Today I gave another talk to high school students about the SDGs and the vision. My coffee and biogas project, which I often talk about, can be put into the Five Steps of this vision. The Five-Step process starts with a vision, and then you set a target for the future and figure out how to get there, which is called backcasting. Backcasting differs from forecasting in that it does not predict what the future will be like but rather the future you want to create.
One of the high school students asked me if this backcasting is actually used. I replied that it depends on who it is used by, but that backcasting is the basis for the UN, which created the SDGs. Almost all development projects, not only by the UN but also by public authorities, are planned, managed and evaluated according to what is known as the log framework or logical framework.
Broadly speaking, a log framework consists of four components. In terms of scale, these are
1) Impact or Goal
Impact and Goal are the vision in backcasting. Impact is the medium to long term change, including future generations. Naturally, we do projects with the intention of doing something good, so the impact as a goal is to improve society and the environment. Outcomes are the changes that will occur in short to medium term in the area where the project is carried out. Impacts and outcomes may not actually be seen directly during the period in which we are doing the project, but we hope they will be.
Outputs are what is directly produced due to the activities undertaken on the project within the project period. The success of a project is measured by the activities that are inputs and the outputs that output. Where possible, it is important to follow up and evaluate outcomes and impact many years after the project has ended.
The intended outcome is the outcome and impact in the log framework, so this is the same concept as the vision. And since the planned work is the target, this is what I am describing. It is the Target of step 2.
As I have explained here, backcasting is normal in the UN and other international organisations that created the SDGs.