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Martijn Van der Steen

Many of the long-term issues policy makers deal with involve deep levels of uncertainty that surpass the more shallow levels of prognostic uncertainty. Technology and social innovations evolve rapidly and go beyond the linear projections used to map the future. Change happens in complex interactions that cannot be predicted. Although policy makers cannot reasonably predict the future, however, they are still expected to come up with robust policy strategies, plans and programmes. It is impossible to ‘know’ the future, but some level of knowledge about the future is needed for formulating robust long-term policy. The chapter explores a variety of methods and tools designed and applied in various fields to deal with the deep uncertainties of long-term policy formulation. The author categorizes these tools into two distinct traditions of anticipation tools – forecasting and foresight – and discusses the implications of the use of these tools in the messy and politicized reality of policy formulation for long-term issues.

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Martijn van der Steen