International Conference, Women, Migration and Development: Investing in the Future

8 Jul

CARE International and the Overseas Development Institute are organising an International Conference, Women, Migration and Development: Investing in the Future which aims to bring policy makers, donors, practitioners, private sector, government and UN agencies to focus on issues, challenges and opportunities around migration. This conference will take place in London on 17-18 of July 2014.

CARE has been working on gender, migration and development issues for the past several years in different parts of the world. In South Asia, CARE has been implementing a 5-year regional project, ‘Enhancing Mobile Populations’ Access to HIV and AIDS Services, Information and Support (EMPHASIS)’, funded by the Big Lottery Fund, which aims to reduce HIV&AIDS vulnerability among cross-border migrants from Bangladesh to India and Nepal to India; and to influence national and regional policies relating to safe mobility. A key component of the project is to focus on women’s empowerment along the continuum of mobility.

Exploring Ranepa’s Summer Campus 2014

7 Jul

Last year Cat travelled to Russia to carry out a one-day training at Ranepa’s Summer Campus, which took place in Khazan, Tatarstan between the 18-28 July. The event hosted 350 top undergraduate and graduate students from across Russia and provided lectures and workshops from top figures in government, business and society. Aimed at developing a new generation of leaders, it provided the students with a valuable opportunity to acquire knowledge and form professional competencies in their areas of interest. Alongside Paul Davies from Ashridge Consulting, Cat carried out a workshop on the ways of reacting to the comprehensive environment of global management and the typical challenges to opening dynamic systems in the changing conditions. The key goals of the discussion were to review state policy processes, instruments of its development and demonstration of best practices in government relations in different countries of the world. Read the full report from Ranepa on Cat and Paul’s training here, and see Cat’s own assessment of the day in her blog from 12 August 2013.

Outcomes of the ISA Roundtable on Strategic Foresight in International Relations – Get Involved Now

24 May

At the International Studies Association 2014 annual conference in Toronto I organised a Roundtable entitled ‘Bridging the Gap: The Art and Practice of Strategic Foresight in International Relations’. About 45 of us discussed the role of Strategic Foresight in International Relations. We had a great mix of practitioners and academics, including, Antti Kaski, Rob Del, Jairus Grove, Andrew Dorman, Deborah Larson, Kari Möttölä, Josef Teboho Ansorge, Philippe Dufort, Peter Feavor, and Aubrey Yee. There was also a super rich contribution from participants on the day, and the approximately 50 respondees from the survey on strategic foresight in IR I carried out in the weeks leading up to the Roundtable.

Some thoughts that particularly stood out for me from this rich discussion:
•Definitional issues still need to be carefully negotiated when discussing Strategic Foresight. There was some agreement around a two sentence definition of Strategic Foresight, but differences were clear around the purpose of and approach to the field (incremental/predictive versus long-term/alternatives). Scoping this out and formalising a common language that can embrace both but avoids crossed wires would be helpful.
•We had mainly policy-makers and practitioners and some academics in the room. Some big IR academic theorists were mentioned: Jervis, Ikenberry, Slaughter, Inayatullah, Gravo, Finger, Ward, Deudney. Could they be brought into the conversation?

Read more about the UNDP-LKYSPP ‘Development on Small Islands’ Conference

13 May

On 29 April, Cat attended the ‘Development on Small Islands– What does a complexity approach have to offer?’ conference, held by the UNDP in collaboration with the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy (LKYSPP). In preparation for the 3rd UN conference on Small Island Developing States (SIDS), the conference explored the value of complexity-aware approaches to tackling development issues on SIDSs. It focused on exploring the nonlinear nature of development and highlighted that there were no simple answers, even in the SIDSs context. Using Singapore as a case study, the conference searched for ways that could improve these countries’ capacities to access the skills, knowledge, resources and funding required in order to ensure the creation of adaptive policies for sustainable development.

Cat noted that there were highly interesting links between SIDS and strategic foresight, and recommends that those interested in these issues take a further look at Duncan Green’s slides on ‘Complexity and SIDS’. Green is the Senior Strategic Advisor at Oxfam, and his presentation explores the individual vulnerabilities and characteristics of SIDS, and the complex difficulties that they face in the search of sustainable development.

Foundation for Democracy and Sustainable Development Publish Live Blog on The Model Institutions for a Sustainable Future Conference

29 Apr

Between the 24 – 26 April the Foundation for Democracy and Sustainable Development (FDSD) attended and reported on the Model Institutions for a Sustainable Future conference in Budapest. Last year, the UN identified a handful of countries leading the way on future generations governance. Those countries met in Budapest this weekend to share ideas and discuss best practice with experts from academia and civil society. The FDSD attended the event, launching a live blog to keep informed those who were interested but could not attend the event. The live blog consists of many highly engageing and informative pieces published over the course fo the conference, read the full blog here.

The FDSD is a a research and advocacy charity working to equip democracy to tackle the challenges of sustainable development. They believe that current systems of democracy focus too heavily on short-termism and just one kind of economics, and as such are poorly prepared for challenges like climate change, resource scarcity and an ageing and growing population. They research workable reforms, build coalitions and work with others to make the case for practical changes. Read more about the FDSD here.

Launch of the 2014 Social Progress Index: Tuesday 8 April

20 Mar

The Social Progress Imperative is an organisation devoted to advancing human wellbeing by combining national social performance and capacity indicators with solutions-oriented outreach to sector leaders, and grassroots champions, in order to promote long-term, large-scale change.

On Tuesday 8 April, the Social Progress Imperative is launching its Social Progress Index 2014 at the Deloitte Auditorium. The Social Progress Index is an annual review that measures the performance of countries in terms of the quality of life of their citizens, using indicators of social and environmental outcomes exclusively. To effectively tackle the economic and social problems that challenge national stability and growth, both social and environmental factors must be measured. Covering critical issues such as healthcare, infrastructure and civil liberties, the Index benchmarks country performance to drive forward national debate and help prioritize investment decisions, and provides an invaluable framework for measuring the multiple dimensions of social progress.

The Millennium Project Launch Latest Report: ’2013 – 2014 State of the Future’

17 Mar

On 20 March, 2014 the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars will launch the 2013-14 State of the Future report. This report integrates and distilles the rapidly changing global situation in technology, environment, social unrest, development gaps, security, energy, food, organized crime, gender relations, governance, health, education, and more. It gives an unparaelled overview of our current situation, propects, and suggestions to build a better future, plus the annual World Report Card of where we are winning and losing and the 2013 State of the Future Index. Chapter 1 on 15 Global Challenges provides a framework for understanding global change. Other chapters share international assessment of the causes of and solutions to the increasing problem of hidden hunger, vulnerable natural infrastructure in urban coastal zones, loan wolfs and individuals making and deploying a weapon of mass distrtuion, and the Global Futures Intelligence System. See more about the report here.

Wanted – Your views on how Strategic Foresight should be integrated into the academic field of International Relations – for #futureday

28 Feb

Is the academic field of International Relations losing out because it doesn’t embrace foresight thinking? What can we do about this? If you have views and thoughts on this, read on and fill out the survey.

This year, at the International Studies Association 2014 Conference, I am hosting a Roundtable on the use of strategic foresight in International Relations, entitled: ‘Spaces and Places: Geopolitics in an Era of Globalization’. The purpose of this Roundtable is to bring together International Relations scholars and practitioners to discuss the role of strategic foresight in international relations, and to strengthen the community of interest to take this endeavour forward. To prepare for this Roundtable I am conducting a survey on the practice of strategic foresight in international relations, and am seeking your views on this issue.

Strategic foresight approaches, when incorporated into long-term planning processes, can have significant impact on international policy-making. Looking beyond the shape of present challenges and opportunities to those rising up on the horizon is arguably an indispensable and necessary role of government. At this time of geopolitical uncertainty, there is growing interest in this approach to understand developments in the spatial dimensions of foreign policy. Yet foresight has a strangely marginal position in the International Relations academic sphere and is largely absent from most International Relations faculties and courses. Questions remain about the effectiveness of strategic foresight in influencing decision-making.