Category: 3- Issues in SF&W

SF&W issues

What is an Issue in terms of Strategic Foresight & Warning or Horizon Scanning?

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 international wars, fragile states, instability, energy security, oil, economic crisis, new opposition nexus, global water security, etc.

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 (obtain a judgment on the future).

Monitoring issues will allow for the identification of warning problems, which will then be surveilled 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,” and problems the more specific “Gasprom policies,” “the Keystone pipeline,” etc… If we look at resources as meta-issue, then deep-sea resources security is one of the issues.

Both monitoring and surveillance lead the collection of necessary information, as defined by the model and related indicators.


Grabo, Cynthia M., Anticipating Surprise: Analysis for Strategic Warning, edited by Jan Goldman, (Lanham MD: University Press of America, May 2004).