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Articles, Publications and Resources that Inspire Strategic Foresight
"Balancing analytical rigour with unleashing of the imagination and tapping into unconventional sources of knowledge and insight"
Purpose and practice of foresight
In November 2021, UNESCO's Executive Board recommended to its General Conference to adopt a resolution to celebrate World Futures Day on 2 December each year, in compliance with the UN Common Agenda proclaimed by the Secretary General of the UN in September 2021. This paper by Joern Buehring and Peter C. Bishop (2020) puts forward the case for Foresight and design: New support for strategic decision making.
Additional resources on purpose and practice:
- The anticipatory governance of sustainability transformations: Hybrid approaches and dominant perspectives, by Karlijn Muiderman et al. (2022)
- 24 cognitive biases that are warping your perception of reality, by Jeff Desjardins on Visual Capitalist (2021)
- Another tool in the fight against climate change: storytelling, by Devi Lockwood on MIT Technology Review (2021)
- The future of sustainability 2021: Looking back to go forward, by Forum for the Future (2021). Reflecting on what the past can teach us about what is needed now if we are to shape a more just and regenerative future.
- Localisation Re-imagined, by Arbie Baguios for ANLAP (n.d.).
- Storylistening: why narrative evidence matters for public reasoning and how to use it, by Claire Craig and Sarah Dillon (2021)
- What if... not? The cost of inaction, edited by Florence Gaub, European Union Institute for Security Studies (2021)
- The necessity of a boring revolution, by Indy Johar on Dark Matter Labs (2018)
Inspiration and imaginaries
We need to find ways to meaningfully engage with and admit indigenous and traditional ecological knowledge, stories and myths, art and design, into development policy and planning. Channelling emotionality + imagination + questions helps us move away from narrow, "best practice" thinking, to become more agile, adaptive, and inclusive.
A big part of this involves looking for the future in two places that may not be immediately obvious: the past/history, and outside of the so-called "developed" world:
- Alisha Bhagat unpacks what history can teach us about the future, in conversation with Dr. Nandini Pandey and Nour Batyne, on Forum for the Future (2021)
- Beyond destruction: innovation as an offering for repair, renewal and reparations, by Lauren Parater, UNHCR Innovation Service (2021)
- Constructive Visions, a project by National Geographic Explorers (2021)
- the Intersection by Superflux (2021). Set in the near future and blending foresight, ethnographic research and speculative design, this short film (16 minutes only!) journeys from a violent present to a cooperative future. It tells stories of active hope from those who have fought to reimagine extractive technology, to serve community, support nature, and value planetary relationships.
- Sarah Kay vs. Sarah; hosted by Danez Smith and Franny Choi, produced by Daniel Kisslinger, and presented by the Poetry Foundation and Postloudness (2021). Can we incorporate poetry into development planning, or learn from poets about the kinds of mindsets and skills needed for systemic change?
- Ten ways to confront the climate crisis without losing hope, by Rebecca Solnit on the Guardian (2021)
- Browning the future, by Amar Diwakar on the Juggernaut (2019)
- Think South: Reimagining the internet, by the Emerging Digital Issues in the Global South working group (EDIGS) at the Berkman-Klein Center for Internet and Society (2019). Featuring a wide range of reflections to challenge common and dominant perceptions and attitudes regarding the relationship between technologies and the Global South, this zine invites us to consider the possibility that our own culture could radically change the way technologies are built and deployed.
Resources and methodology
The following resources consider tools, mechanisms and best practices for integrating foresight into organizations:
- Anticipatory Governance course, offered by UNESCO (2021)
- Mapping the landscape: how to talk about systems change in Aotearoa, New Zealand, by The Workshop (2021). A useful resource on language and values, a lot about how we continue to make the implicit things explicit (like how the 'how' and 'why' of how we make decisions shapes everything).
- Betzavta method, via Mellem Education. The Betzavta method is focused on democracy but the tools/methods facilitate and encourage listening and inclusivity.
- See also our UNDP RBAP Foresight Playbook.
Gamification and pushing boundaries
Below are some out-of-the-box ways to think about and approach foresight:
- Games and sustainability transformations: a new paradigm, by Joost Vervoort on Anticiplay (2021)
- Year in search 2020, by Google
- Variations On Tomorrow, Edition 1: Zero, by Future Tense Inc. (2020). Through various artefacts this zine endeavours to start a conversation, jog a thought, inspire a collaboration or shift a notion. This edition's contributors are Lena Edman and Viraj Joshi. 'Variations On Tomorrow' is edited by Mansi Parikh, Founder – Future Tense Inc. & Bryony Simcox, Collage Artist & Co-founder – BROADEN Films.
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Disclaimer: These are external resources for information only. Inclusion in this list does not indicate endorsement by UNDP, nor does UNDP accept any responsibility for any loss, injury or misfortune arising from the usage of these resources.
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