Outcomes of Singapore Consultation on Developing Foresight Capacity within the Public Service

4 Jul

UNDPOn 29 April 2014, Cat participated in a Consultation on Developing Foresight Capacity within the Public Service, held in Singapore by the UNDP.

This consultation was convened to engage thinkers and practitioners in discussion to advise UNDP on avenues for building government foresight capacity in developing countries. Alongside Cat, the consultation consisted of 16 participants, including UNDP experts, consultants with expertise and experience in foresight/futures work, and researchers/academics from diverse disciplines such as sociology, education, political economy, systems science and public policy. Cat gave one of the three presentations given by foresight practitioners with experience in working with governments, and these were followed by a 90-minute roundtable discussion.

Cat presented on the topic of Institutionalising Foresight in Government. She highlighted how Foresight is becoming an increasingly important skill for civil services and government because we’re in a 21st century complex environment. When making decisions under complex environments, foresight is vitally important. The role of government will need to change in an environment where there are more doers and actors; where the role changes from being at the top of the pyramid to being part of a network of actors. She outlined the difficulties facing foresight, and why it is so important that we attempt to overcome these challenges to utilise it to its fullest advantage.

Cat summarised the following points as key drivers in pushing foresight forward:

  • Scale: must be integrated into business planning processes. Country plans and thematic plans must also be integrated into any proposal.
  • Cooperation: Opportunities become available and synergies emerge when resources are pooled, which create better impacts and effects. Foresight can take the ‘heat’ away present conflicts by creating space for discussion through conversations about the future.

In terms of getting organisations and individuals to take “the longer term” into account in view of enhancing the outcome of their decisions, there is a community out there that needs to be brought together in an eco-system. UNDP could potentially play an important role in an eco-system of activists, civil servants, consultants and academics who do not have a centripetal force around which to congregate.

Read the full summary from the consultation here.

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