Knowledge Sharing in the Snow

By Adrian

Just completed a short workshop that was a mixture of knowledge sharing, project planning and organisational development. In a short day, the dozen participants were able to identify the similarities and differences between what they were doing in four countries, and to agree on the mechanisms for keeping up an exchange of knowledge on contents in the future, as well as the steering and monitoring mechanisms that should be put into place. As an added bonus, the African participants especially enjoyed the snow…


Migration Innovation in Uganda

by Jonathan

Travelling to East/ Central Africa always comes with surprises. As for example that Ruanda’s plastic ban is really enforced. When the plane held in Kigali for a stop-over, the personnel reminded the deboarding passengers that it was strictly illegal to bring any sort of plastic bag into the country. From a European point of view, Ruanda took a leap that will take us Europeans probably another decade. The same applies for the use of mobile phones and connectivity by the way. My cellphone network coverage was better and more reliable in Kampala than it is in Berlin.

A similar insight came with a closer look to Uganda’s migration politics: Uganda is hosting the largest number of refugees in Africa, but instead of putting migrants into camps and leaving them without any rights to wait for some sort of help, the Ugandan government is providing land and work permits to displaced persons.

Yet, a lot of challenges remain and we could address some of those in our multi-stakeholder planning workshop, which I moderated. We came out with a solid annual work plan, taking into account the views and ideas of the national partners – and making sure with the other international donor community that we do not double our efforts.

Knowledge Sharing on Nutrition, Cotonou

by adrian

A week in Cotonou Benin runing a knowledge sharing event in French and English, with 70 participants based in 12 African and Asian countries focused on food and nutritional security. C’était merveilleux de voir comment les participants de différents pays et continents ont réussi – malgré les barrières linguistiques – d’apprendre les uns des autres. Some local newspapers in any case reported on the opening: Some insights for me included: – Granting land to women to grow crops does not seem to improve their nutritional diversity. Perhaps they spend more time working, and have less time to eat diverse food types? – Les menaces qui peuvent provoquer l’insécurité alimentaire sont nombreux, et ne sont pas uniquement liées à la météo et la guerre, mais sont souvent les choses plus simple, tels que l’accaparement des terres ; – In struggles between sedentary populations growing crops and pastoralists practicing transhumance, the fact that cattle have a “bad” CO2 balance, could become another excuse for the former to say “stop your damaging herding practices”, and clear off my land – something that will aggravate existing conflicts.

Global Delivery Initiative, Tunis

By petra

In 2014, we facilitated the first Global Delivery Initiative Conference in Berlin. This year, I attended the sixth annual conference, and it is great to see how the initiative has gained traction and to see how it has grown into a partnership of over 50 development organisations. It was really good to discover that the conference was not only about sharing knowledge or success stories but also openly discussed delivery challenges and what doesn’t work well.


The “Global X-Centers Network” annual meeting 2019, Vienna

By martina

The Global X Network meeting in Vienna on 28 October brought together a group of researchers from the USA, Japan, Brazil, and Europe, all of whom had a great knowledge of Futures and Foresight. The theme this year was Urban Futures.

The key messages from ´Mapping the Urban Future´ and on ´Ramification of Green Urban Futures´ (research done by X Network members) meant I could literally feel the need for enormous transformational processes to make cities more liveable ecosystems. To my surprise, they suggested that cities should be made smaller in future – whilst megacities continue to grow they will become less governable up if decisions are not decentralised to smaller neighbourhoods. It will be interesting to see if decision makers, business and citizens understand the urgency of implementing new approaches and will act today to co-create new cities for tomorrow.

Later discussions turned around the work being done by other X-Network researchers on how big global topics like climate change, new technologies, digitalization and resilience, and the platform economy with its pros and cons will influence the future of our societies. For instance, this could lead to new X-Events, such as unexpected Energy Blackouts (a possible side effect of the energy transition?).

In any case, the Global X Network remains a place to learn, to contribute, and to invent new research projects for the future. It is part of a rising awareness on Futures and Strategic Foresight in politics, business and civil society.

One final thing. My personal surprise in Vienna came when checking in at the Hotel Wandl, which I chose ´par hasard’.  It turns out they already had my name and address perfectly prepared. Only, the data and address were in Paris, saved from a trip I made (and had forgotten about) 15 years ago. This shows how data can follow you around – and sometimes mean people are wrong about you…

Renewable energy for displaced persons, Kampala

By Adrian

Just back from Kampala, where the rain is still falling, even if rainy season is supposedly over. Luckily the stakeholder consultation I was helping to run was about application of renewable energy (for displaced persons), so hopefully it could make a (tiny) contribution to reducing future climate change, whilst giving energy to those who are currently with little or none… In any case thanks to the super team that pulled it together, and the excellent participants that made the event very worthwhile. Given how dreadful the traffic in Kampala is, perhaps my next project should be on alternative transport models, including solar powered public transport.

From Yerevan to Kiev

By Adrian

Super weather in both Yerevan and Kiev: October and sweating after a 20-minute walk from the hotel to the workshop location! And just as the climate is “improving”, so the opportunities for the “investment climate” are also getting better. In both countries, following the changes in government, reform plans that were previously off the agenda, are now feasible. Certainly, there was a palpable sense of opportunity in our workshops.

Growing awareness of Foresight, OECD, Paris

By martina

The Annual Meeting of the OECD Government Foresight Community (GFC) in Paris, 7-8 October, was again a high point for those following the future of governance and strategic foresight. Thanks to Strategic Foresight Counsellor Duncan Cass-Beggs and his excellent team, the Community is growing, with great presentations by Futurists, governments using foresight, researchers and practitioners from all over OECD countries. Newly invited participants joined from the automotive industry, banking and insurance, as well as civil society. Fascinating initiatives e.g. on the Polar region showed how awareness of the use of Strategic Foresight is on a rise in our societies. Invited by the organizers, foresight initiatives have also started in several OECD directorates.

Many questions went through my mind in the course of the event. For example, how to deal with digitalisation and things like crowd data? How to understand foresight and communicate about futures in societies with growing polarisation? How to motivate decision makers to think and act beyond election periods in longer terms? Whom to involve in transformational scenarios, and in other complex societal approaches?

In any case, I also had the pleasure to present our 4sing experiences in supporting the project “Let them eat money! WhichFuture!?” – an interdisciplinary, participative research and theatre play, which film and theatre director Andres Veiel and author Jutta Doberstein had initiated in 2017. It is a coproduction of the Deutsches Theater Berlin with the Humboldt Forum Foundation, funded by the Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and the Media. Adrian and I moderated and facilitated parts of the futures process with academics, entrepreneurs and civil society. Multiple scenarios were generated in 13 parallel workshops and then fleshed out into a single story line in plenary with about 250 participants. The aim was to outline the unfolding of a global economic crash in 2028.  The resulting theatre piece has played non-stop since emering in 2018 in Berlin and several other locations in Germany as well as in Seoul, South Korea. Participants were especially excited how participative futures projects can bridge and frame policy debates. A final conference will follow in 2020.

Atelier de construction de scénarios prospectifs, Paris

By adrian

De nouveau à Paris, en l’occurrence afin donner une perspective supplémentaire aux participants lors de la formation « Atelier de construction de scénarios prospectifs » de Futuribles. Merci à François de Jouvenel, Cécile Désaunay, et Corinne Roëls pour l’invitation. Comme toujours, beaucoup de personnes à rencontrer (merci à Marie-Hélène Caillol, Joshua Polchar, et Jean-Robert Bornand d’avoir pris le temps lors de cette visite), et bien des choses à voir (par ex. l’état actuel de Notre Dame).

Keeping tabs on strategy implementation

By Adrian

Just completed a fourth workshop in two years, following up on a strategy decided in 2017. Each workshop has allowed the client to check up on how far the strategy has been implemented, as well as to check what other issues have arisen in the meantime. It is fascinating to see the progress made, and our presence as outsiders helps ensure that the strategy stays in focus, and the urgent does not overwhelm the important.

A conference in Kiev

by Adrian

The local lore claims that St Andrew planted a stick in the ground on this hillside and declared that one day a city would grow here. Kiev is the result, and St Andrew’s church is built on the spot. The location of the annual event I just ran was directly across from here, and large enough to accommodate the 330 participants, in what was a combination of learning through play, team building and information exchange. All went well thanks to the tremendous help from the client team on the spot!

8th International Risk Assessment and Horizon Scanning Symposium, Singapore

by Adrian

The International Risk Assessment and Horizon Scanning Symposium (IRAHSS) in Singapore is always a highpoint in the agenda for those trying to make sense of the future. Once again a super line-up, with some extremely interesting insights, ranging from the impact of technologies that are currently just below the horizon, through the hidden impact of migration and the state of (de)globalisation.

My only caveat, the dominance of (mostly male) speakers from the developed Eurasian and North American countries. Thanks to the whole team!