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.


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.

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!


Union for the Mediterreanean Business Forum in Cairo

by Adrian

It was a pleasure to return again to Cairo, and to have the chance to work with my dear friend to co-moderate the ‘s first “Business Forum”. The speakers and organisers were excellent, and a real highlight for me (perhaps also as I could just relax and listen to that bit of the session as Leena moderated 😉) was to hear how entrepreneurs in the East and South of the Mediterranean are using e-commerce to beat entirely new paths to trade (and more). Certainly my congratulations to Roula Moussa, who now runs two super interesting ventures!

Global X Network Annual Meeting in Vienna

by Adrian

At this year’s Global X meeting, I was particularly struck by the discussions around Artificial Intelligence and platform economics with the likely enormous impact on all industries. If we can manage to create the platforms correctly, they will not just severely disrupt value chains but also be greener than before.

Also of note was the discussion around uncaptured GDP and the era of abundance: two notions which fundamentally challenge the classical economic models I grew up with, and that neatly complete the (much better covered) field of externalities. After all, it is not just that our national accounts fail to capture the costs of polluted air and depleted natural stocks, but also, they fail to include much of the “value” generated in (especially through) services according to the research presented.

In any case thanks to all contributors and participants for a fascinating time, and great to hear the inputs of Europeans, US Americans, Canadians, South Americans and Asians in such an intimate format! Also thanks to Brenda Fox, Leena Ilmola and John Casti for organising the whole thing in Vienna.

ESPAS Annual Conference: Global Trends to 2030: The Making of a New Geopolitical Order?


Thanks to Daniele Réchard and her team for organising an excellent day as part of the ESPAS ‘Global Trends to 2030: The Making of a New Geopolitical Order?’ event, and good to see so many friends there, inter alia Angela Wilkinson, Aaron Maniam, Jeanette Kwek, Norbert Reez, Jaana Tapanainen, Kristel Vanderelst, Thomas Lehr, Alun Rhydderch, Duncan Cass-Beggs, Joshua Polchar, and Christopher Cordey …

Many speakers focused on the threats we face, so I used the chance to promote Garret Banning’s idea of a starting an Annual Opportunity Assessment hearing. His logic: the US has an annual threat assessment, so why not also look for the opportunities in a systematic way as well: social, technological and political change makes many things possible in international relations today that were not possible before, and as Mary Kalder pointed out, if we only look at things through the geopolitical lens, everything seems very bleak…. And my thought: no need to wait for the US on this, let’s have the European Parliament organise the opportunity assessment (and please, if so, not in a standard format, let us be creative for once!)

Energy for Displaced People: A Global Plan of Action

by Adrian

Just facilitated a very interesting conference on “Energy for Displaced People: A Global Plan of Action for Sustainable Energy Solutions in Situations of Displacement”.

Most striking: this is a clear reaffirmation that nobody should be left behind with regards to access to energy (as per SDG 7) – not even those displaced by conflict or disaster. Also that UN agencies and donors really must walk the talk themselves: if they wish to be carbon neutral by 2020 (declared aim), then even in urgent humanitarian cases it is time to stop shipping diesel generators (often to the middle of nowhere), thereby developing a fossil fuel supply and dependency chain.

Also remarkable was the very broad representation of people present from almost all corners of the energy and refugee/ displaced people spectrum, and the fact this was a bottom-up initiative, where those concerned with these issues were often trying to win over their own organisations for a sustainable energy solution (a particular challenge given that energy is not a focus of humanitarian/ development work in many cases, despite the fact that it enables so much of this work).