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Committee for the Future






challenges TO FORESIGHT IN Lithuania


18 June 2021 No V-2021-5515



Under Article 571 of the Statute of the Seimas of the Republic of Lithuania and Resolution No XIV-206 of the Seimas of the Republic of Lithuania of 23 March 2021 on approving the work programme of the Second (Spring) Session of the Seimas of the Republic of Lithuania, we hereby submit a report on the major issues of state and public life.




‘Are we in the past or in the future?’ Alice asked.

‘We are in a rabbit hole,’ the Rabbit replied.

Is it possible to see, predict and foresee the future from a rabbit hole? A brief answer would be that any such prediction may be attempted in full awareness that it will never be correct. However, any attempt at foresight itself is meaningful insomuch as it results in a newly gained awareness of past mistakes that makes us wiser and better prepared to predict a new future.

Some quarters will certainly disagree with this idea and go on to highlight that foresight, even from a rabbit hole, is made possible by falling back on past experience and national and global history. However, on closer inspection, we will ultimately find that there are no laws that govern history. Indeed, history does not develop in linear, spiral or any other predictable ways. Therefore, history may serve as the foundation for neither the present nor the future. It simply serves as the foundation of whatever we choose to believe in. This leads to the conclusion that history cannot help in our foresight effort, which makes the future hard to predict. This is both a chilling truth and a reality some historians and futurologists, understandably, will never acknowledge.

The development of Lithuania, similarly to that of its counterparts, has been shaped by policy-making and bureaucracy as competing factors that often contradict and complement each other.

Policy-making follows its own intrinsic logic. Informed by competition among political ideas and ideologies rather than detailed information, policy-making essentially acts as a generator of new principles. In fact, policy-making should revolutionise our lives every four years to some extent, transforming the priorities to which the bureaucracy needs to adapt. Long-term predictions of policy-making are, therefore, made impossible by the futility of any effort to predict electoral outcomes in the long term.

Plausible future forecasting can span no more than one or two legislative terms at best. However, in practice, at least in Lithuania, policy-making often falls foul of both its underlying principles and ideological content. Therefore, bureaucracy, also referred to as management by experts, actually does have a significant influence on the programming of policy-making.

Moreover, small countries like Lithuania are equally highly dependent on decisions made in Brussels. It is difficult to disagree with Prof. Antanas Kulakauskas, who claims that we have problems with representative democracy because the national government performs essentially administrative functions in political decision-making, and, in this context, the meaning of many of our long-term strategies is little different from those that are ‘written in the sand.’

Today, we have a wide range of various often-conflicting strategies that few people in fact ever read to the end. Focused on administrative drafting intended for internal circulation, the currently employed strategic management system is unviable in practice.

Despite the arguments referred to in this document regarding the unpredictable nature of the long-term future, the very exercise of foresight and consideration by policy-makers and administration on state prospects and the underlying principles are important and meaningful. To a certain extent, this exercise acts to transform all administrators into politicians and makes them consider alternatives.

One of the many factors needed for such an exercise is the intellectual context. Unfortunately, the Republic of Lithuania is going through a period of loss of its intellectual autonomy. Under the influence of global political, social and technological transformation, the country has resorted to superficial adaptation to external factors, leaving authentic intellectual engagement and public intellectual consideration of state matters aside. Public debate, generation of new ideas and autonomy of thought are on the verge of extinction, giving way to intellectual conformism. It is therefore critical to urgently draw up a programme for increasing Lithuania’s intellectual autonomy and envisage the funding necessary for its implementation.

Public life in Lithuania has become excessively state-dominated, bureaucratic and technologized. Citizens feel increasingly estranged from state affairs. Despite having their own notions and concepts of life, people lose out on the experience of participation. The very idea of shared values is in crisis, as we live in a society where citizens no longer feel part of a larger whole that understands their needs. This is exactly what the exercise of foresight is going to change.

Today, there is a number of favourable factors that facilitate the creation and development of a context favourable for foresight and considerations on future at the level of both policy-making and public administration.

The first factor is the Conference on the Future of Europe.

What kind of democracy and what kind of Lithuania will we have in the future European Union? What kind of future Europe do we aspire to as Lithuanians? What vision could we offer for Europe? What extent of freedom in decision-making do nation states still have when faced by supranational factors? Mere considerations on the future of Europe and of Lithuania within Europe would bring an important impetus to our Republic and democracy.

The second factor is the ongoing drafting of the national progress strategy Lithuania 2050.

The Strategy is unlikely to interpret the concept of progressiveness. Neither will it explain what it means to be progressive in a world offering no salvation, nor will it cover all the real, disputable or still hidden factors set to affect the future lifestyles of citizens and modus operandi of states. Destined to bring about inaccurate results, the drafting of the Strategy may seem a meaningless endeavour. However, the meaningful result, in this case, is the very drafting process, which boils down to more than mere approval of the document. Unless we attempt considering the future of our foreign, education, transport and other policies; unless we question reforms of our reforms and consider the future of green and digital economy for Lithuania; unless we talk about sovereignty, the content and forms of democracy, and the future of the citizens and the country, we will never know, in the words of the Rabbit, what is the depth of the rabbit hole and how to get out of it.


Rolled out back in the year 2000, the system for strategic planning in Lithuania is centralised and sufficiently institutionalised. It encompasses strategic planning, monitoring and evaluation. Underpinned by various strategic planning departments and other bodies at sectoral level and funded by budget programmes, the system consists of as many as six strategic planning processes that are linear, interdependent, yet not sufficiently interconnected. In addition, there is a problematic gap between strategic planning documents, on the one hand, and actual practice, on the other. It should also be noted that, according to experts, decisions of high political importance are sometimes taken without consideration of the strategic priorities and without performing due impact assessment.

The Law on Strategic Governance of the Republic of Lithuania adopted in June 2020 sought to make the strategic planning system more efficient. The Law scaled down on strategic planning documents, (which had amounted to over 250), and sought to define the levels and types of strategic planning documents and the interconnections between them. Unfortunately, the strategic planning perspective inherent in the Law fails to take account of global uncertainty, volatility, and the need for greater foresight flexibility in addressing these challenges. Based on data of the World Economic Forum, Lithuania displays a lack of forward-looking long-term approach in state policy. Experts of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) welcome the recent strategic governance reform, yet Lithuania is invited to further simplify strategic management as a system, scale down on strategic and planning documents and key monitoring indicators of all-inclusive governance, and significantly cut down on the number of indicators currently established. At the same time, the OECD notes the need for governments to develop anticipatory capacity.

Data on ministerial foresight skills collected in 2020 by the OECD and the Government Strategic Analysis Centre (STRATA), a public institution, reveal that although some ministries associate themselves with the foresight function, in fact strategic foresight methods are poorly used. It is obvious that, even though Lithuania is already making its first steps in developing long-term foresight, foresight culture in strategic management is still nascent.

At all levels, be it demand, capacities, institutions, integration, or feedback, Lithuania is yet unable to integrate the foresight approach into the decision-making at any level of complex multilevel governance. Linkages between the system of strategic governance and viable networks of foresighters are virtually non-existent, because strategic governance tends to be focused on producing administrative documents for internal circulation.

In the context of global change, building a foresight ecosystem is an urgent priority on which the country’s overall competitiveness and efficiency depends. Without building structural foundations for foresight and creating an overall foresight culture, it is hardly possible to ensure a link between public administration, on the one hand, and realities and transformations in the modern world, on the other. We need to shape a long-term vision, values, goals and priorities that reflect the vital interests of Lithuania, effectively combine hindsight, insight and foresight and allow to realise the existing potential in the best possible way.

Moreover, once the European Commission has declared its intention to better integrate foresight into policy-making, the European context is equally likely to reinforce and strengthen this endeavour. Lithuania should think about instruments enabling the country to respond to the emerging external demand for foresight and actively participate in shaping and building foresight capacities. The broader question is what entity could provide foresight on a permanent basis. Perhaps, MITA, the Lithuanian Agency for Science, Innovation and Technology, could take up the role, which is associated with parliamentary policy on technological development, by the same token as Forfás, the Irish National Accreditation Board, TNO, the Dutch independent research organisation, and TEKES, the Finnish Funding Agency for Innovation.

Reflections on how to better integrate foresight into public policy-making will begin in autumn this year, as stated in the Government Performance Report 2020, which also sets out the plans to begin, in cooperation with the Seimas Committee for the Future, the drafting of Lithuania’s progress strategy Lithuania 2050. For this purpose, extensive and inclusive public consultation is to be held this year, complemented by discussions with the Lithuanian scientific, expert and political community on the vision of Lithuania’s long-term future and Lithuania’s vision of the future of Europe.


Conclusions/proposals for legislative amendments to address the issue


Policy recommendations for Lithuania


  1. With regard to strategic governance of the state:

  2. Shift the strategic planning perspective inherent in the current Law on Strategic Governance towards strategic thinking and strategy-making by taking into consideration uncertainty and complexity as well as the dynamic and volatile environments, a long life span (covering a of 20-30 years) of strategic-level planning documents, and the need to be more flexible, adaptive and resilient to potential future challenges. Employing strategic foresight that is already used by the European Commission, the OECD and some foreign countries for strategic policy-making purposes would be highly beneficial to this end, as this would pave the way for institutionalisation and development of relevant analytical competences in the country.

  3. Strategic thinking should not end in the adoption of the National Progress Strategy and its implementing documents and reporting on the progress achieved. The OECD emphasises the need for governments to build greater anticipatory capacity for an effective future-proofing policy. This requires appropriate systems, i.e. the governance architecture and incentives that sustain a culture and practice of regular, useful and impactful foresight and its subsequent use in the decision-making, as well as interventions, i.e. the particular activities, studies and processes during which the future is considered and a strategic dialogue is undertaken between actors in the management system.

  4. Development of strategies should not be an end in itself. Politicians must base their decisions and the entire legislative process on the country’s strategic decisions. This requires continuous support for the culture and practice of foresight. We need to think not only about the capacity to generate foresight, but also about the generic capacity for policy analysis, so that rather than being a smart tool or a result of building consensus, foresight also translates into policy recommendations. Moreover, it is crucial that politicians discipline themselves to take these recommendations into account.

  5. With regard to intellectual autonomy:

As the Republic of Lithuania is currently undergoing the period of losing its intellectual autonomy, it is crucial to develop a programme for increasing Lithuania’s intellectual autonomy, which would encourage scientists to engage in Lithuanian affairs, step up intellectual research into Lithuania’s present challenges and stimulate the modelling of the country’s future. Driven by global political, social and technological changes, Lithuania has become a country that has superficially adapted to external circumstances, without any authentic engagement of intellectuals or public discussion on intellectual issues of national relevance. In this regard, it is necessary to:

  1. Review the procedure for funding and assessment of the humanities and social sciences in order to ensure that key global research in humanities is made available in Lithuanian; also provide support for the translation and publication of global resources in the humanities and provision of these resources to Lithuanian public libraries;

  2. Open up the public space for public debate and for the polylogue of citizens holding different views about the state of Lithuania and democracy and the present and future of the nation and state in Europe and the world, with targeted support for cultural and youth publications, portals, TV and radio broadcasts, and community press.

  3. With regard to foresight:

  4. In the light of common European trends, systematically integrate futures into public policy-making and decision-making alongside other governance instruments. The prerequisites of such integration are not only the laws in force but also the existing institutional framework. Foresight is not meaningful unless it is integrated into decision-making. The future is shaped by drafting and adopting not only major strategies, but in fact, all legislation. Therefore, in addition to traditional foresight methods and institutionalised strategic planning, one should consider better integration of foresight methods into policy-making (by defining the problem, choosing the optimal alternative) and policy assessment to achieve more flexible, adaptive and forward-looking policies.

  5. Establish a foresight programme or project opportunity through the Research Council of Lithuania or the Innovation Agency currently under development, thus engaging scientific resources and promoting the integration of these competences into studies and national knowledge infrastructure.

  6. Instruct the Government Strategic Analysis Centre STRATA to engage in international foresighters networks (OECD, European Commission Joint Research Centre, etc.) and communities (e.g. World Future Society) in the development of foresight competences and develop bilateral exchange of practices, in particular with the professionals of foresight studies in the relevant organisations from Finland, the Netherlands, and Ireland, with whom links have already been established.

  7. With regard to further development of the Seimas Committee for the Future:

  8. At the initiative of the Government, the Committee could submit annually a report on future prospects to the Seimas for consideration. On the basis of the Report, the Committee for Future would draw up and discuss with the Seimas a document reflecting the position of the Seimas. This would promote the penetration of foresight into Lithuanian political culture and the practice of seeking consensus between various political groups.

  9. With regard to analytical capacity:

    1. Focus efforts on and initiate the preparation of a forecast about the future labour market demand for specialists and competences aligned with state interests involving assessment of labour market needs in individual regions of Lithuania. We need to respond promptly to today’s growing labour force and capacity shortages experienced by employers due to failure to nationally assess the potential demand for highly qualified employees and their competences, which have changed radically over the years and which need investment now.

    2. Urgently strengthen the country’s analytical capacity, institutional competences and capabilities by planning university study programmes in foresight and data analytics, creating training programmes, and modelling the need for high-competence foresight specialists and experts. The country is currently facing the problem of a lack of foresight specialists, experts and strong think tanks, while the pace of adaptation of the education system to change is insufficient as foresight specialists are not trained in state universities.

    3. < >project of the future leaders’ academy is of particular importance for the future of the state, its scope is too narrow so far, since prognostics, the preparation of future scenarios and strategic foresight are now concentrated mainly in the private sector.

      Strengthen analytical capacity of the Seimas to ensure quality work of the Seimas Committee for the Future. It is up to the new Secretary General of the Seimas to evaluate how much of the Committee’s activities are related to the status, functions and resources of the Research Unit of the Information and Communication Department of the Office of the Seimas. Nevertheless, data analytics, comparative overviews, in-depth analysis of problems or other quality analytical information require specialists with relevant education, special knowledge and expertise, while the only analytical unit operating at the Office of the Seimas was practically abolished following the institutional reform back in 2015.


Legal recommendations for Lithuania


At present, future-building activities and their importance are not explicitly governed in law. Therefore, it is crucial to:

1) Set the priorities and key future-building interventions by identifying the areas of particular importance for real progress to be achieved by the state;

2) Make future-building an integral part of strategic governance integrated into policy-making, by setting up a legal framework for foresight, defining its tools and procedures, and ensuring that its results are actively used in future. A number of existing laws (such as the Law on Strategic Governance and the Law on Technology and Innovation of the Republic of Lithuania) and the existing institutional makeup provide the preconditions for that. It is necessary to create the prerequisites for the demand for foresight in legislative acts (Law of the Republic of Lithuania on Legislative Framework, Methodology for Impact Assessment of Anticipated Legal Regulation, etc.);

3) Formalise new formats and methods for institutions to share their vision for the future and proposals for further action (Future labs, etc.) as well as forms and responsibilities of institutional networking.


Rapporteur appointed by the Committee: Raimondas Lopata


Chair of the Committee                                                                                            Raimundas Lopata



(Asta Rubežė, Adviser to the Office of the Committee)



   Last updated on 12/09/2021 12:24
   Giedrė Mickienė