on Thierry Geerts, head of Google Belgium, whose work, Digitalis [8] is very popular at present.

But it is to Raymond Collard that I will refer. Former professor at the University of Namur, Honorary Director-General of the Research, Statistics and Information Service at the Ministry of the Wallonia Region – the current Public Service of Wallonia – and scientific coordinator of the permanent Louvain Research and Development Group, Raymond Collard was born in 1928, but his death in Jemeppe-sur-Meuse on 8 July 2018 was met with indifference by Wallonia. It was only through an email from my colleague and friend André-Yves Portnoff on 13 September that I learned, from Paris, about his death.

On 15 March 1985, an article in the journal La Wallonie caught my attention. The title of this paper by Raymond Collard was provocative: Seeking Walloon pioneers! But the question was specific and could be asked again thirty-three years later: Are there, among the readers of this journal, men and women who can identify large or small businesses in Wallonia that truly live according to the principles of the “intelligence revolution”? The paper made reference to the presentation, in Paris, of the report drawn up by a team led by futurists: according to the report on the state of technology, we are witnessing the advent not of the information society, as is often said, particularly in Japan, but of the “creation society”, whose vital resource is intelligence and talent rather than capital. That is also why we talk of the intelligence revolution, a revolution which requires the harnessing of intelligence, something which cannot be done by force. The normal relationships between power and skills are altered at all levels.

The report itself, entitled La Révolution de l’intelligence [9], complemented my reading of the works of John Naisbitt [10] and Alvin Toffler [11]. It was described extensively by Raymond Collard. This relationship builder, as André-Yves Portnoff [12] called him, had travelled to Paris for the presentation of this document by Thierry Gaudin, civil engineer and head of the Centre de Prospective et d’Évaluation [Foresight and Assessment Centre] at the French ministry of Research, and Portnoff, then editor-in-chief of Sciences et Techniques, published by the French Society of Scientists and Engineers. The Minister for Research and Technology, Hubert Currien, and the Minister for Industrial Redeployment and Foreign Trade Edith Cresson were present at the event. Both were members of the government of Laurent Fabius while François Mitterrand was President of the Republic. It is not surprising that two ministers were present since the Centre de Prospective et d’Évaluation (CPE) was a service common to both ministries.

S-T_Revolution-Intelligence_1985

After finding this report, then photocopying it in the library, I literally devoured it – and then bought it on eBay. In 2018, it spells out a first clear message: the upheavals we are experiencing today are not new, even if they seem to be gathering momentum. Another message from Thierry Gaudin is that the cognitive revolution, reflected in the changes underway, has been ongoing since the start of the 1970s and will continue for several more decades.

I was not surprised then, as I am not surprised now. The conceptual context of the evolution of the technological system, leading to widespread change in all areas of society, is one I was familiar with. It had been taught to me at the University of Liège by Professor Pierre Lebrun, a historian and economist with a brilliant, incisive mind, whose astute words I would go and listen to, as one might listen to some freebooter down at the harbour. I taught this conceptual context to my students at Les Rivageois (Haute École Charlemagne) and at the High School Liège 2, and I teach it still at the University of Mons and even in Paris. Which is only fitting.

The analysis model for this context was conceptualised by Bertrand Gille, a technology historian and Professor at the École pratique des Hautes Études in Paris. In it, the director of the remarkable Histoire des Techniques in L’Encyclopédie de La Pléade, at Gallimard [13], clearly showed that it was the convergence of the rapid changes in the levels of training among the population and the spread of scientific and technical knowledge that was the driver of the technological progress that brought about the engineering Industrial Revolution. It will come as no surprise that Bertrand Gille was also a former teacher of Professor Robert Halleux, who was himself the founder of the Science and Technology Centre at the University of Liège. In this way, Bertrand Gille left his mark on several generations of researchers, historians and futurists, some devoting themselves to just one of the tasks, others to the other, and still others to both.

This model, which was reviewed by Jacques Ellul and Thierry Gaudin, imagines that the medieval technological system, highlighted by Fernand Braudel, Georges Duby and Emmanuel Leroy Ladurie, corresponds to an industrial technological system, which was the driving force and the product of an Industrial Revolution, described by Pierre Lebrun, Marinette Bruwier et al.[14], and, finally, a technological system under development, under construction, fostering the Intelligence Revolution and far from over. Land was key in the first revolution, capital in the second, and the third is based on the minds of men and women. Each time, it is materials, energy, the relationship with living beings and time that are involved.

In 1985, Raymond Collard explained what he had clearly understood from the report produced by Gaudin and Portnoff and the several hundred researchers they enlisted: the importance of the four major changes in the poles that are restructuring society:

– the huge choice of materials and their horizontal percolation, ranging from uses in the high-tech sectors to more common uses;

– the tension between nuclear power and saving energy resources, in a context of recycling;

– the relationship with living beings and the huge field of biotechnology, including genetics;

– the new structure of time punctuated in nanoseconds by microprocessors.

Raymond Collard explored all these points some time later in a remarkable speech to the first Wallonia toward the future Congress in Charleroi, in October 1987, entitled: Foresight 2007 … recovering from the crisis, changes in work production methods and employment, which is still available online on The Destree Institute website [15]. In this speech, Collard, who was Professor at the Faculty of Economics and Social Sciences at the University of Namur, noted the following: it has been written that microelectronics is intellectualising industry. We are experiencing an industrial revolution that can be described as an “intelligence revolution”. The development of the possibilities created by the dramatic advances in microelectronics has opened up vast spheres to computer technology. Tomorrow, we will make greater use of artificial intelligence, which will be in evidence everywhere with the implementation of fifth-generation computers [16].

The 1985 report by the CPE remains a mine of information for anyone wanting to understand the changes underway, by looking both retrospectively – examining futures that did not happen – and prospectively – envisaging possible futures to construct a desirable future. There are some precepts to be drawn that are useful mainly for higher educational institutions and our businesses. The following give us cause to reflect:

experience shows that the introduction of new technologies is harmonious only if the training comes before the machines” (p.15).

it is no longer possible to develop quality without giving each person control over their own work” (p.15).

giving a voice only to management means wasting 99% of the intellectual resources in the business” or the organisation. (…) Harnessing all the intelligence is becoming essential (p.42).

“a successful company is one that is best able to harness the imagination, intelligence and desire of its staff” (45).

“the new source of power is not money in the hands of a few, but information in the hands of many”. Quotation taken from the works of John Naisbitt (p.45).

But, above all, the text shows, in the words of the German philosopher Martin Heidegger, that the essence of technology has nothing to do with technology [17]. Everything in technology was first dreamed up by man, and what has been successful has also been accepted by human society, states the report [18]. For this report on the state of technology is also a lesson in foresight. It reminds us, specifically through retrospect, that we are very poor at anticipating what does not already exist. Of course, as Gaston Berger stated on several occasions, the future does not exist as an object of knowledge. It exists solely as a land for conquest, desire and strategy. It is the place, along with the present, where we can innovate and create.

We often mistakenly believe that technologies will find their application very quickly or even immediately. Interviewed in February 1970 about 1980, the writer Arthur Koestler, author of Zero and Infinity, envisaged – as we do today – our houses inhabited by domestic robots that are programmed every morning. He imagined electric mini-cars in city centres closed to all other forms of traffic. He thought that telematic communications would, in 1980, allow us to talk constantly by video so as to avoid travelling. Interviewed at the same time, the great American futurist Herman Kahn, cofounder of the Hudson Institute, imagined that, in 1980, teaching would be assisted by computers which would play, for children, an educational role equivalent to the role filled by their parents and teachers[19].

The world continues to change, sustained, and also constrained, by the four poles. The transition challenges us and we are trying to give the impression that we are in control of it, even if we have no idea what we will find during its consolidation phase, sometime in the 22nd century.

Which jobs will survive these upheavals? Such foresight concerning jobs and qualifications is difficult. It involves identifying changes in employment and jobs while the labour market is changing, organisations are changing and the environment and the economic ecosystem are changing. But it also involves taking into account the possible life paths of the learners in this changing society [20], anticipating skills needs and measuring workforce turnover.

What we have also shown, by working with the area authorities, vocational education institutions and training bodies is that it is often at micro and territorial level that we are able to anticipate, since it seems that the project areas will be required, in ten to fifteen years at the latest, to be places for interaction and the implementation of (re)harmonised education, training and transformation policies for our society, with varying degrees of decentralisation, deconcentration, delegation, contractualisation and stakeholder autonomy. It is probably the latter context that will be the most creative and innovative, and one in which progress must be made. This requires cohesive, inspirational visions per area at the European, federal, regional and territorial level.

In leading the permanent Louvain Research and Development Group since the mid-1960s, particularly with the help of Philippe le Hodey and Michel Woitrin and the support of Professor Philippe de Woot, Raymond Collard had successfully set up and operated a genuine platform of the sort advocated by the European Commission today. Referring, as always, to Thierry Gaudin, he noted in 2000 that understanding innovation means grasping technology, not in terms of what is already there but in terms of revealing what is not yet there [21]. And although Raymond Collard recognised that this required a considerable R&D effort, he observed that this was not enough: as an act of creation which the market has to validate, innovation is the result of an interdisciplinary and interactive process, consisting of interactions within the business itself and between the business and its environment, particularly in terms of “winning” and managing knowledge and skills [22]. With, at the heart its approach, the idea, dear to François Perroux and highlighted by the work of the Louvain Research and Development Group in 2002, that a spirit is creative if it is both open and suited to combining what it receives and finding new combinatorial frameworks [23].

This thought is undoubtedly still powerful, and will remain so.

2. Foresight: from technological innovation to educational innovation

Like any historian, the futurist cannot work without raw material, without a source. For the latter, collective intelligence is the real fuel for his innovative capacity.

To that end, in 2000, The Destree Institute joined the Millennium Project. This global network for future studies and research was founded in 1996 in Washington by the American Council for the United Nations University, with the objective of improving the future prospects for humanity. It is a global participatory think tank, organised in more than sixty nodes, which are themselves heads of networks, involving universities, businesses and private and public research centres. Since 2002, The Destree Institute has represented the Brussels-Area Node which aims to be cross-border and connected with the European institutions [24].

The-Millennium-Project_logo250

In preparation for a wide-ranging study entitled Future Work/Technology 2050, the Millennium Project Planning Committee drafted some global scenarios to which they sought reactions from around 450 futurists and other researchers or stakeholders. A series of seminars was organised in twenty countries in order to identify the issues and determine appropriate strategies to address them. It was on this basis that a series of real-time consultations with experts (Real-Time Delphi) was organised on issues of education and learning, government and governance, businesses and work, culture and art and science and technology. From a series of 250 identified actions, 20 were selected by the panel of experts in the field of education and learning.

The complete list of the 20 actions is shown below. I have ordered them, for the first five at least, according to their level of relevance – effectiveness and feasibility –, as they were ranked by the international panel.

The first action on this list concerns the educational axes. This involves:

4. Increase focus on developing creativity, critical thinking, human relations, philosophy, entrepreneurship (individual and teams), art, self-employment, social harmony, ethics, and values, to know thyself to build and lead a meaningful working life with self-assessment of progress on one’s own goals and objectives (as Finland is implementing). 

The second will delight futurist teachers, since it involves:

20. Include futures as we include history in the curriculum. Teach alternative visions of the future, foresight, and the ability to assess potential futures. 

The third action is a measure of social cohesion:

6. Make Tele-education free everywhere; ubiquitous, lifelong learning systems.

The fourth, in my view, is probably the most important at the operational level:

2. Shift education/learning systems more toward mastering skills than mastering a profession. 

The fifth will totally transform the system:

3. In parallel to STEM (and/or STEAM – science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics) create a hybrid system of self-paced inquiry-based learning for self-actualization; retrain teachers as coaches using new AI tools with students.

The 15 other actions are listed in no particular order, some complementing initiatives on the ground, particularly in the Liège-Luxembourg academic Pole.

1. Make increasing individual intelligence a national objective of education (by whatever definition of intelligence a nation selects, increasing “it” would be a national objective). 

5. Continually update the way we teach and how we learn from on-going new insights in neuroscience. 

7. Unify universities and vocational training centres and increase cooperation between schools and outside public good projects.

8. Utilize robots and Artificial Intelligence in education. 

9. Focus on exponential technologies and team entrepreneurship.

10. Change curriculum at all levels to normalize self-employment. 

11. Train guidance counsellors to be more future-oriented in schools. 

12. Share the responsibility of parenting as an educational community. 

13. Promote “communities of practice” that continually seek improvement of learning systems. 

14. Integrate Simulation-Based Learning using multiplayer environments. 

15. Include learning the security concerns with respect to teaching (and learning) technology. 

16. Incorporate job market intelligence systems into education and employment systems. 

17. The government, employers across all industry sectors, and the labour unions should cooperate in creating adequate models of lifelong learning. 

18. Create systems of learning from birth to three years old; this is the key stage for developing creativity, personality. 

19. Create mass public awareness campaigns with celebrities about actions to address the issues in the great transitions coming up around the world [25].

We can appreciate that these actions do not all have the same relevance, status or potential impact. That is why the top five have been highlighted. However, the majority are based on a proactive logic of increasing our capacities for educating and emancipating men and women. The fact that these actions have been thought about on all continents, by disparate stakeholders, with a genuine convergence of thought, is certainly not insignificant.

3. Conclusion: in the long term, humans are the safest bet

As regards Wallonia, and Liège in particular, we are familiar with the need to create value collectively so that we are able to make ourselves autonomous and so that we can be certain of being able to face the challenges of the future. Without question, we must place social cohesion and energy and environmental risks at the top of this list of challenges. Innovative and creative capacities will be central to the skills that our young people and we ourselves must harness to address these challenges. These needs can be found at the core of the educational and learning choices up to 2050 identified by the Millennium Project experts.

The 1985 report on The Intelligence Revolution, as highlighted by Raymond Collard, is both distant from us in retroforesight terms and close to us in terms of the relevance of the long-term challenges it contains. In this respect, it fits powerfully and pertinently into our temporality. In the report, Thierry Gaudin and André-Yves Portnoff noted that setting creation in motion means sharing questions before answers and accepting uncertainty and drift. Dogmatism is no longer possible (…) as a result, utopia is evolving into realism. In the long term, humans are the safest bet [26].

Of course, betting on humans has to be the right decision. It is men and women who are hard at work, and who must remain so. This implies that they are capable of meeting the challenges, their own and also those of the society in which they operate. Technically. Mentally. Ethically.

Philippe Destatte

@PhD2050

[1] This text is a revised version of a speech made at the start of the HELMo 2018-2019 academic year, on 18 September 2018, on the subject of The jobs of tomorrow... A question of intelligence.

[2] The experts that attended the IFTF workshop in March 2017 estimated that around 85% of the jobs that today’s learners will be doing in 2030 haven’t been invented yet. This makes the famous prediction that 65% of grade school kids from 1999 will end up in jobs that haven’t yet been created seem conservative in comparison. The next era of Human/Machine Partnerships, Emerging Technologies, Impact on Society and Work in 2030, Palo Alto, Cal., Institute for the Future – DELL Technologies, 2017.

http://www.iftf.org/fileadmin/user_upload/downloads/th/SR1940_IFTFforDellTechnologies_Human-Machine_070717_readerhigh-res.pdf

[3] In particular, his best book: Jeremy RIFKIN, The End of Work, The Decline of the Global Labor Force and the Dawn of the PostMarket Era, New York, Tarcher, 1994.

[4] Chris ANDERSON, Makers, The New Industrial Revolution, New York, Crown Business, 2012.

[5] Dorothée KOHLER and Jean-Daniel WEISZ, Industrie 4.0, Les défis de la transformation numérique du modèle industriel allemand, p. 11, Paris, La Documentation française, 2016.

[6] François BOURDONCLE, La révolution Big Data, in Pierre VELTZ and Thierry WEIL, L’industrie, notre avenir, p. 64-69, Paris, Eyrolles-La Fabrique de l’Industrie, Colloque de Cerisy, 2015.

[7] Philippe DESTATTE, The New Industrial Paradigm, Keynote at The Industrial Materials Association (IMA-Europe) 20th Anniversary, IMAGINE event, Brussels, The Square, September 24th, 2014, Blog PhD2050, September 24, 2014.

https://phd2050.org/2014/09/26/nip/

[8] Thierry GEERTS, Digitalis, Comment réinventer le monde, Brussels, Racine, 2018.

[9] La Révolution de l’intelligence, Rapport sur l’état de la technique, Paris, Ministère de l’Industrie et de la Recherche, Sciences et Techniques Special Edition, October 1983.

[10] John NAISBITT, Megatrends, Ten New Directions Transforming our Lives, New York, Warner Book, 1982. – London and Sydney, Futura – Macdonald & Co, 1984.

[11] Alvin TOFFLER, The Third Wave, New York, William Morrow and Company, 1980.

[12] André-Yves PORTNOFF, Raymond Collard, un tisseur de liens, Note, Paris, 10 September 2018.

[13] Bertrand GILLE dir., Histoire des Techniques, Techniques et civilisations, Technique et sciences, Paris, Gallimard, 1978.

[14] Pierre LEBRUN, Marinette BRUWIER, Jan DHONDT and Georges HANSOTTE, Essai sur la Révolution industrielle en Belgique, 1770-1847, Brussels, Académie royale, 1981.

[15] Raymond COLLARD, Prospective 2007… sorties de la crise, transformations des modes de production, du travail et de l’emploi, dans La Wallonie au futur, Cahier n°2, p. 124, Charleroi, The Destree Institute, 1987.

http://www.wallonie-en-ligne.net/Wallonie-Futur-1_1987/WF1-CB05_Collard-R.htm

[16] R. COLLARD, Prospective 2007…, p. 124.

[17] This was his 1953 lecture. Martin HEIDEGGER, Essais et conférences, Paris, Gallimard, 1958. – Our translation.

[18] La Révolution de l’intelligence…, p. 182.

[19] La Révolution de l’intelligence…, p. 24.

[20] Didier VRANCKEN, L’histoire d’un double basculement, preface to D. VRANCKEN, Le crépuscule du social, Liège, Presses universitaires de Liège, 2014.

[21] Thierry GAUDIN, Les dieux intérieurs, Philosophie de l’innovation, Strasbourg, Koenigshoffen, Cohérence, 1985.

[22] Raymond COLLARD, Le Groupe permanent Recherche – développement de Louvain, p. 11, Brussels, Centre scientifique et Technique de la Construction (CSTC), 2000.

[23] Permanent Leuven Research and Development Group, 37th year, Peut-on industrialiser la créativité?, 2002. – François PERROUX, Industrie et création collective, t. 1, Saintsimonisme du XXe siècle et création collective, p. 166, Paris, Presses universitaires de France, 1964.

[24] http://www.millennium-project.org/

[25] Jerome GLENN, Results of the Education and Learning Real-Time Delphi that assessed 20 long-range actions to address future works-technology dynamics, Sept 2, 2018.

[26] La Révolution de l’intelligence…, p. 187.

Hour-en-Famenne, August 29, 2017

If we set aside the political tactics, the individual frustrations of certain elected representatives and the bitterness of recent weeks during the summer of 2017 and regard them as setbacks, we might ponder the partial changes in majority in Wallonia in the light of the possible trajectories envisaged before the process initiated by Guy Lutgen, president of the Human Democratic Centre, or cdH, on 18 June 2017. An analysis of this kind had been carried out in 2016 by a group of independent actors and experts as part of the preparation for a conference organised by the Open University and the University of Mons (UMONS), in Charleroi [1]. This exercise was continued in 2017 with the Regional Foresight College of Wallonia, resulting in a Manifesto published in the journal L’Echo in March 2017 [2]. How should we try to interpret this at the end of August 2017?

First of all, we must consider the fact that those who had identified future bifurcations for Wallonia envisaged them only at the time of the next regional elections, in 2019 or 2024 – it is worth repeating that bifurcations are moments when the system can evolve in several directions and it follows one of the options open to it. Those observers did not necessarily see such bifurcations in changes in political majority, but thought instead that the scale of the expected transformation required an examination of the strength of the policies adopted, the problem being that the elected representatives in the majority that came to power in 2014 did not seem willing to implement them. As is often the case, incidentally, most of the elected representatives were concentrating on the demands of public opinion, as reported or stimulated by the press: providing responses to an effect of the disease symbolised by the benefits received by the ruling elite [3] rather than to the particularly disturbing socio-economic signals emerging from the actors and researchers [4].

The June 2017 wild-card

However, if we try to anticipate the bifurcations in order to prepare for them, and this was indeed the case for the elections in 2019 and 2024, we tend to forget that trajectories do not necessarily originate within the expected timescales: they may materialise spontaneously depending on their centre of gravity and the impetus they provide. This is what is called a wild-card, a major surprise or an unexpected, surprising and unlikely event that may have considerable impact if it occurs. In the exercise carried out on the trajectories for Wallonia, the experts chose various centres of gravity. However, they examined the uniqueness of the institutions of Wallonia and the political parties and identified the Elysette, the meeting place of the government, as the seat of regional power. This logic is fairly consistent, for example, with the bifurcation at the elections on 13 June 1999, with the emergence of the Rainbow government and the introduction of the Future Contract for Wallonia at the instigation of Minister-President Elio Di Rupo. This bifurcation offered a trajectory of potential transformation. We also know that clear bifurcations, major opportunities for change, might also not offer any positive change, as was the case with the communitisation of education in 1989 in which, ultimately, almost nothing happened due to the lack of an appropriate financing law and of any desire to change an educational model that clearly needed changing. But that, as Rudyard Kipling once wrote, is another story.

What we forget, however, and what may explain the events of this summer, is that the centre of gravity of the Wallonia trajectory has, to date, been located in the Elysette only to a very limited extent. Elio Di Rupo, who rose rapidly to become president of the Socialist Party, realised this in 1999 since he felt that the Boulevard de l’Empereur, headquarter of that party, restricted his political activity. In retrospect, there are two bifurcation moments that clearly illustrate the importance of the centre of gravity represented by the political parties. The first took place in 1997, just twenty years ago. The second was in 2005.

The Forgotten Bifurcation

1997: the president of the Christian Social Party (PSC) instigates a new Regional Policy Declaration (DPR)

Since 1994, Robert Collignon had led a Socialist-Christian Social coalition in the Wallonia Region. The Minister-President, who was in charge of the economy, was pursuing a policy of strengthening the existing centres of excellence: biogenetics and pharmaceuticals in Walloon Brabant, aeronautics in Charleroi, astronautics in Liège, environment in the Mons-Borinage region, water in Verviers, agrifoods in Gembloux, etc. He also restructured the steel industry and its three centres: Cockerill-Sambre, Forges de Clabecq and Boël La Louvière. However, at the end of May 1997, based on evidence that the economy of Wallonia was ailing, the President of the PSC (now the cdH), Charles-Ferdinand Nothomb, advocated a new regional policy declaration with some major reorientations to tackle both the economic and the political issues that had arisen in Wallonia. For the Christian Social president, it was a question of rebuilding people’s trust [5]. Since the first quarter of 1993, Wallonia industrial production had undergone a period of decline [6]. But of greater concern to the analysts assembled by the PSC were the comparisons they were drawing with Flanders over the long term: in particular, an unemployment rate that was twice as high in the south, an annual growth slowdown of 0.5 to 1%, a worrying investment rate and a negative trade balance[7]. For the PSC, and in particular for member of Parliament André Antoine, these economic problems were accompanied by a lack of public regulation [8]. A supplementary regional policy declaration was adopted in November 1997 and acted as a valuable recovery plan by promoting decompartmentalisation and transversality of action, calling for leadership from a Minister-President who had influence over his team, and offering new initiatives [9]. Seven years later, the 2004-2009 DPR indicated that an initial step towards recovery had been achieved by the 1997 supplementary regional policy declaration [10].

2005: the presidents of the cdH and the PS evoke the Marshall Plan

The second example is no longer fresh in people’s minds, even though the initiative continues to be at the heart of the political debates in Wallonia. It was June 2005 and Jean-Claude Van Cauwenberghe had been leading the government of Wallonia for five years. Since the 2004 elections, the Christian Socialists had replaced Liberals and Socialists as partners of the Socialists. The new DPR, mentioned above, stated as follows: Wallonia is recovering. But its economic weakness was so intense that the road to prosperity is still long! And then the phrase which has become a mantra for positive minds: One thing is certain: Wallonia has stopped declining [11].

But a year later, while the government was calmly undertaking its legislative work and implementing this regional policy declaration, cdH President Joëlle Milquet and PS President Elio Di Rupo, in turn, called for mobilisation. I’m calling for genuine Walloon action, declared the PS leader. We need a Marshall Plan for Wallonia that requires real ownership and accountability from everyone (government, unions, bosses, universities, teachers, organisations). It’s urgent. It is imperative that we all quantify the actions to be implemented and measure their effectiveness. We know that there are problems in Wallonia despite an improvement which, whatever people say, is still insufficient. The government has taken some positive steps through its strategic plan to stimulate activity. But the best measures in the world are worthless if they are not implemented on the ground. We must all roll up our sleeves; we are at a pivotal moment in Wallonia’s history [12]. Once again, it was clear, as reported by the journalist Didier Grogna at the time, that the President of the Socialist Party was aware of the worsening economic situation in Wallonia and the criticisms levelled at the Socialist partner by cdH vice-president André Antoine, especially concerning the problems experienced by the Minister-President in fulfilling his mandate. As the L’Echo columnist explained: We must shift mindsets and dare to say « no » to Socialist sub-localism; we must be bold enough to shake up the acquired rights and some of the « questionable » behaviour within the public bodies. It seems increasingly unlikely that Jean-Claude Van Cauwenberghe will be able to stay the course for the entire legislature. It appears inevitable that he will be replaced. But by whom? Who will dare to confront the local political bosses who have not been held to account for decades? Wallonia needs a Marshall Plan; that means putting political differences aside and all moving in the same direction[13]. Thus, throughout the summer of 2005, the government of Wallonia was bypassed by the presidents of both parties who, themselves, presented the Priority Plan for Wallonia to the press and, it seems, to the government. The PS and the cdH remained united or, in any event, given the agenda of the declarations in 2005 and 1997, the Socialist presidents adopted the Christian Socialists’ state of mind and expressed their own position alongside them. It is clear that the relations between Nothomb and Busquin were very constructive, as were those between Elio Di Rupo and Joëlle Milquet subsequently. Those relationships were clearly not working in 2017 since, for the first time since it came into being, therefore nearly 25 years, the constructive no-confidence ejector seat was activated to the detriment of the Socialists.

As we can see, 1997 and 2005 represent forced bifurcations, probably even wild-cards, originating from the centre of gravity of the political parties that formed the government majority, and they may help with our understanding of 2017.

A trajectory of hope, two years ahead of time

What seems to have been the problem in early summer 2017 is not so much the issue of the poor governance that has seriously affected almost the entire political world in Wallonia, but rather the convergence of opinion between these « matters » and the now evident inability to respond to the maldevelopment in Wallonia. Admittedly, in the strategy put forward by cdH President Benoît Lutgen, it was these cases of poor governance that constituted the casus belli, which caused scepticism among a number of observers since the cdH itself was also not exempt from criticism. However, as the leader of the Christian Social group reminded the gallery in the Parliament of Wallonia on 28 July, it would be wrong to downplay the signs which confirmed, in 1997 and in 2005, that Wallonia was not on the right road to recovery, since they came from the Economic and Social Council, the universities and the Business Association of Wallonia (Union wallonne des Entreprises). The trend trajectory, entitled Au fil de l’eau… usée, written in February 2016 by the working party assembled for the initiative organised by the Open University and UMONS, is particularly revealing. I quote as follows:

If we practice governance from another time, with an artificial evaluation and a lack of anticipation, if we are incapable of dealing with budgetary challenges and social and territorial cohesion challenges, if we are unable to survive electoral shocks in 2019 and 2024, the seventh reform of the State and the structuring of the skills and resources dedicated to teaching, training, research, etc., we will jeopardise regional cohesion. Wallonia would then experience a downward spiral that would challenge Walloon social and territorial cohesion.

It should be noted that the working party addressed the issues of future symmetries or asymmetries between coalitions at the various power levels and therefore the possibilities of accepting them more normally and more sincerely than in the current onerous climate of dissension. The participants also noted that political life in Wallonia is characterised by its stability concerning a central point, namely the permanence of the Socialist Party in power, with the resulting dominance across the entire political and administrative landscape. As one of the rapporteurs writes, by refraining, however, from expressing political opinions, and especially preferences, it is arguable that (sometimes, often, …) this stability may be confused, or risks being confused, with a certain rigidity. Yet the theory that the PS might be relegated to regional opposition is not beyond the realm of possibility: this is demonstrated by the results of the 2007 legislative elections and the remarkable scope given to the « little » Ecolo parties and the cdH to choose their « major » partner for federal coalitions in 2009. Whatever we think, and whatever the consequences (particularly institutional and administrative), this fundamental change in political habits would represent a major discontinuity in the regional common thread.

Admittedly, alternative trajectories were expected and they will, perhaps, be reviewed to establish whether they are the ones that the bifurcation of summer 2017 will bring. However, it is my conviction that, in addition to what might be a political game and contrary to what was said the day after this bifurcation, Wallonia, in the way that it was being run by the Magnette-Prévot government, was not on the road to recovery. Not because its policies were inadequate – both camps praised the Marshall Plan, its competitiveness centres, Creative Wallonia, the Digital Plan, etc., and the initiative of the Socialist Minister for the Economy, Jean-Claude Marcourt –, but because the mobilisation of the actors was not addressed and sufficient resources had not been allocated to the recovery and therefore to allow the economy to take off.

If we accept this idea, the new bifurcation undoubtedly represents the hope that stems from a transformative, regenerative trajectory that may finally materialise for Wallonia. This is the current rhetoric of the new government led by Willy Borsus. Admittedly, rhetoric is not a trajectory. If the new Minister-President succeeds in mobilising the men, women and resources in Wallonia to realise our redeployment ambitions, the change in majority will allow the regeneration to happen two years ahead of time, which is valuable particularly for those who have suffered from Wallonia’s maldevelopment for too long.

 

Philippe Destatte

@PhD2050

[1] Philippe DESTATTE, Les trajectoires prospectives de la Wallonie (2016-2036), in Virginie de MORIAME and Giuseppe PAGANO, Où va la Wallonie? Actes du cycle de conférences UO-UMONS, p. 65-87, Charleroi, Open University, 2016. – Blog PhD2050, Charleroi, 25 February 2016, https://phd2050.org/2016/02/28/trajectoires-prospectives-de-la-wallonie-2016-2036/

[2] Wallonie, la trajectoire socio-économique, résolument, in L’Echo, 10 March 2017.

http://www.lecho.be/opinions/carte-blanche/Wallonie-la-trajectoire-socio-economique-resolument/9871529

[3] I use this term in the Russian sense employed by Alain Rey which refers to the members of the regime who are entitled to exceptional prerogatives. A. REY dir. Dictionnaire historique de la langue française, p. 2389, Paris, Le Robert, 2006.

[4] See inter alia the convergence of the following analyses: Regards sur la Wallonie 2016, Liège, CESW, June 2016. – Etudes sur la situation de l’entreprise, Portrait des Entreprises en Wallonie, Evolution, Wavre, UWE, 08/2016. – Séries statistiques du marché du travail en Wallonie, Namur, IWEPS, December 2016. – Communiqué de presse du 10 février 2017 relatif aux comptes régionaux, Brussels, Banque nationale, Institut des Comptes nationaux, 4 p. – Paola ANNONI, Lewis DIJKSTRA & Nadia GARGANO, The EU Regional Competitiveness Index 2016, WP02/2017, European Commission, Regional and Urban Policy, 2017. – Rapport sur l’économie wallonne 2017, Namur-Liège, SOGEPA – SPW-DGO6 – IWEPS, February 2017. – Didier PAQUOT, Economie wallonne: 15 ans de plans de redressement, où en est-on? Speech to the Financial Forum of the Banque nationale, Louvain-la-Neuve, Ephec, 27 April 2017.

[5] Nothomb réclame une nouvelle déclaration, in L’Echo, 27 May 1997. – Nothomb réclame un grand pacte social: « Quand le temps du devoir de deuil sera passé, il faudra redonner confiance aux gens, Interviewed by Vincent JUMEAU and Jean-Léon WAUTERS, in L’Echo, 24 May 1997.

[6] Tendances économiques, SES, no.16, June 1999, p. 38.

[7] Une Wallonie moderne, Congrès de Liège du 24 mai 1997, Actes, p. 16sv, Brussels, PSC, 1997.

[8] André ANTOINE, De la nécessité de sortir du pragmatisme sous-régional en Wallonie, dans Une Wallonie moderne, Congrès de Liège du 24 mai 1997, Actes, p. 56-58, Brussels, PSC, 1997.

[9] Marnix BEYEN and Philippe DESTATTE, Un autre pays, Nouvelle histoire de Belgique 1970-2000, [volume 9 of the Nouvelle Histoire politique de la Belgique contemporaine de 1830 à nos jours, under the direction of Michel Dumoulin, Vincent Dujardin and Mark Van den Wijngaert], coll. Histoire, p. 272-273, Brussels, Le Cri, 2009, 428 p.

[10] Déclaration de politique régionale 2004-2009, p. 3, slnd, 2004, p. 3, 153 p.

[11] Ibidem.

[12] Elio Di Rupo appelle à un “sursaut” wallon et veut mettre fin au sous-localisme, Interview, in L’Echo, 11 June 2005.

[13] Didier GROGNA, L’argent n’est pas tout, in L’Echo, 8 June 2005.

Boston, April 30, 2018

In order to conclude the symposium Grappling with the Futures, Insights from History, Philosophy, and Science, Technology and Society, hosted in Boston by Harvard University (Department of the History of Science) and Boston University (Department of Philosophy) on Sunday, April 29 and Monday, April 30, 2018, the organizers wanted to hear about related organizations or initiatives. They wanted to both learn more about them and figure out the potential added value of these possible new additions to the network, which should not duplicate existing ones and should foster mutually beneficial synergies. We therefore heard from Ted Gordon for the Millennium Project, Keri Facer for the Anticipation Conference, Cynthia Selin for the Arizona State University initiatives, Terry Collins for the Association of Professional Futurists, Philippe Durance for the CNAM, Jenny Andersson and Christina Garsten for the Global Foresight Project[1], and myself for The Destree Institute. This paper is a revised version of my short contribution given in this final panel.

 1. A Trajectory from Local to Global

Some groups mainly know The Destree Institute as a local NGO with quite a long history (it will be 80 years old in June 2018) of modest size (10 researchers), a foundation that operates as a ‘think and do tank’ and is close to the Parliament of Wallonia and government, a partner of the regional administration and very open to the world of entrepreneurship. It works at the crossroads between five or six universities in cross-border collaboration. Twenty years ago now, after 15 years of research in history and future studies, The Destree Institute created its Foresight Unit, supplementing this last year with a laboratory of collective, public and entrepreneurial policies for Wallonia in Europe: the Wallonia Policy Lab [2]. Its work in this area is intellectually supported by a Regional Foresight College consisting of 30 leaders from various spheres of society.

To others, The Destree Institute is first and foremost a European and global research Centre in the field of foresight, a worldwide NGO with a special consultative status with the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) and an official partner of UNESCO (with consultative status) since 2012; a member of the Open Government Partnership Civil Society Community; a founder of the Brussels Area Node of the Millennium Project; a leading partner of many European initiatives; and the headquarters of the Millennia2025 Women and Innovation Foundation, a global foresight initiative for women’s empowerment and equality, involving more than 10,000 members, researchers and grassroots workers in five continents, whose international foresight research process was launched in 2008 with the support of the Millennium Project and the patronage of UNESCO’s Director-General.

Both views are correct. The Destree Institute’s development from a local history research Centre in Wallonia to a European and global foresight actor is easily traced; at the same time, it has succeeded in maintaining strong local roots.

One of the main ambitions and achievements of The Destree Institute lies in its ability to develop a strong operational conception of foresight. We use foresight not only to think about the future but to shift the system, to trigger transition and transformation. Far from just thinking that one could modify the future simply by looking at it, Gaston Berger – whose importance has been emphasized by the organizers of the symposium – saw change as a process that is hard to implement and difficult to conduct, as the American researchers in social psychology whose models inspired him had shown. Berger particularly referred to the theories of change and transformation processes described by Kurt Lewin, Ronald Lippitt, Jeanne Watson and Bruce Westley[3]. With this in mind, we developed in 2010 a tool named the Bifurcation Method (in the sense of ‘bifurcations’ used by Nobel Prize-Winner Ilya Prigogine) in order to identify the different moments when the system, or a part of it, or an actor, could take different directions or trajectories. We first apply this tool to the past in what we call the retroforesight phase, identifying trajectories that could have been taken at particular past moments and what developments would have ensued. We can then use the techniques of foresight to try to identify bifurcations and trajectories in the future, using institutional rendezvous, assumptions and wildcards, events of low probability but with high impacts which can open up the cone of the future and cause movement in the system.

In this way, we are able to structure concrete operational work drawing on the kind of expertise described during the symposium by historians, philosophers, STS experts and others.

2. History does not hold the keys to the future

From History to Foresight is also the title of a well-known book by Pierre Chaunu [4]. It was written by the great French historian and Sorbonne professor in 1975 for a collection named Liberty 2000.

Chaunu wrote that a good reading of the present, integrating the past, leads imperceptibly to the future. It is, by nature, foresight-oriented [5]. He added that this foresight is, of course, linked to the idea of mankind. It therefore involves the « unfolding » of history [6]. He also observed: History does not hold the keys to the future. It cannot map out the path, but a history that is made part of the human sciences can correct us; it can impose a check on infantile projections that are captive to the short term [7]. I think that the integration of future studies in the human sciences will always remain a real and difficult challenge.

Those who were able to attend the Harvard meeting certainly feel, as I do, that more than 40 years after Chaunu’s analysis, we are fully on track to achieve the aims that the main organizer Yashar Saghai (Johns Hopkins University) proposed at the opening of the symposium for the meeting and its follow-up: to end isolation within each discipline (history, philosophy, science, technology and society) and between countries, to learn from each other in depth beyond interdisciplinary conferences, to gain an up-to-date knowledge of current research, to deepen connections with future studies practitioners and theorists. Yashar also insisted on the importance of probing the needs for a permanent network or platform for our communities. The challenge is, as Riel Miller said in his keynote address but also in his new book[8], to reinforce our understandings, practices and capacities.

3. Main requirements for a permanent network or platform

With its partners, The Destree Institute has launched and/or managed many networks and platforms in the last twenty years: the Millennia2015 foresight process, the Millennia2025 Foundation, the Internet Society Wallonia Chapter, the European Regional Foresight College, the European Millennium Project Nodes Initiative (EuMPI), the Regional Foresight College of Wallonia, the Wallonia Territorial Intelligence Platform, etc.

In all cases, the main requirements were the same:

1. to define clear aims that make sense and generate a desire to involve all the actors. These goals should be understood by all the partners without ambiguity. Clarifying words and concepts is a key task for all scientific ambition, and as such is shared by the futurists;

2. to stay firmly connected to the ground and able to come back to the present: what we will do tomorrow needs to be thought about in the present. We need our heads in the stars but our feet in the clay…

3. to fight against certainty. We often talk in terms of trying to throw light on our uncertainties, but we should also fight our great certainties about our disciplines, our fields, our methods and our perceptions of the world;

4. good leadership with proper respect for the members. In March 2018, the Women’s Economic Forum awarded my colleague Marie-Anne Delahaut the Woman of the Decade in Community Leadership Prize for her work for Millennia2025 [9]. We all know how sensitive these tasks are;

5. professionalism in management, because we need to improve our work and gain precious time for our researchers instead of wasting it;

6. relevant communication materials (logos, websites, etc.), although I tend to say, as General de Gaulle might have done, that logistics should follow ideas rather than vice versa;

7. and finally, as Professor Michel Godet often repeats, loyalty, competence and pleasure.

Pleasure in thinking together, pleasure in working hard together, pleasure in meeting together.

I feel that we have assembled these ingredients during these two days shared at Harvard and Boston Universities. Thank you to the organizers for bringing us together.

 

Philippe Destatte

@PhD2050

 

On the same subject: What is foresight?

Direct access to Philippe Destatte’s English papers

 

[1] Global Foresight Project :

https://www.socant.su.se/english/global-foresight/participating-researchers/christina-garsten

[2] Philippe DESTATTE, A Wallonia Policy Lab on the Foresight Trajectory, Blog PhD2050, Namur, April 11, 2018, https://phd2050.org/2018/04/11/wpl-en/

[3] Gaston BERGER, L’Encyclopédie française, vol. XX : Le Monde en devenir, 1959, p. 12-14, 20, 54, in Phénoménologie du temps et prospective, p. 271, Paris, PuF, 1964.

[4] Pierre CHAUNU, De l’histoire à la prospective, Paris, Robert Lafont, 1975.

[5] Une bonne lecture du présent intégrante du passé débouche, insensiblement, sur l’avenir, elle est, par nature, prospective. P. CHAUNU, op. cit. p., 283.

[6] Elle est, bien évidemment, liée à une idée de l’homme. Elle implique donc le « déroulé » de l’histoire. Ibidem, p. 285.

[7] L’Histoire n’a pas les clefs de l’avenir, elle ne peut pas tracer la voie, mais une histoire intégrée aux sciences de l’homme peut rectifier, elle peut réduire les projections enfantines, prisonnières du temps court. Ibidem.

[8] Riel MILLER, Transforming the future, Anticipation in the 21st Century, Paris-Abingdon, UNESCO-Routledge, 2018.

[9] http://www.millennia2015.org/Women_Economic_Forum_Award_2018_EN

Liège, 22 September 2017 [1]

Foresight is firmly on the agenda in Wallonia for the educational year 2017-2018. In Liège, at the instigation of the Innovation and Entrepreneurship Forum of Liège Creative, companies such as Engie and Citius Engineering, operators such as GRE and Liège-Métropole, the University and the Institut Destrée will gather on 2 October for an event on Foresight as a tool of transformation in a context of economic and territorial change [2]. In Charleroi, the Opened University, The University of Mons and The Destree Institute are launching a university certificate devoted to operational foresight this academic year [3]. In Namur, the Regional Foresight College of Wallonia has, since 26 August, marked its resumption of activities after Summer at the Cercle of Wallonia with a seminar dedicated to R&D and the challenges of innovation for Europe and Wallonia. Also in Namur, the foresight work of the Wallonia Territorial Intelligence Platform has fuelled the strategic thinking of the Territorial Development Unit and the Standing Conference on Territorial Development (CPDT) to contribute at the beginning of 2018 to the development of a new Territorial Development Plan. In Liège, again, the Strategic Intelligence Research Group (GRIS) at HEC will on 4 October be considering ‘Interpretations of reality and decision-making. The shape of intelligence for tomorrow, in collaboration with the Digital Café, IWEPS and The Destree Institute [4]. Not to mention the Academic Pole Liège-Luxembourg which, at the beginning of September, held a seminar at the Château de Colonster to define a vision for 2030, led by the last spin-off of the Institut Destrée, Pro Te In. Clearly, raising an issue such as research into teaching young people foresight (the Young Foresight Research initiative) is essential today and falls on fertile ground.

 

Useful concepts and required skills

Citizenship, complexity and foresight, which we consider in this paper, are among those ‘useful concepts’ that are described by Philippe Meirieu as illuminating our experience and enabling us to organise, understand and control it, ‘rather than whatever external factors compel me to refrain from doing so, or artificially complicate my problems. A “useful concept”,’ the educationalist writes, ‘does not replace previous knowledge, although it may shake up my thinking: it gives form to my experience, makes reality easier to grasp and enables me to act on it’[5].

Citizenship refers to the recognition of a person’s participation in a community, in the form of a legal status with associated freedoms, rights and duties, of a share in sovereignty and of political legitimacy. The notion is historically conditioned and profoundly subject to evolution, and we may therefore join Dominique Schnapper in considering how it should be revisited to ensure ‘that it effectively organises collective behaviour in societies open to the world, where the economy now plays a preeminent role’ [6]. Foresight is a process of cross-disciplinary collective intelligence, which works with long term, temporality and the analysis of complex systems to act on the present and bring about transformations [7]. Complex thinking develops a multidimensional knowledge of systems, discerns the ways in which they are incomplete and the uncertainty of their evolution, and recognises and distinguishes the interaction (and retroaction) between their elements, yet avoids considering them in isolation from each other, from their context, from their antecedents and from their likely future [8]. The analysis of complexity is without doubt a form of insurance against over-simplicity, off-the-peg intellectualism, the pressing certainties of the immediate, and the commonplaces of the digital gurus who would have us believe that any form of future intelligence of any importance can only be artificial. In a now famous lecture given at UNESCO in 2016, Edgar Morin emphasised that complex thinking has the virtue of providing a potential response to the crisis of thought. What makes it so necessary, said the author of La Méthode, is its four capacities, the fact that complex thinking is simultaneously:

– able to grasp the relationships between numerous different processes,

– able to detect antagonisms and complementarities,

– able to expect the unexpected,

– able to scrutinise the probable and the improbable.

This is why, said Morin, complex thinking has now become both urgent and vital [9]. We may add that these four qualities are also among those we recognise in foresight.

André-Yves Portnoff was obviously right to point out, almost fifteen years ago, that a revolution in intelligence, which he had already identified twenty years earlier with Thierry Gaudin, preceded and encompassed the digital turn. This revolution in intelligence was of course not just technological, just as the current transformations are clearly not just technological. In fact, the intelligence revolution primarily calls into question and challenges our human capacities, our skills, our ability to use knowledge and expertise to obtain a desired result. Such skills, he said, enable us to produce more and more value by processing the growing mass of information available. As Portnoff notes, it is skill that gives value to information [10]. Of course, it has become commonplace today to distinguish knowledge from both understanding and information. The first relates to elaborate cognitive abilities and mobilises creativity in the form of concepts, methods, theories and so on – all the rules that cannot be simply codified once and for all, or for which information cannot be obtained or stored in bulk. It is here that the human being will remain superior to artificial intelligence, for a long time to come. Understanding (savoir) takes the form of both attitude (savoir-être) and know-how (savoir-faire), and focuses on the production of applied knowledge and learning abilities. Information is merely the raw material of knowledge. We must submit it to rigorous and methodical criticism before any use is made of it [11]. Robots will be able to help us in this task, but again, our confidence in them must remain a matter of dispute for a long time to come.

Who could believe for a moment that the skills required in the 21st century are and will be the same as those needed in the societies of the past? No one doubts that these skills will be supplemented by others. Nevertheless, our analysis is that however they evolve, foresight and complex thinking will remain necessary skills for future generations. Systems have, as Donella H. Meadows has done well to remind us, the property of self-organisation, the capacity to develop themselves, to create new structures, to learn, to diversify, and to become more complex [12].

Teaching foresight

The study day organised by The Destree Institute on 22 September 2017 at the Economic and Social Council of Wallonia marks the end of the first phase of the interuniversity research project on new prospects for the development of foresight in Wallonia. It focuses on the question of the acculturation of young people to foresight and on the learning of the processes and methods of studying the future in secondary and higher education [13]. This initiative is inspired by and is forming collaborative partnerships with similar experiments developed in the United Kingdom, Germany, the Netherlands, the United States and now France. Synergies have been established with the work of Peter Bishop at the University of Houston (Texas) and of Erica Bol in Europe around Teach the Future, whose highly innovative initiatives we have followed from the start. Links have also been formed with the experiments developed by Michel Lussault, former director of the French Institute of Education, who has trialled a course in prospective geography at three academies – Lyon, Lille and Aix-Marseille. The objective of The Destree Institute is to come up with a robust methodological framework as well as a series of credible proposals for implementation in Wallonia and Brussels. The research builds on our previous experiments with young people in connection with Wallonia 2020 in which, together with my futurist colleague Pascale Van Doren, we involved a class of the Institut Félicien Rops of Namur, three classes of the Athénée of Soumagne and a class of the Institut provincial d’Enseignement technique of Nivelles from 2002 and 2003 onwards. On the initiative of Engelbert Petre, we continued this experiment with an arts centre, the Maison culturelle d’Ath, and a dialogue – not a very fruitful one, it must be admitted – with the Minister of Education at that time, Ms Marie Arena. We also knew about the projects and findings of Young Foresight in the UK and Jugend denkt Zukunft [14] in Germany, which our colleagues Gordon Ollivere (RTC North, Sunderland) and Henning Banthien (IFOK Berlin) had sent us at that time. We have of course stayed in touch with them. The current research, Wallonia Young Foresight, also builds on the work carried out over the last year by an interdisciplinary team of researchers consisting of Chloë Vidal, a geography PhD and philosopher, Fabien Moustard, a graduate in earth sciences and political scientist, and Michaël Van Cutsem, a political scientist and urban planner. They have formed international contacts, notably on the basis of several relationships identified within European programmes previously carried out by The Destree Institute, in particular ForLearn and the Mutual Learning Platform. All these efforts have been supported by the Minister for Research and Higher Education, Jean-Claude Marcourt. The very concrete objective of this initiative is therefore to draw up a review of experiments at the international level, to identify European actors and to found a network of these actors who recognise the growing importance that foresight activities can play in the work of science (teaching or research) and the shaping of public policy. The common denominator of the various projects identified will be that they draw attention to foresight as a form of civic education that promotes the learning of science (territorial, political and social sciences). This twofold challenge – both educational (enabling young people to become the drivers of their own learning and authors of their own knowledge) and developmental (guiding young people to become citizens) – calls for a multidisciplinary and multi-factorial approach that assigns an important role to the humanities and the arts; input is thus also provided by initiatives such as the biennial event Nos Futurs, launched by Théâtre Nouvelle Génération in Lyon in autumn 2016, or the exhibition A Temporary Futures Institute, organised at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Antwerp in summer 2017.

To help it carry out this task successfully, the Institut Destrée has the support of three universities of Wallonia and of the intellectual forum of the Regional Foresight College of Wallonia, which is open to actors from business, research, the public sector and civil society. Three university representatives have agreed to get involved in supporting this research and contributing to its interuniversity character:

– Christian de Visscher, Professor of Political Science and Public Management, President of the Institute of Political Sciences of Louvain-Europe, Co-Director of the Montesquieu Centre for Public Policy Studies, Catholic University of Louvain;

– Didier Vrancken, Professor of Sociology, Director of the Centre for Sociological Research and Action, President of the Institute of Humanities and Social Sciences, University of Liège;

– Giuseppe Pagano, Professor of Economics, Vice-Rector for Institutional and Regional Development at the University of Mons, Director of the Public Finance and Tax Service and General Coordinator of the University of Mons for the Charleroi site.

Three functions of thinking

The same design has been used for the study day of 22 September 2017 as that recommended in our foresight exercises; in other words, it uses the triple functionality that is at the heart of Thierry Gaudin’s Discours de la méthode créatrice, itself inspired by the works of Georges Dumézil. Thinking, according to this interpretation, is based on a triple recognition which constitutes the principle and process by which the mind returns to the vicinity of where it has been and recognises:

  1. recognition of things, in which we dance around the object in order to determine the facts; the mind focuses on that which exists, on gathering data, on establishing reality, on analysis;
  2. recognition of others, in which we dance with other subjects in order to deliberate; the mind focuses on interaction, on the deliberation that takes the researcher or actor further with his or her thinking and allows other points of view to be compared;
  3. self-recognition, in which, by a kind of withdrawal, we dance with ourselves, we conceptualise: this is the dance of the neurons, writes Gaudin, the waking dreams in which illumination arises among the members of a nucleus, and key concepts emerge.

This tri-functional approach is a powerful cognitive tool [15].

Thus, all our actions are structured firstly on exposition, analysis and criticism of the facts, then on deliberation, and finally on the work of conceptualisation.

We also wish to recall the ultimate goals of all our efforts. We defined these throughout our Wallonia in the future process culminating in the charter of The Destree Institute; they were last revised in 2013 and are formulated as a twofold objective: an exemplary democracy – today we might use the term ‘open’ – and better development, which we specified as being ‘sustainable’. As we conceive it, following Gro Harlem Brundtland, such development is systemic, links together all spheres of society, represents a long-term approach and leads to concrete action. Understood in this way, there could be no better way to embrace such development than through foresight.

Philippe Destatte

@PhD2050

 

[1] This paper is a revised version of the opening contribution to the study day Wallonia Young Foresight Research, Learning in the 21st c.: citizenship, complexity and foresight, organised by The Destree Institute and the Regional Foresight College of Wallonia with the support of the Federation Wallonia-Brussels and held at the Economic and Social Council of Wallonia in Liège on 22 September 2017.

www.institut-destree.org/Wallonia_Young_Foresight_Research

[2] http://www.liegecreative.be/event/index/detail/id/538/lang/fr#.WdoBjYZpG8o

[3] https://portail.umons.ac.be/FR/universite/admin/aff_academiques/formationcontinue/formation_par_domaine/sciences_economiques_gestion/Documents%20CU%20en%20prospective/Brochure%20CU%20en%20prospective.pdf

[4] http://www.hecexecutiveschool.be/colloque-gris-2017/

[5] Philippe MEIRIEU, Apprendre, oui, mais comment…, p. 27, Paris, ESF, 24th ed., 2016.

[6] Dominique SCHNAPPER, Citoyenneté, in Encyclopaedia Universalis, vol. 5, p. 915-917, Paris, EU, 2002. – D. SCHNAPPER, L’esprit démocratique des lois, p. 46ff., Paris, Gallimard, 2014. – Thierry BALZACQ et al., Fondements de science politique, p. 103, Louvain-la-Neuve, De Boeck, 2014.

[7] Philippe DESTATTE, What is foresight?, Blog PhD2050, May 30, 2013. https://phd2050.org/2013/05/30/what-is-foresight/

[8] Edgar MORIN, Introduction à la pensée complexe, p. 11-12, Paris, Seuil, 2005.

[9] E. MORIN, Congrès mondial pour la pensée complexe, Paris, UNESCO, 9 December 2016.

[10] Pierre-Yves PORTNOFF, Le pari de l’intelligence, Des puces, des souris et des hommes, p. 7, Paris, Futuribles, 2004.

[11] Pierre MUSSO, « Révolution numérique » et « société de la connaissance » in Ena hors des murs, p. 48, 1 April 2014.

[12] Donella H. MEADOWS, Thinking in systems, A primer, p. 81, London, Earthscan, 2009.

[14] Jugend denkt Zukunft https://www.ifok.de/projects/dialogveranstaltungen/jugend-denkt-zukunft

[15] Thierry GAUDIN, Discours de la méthode créatrice, Entretiens avec François L’Yvonnet, p. 77-79, Gordes, Ose savoir – Le Relié, 2003.