Urban futures can be worlds apart yet share common approaches to sustainability. Shermon Cruz, Founder, and Director of the Center for Engaged Foresight discusses Global South cities that are vulnerable to natural disasters and the challenge of dealing with complex risks in interconnected systems.
The Urban Futures sessions focus on the future of urban environments and the trends and drivers that are shaping them. Themes include technology, neuroscience and the resilience of cities.
Futures Festival ’18 started with the idea of diverse futures and grew into 20 sessions presented by 24 speakers working in 13 countries. It was broadcast online over a 12-hour period on October 27/28, 2018.
The Association of Professional Futurists (APF) is a growing community of futurists. Members are dedicated to promoting professional excellence and demonstrating the value of strategic foresight and futures studies. APF members meet regularly and host active online discussions among practitioners. APF also delivers professional development programs and recognition for excellence in futures. The annual APF Futures Festival is an opportunity for people across the globe to share insights, experiences, and ideas.
Will Global South cities transcend beyond the narrative of trauma and disasters? Is there an alternative future for them? Would it learn from the past to innovate, act and create the preferred Global South city story? What would a resilient, sustainable, empowered Global South city look like? How does it get there? Where will the change come from? From the perspective of truth to power – what are the grand narratives and worldviews that have shaped the past and that might continue to shape their futures? What are the values and myths that inform or that influence Global South perspectives of a resilient and resurgent city futures?
The Center for Engaged Foresight represents at the 2018 Diverse Futures Festival, a virtual gathering of futurists, organized by the Association of Professional Futurist (APF) this Saturday at 8:00-9:00PM October 27, 2018. The topic “Resurgent Cities from a Global South Perspective” discusses CEF’s seven years of strategic foresight/futures work on alternative city futures. It used multiple futures tools and techniques and engaged approximately 7,000 participants held in classroom, workshop, conference, formal and informal settings to explore the futures of Global South Cities.
The Futures Festival is a 12 hours of non-stop interactive session featuring the work of 24 futurists around the world plus conversations on diverse futures. Futures Festival is an annual virtual gathering hosted by the Association of Professional Futurists.
This year, Toronto, Ontario, Canada is the hosting locale for Futures Festival ‘18 and the theme is Diverse Futures. Therefore all times are shown based on GMT-4 (EDT), and sessions take place between 0700 and 1900 (EDT). Check out timeanddate.com for your time zone.
Diverse Futures presenters are putting forward new ways of looking at economics, knowledge transfer, and pluralism. Moreover, they are confronting ethical considerations and challenging constrictive and outdated narratives.
Get ready for a fast-paced experience. Sessions are 30 to 90 minutes in length and also have at least 15 minutes for discussion. Presenters are futurists who want to know what you think. Therefore, you can expect a day filled with dynamic and challenging conversations!
The Association of Professional Futurists (APF) is a growing community of futurists, dedicated to promoting professional excellence and demonstrating the value of strategic foresight and futures studies for their clients and/ or employers.
What will the city of Oroquieta be like in the year 2030? What are the people’s hopes and fears? Are there alternatives to a business as usual future? What is the city’s preferred future? What is the city’s transformed future? Which future do they wish to become a reality? What steps can the city take to trigger emerging alternatives and create a transformed future for the city and its people? Is the city moving in the right direction?
Are existing platforms, policies, programs and framework flexible, adaptive? Is the economy responsive to local demands and needs? What are the drivers and factors that might influence the city’s future? How can we engage the youth to participate in the creation of alternative and transformed future?
Can it re-envision the Good Life? Is it authentic? Transformative? Meaningful? What are the indicators of a Good Life for Oroquieta City? What type of values and leadership models could kick start and sustain the vision of a Good Life? How can we legitimize the Good Life? Are there existing socio-economic-political models, best practice and local experiences that could support, expand or extend the concept of the Good Life?
These are some of the interesting and provocative questions that emerged in the 3day Futures Literacy and PROUT workshop attended by the local government officials of Oroquieta City.
Futures Thinking and PROUT Workshop
Facilitated by Shermon Cruz, Director Center for Engaged Foresight and Dada Dharmavedananda, PROUT Maharlika and monk of Ananda Marga, the City of Oroquieta organized an introductory futures thinking, strategy development and PROUT workshop to explore alternative futures for the city. The workshop and applied a variety of techniques/methodologies in PROUT and Strategic Foresight to identify potential drivers and influencers that may shape the city’s alternative and transformed futures.
Shermon Cruz gave a briefer on Futures Thinking and Strategy Development and facilitated foundational futures workshop to map, anticipate, question and imagine possible, probable and plausible city futures. Dada Dharmavedananda linked the participants output by questioning the alternatives and to address specific sectoral issues that may disrupt and transform Oroquieta’s future.
Videos on Futures Thinking and PROUT were shared to the participants to inform and deepen the context of the 3 day workshop.
Futures Literacy, Futures Thinking and Strategy Development
According to the OECD (2016), Futures Thinking and Strategy Development is an emerging policy and governance applied by global governance institutions, public and private institutions, the academia, non-government and people organizations, social movements among others to map, anticipate and create alternative and preferred futures. Futures tools and workshops aims to stimulate strategic dialogue, widen understanding of possibilities, strengthens leadership and informed decision-making.
Futures Thinking in public policy and governance uses a multidisciplinary approach to pierce the veil of received opinion and identify the dynamics that are creating the future. A variety of methods – qualitative, quantitative, normative, and exploratory – can help governments illuminate the possibilities, outline policy choices, and assess the alternatives (OECD, 2016).
Futures Triangle on the other hand is a tool invented by Sohail Inatullah to to map three narratives of time – the past, present and future in context.
The PUSHED OF THE PRESENT: quantitative drivers and trends; THE WEIGHT OF HISTORY: challenges, issues, barriers and narratives prohibiting and/or restricting preferred futures and PULLS OF THE FUTURE, these are the compelling images and preferred futures (Inayatullah, 2010) .
CAUSAL LAYERED ANALYSIS (CLA)
“CLA is a technique used in strategic planning and futures studies to more effectively shape the future. Causal layered analysis works by identifying many different levels, and attempting to make synchronized changes at all levels to create a coherent new future.” (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Causal_layered_analysis)
Inayatullah’s original paper as well as his TEDx talk identifies four levels of reality: The litany: This includes quantitative trends, often exaggerated and used for political purposes. The result could be a feeling of apathy, helplessness, or projected action. Social causes, including economic, cultural, political, and historical factors.Wordlview/Discourse: Structure and the discourse that legitimizes and supports the structure. Metaphor and myth are the emotive and unconscious dimensions of the issue. The deepest layer looks at the foundational myths, metaphors and archetypes that influence the unconscious and/or emotional undertone beneath the issues.
After understanding the layered causes of an issue, the method suggests looking at alternatives – either within each layer or beginning with a new myth/metaphor and working up through the layers to create an alternative scenario. From this alternate scenario, new possibilities can be distilled and translated into solutions, policies, and other types of actions that one can begin implementing in the present. (Source: https://libarynth.org/futurist_fieldguide/causal_layered_analysis)
Futures Workshop Output
Participants mapped the pulls, pushes and weights of the city’s future. These drivers could well influence the Oroquieta’s future:
Transport (public and private)
Traffic and Congestion
Investment (local and global)
Sports, Health and Wellness
Climate Change Risk and Disaster Management
Digitization and automation of the City’s business processes
Inadequate Resources (financial and non-financial)
Land Use Plan
Culture and traditions
Integrity and Branding
Grants and Aids
Conflicting values and priorities
The pulls, pushes and weights could reframe, redefine the context of city’s plausible future: The City of Good Life.
Deepening the discussion, Shermon Cruz asked some provocative questions to participants to facilitate the reframing process: What is the city’s definition of good life? What does it mean to experience or to have a good life in Oroquieta? What are the indicators of a good life, at the personal, organizational, city, societal levels, in Oroquieta? What are its success indicators? Is Oroquieta’s version of the Good Life authentic? Transformative? Unique? Responsive to local context, development, growth , values and culture? Using INSPECT method, what are our good life indicators and/or innovation in ideas, nature, social, political, economy, culture and technology? How do we integrate the good life in Oroquieta’s programs, policies, events and activities? How do we storify the good life (health and wealth? Well-being? Work-Life balance? Preventive health care? Employment?)? What’s the narrative of good life for Oroquieta in the now and the future – City of Good Life 2030?
The Causal Layered Analyis gave the participants the space to deconstruct two interlinked sectoral challenges that may prohibit Oroquieta’s vision of the good life: poverty and unemployment.
Using CLA, participants deconstructed and reconstructed poverty and unemployment in Oroquieta 2023. Causal layered analysis works by identifying many different levels, and attempting to make synchronized changes at all levels to create a coherent new future.
Below are the workshops CLA output.
City of Good Life: Negotiation as a Way Forward
The Sarkar Game is used to help individuals and organisations better understand macrohistory and the structured shape of the future(s) as well as to audit the leadership style of their own organisations or institutions (Inayatullah, 2013). Participants were divided into four social groups namely the laborers/workers, warriors, intellectuals and merchants/capitalist class. The game was facilitated by Shermon Cruz. Groups were given a script, tools and were asked to play their role according to the script.
In this game, the workers with the help the intellectuals emerged as winners given that they were able to establish and legitimize the call for fair wages. The merchants failed to bribe their way in as they failed to influence the intellectuals and warriors to threaten and/or shoot the workers. Merchants would give in to the workers’ demands when intellectuals acknowledged worker rights for fair wages and the military to keep the peace. All of the groups were willing to negotiate to keep the peace, the vision alive and achieve justice for all.
Just brilliant! I got an invitation from the organizers to share some learnings and insights on Philippine city futures at the first Quezon City International Conference organized by the University of the Philippines National College of Public Administration (UP-NCPAG) and the Center for Local and Regional Governance (CLRGC) last month. The convention themed “Future Perfect: Cities at the Forefront of Change and Development” explored the immediate and long-term livability of Philippine cities with climate change impacts, urbanization, global integration, the emergence of new technologies and inter–metro-local cooperation as critical drivers of change. In celebration of the Quezon City’s 75th founding anniversary, the conference showcased innovative approaches and reforms to city administration, governance and development. I also attended the pre-conference seminar-workshop on livability facilitated by Mr. Benjamin De La Pena, Director for Community and National Strategy, Knight Foundation.
Keynoted by Mayor Herbert Bautista, the city chief executive, emphasized some of the major critical challenges influencing and impacting Quezon city’s livability and resiliency: disaster risk reduction, urban population and migration, urban mobility, overcrowding, public health and open spaces, peace and order, slums, and the ASEAN integration. Quezon city is currently the largest most populous city in the Philippines. Quezon city is the nation’s capital.
The conference also showcased the experiences and lessons learned by cities in the Asia-Pacific and shared how they imagine their futures for the next decades.
Along these three main strands, panels and plenary sessions were held to solicit insights and inputs to improve the host city’s future perfect strategies and approaches:
Climate Change and Urban Resiliency
Sectoral implications and impacts of climate change
Climate change and vulnerable groups
Climate change adaptation and disaster-risk reduction
Climate risk governance
Growing Cities at the Human Scale: Liveability in Cities of Rapid Growth
Urban mobility and transportation systems (e.g. BRT, pedestrian and bicycle friendly cities, interconnectedness of transport)
Green cities and green urbanism
Inclusiveness and cities without slums
Peace, order and security
Interlocal Cooperation and Metropolitanization
Twinning and city-to-city cooperation
Metropolitan and transboundary issues (traffic, pollution, flooding, etc.)
ASEAN integration and competitiveness
Some takeways and insights
# make cities walkable by linking networks and destinations, ensure accessibility and re-design surfaces;
# increase investments for micro-climate management by increasing tree giving sun shades, reduce urban heat temperatures, minimize pollution, minimize dust, noise and glare
# increase the “feeling” of security via good street lighting, open and lively street spaces and protection from crime and violence day and night
# invest on infrastructures and create mixed and multi-purpose events that encourage physical activity and exercise for all user groups, interaction and social transparency, play and street entertainment, talkscapes or street furnitures, edge effects and attractive zones that stimulate peoples sense of imagination and play
#invest on infrastructures and create events that creates a sense of locality and identity. Contextualize locality investments that informs and drives a sense of climate impact and resiliency awareness and actions.
# Mainstream children, women and the vulnerable sector in resiliency awareness and management
# Integrate out of the box and outliers and not just the worst case scenarios to make city more adaptive and responsive to future shocks like urban terrorism, urban heat and other plausible unknown unknowns
#engage the neighborhood, families and relatives by partnering with them in pre-planning and post-planning disaster scenarios. Question current initiatives. Expand the notion of disaster risk management and response.
Many are worried that our concepts of resilience, city planning and urban regeneration are very male oriented and city futures worldviews patriarchal. So what would Philippine cities look like if they were designed by women? Will we have massive towers and bridges or will we have more sites or spaces and priorities that are child friendly, safe for mother and babies and gender sensitive? At a macro level, what would our streets, communities, priorities and neighborhood look like in a women imagined alternative city futures? What might be their preferences? What myth and narratives of resilience, planning and design could surface when the future of our cities are re-imagined and reconstructed by women? What elements of current planning should change? What are the influencers and drivers of a women driven city futures?
The Philippine Center for Foresight Education and Innovation Research (PhilForesight) of Northwestern University in collaboration with the World Futures Studies Federation and the UNSECO Participation Programme, Step Beyond Australia and the Center for Engaged Foresight held a two-day workshop entitled Transforming Philippine Cities: An Integrative Foresight Course for Women City Leaders, hosted by University of the Philippines (UNP) in Vigan City, Ilocos Norte, last June 26-27. 41 participants, mostly women, from local and national government agencies (LGUs, NEDA) as well as CSOs (Civil Service Organizations) and from the Academe attended the course. The futures course is one of the key events of the University of Northern Philippines 50th founding anniversary celebration.
The workshop on integrating strategic foresight and foresight thinking into women city leaders was co-facilitated by Dr. Mei Mei Song of Tamkang University in Taiwan, Janelle Marr, director of Step Beyond based in Australia, Cesar Villanueva of World Futures Studies Federation (WFSF), Shermon Cruz, Director of PhilForesight and Ariana Lutterman of the University of North Carolina.
Facilitators gave lectures and action learning workshops on various futures and strategic foresight tools to explore alternative and preferred Philippine city futures. This futures thinking and strategic foresight capacity building exercise was organized to introduce the emerging field of foresight and futures studies, generate new questions and concepts informed by women perspectives for city futures, public policy, strategic planning and governance. It is one of the five World Futures Studies Federation, a UNESCO and UN consultative partner, locally supported learning labs for the Global South. Futures studies and foresight courses were also held in Mexico, Haiti, Malaysia and Democratic Republic of Congo.
One of the participants exclaimed that “This is my first time to hear about futures studies and I have developed a deeper appreciation of the field and that it is good to know that there is also a different approach to city planning.” Various sectors expounded their commitment to integrate futures thinking into their respective fields, cities and organizations while also looking forward for further partnerships to advance futures literacy and foresight integration in city governance.
Seeding, Seeing and Growing Alternative Gender Driven City Futures
This is what you get when you have 90% percent women participants in a city futures course. You get to have a lot of provocative ideas and fearless future imaginings, seeds and wildcards like: a compassionate food festival (current food fest promotes consumerism and current practice is really unsustainable – wiser to have a values, health, zero and pollution waste, future-generations, water and child friendly food fest and events); zero child labor futures (cities should continue investing on child education – introduce appreciative intelligence and creativities); challenge patriarchal culture, values and patterns (question worldviews that sees women as sexual objects); mainstream the views and voices of the voiceless – elders, the indigenous and the unborn; inclusion, rights and fair treatment should inform Filipino labor futures; increase people’s access to organic products; design a more nurturing and nourishing cities in more green and open spaces – TREES or FOREST as play areas; vibrant neighborhoods (garden neighborhoods as the heart of cities), car-less, civil society oriented, refined, soft and sensitive, more inclusive and more caring sustainable cities as well as telekinetic enabled robotic techs enhancing local creativities and farmers generating renewable wealth (food and water) and more!
Brief report written by Michael Barreiro and Shermon Cruz. Photo credits to Angel Hernando.
“In a time of drastic change, it is the learners who inherit the future. The learned find themselves equipped to live in a world that no longer remains” Eric Hoffler, Philosopher (extracted from UNESCO’s How Do We Identify Great Opportunities? A Reflective report, 2015)
Welcome to the Future!
To paraphrase a brainy quote from the great Yogi Berra, the future isn’t what it used to be and the setting in which the country operates is shifting rapidly at the local and global levels. The direction, shape and provision of higher education, learning, research, industry demands, workplace settings and society will be very different from what we see today.
Roughly three to four months ago, the board of directors of Northwestern University (NWU) Laoag approved the creation of the Philippine Center for Foresight Education and Innovation Research (PhilForesight). PhilForesight was establish to advance forward knowledge, futures awareness, education and research and the application of futures studies and strategic foresight in the Philippines. The idea to establish a center dedicated to futures studies and foresight was conceived in one of many after conference conversations we’ve had at the UNESCO Laoag futures literacy knowledge lab forum-workshop.
As a forerunner of futures studies and strategic foresight in the Philippines, the PhilForesight is a hub for futures and strategic foresight teaching (theories, knowledge, content), research (method), innovation and action-learning (applied). Philforesight aims to advance futures studies and strategic foresight on a social and wider scale.
Northwestern University through the University Center for Research and Development (UCRD) took a case study approach to create and shape the operating design and framework of the PhilForesight center. NWU took note and learned much from real life and learning by acting examples, skype and email conversations and engagements with six of the top futures and foresight institutes and international organizations in the world – the Hawaii Research Institute of Futures Studies at the University of Hawaii, the Graduate institute of Futures Studies at Tamkang University Taiwan, the Center for Engaged Foresight, the UNESCO Chair in Anticipatory Systems at the University of Trento, Italy, the UNESCO HQ Foresight Section and the World Futures Studies Federation.
Also, last summer, Northwestern University via its institutional planning office and Philforesight funded and organized a six days foresight driven strategic planning forum-workshop for its middle and senior level managers and supervisors to explore and create the university’s alternative and preferred futures and to identify emerging opportunities or to borrow UNESCO’s context, “great opportunities” ahead. NWU hopes to share its learning by doing experiences on how foresight drives and informs Northwestern University’s strategic and scenario plans, human resource, organizational development, leadership and decision-making.
This month, PhilForesight in partnership with the World Futures Studies Federation, Step Beyond and the University of Northern Philippines hosted and organized the WFSF’s Learning Lab project on futures literacy for women city leaders in Vigan City and in partnership with the Rotary Club of Manila, the future agenda forum on the future of food and water.
In a nutshell, PhilForesight’s objectives and services are: 1. To contribute to the global effort of creating spaces and opportunities for futures thinking, education, networking, leadership and development – theory and applied; 2. Offer futures thinking courses (for NWU students and its communities), workshops and events and activities and opportunities for internships – international and local; 3. Become a knowledge incubator and build partnerships with the private sector, industry, government, international organizations, think tanks, super-empowered individuals, futurists among others.
The goal of any organization is to empower, PhilForesight provides avenues to capacitate individuals and organizations to develop alternative and innovative ways to create their preferred future.
For more about PhilForesight and Northwestern University, please check these links –
Many are worried that our concepts of resilience, city planning and urban regeneration are very male oriented and societal, city futures worldviews are patriarchal. So what would Philippine cities be like if they were designed by women? Will we have massive towers and bridges or will we have more sites or spaces and priorities that are child friendly, safe for mother and babies and gender sensitive? At a macro level, what would our streets, communities, priorities and neighborhood look like in a women imagined alternative city futures? What might be their preferences? What myth and narratives of resilience, planning and design could surface when the future of our cities are re-imagined and reconstructed by women? What elements of current planning should change? What are the influencers and drivers of a women driven city futures?
The World Futures Studies Federation (WFSF), the UNESCO Participation Programme, the PhilForesight, Northwestern University, Step Beyond, the Center for Engaged Foresight in partnership with the University of Northern Philippines as our principal host will explore these questions in the second Philippine city futures course on June 24-27 Vigan City.
Specifically, the objectives of this course are:
1. Introduce futures thinking and strategic foresight as an emerging concept, tool and technique in city futures, strategic planning, public policy, decision-making and development;
2. Engage participants in the exploration and construction of alternative and preferred city futures;
3. The focus is to enable participants and cities to design their own strategic pathways and enhance their foresight capacities for adaptive response and strategic renewal in a climate change era.
For more information, reservation and official invitation please email us at email@example.com or call us at Northwestern University with trunk lines: (077) 670-85-10, 670-86-07 to 10 TeleFax Number: (077) 670-68-64/771-38-14
“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.”
So I might be late sharing this update but well it was a brilliant event and would love to share a gallery of action photos courtesy of Think City and yes, some of our takeaways from the World Futures Studies Federation (WFSF), Right Livelihood College, GIFS organized futures course with UNESCO in Penang, Malaysia this year.
It was amazing to have met new and old friends from the WFSF, to co-keynote the WFSF learning lab, assist in the workshop and exchange and share ideas with the best like Anwar Fazal, a grassroots environmental activist and director of the Right Livelihood College, Anthony Capon, a public health physician and director of the United Nations University International Institute for Global Health and Sohail Inayatullah, director of Metafuture.org and professor Meimei Song from Tamkang University.
This futures course co-directed by Cesar Villanueva, WFSF and Duncan Cave of Think City, is a LEALA pilot hosted event. The course blends local face to face workshops with online learning of futures studies and foresight.
The course targeted a diverse group of global audience and was held in three different locations – Lubumbashi, Democratic Republic of Congo; Cairo, Egypt, and Penang, Malaysia.
From an analysis of the experiences of participants, we could draw several conclusions.
First, futures literacy according to participants was essential and that more of it should happen soon for other to experience futures processes and methods.
Second, the course enriched their meaning of ‘reframing’ and got exposed to multiple perspectives and layers of analysis, to borrow the words of a participant in the course “tweaked” her previous “theory of world-making” and to use the “CLA framework” more in the exploration of alternative and preferred futures.
Third, “courage” was required and that we need to create more learning spaces for people to question their own – positive and negative – biases about the future.
And of course, yes, the participants noted that, despite our epistemic and artificial boundaries, ‘we are a family’ that are always searching for ‘new narratives’ and ‘new methods’ needing ‘new friends and networks’. We are a family that could “get along well without a fight”, desiring “to start the change somewhere” to transform the future now!
A preview of the comprehensive report is available @ the WFSF website –
A storm is brewing in Asia, will Philippine cities transcend beyond the narrative of trauma and disasters? Is there an alternative future for Philippine cities or would it learn from the past to innovate, act and create the preferred story?
Are current strategies enough to transform our cities or do we need to question our assumptions now of continued economic growth and rethink our ways of knowing the city and change the way we imagine our cities and leadership from the big man rule – autocratic, corrupt and isolated to the fresh food market – pluralistic, democratic and participatory?
These are some of the questions that the participants of the UNESCO Resilient Cities, Brighter Futures workshop explored for four days. Using anticipatory thinking and strategic foresight methods, city leaders and experts, researchers, managers, advocates, social scientists, futurists, and consultants from the different parts of the country and the world debated, deconstructed and reconstructed Philippine city futures in a Post-Haiyan era.
The Laoag forum workshop is a part of a broader global foresight project launched by UNESCO and the Rockefeller Foundation on futures literacy and introduce foresight to decision-making, public policy and governance.
The initiative aims to help communities better prepare for the future and assist them to become future-literate. Similar workshops have been held in Oslo Norway; Munich, Germany and Rio De Janeiro, Brazil.
Reimagining Philippine Cities
To Sohail Inayatullah, a fellow of the World Futures Studies Federation and the World Academy of Arts and Sciences and the main speaker and facilitator of the UNESCO future lecture series and knowledge workshop, “cities are fast emerging agents of global policy-making and change.”
And as cities faces multiple challenges like climate change, globalization and demographic shifts, Inayatullah argued that cities need to re-think the context, to be versatile and to be flexible enough to respond, innovate and usher in a new era.
Rigid concepts, models, priorities, worldviews and leadership practices of and in the city that leads to urban poverty, pollution, overcrowding, decay and decline must be questioned. Questioning the future of cities enables communities and leaders to create alternative concepts, frameworks and life-urban interfaces.
To do this, Philippine cities should embark and perhaps invest more aggressively on urban regeneration and knowledge creation projects that increases social, economic and community resilience.
Population drifts from rural to urban are expected to rise and if cities fail to read the weak signals they might end up becoming or repeating the stories of Metro Manila, Baguio and Dagupan cities – living beyond 3, 500% of sustainable levels, caught in the middle income trap and highly vulnerable to climatic changes and exposures.
In Asia, it is projected that its urban population will double from 1.6 to 3 billion by 2050. Philippine cities have to face up to this emerging population and migration trends but how many of its cities will be able to meet the challenge? Just imagine the social, cultural, environmental, political and economic cost of the ASEAN integration and climate change to an unprepared Philippine city.
To be forewarned is to be forearmed.
Simply put, if you know something beforehand, you can prepare for it.
Being aware of the critical drivers and taking the big picture approach can help cities regenerate and transform in the midst of rapidly evolving challenges.
Strategies and Metaphors to the transform the future
Participants were able to re-imagine the contexts and purposes of Philippine cities in a post-Haiyan plus the ASEAN integration, the rise of Asia, Chindia, etc. scenario.
New narratives, metaphors, images, strategies, policies and programs to achieve the preferred future Philippine cities were proposed. Cities are at the forefront of these solutions and innovations and when they happen it could accelerate inclusive growth, open up new value chains for innovation and better city living conditions.
The low hanging fruit was the Smart city.
Improving the efficiency and effectiveness of urban systems, social cohesion, innovation, infrastructure, architecture, energy, transport, national and local governance and the participation of the media, academia and the non-profit sector was essential to creating the smart city.
We have to be smart enough to see the intersection of all the drivers mentioned to create the smart city that we want participants noted. Changing the way we live, work and play in urban environments requires asking the unasked questions. Integrating or applying the best tools like anticipatory thinking and foresight can improve urban planning practices and innovation.
Technology is a critical driver to this type of city.
The metaphor was arangkada. Downside however was the tusong-matsing – a city trying to catch up with its neighbors, economic growth driven, getting smarter but stupidier.
The G4 city. This is the Laoagueno version of the smart and green city.
Here the city is smarter and wiser.
The green worldview of inclusive interaction, collective emergence and local creativities informs the G4 city. From pure gold in 2012 to the pure and interactive trees, from hypermart (big man rule driven) to the fresh food market (pluralistic, participatory and democratic) city in 2030.
The city’s strategies create the conditions for the greeny Ilocano way of life and lifestyle to thrive; the system and the city and its people finding their own path.
The city is emergent and organic, alive, breathable, walkable and liveable as well safe and inviting for brilliant people and ideas in this city scenario.
The metaphor was the garden of trees and the ecosystems of life.
Laoag emerges as the smart and green capital of the Philippines.
The city is shaped by her residents, community organizers, musicians, ecologists, settlers, farmers and artists and Pamulinawen finds her heart and wooed by a French artist and entrepreneur.
Laoag is globally connected and emerges as a global brand for city resilience and transformation by 2030.
The Bayanihan City – bayan (community, connectivity), bayani (hero catalyst, peer to peer, sharing economy), ani (wealth, next generation inclusive and sustainability).
Here, Philippine cities get transformed by resiliency and natural disasters.
An empowered, pragmatic and a climate responsive city is created in 2030.
Cities become a prototype, a model for disaster risk reduction and management.
The Japanese proverb that says a bamboo that bends is better than the oak that resist was the myth.
City’s in this context have future-proof flexibility and have adaptable spaces that accommodate multiple changes and challenges.
The city is bayani as it is also generationally inclusive. It accounts and imagines the need, the resources and the opportunity required by future generations. The future generation becomes a part of the policy discourse, planning and urban city design.
From the city of isa, isahan at naisahan to the city narrative of bayan, bayani and ani, Philippine cities creates new hero icons, stories, proverbs and opportunities for the future.
The Healthy, Interactive Living City.
The city takes the title for fit and healthy living.
Philippine cities invest and create the healthy, living cities and some would even take the top spot in an annual global ranking of healthy cities.
The indicator here was the walk or the bike score, number of yoga and meditation practitioners and decline in the number of citizens suffering from chronic health problems such as diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity. Fruit consumption rate, investment in curative healthcare, number of homeopathy shops, tea shops, number of farmer markets, the decline in the number of patients were significant and are indicators of the healthy living cities.
Physical infrastructures are designed and invested on based on fitness and health impact index.
A healthy city strengthens personal and social immune systems.
Dorothy and the Wizard of Oz
From the King (the king can do no wrong, father knows best) and the Unruly Citizen of the past and present (bahala na, short term oriented, corruptible citizens) to Dorothy (creative, inclusive and emergent) and the Wizard of Oz (a future world designed by her community and friends, playful and organic and generative), people and local governments leads the way in the diversification and creation of new Philippine cities.
Participants aspired for a city and systems that are people oriented, novel and nonconventional.
They want the Filipino to prosper and participate in creating the preferred.
Too much democracy, closed economy that benefits only the ruling elite, feudal culture, the nation-state, hierarchy, strong power distance index, the raping of natural resources, the middle income trap, short-termism, systemic corruption, asyong aksaya (corrupt and wasteful leadership patterns trends), the alamat of ibong adarna (tinutulugan ang kalamidad at oportunidad) are weights of history, the restrictive factors and barriers to the preferred future.
The future is an active aspect of the present
Like the past, the future is an active aspect of the present. It is the ‘forward looking equivalent of history’. Using it as a medium to expand planning, policy and governance, the future can provide us practical and imaginative space to create and enact the future today.
Futures thinking can help us reveal the unknown unknowns and imagine multiple alternatives and choices. One does not need to be an expert to take part in futures thinking and strategy development.
Thank you! Thank you!
Now I would like to personally thank Mayor Chevyyle Farinas and Northwestern University President Liza Nicolas, the Northwestern University community and the Laoag City Government for their overwhelming and generous support.
Also, the futures team of the Graduate Institute of Futures Studies at Tamkang University and the University of Hawaii Research Center for Futures Studies and the International Society of Heal Being Studies at Chung Ang University, Seoul South Korea, Dr. Shunji-jie, Dr. Kou Hua Chen, Dr. Meimei Song, Dr. Jiang Bang Deng, Dr. Hyun Ryul Park, Mark Alexander, Cesar Villanueva, Dr. Mahar Lagmay, Architect Jun Palafox, Dr. Mario De Los Reyes, Dr. Merlita Panganiban, Mr. Moncini Hinay, Jerome Escobar, Atty. Ferdinand Nicolas, Dr. Rudy Bareng, Mayor Dolly Clementd and Vice Mayor Jessie Galano, Ilocos Times Publisher Jay Ramos and Mr. Mitch Esmino, the City Tourism Office of Vigan and the UNESCO National Commission of the Philippines Dr. Virginia Miralao and Ms. Emmy Yanga thank you so much!
The UNESCO Social and Human Sciences Sector, the UNESCO National Commission of the Philippines, the Center For Engaged Foresight in collaboration with the City Government of Laoag, Northwestern University Laoag, Tamkang University Taiwan, the Hawaii Research Center for Futures Studies, the International Society for Heal Being Studies, South Korea will hold the first forum-workshop on anticipatory thinking, strategic foresight and city governance to explore, imagine and create preferred futures of Philippine cities on May 21-24 at the Laoag City Auditorium. SMART Communications Philippines will bring a live coverage of the forum-workshop via livestream.
Dubbed as “Resilient Cities, Brighter Futures: Forum-Workshop on Anticipatory Thinking and Strategic Foresight for Sustainable Cities,”, the project calls for an innovative exercise to introduce the skills related to Futures Literacy and to build the capacities of participants to use the future more effectively for city strategic planning, policy-making and decision making to transform Philippine cities in a climate change driven era.
The project will also engage participants in a collective reflection; spur their creativity and innovation in the difficult task of reframing the future of Philippine cities. The desired endpoint is to raise participants’ awareness, improve their capacity to imagine and use the future and build a shared narrative to address the challenges of Philippine cities. The forum-workshop offers participants a learning-by-doing experience in “using the future differently.”
This four-day event will begin with a plenary session that will feature a general introduction to Future Studies as a new and emerging academic field, a presentation on the experiences of Foresight Centers in Asia and the Pacific region and a critique of current developments in urban areas and a presentation in imagining plausible solutions and innovations.
A two-day workshop will follow to familiarize participants to some futures thinking concepts and strategic foresight methods and engage them in an intense framing and re-framing discussions, to generate new knowledge, new insights, questions, narratives and alternative options for different sectors engaged in building sustainable and resilient Philippine cities. The fourth day will be devoted to a provincial heritage tour.
For more information and inquiry, interested city leaders and organizations may contact Mr. Shermon Cruz, Executive Director of Center for Engaged Foresight CP Nos.: +639479639858 / 09173185162; Tel. No or Fax: 077 607 03 43; or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
The World Futures Studies Federation (WFSF) in collaboration with Think City, the Right Livelihood College and the Graduate Institute of Futures Studies Tamkang University and UNESCO will hold a city future for city leaders futures course on March 30 to April 1, this year at the Cititel George Town Penang Malaysia.
This workshop aims to familiarize participants with futures studies and strategic foresight and to introduce some tools and techniques for envisioning futures to enhance the anticipatory capacities of decision-makers and leaders design future cities.