The Committee for the Future in Finland is a Standing Permanent Committee of 17 parliamentarians representing all parties and is underpinned by the Constitution. They deliberate about matters affecting future development, research and the impacts of technological development, acting in effect to guard against short-sightedness by government. They are not involved in legislative proposals or scrutiny, rather its role is to:
- prepare parliamentary documents such as Parliament’s respond to the Government’s Report on the Future
- Issue statements to other committees on future matters when requested
- Discuss future trends and related issues
- Analyse research and methodology looking at future
- Serve as the parliamentary body responsible for assessing technological development and societal consequences
They have the power to decide their own agenda and take initiatives, preparing studies on futures, in a sense serving as Parliament’s think tank. They call this “the power of vision”. They also provide information to support decision-making and assessing the long-term effect of decisions.
The Committee make use of innovative participatory techniques such as citizen hearings or crowd-sourcing as part of developing appropriate methodology for futures research. They believe that some of their greatest impacts arose in relation to work about health care, changing Finnish politics mindsets towards considering long term future options, and direct democracy experiments.
Two example reports from the Committee are: 100 Opportunities for Finland and the World and Crowd-sourcing for Democracy: A new era in policy-making.
Image copyright: Parliament of Finland by Tarja Venesvirta; Eduskunnan kirjasto, Creative Commons licence.