This part of the blog will discuss the scenarios as a whole and focus on the main instantiations of the new governance they put forward. By ‘instantiations of new governance’ we mean the specific instruments, processes, measures, services, places… on which the scenario originality and credibility is based.

But beforehand, we need to clarify what kinds of scenarios have been build and what are their characteristics. The many classification of scenarios generally distinguish between 3 scenarios approaches (e.g. Borjeson et al., 2005):  predictive scenarios aiming at quantitative forecasting; exploratory scenarios investigating plausible futures and normative scenarios describing how a definite future can be reached. The scenarios developed here have a normative aspect: they intend to reach a more resilient society based on fluid governance. They also have an exploratory dimension because they try to creatively invent innovative solutions that are trying to make the desired vision more likely to happen. More than exploring possible or plausible futures they invent and articulate new forms of governance. This is their first emerging characteristics: they hardly tackle with local sustainability processes they start from as Agenda 21 but essentially with governance issues that are both major barriers and enablers for local sustainable transition. On top of this shift of object from sustainability to governance, a second emerging characteristic is their project dimension: they use the narrative form of scenarios to display new governance instruments, processes, policy measures, hybrid services and places, etc. They tentatively articulate them between the current situation and the desired future and prompt the social conversation around their likelihood to succeed. The scenarios produced work then as instantiations of new forms of governance and we will review the specific tentative policy design they reveal for the future of Agenda 21.

Multilevel transversality

A first cluster of tentative design of policy instruments regards the desperate need to break the silos in all directions horizontally between the different administrative levels, horizontally in terms of inter-territoriality (Vanier, 2008) between local circumscriptions and transversally across institutions with different natures and goals.

First emerging design of policy instrument addressing this issue is based on classical financial incentives: subsidies for research or innovation or any kind of developments could be systematically conditioned by a minimum level of collaboration between different partners, a quality of heterogeneity or a preservation of the socio-diversity: Inter-ter programs of Democity 21, transversal subsidies of Platform 21 or 10% of salaries paid in local currencies in Pact 21 scenario.

The second emerging design of policy instrument in the scenarios is the recognition of hybrid forms: private-public-cso Task-forces in the Pact 21 forming hybrid structures delivering new forms of collaborative services (Jégou Manzini, 2008) mixing private initiative, public regulations and users contributions; but also hybrid relationships in Platform 21 scenario with the ‘outside-in’ posture of civil servants that keep a feet outside the institutions and reciprocally, consultants that works in immersion both to keep freedom of being part of the institution; hybrid format with the Societal Activity contract of Engagement 21 matching employers and employees interests to invest in the commons.

Beyond this second strategy to break silos by combining them giving birth to hybrid artefacts, a third pattern of design of policy instrument emerges as ‘platforms’ with the aim of providing a common base for heterogeneous actors to collaborate. Whereas coordination structures, mix steering committees tends to push collaboration from above, platforms like in the Platform 21 scenario tries to enable it from below providing necessary infrastructures for match-making and connectivity, translation or brokering between heterogeneous players. These type of enabling platforms bet on both the quality of the tools provided and the willingness of convergence of stakeholders to fluidify collaboration. More relieving platforms like the eGovernance platform in the Engagement 21 scenario propose a more active synergizing process considering that complex heterogeneity of single Societal Activities require an active coordination process and will never converge autonomously.

Integrated participation

The second cluster of designs of policy instruments emerging from the scenarios regards the way to generate a balanced participative society where all stakeholders are active and none can be considered as only a passive receiver and where users involvement is not the only adjustment variable of shortage of public budgets.

The first design of policy instruments for reasonable shared participation tackle with the too often somewhat romantic idea attached to participation in the public sector: true and pure participation should be a spontaneous civic value which in theory is perfectly acceptable but in the current practice is different: participation is currently a general strategy of both private and public actors that enable users to do on their own in exchange of cheaper prices or reduced costs. From assembling their furniture, booking their travel tickets to printing their payrolls or paying their taxes online the general enabling service society generates a participation saturation and finally a participation fatigue. In a relieving society spontaneous participation may occur as a value whereas in an enabling society participation requires to be integrated as a Societal Activity in the Engagement 21 scenario.

The role of decision makers tends to clash with participation for the traditional conflict between representative democracy and participative democracy (Fung, 2011) but also for politicians more open to participation accepting or promoting it but hardly participating to the participation they require. Democity 21 scenario turns policy role upside down proposing policy designs where politicians are first responsible for the quality of participation before making decisions. Ministries change from a top-down central posture to a mobile one enabling local participation and regional authorities are responsible to prompt participation and contributions of the institutions below them in Platform 21 scenario.

The last emerging policy designs addressing participation questions the limits to participate to the decision process whereas often the decision is already biased by the lack of alternatives between which to choose. Agora 21 scenario introduces participative visioning shifting participation role from informing decision making to exploring – or better inventing – possible or likely alternatives. Future research      shift then from an expert-based foresight supporting decision making to a collective projection, exploration and invention of solutions embedded in the field activities. The Regional Foresight Biennale more than a show of the future is a collective fabric of new vision, a collaborative workshop and a co-creation process of the future.

Continuous experimentations

The third cluster of design of policy instruments regards the transformation of the public innovation processes: starting from a general paradigm inherited from the industrial process, conception comes prior to production, a prototype service is replicated and solutions as standards as possible are disseminated failing often to consider local contexts and to adapt social specificities. Beyond this inappropriate standardization of solutions, the conception phase in the public sector is often lacking from space for R&D, trials and errors, testing and in general experimentation.

The first policy designs emerging from the scenarios and facing this state of the art is the generalisation of the state of experimentation: Democity 21 develops an innovation process in reaction to usual top-down public approach where the local authorities start spot experimentations, share and exchange on promising and failed practices, inspire and copy each other and progressively proceed to an organic transformation. Experimentation become the default state and public innovation is based on an acupuncture process (Jégou, 2010) choosing a reduced Action plan with as few points of experimentation as possible but strategically articulated in order to produce as in the principle of traditional Chinese medicine, a change of the whole system beyond each of the single experimentations.

The emerging change in the innovation process closely linked to the first one is to reverse the principle of ‘thinking before doing’ to acknowledge the fact of doing first and think after, starting more from the outputs of the first concrete move on the field to elaborate the first conceptualisations. The iterative loops between trial and analysis remain the same but the start is an action. The Pact 21 scenario shows the recognition of the reverse posture of ‘doing before thinking’ leaving heterogeneous initiatives of improvised Task-forces happen and then operating a regulation to align the most promising ones with sustainability and equity standards and dropping the others.

The last dimension of change addressed in the scenarios regards the transformation of practices more than the production of new solutions: values of experimentation bounce back on the subjects tacking part to the experimentation process. The participation of citizens in Engagement 21 scenario shows a co-evolution process between experience of the participants and experimentation of the solution: in order to take part to a governance process and decide how to innovate in a particular public service, users and providers have to exchange roles and experience the solution from the other side of the desk for complete understanding and better informed capability to suggest improvement and innovate.