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UNDP GCPSE Communications
on Tue, October 13, 2015 at 03.45 am
UNDP Global Centre for Public Service Excellence

UNDP GCPSE's discussion papers on Foresight

Listed below are the summaries of two of our discussion papers on Foresight - as suggested preparatory materials for the Regional Foresight Exchange for Development in Africa. The papers themselves are attached.

1. Foresight as a Strategic Long-Term Planning Tool for Developing Countries

Governments increasingly realise that few contemporary challenges can be confined to one policy area and that a single-issue focus is in many instances insufficient.

Climate change, for example, crosscuts other issues of concern including access to water, agriculture, food security and urban planning. Information silos common in highly decentralised, bureaucratic organisations can hinder ‘whole-picture’ perspectives. 

This presents a further challenge for decision makers tasked with formulating strategies and policies that effectively address interconnected and interdependent problems. In an increasingly complex and rapidly changing world, what is the value of futures thinking and foresight programmes as long-term planning tools in strategic policymaking, especially its implication in the development context of low-income countries?

The purpose of this paper is to support decision and policymakers in developing countries to maximise the strengths and benefits of national foresight programmes, which will require embracing levels of risk and uncertainty outside the typical bureaucrat’s usual comfort zone. 


2. Stewardship of the Future: Using Strategic Foresight in 21st Century Governance

This paper provides a compendium of views, case studies and ideas on how to build Strategic Foresight capabilities in governments and ministries around the world. It synthesizes experiences of working with government, alongside futures communities and with the public service in a variety of contexts.

The author suggests that 21st century governance requires governments to assume ‘stewardship of the future’. To evolve into this new role, governments must not only build the institutional capacity to undertake strategic foresight, but also develop behavioural capability to habitually consider the longer-term. The effective implementation of UN SGDs will require the deployment of strategic foresight, as it forces governments to plan for the future using probable problems and prospects from the future, as opposed to prepare for the future on the basis of the present. In short, the use of strategic foresight allows countries to reflect the UN SDGs within their national visions, making these development aims much more politically realistic.

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