At the Institute for Environment, Health, Risks, and Futures (IEHRF), we conduct systematic, rigorous, and continuous “horizon scanning” to help government and industry to identify and understand emerging risks and opportunities located at the margins of current thought. By sharing these “early warnings”, our goal is to contribute to the long term resilience of these organisations and improve their ability to take advantage of change.

Horizon scanning is a process by which we review emerging information to systematically identify new insights and issues not adequately valued or understood by current thought or discourse. In doing this, we continuously scan over 600 of the most influential online information sources, drawing on risk-based analytical tools to determine that which is truly important and in many cases overlooked.

Because every organisation is affected by a different set of drivers, the IEHRF works diligently to create scanning frameworks that are well aligned to these unique organisational contexts. If your organisation has a special stake in a certain industry, we are able to develop tailored programs of regular horizon scanning with reports submitted on a periodic basis. If, on the other hand, you require a one-time research investigation into a specific emerging issue, we also have experience in creating in-depth singular reports utilising both published and grey literature.

Our most notable horizon scanning programme is conducted on behalf of a partnership of 11 UK government agencies, departments and research councils. We focus our searches around 13 key factors— drivers of change that affect the operations of our partners at fundamental levels. These factors are listed below, alongside the names of the researchers/authors who oversee them:

  1.  Consumer Attitudes and Behaviour (Hayley Shaw)
  2. Energy Supply and Demand (Dr. João Delgado)
  3. Natural Resource and Waste Management (Dr. Kenisha Garnett)
  4. Agriculture, Forestry, and Rural Communities (Julia Chatterton)
  5. Oceans, Marine Life, and Fisheries (Dr. Anna Rathé)
  6. Food Production, Processing, and Distribution (Julia Chatterton)
  7. Science, Technology, and Innovation (Dr. João Delgado)
  8. Climate, Environment, and Biodiversity (Dr. Anna Rathé)
  9. Economy and Industry (Dr. Anna Rathé)
  10. Globalisation, Geopolitics, and National Security (Dr. George Prpich)
  11. Demographics and Urbanisation (Dr. Anna Rathé)
  12. Land Use and Land Management (Dr. Kenisha Garnett)
  13. Health and Well-Being (Dr. Anna Rathé)

In order to best make sense of an issue, we give each one a score based on our analysis. We determine three scores based on how the issue will affect the environment, society, and the economy respectively, as well as a fourth score based on the issue’s likelihood of affecting the United Kingdom. We take the average of the first three scores and multiply it by the fourth to find the issue’s overall rating.

As in any expert review system, there is a degree of subjectivity present in both the scanning process and the risk analysis. The process may at first glance appear simplistic, but we are firm believers that over-quantifying emerging risks can actually cause more harm than good. It is the simplicity of our ratings system that allows issues to be quickly analysed and addressed while they are still in their early stages of development. Thus, the scoring should be seen as a tool to simulate debate and provide an ‘order of magnitude’ rating for these issues, rather than provide an absolute assessment of the risk/ opportunity.

If you are looking to begin horizon scanning but do not have a specialised search function, you may want to subscribe to our quarterly e-newsletter which provides insights into each of our 13 key search areas. If your needs are immediate, you can also start searching for relevant articles using our horizon scanning database.

As we continue scanning for emerging issues, we place our initial findings in an online “mind mapping” area. If you are interested in reviewing this resource, please visit us at our team Pearltrees site.

 

Academic publications

  • Sutherland, W. J., Bardsley, S., Clout, M., Depledge, M.H., Dicks, L.V., Fellman, L., Fleishman, E., Gibbons, D.W., Keim, B., Lickorish, F., Margerison, C., Monk, K.A., Norris, K., Peck, L.S., Prior, S.V., Scharlemann, J.P.W., Spalding, M., Watkinson, A.R. 2013. Horizon scan of global conservation issues for 2013. Trends in ecology & evolution. 28(1): 16-22. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.tree.2012.10.022
  • Sutherland, W.J., Aveling, R., Bennun, L., Chapman, E., Clout, M., Côté, I.M., Depledge, M.H., Dicks, L.V., Dobson, A.P., Fellman, L., Fleishman, E., Gibbons, D.W., Keim, B., Lickorish, F., Lindenmayer, D.B., Monk, K.A., Norris, K., Peck, L.S., Prior, S.V., Scharlemann, J.P.W., Spalding, M., Watkinson, A.R. 2012. A horizon scan of global conservation issues for 2012. Trends in Ecology & Evolution. 27(1): 12-18.
  • Sutherland, W. J.; Bardsley, S.; Bennun, L.; Clout, M.; Cote, I.M.; Depledge, M.H.; Dicks, L.V.; Dobson, A.P.; Fellman, L.; Fleishman, E.; Gibbons, D.W.; Impey, A.J.; Lawton, J.H.; Lickorish, F.; Lindenmayer, D.B.; Lovejoy, T.E.; Nally, R.M; Madgwick, J.; Peck, L.S.; Pretty, J.; Prior, S.V.; Redford, K.H.; Scharlemann, J.P.W.; Spalding, M.; Watkinson, A.R. 2011. Horizon scan of global conservation issues for 2011. Trends in ecology & evolution. 26(1): 10-16. doi:10.1016/j.tree.2010.11.002

Client reports

  • Rathe AA, Prpich GP, Shaw H, Delgado J, Garnett K, Chatterton JC, Lickorish F & Pollard SJT (2013) Annual Key Factors Report 2013. Cranfield University, UK. 90 pp. Available at: https://theriskexchange.wordpress.com/annual-key-factors-report-2012/
  • Rathe, A.A., Lickorish, F., Prpich, G.P., Delgado, J., Shaw, H., Chatterton, J.C., Garnett, K., Pollard, S.J.T. (2013) CERF Horizon Scan, number 36, October 2013. Cranfield University, UK, 29pp.
  • Rathe, A.A., Lickorish, F., Prpich, G.P., Delgado, J., Shaw, H., Chatterton, J.C., Garnett, K., Pollard, S.J.T. (2013) CERF Horizon Scan, number 35, July 2013. Cranfield University, UK.
  • Rathe, A.A., Lickorish, F., Prpich, G.P., Delgado, J., Shaw, H., Chatterton, J.C., Garnett, K., Pollard, S.J.T. (2013) CERF Horizon Scan, number 34, April 2013. Cranfield University, UK.
  • Rathe, A.A., Lickorish, F., Prpich, G.P., Delgado, J., Shaw, H., Chatterton, J.C., Garnett, K., Pollard, S.J.T. (2013) CERF Horizon Scan, number 33, January 2013. Cranfield University, UK
  • Rathe, A.A., Lickorish, F., Prpich, G.P., Delgado, J., Shaw, H., Chatterton, J.C., Garnett, K., Pollard, S.J.T. (2013) CERF Horizon Scan, number 32, October 2012. Cranfield University, UK.
  • Rathe, A.A., Lickorish, F., Prpich, G.P., Delgado, J., Shaw, H., Chatterton, J.C., Garnett, K., Pollard, S.J.T. (2013) CERF Horizon Scan, number 31, July 2012. Cranfield University, UK.
  • Rathe, A.A., Lickorish, F., Prpich, G.P., Delgado, J., Shaw, H., Chatterton, J.C., Garnett, K., Pollard, S.J.T. (2013) CERF Horizon Scan, number 30, May 2012. Cranfield University, UK.