An issue, in terms of warning and by extension SF&W, is “a situation, an objective, an opportunity, a danger, a threat or a risk, which is specific and defined.” (Grabo, 2004)
For example, SF&W issues can be interstate and civil wars, fragile states, instability, energy security, oil, economic crisis, global water security, epidemics and pandemics such as the COVID-19, etc. We address them here in our section “Global Issues”.
An issue can be explored through foresight. During the warning process, it will be monitored, usually thanks to indicators based on models. The analyst will assess its potential developments (to obtain a judgment on the future).
Monitoring issues will allow for the identification of warning problems, which will then be surveilled, again through adequate models and related indicators. If we use the example of energy as meta-issue, then issues could be “oil security,” “peak oil,” “peak uranium,” “the volatility of oil prices,” “coal security,” “the politics of energy between Europe and Russia,” space mining, etc. and problems the more specific “Gasprom policies,” “Nord Stream,”, “Oil and gas tensions in the eastern Mediterranean”, etc… If we look at resources as meta-issue, then deep-sea resources security is one of the issues.
The collection of necessary information takes place during the monitoring and surveillance phases. The model and related indicators lead the collection of data and pieces of information.
Grabo, Cynthia M., Anticipating Surprise: Analysis for Strategic Warning, edited by Jan Goldman, (Lanham MD: University Press of America, May 2004).