Hosted in Bangkok for the second time, the 5th APFN conference intends to take a three-track approach catering for practitioners, academic researchers, and government leaders simultaneously. The organizers of the conference intend also to increase the profile of the work futurists are doing especially in the ASEAN region. This year Thailand is the chair of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). Thailand is also actively discussing the 4th Industrial Revolution, the Digital Economy 4.0 and other futures-oriented themes.

This years’s conference seeks to understand the changing futures of Asia with a concentration on ASEAN. Our focus, in particular, is on ASEAN 2030. Thematic areas for the conference are economy, knowledge, and security. Based on current trends, what might the region look like in a decade? What are emerging issues/disruptors that could take change this trajectory? And what are the alternative futures of ASEAN and the broader Asia-Pacific region.

Questions we see as relevant is can the knowledge economy drive the region, the way manufacturing did earlier? Can we imagine the beginnings of an Asian confederation that can enhance security especially in the light of threats from dramatic climate change? How might the economy for nations, communities, individuals and the region as a whole transform? Will the rise of China, micro-manufacturing, blockchain, challenges to patriarchy, transformations in traditional factory-based education be significant in changing the future?

While policymakers often desire precise answers to these questions, futurists have learned that these are best answered as alternative futures, as scenarios of the possible, plausible and preferred.

Along with alternative futures, case studies of foresight in practice from government, the private sector, and the community arena will be highlighted.

Last but not least the APFN is a peer-to-peer learning conference with extended space for networking and through interaction, genuine knowledge sharing. Moreover, we wish to enhance the futures literacy of newcomers to the field to allow them to make more informed policy and strategic decisions today for tomorrow.

Objectives

  1. To imagine the futures of ASEAN and its neighbours; explores disruptions, and create alternative futures
  2. To share methods, tools and innovations for futures thinking and strategic foresight
  3. To support the advancement of methods, practices and complementary approaches to the changing needs of policymakers
  4. To demonstrate how foresight has influenced policy processes and decisions
  5. To promote cooperation and networking among participants as well as share experiences between members of different organizations and backgrounds
  6. To stimulate the uptake of these approaches and exchange between practitioners and policymakers and ultimately to increase the profile of futures thinking and foresight in the Asia-Pacific.

For more please proceed to the APFN 5 official link https://sites.google.com/view/apfn2019/home

Is the future colonized? Are Asian leadership, management systems and innovation informed by patriarchal worldviews? What would governance and Asian leadership look like beyond the rule of big men? Can gender or women narratives disrupt how Asians perceive the future? What are the ties that binds, that unites Asia in the 21st century? Can Asia innovate or would it remain, despite technological growth and economic advances, a copy cat? Can Asia disrupt the factory model and create a socio-politic-economic model that champions a non-linear, emergent model of society (i.e philosophy, values, diversity, community, heterogeneity, culture, women, children and family that drives social transformation)? How do Asian futurist imagine the futures of Asia? What are the alternative, plausible futures of Asia?  Can Asia create a new story for Asia?

IMG_1656

The 3rd Asia Pacific Futures Network International Conference, Seoul, South Korea. Photo source: Science and Technology Policy Institute, South Korea.  (Note: The little kid in the middle, surrounded by futurist around the world is my son Sanjeev Cruz. Its his first international conference and happy that it was with the APFN) All smiles here 🙂

These among others the participants of the 3rd Asia Pacific Futures Network explored through lectures, paper presentations, workshops and games, keynotes for three days. The conference dubbed as “Creating New Stories for Asia: Beyond the Factory and Rule of Big Men” deconstructed and explored alternative and plausible discourses and worldviews that might disrupt or challenge the so-called factories and rule of big men. The big men concept could might as well be a product of a belief or society subscribing to the Chinese narrative “Let the father act like a father and the son act like a son” , “Great One”, “The Great Leader”, “The Chosen One” types of societal, political, economic, leadership and organizational models. This created a tradition some sort of closed elitism in Asia.

Organized and sponsored by the Science and Technology Policy Institute of South Korea, the Asia Pacific Futures Network and the Korean Association of Futures Studies, the 3rd APFN conference was participated in by futurists and development managers from Iran, Singapore, Malaysia, Taiwan, Philippines, South Korea, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Dubai to Thailand, Japan, the United States and Singapore to name a few. The conference was held at the National information Society Agency in Seoul South Korea.

The conference was opened by a welcome and keynote speech from Jong-kuk Song, President STEPI and Sohail Inayatullah, UNESCO Chair in Futures Studies.

The conference kickstarted with a plenary on why we got together in South Korea and politics for Asia? Jeanne Hoffman, Tamkang University presented her paper on Taiwan Trap: Rethinking Taiwan and China Futures, our very own Shermon Cruz, Center for Engaged Foresight, on the Futures of the South China Sea and Data-Driven Future Strategy: Korean Approach by Jong Sung Hwang, National Information Society Agency, South Korea.

Morning parallel sessions tackled Alternative Futures to Technology-driven Asia and Doing Different Asia. Varied topics on Artificial Intelligence, Mobile Gaming, Ethereum and Singapore Ready projects were presented in the afternoon session by Michael Jackson, Naohiro Shichijo,  Keke Hsian Mei Quei, Cheryl Chung, Shubangi Gokhale and Patricia Kelly.

Afternoon sessions. Shermon Cruz chaired the panel Young Foresight in Asia and featured the works of Nur Anisah Abdullah, Dennis Morgan and Shakil Ahmed on futures studies in UAE and South Korea. Shakil work delved on questioning the factory model in Bangladesh and envisioning  alternative education futures.

The parallel afternoon session was moderated by Meimei Song. Ivana Milojevic, Yuzilawati Abdullah, Puruesh Chaudary presented their works on on Brunei and Pakistan Futures Initiatives.

Lesson learned on the first day. To thrive and make futures as a discipline, a profession and as an art, to make it relevant and significant to various sectors and industries in Asia requires constant effort, communication and campaign to demonstrate that futures and foresight enables people and organizations, nations and actors to imagine alternatives, recognize blind spots, to design new opportunities for organization and social transformation. Futures thinking like design while playful and iterative is prototype-driven, anticipatory and collaborative.

These are some of the questions, insights and keywords that came up at the end of the first day sessions that may require further study/discussion:

  1. Ethical Authoritarianism – “father knows best”, “confucian worldview”, “the tao perspective of leadership”, “datu”
  2. Peer to peer platform in Asia – is it possible?
  3. International day of failure – overcoming the fear of failure can inspire creative work
  4. Refresh and invigorate – as futurist how can we refresh and invigorate the work of others?
  5. Are we futurist learning, perceiving in a better way?
  6. Can we leave up to the expectation?

The 2nd day begun with the welcome and congratulatory remarks from Kwang Hyung Lee, President of the Korea Futures Studies Association and Byung-jo Suh, President of the National Information Agency of South Korea. Their remarks focused on the critical role of futurist and futures studies to an emerging Asia; that new discourses and imaginings are crucial to creating a better or perhaps an Asia that drives global peace, human-centered or driven robotic, AI technologies and progress.

IMG_2846

3rd Asia Pacific Futures Network International Conference. Photo by STEPI 2017. Seoul, South Korea.

Parallel sessions were held to discuss city futures, the 4th industrial revolution, futures and foresight at the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies including hands on workshops on the integrated visioning methods, civic education and community building and game futures.

To conclude, this conference sought to bring about a greater clarity  and understanding on the different phases of development, worldviews, priorities and leadership futures in the Asia Pacific. As all Asian nations aspire to reinvent the wheel, new futures and new possibilities also emerge.

Below are the conference acton photos courtesy of STEPI –

IMG_2332

IMG_1779

Shermon Cruz, Center for Engaged Foresight, courtesy of STEPI. 2017.

IMG_2005

Michael Jackson, Shaping Tomorrow Network, courtesy of STEPI 2017

IMG_2090

Nur Anissah Abduallah, Strathclyde Business School, courtesy of STEPI

 

IMG_2022

Naohiro Shichijo, Tokyo University of Technology, Photo courtesy of STEPI

10646822_653589881434754_8603233456695753277_n

CREATING AN ASIA-PACIFIC NETWORK

Representatives from a number of nations – Malaysia, Singapore, South Korea, Iran, the Philippines, and Taiwan – met from March 19-20th at Tamkang University, Tamsui to partner and co-create an Asia-Pacific Foresight Network. Many of the participants were futurists working in their respective Prime Minister’s Office and others were academics working at universities.

Participants expressed a need to create such a network as the types of questions futurists in the Asia-Pacific region ask differ from their Western counterparts. The Asia-Pacific region, the president of Tamkang University, Flora Chang noted, had undergone a dramatic shift in wealth, with the creation of a new middle class. But it was not just wealth that was increasing but changes the region was in the midle of shifts in the nature of family, changes in demographics (ageing and depopulation), gender equity, and for some the beginning of an Asia that no longer copied the West but inventing and innovating, indeed, leading the way.

???????????????????????????????

Participants agreed that Futures Studies could grow quicker if the partner institutions worked with each other in sharing research, finding internships for graduate students, and developing an Asian foresight approach or flavour. Currently some nations are stronger at futures studies at the university level; others at futures studies for national and Ministerial decision-makers and still others at futures studies for local cities and communities. By creating a network, each node of the network could learn from each other, strengthening research and action for all.

10170732_10152707066262548_2696135291295870252_n

Among the next steps agreed on was: 1. the creation of an Asia-Pacific Futures course for university students to be held at Tamkang University in 2016. Participants should not just be students but executives from major Asian multinationals, representatives from local, state and national governments ie policymakers and community organizations. 2. The sharing of curricula from the region so that researchers could learn what works best in pedagogy. 3. The development of a futures camp for young people. This could have four strands: wealth management and prosperity; the greening of the city; and wellness and health. Futures studies methods and tools would integrate these strands. 4. The next network meeting was to be held at Tamkang University in March of 2016. 5. It was intended that by 2017, the course and the network conference could be held in other localities such as Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, possibly hosted by the Malaysian government Myforesight Centre. 6. To work closely with global organizations such as UNDP and UNESCO in developing foresight throughout the region. And: 7. To edit a book on the best of Foresight in the Asia-Pacific region.

10429302_660618124065263_1010251227130893213_n

Representatives also were clear that they did not wish to create another bureaucracy or a single vision of Futures Studies. Rather, they wished to create partnerships where the community as a whole gained from each others’ differences, creating a “Food Court” of Asia-Pacific Futures Studies.

Report written by Dr. Sohail Inayatullah (2015) for Tamkang Times and the Asia Pacific Futures Network and photo credits to Tamkang University and the Futures Era Media/News/Publishing.

Some action photos here.

10300877_660619950731747_4028239286898670776_n

11053280_660619234065152_7686223920449208062_n

11084261_660620820731660_8160714352904525880_n

1900057_660692177391191_8246382190089652982_n

10426329_660621010731641_4933856155691278475_n

10981609_660707830722959_6541204236988293394_n

1794767_660624010731341_7819191832235241605_n

11073122_10152707066257548_5402883917644866094_n

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Report on City Futures for City Leaders @ the Journal of Futures Studies

TKU_logo

Our report on the City Futures for City Leaders WFSF Learning Lab in Penang Malaysia was published in the Journal of Futures Studies September 2014 edition. JFS website and PDF copy is available here http://www.jfs.tku.edu.tw/?page_id=5211 and http://www.jfs.tku.edu.tw/

Here is the preview of the paper.

“Cities have emerged as change agents towards sustainable futures. Discussion about its size, food routes, transportation, health, climate change and community resilience has shifted the way cities are perceived into the future. Questions persist such as: How do we create the inclusive city? How do cities ensure spatial justice and equal access to urban resources and opportunities amidst the impacts of climate change? How do we link strategic foresight to urban governance and strategy development? These are some of the big questions that decisionmakers, thought leaders, academics and city dwellers continue to explore.”

And the World Futures Studies Federation LEALA Learning Lab link here http://www.wfsf.org/our-activities/world-futures-learning-lab