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.
To imagine the futures of ASEAN and its neighbours; explores disruptions, and create alternative futures
To share methods, tools and innovations for futures thinking and strategic foresight
To support the advancement of methods, practices and complementary approaches to the changing needs of policymakers
To demonstrate how foresight has influenced policy processes and decisions
To promote cooperation and networking among participants as well as share experiences between members of different organizations and backgrounds
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.
The Center for Engaged Foresight (CEF) is listed by Global Foresight.Org managed by Foresight Education and Research Network (FERN), a global community of foresight practitioners and network of institutions working to advance global foresight culture, as one of the top foresight organizations in the world.
The organizations and institutions listed as top foresight organizations that includes CEF “have distinguished themselves in one or more PrimaryForesight Specialties, or take alternative foresight approaches, as seen in the variety of Foresight Frameworks.”
What might a day in the life of a person feel like in a climate-changed world? If you were to wake up in a climate resilient futures Ala Rip Van Winkle say in the year 2050 and was given the privilege to ask at least ten questions, what questions would you ask? What might a climate-changed future be or how might a climate resilient world look like from a futures standpoint? How can emerging technologies like artificial intelligence, robotics, biotechnology, big data and blockchain strengthen people, and communities resilience to cope with the adverse impacts of climate change? If technological growth is exponential, are humans and systems capacities to adapt exponential enough to meet new challenges of a fast-changing climate? In what ways can emerging technologies drive innovations in climate change adaptation? How might futures literacy or the future impact people and institutions perspectives on climate change? What new visions, new questions, and leadership thought streams could emerge when visionaries and thought leaders apply anticipatory tools to innovate and imagine alternative future worlds?
These among many other frontier issues were explored, imagined, debated and deliberated by 100 global visionaries and thought leaders in five-days of collective intelligence and brain-swarming sessions at Resilience Frontiers of the Korea Global Adaptation Week from April 8-12, 2019 held at the Songdo, Convensia, Incheon, South Korea.
The sessions employed UNESCO’s Futures Literacy Laboratory Framework and Futur/io’s Moonshot Approach to deconstruct and reconstruct climate change futures.
Resilience Frontiers is an inter-agency effort undertaken by the United Nations Framework for Climate Change Secretariat in collaboration with Canada’s International Development Research Centre, EIT Climate-KIC, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, the Global Water Partnership, the Green Climate Fund, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, the United Nations Environment Programme, and the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs.
According to the UNFCC, climate change adaptation means solutions or actions that respond to current and future climate change impacts. Adaptation is systemic and structural (social, technological, economic, political, cultural, ethical) changes in responding to mitigate the impacts of and create opportunities from climate change.
Waking up in a Brave New World: Rip Meets Sophia 12.0
Imagine you were Rip Van Winkle who was deep asleep for the last twenty years; wakened up by Sophia, 12.0, an advanced AI, in a brave new world. Wandering, perplexed and confused, you’ve begun asking people what, how and why the new world.
Using a technological frame and imagining themselves as Rip Van Winkle struggling to make sense of the new world, participants were asked to ideate and list 10 personal questions about the future in which they woke up.
The participants were clustered around four emerging technology themes: artificial intelligence, biotechnology, satellite technology, and sustainability ethos. The groups were asked to ideate, write or list their questions about the world in which they woke up. Anchored on the probable impacts of the fourth industrial revolution, participants reflected on the convergence points of these technologies to explore probable futures.
I was tasked to facilitate one of the four Artificial Intelligence (AI) groups. Questions below were the most compelling that participants came up with. These were shared with the group and later to the plenary. The questions were also shared via social media:
Are there still programmers?
Is AI opensource and creative?
Can we trust data? Can we trust AI?
Are AIs used under human supervision or are they completely autonomous?
Was AI the best solution to climate change problems?
Can AI help mitigate the causes and impacts of climate change?
Was AI able to help reduce global temperatures to 1.5 degrees?
Do we have augmented human intelligence – body/machine interfaces?
Do most people work to make a living?
Do we have the resources we need to build and deploy AI tools and solutions?
Are Big Techs owning AI?
Are algorithms certified?
Is AI empathetic?
Do you trust AI?
Has quantum computing broken through?
Do AI technological solutions currently exist to solve some of the problems related to climate change?
Has general AI been developed and deployed?
Are we dependent on AI for survival?
Is seed AI a reality?
Has technology helped us in preventing/countering famine, wars and other global challenges?
Have machines taken over power?
Has politics become AI?
Do we have AI continents?
Are governments in charge of designing AIs we are relying on?
Is there a stable and effective to enforce global cooperation?
Am I living in a liberal-democratic nation-state?
Is China running the AI show?
Is AI regulated?
Are AIs regulating resource allowance? Work assignments? Schedules? Politics?
The Fourth Industrial Revolution Influencing Futures of Basic Needs
The next session had the participants reshuffled around five basic needs to survive and thrive in a climate-changed world: Food, Water, Nature, Human Security, and Health.
The groups were asked to take the discussion points from the probable futures of technologies session and explored their convergence points and impacts to futures of basic needs. Each participant were again asked to ideate individually, reflect on them and share their ideas and insights to the group. The group would then report back to the plenary to share the group’s output.
I facilitated one of the groups that tackled food futures. Below is a summary of the groups’ output on the future of food in a climate-changed world:
Technology or ethos discussed: Artificial Intelligence, the Internet of Things, Blockchain
Key points that summarized their discussion: 1) Technology, when it aids for production, is promising! 2) There is a need for an integrated farmers systems that universalize access to trade and markets and that helps and sustains them to stay resilient; 3) There is a need for a technology enabling global food system that guarantees food safety, security and sustainability.
Hashtag for each key points: 1) #foodcanfixit; #osmosis; 2) #resilientto1.5C; 3) #unchainedfood; #ALOHAS; #singularfood
Brief Thematic Title: Resiliocene or Sustainology
Envisioning Desirable Futures via Moonshot Thinking
Climate change, its magnitude, and multiplicities of impacts, real or imagined, to people and communities are huge wicked problems. Business as usual solutions is usually not enough to solve complex global challenges like a pandemic, food crisis, water crisis, species extinction, terrorism, etc. Simplistic or one size fits all solutions makes wicked problems even more wicked. Tackling wicked problems such as climate change requires individuals, people, organizations and systems to imagine and do the impossible. In other words, you need to shoot for the moon or create wicked opportunities to address wicked problems!
Moonshot thinking according to Google X is the creation of ridiculous ideas or solutions that borders between reality and sci-fi! Moonshot thinking is all about taking on global-scale problems with radical solutions through some form of breakthrough technology with 10X more impact. Netflix disrupting streaming, AirBnB disrupting hotels, Uber disrupting public transportation, Tesla PowerWall disrupting energy storage, self-driving cars, power loons providing internet to everyone are examples of moonshot ideas and solutions creating more impact.
The first moonshot sessions enabled participants to learn foundational moonshot via future/io’s structured, design thinking inspired and Zen-like approach to moonshot thinking. Building on Day 1’s discussions and output of probable futures, participants envisioned their desirable futures, individually reflected on it and designed moonshot ideas in breakthrough technologies to solve food, water, security, nature and health problems. Here are some of the participants’ moonshot ideas in a climate-resilient world:
Remote sensing energy irrigation systems and aggregation platforms that facilitate sustainability and that support smallholders farming/farms access to fair markets, manage climate shocks and avert losses;
Transparent pricing systems for agricultural products through blockchain and application based systems that compute agricultural carbon emissions. The system transforms consumer choices and empowers them in their investment decisions supporting climate-resilient food systems and choices.
Outdoor working transport pods connecting people and nature to create healthier homes and a better working world. Less physical and more virtualized services reduce carbon emissions during construction and operations.
Reframing: Breaking Free from the Business as Usual Trap
The moonshot thinking session allowed participants to imagine their desirable futures by conceptualizing, inventing or improvising a breakthrough technology or new sustainable practices to create a climate resilient world. Building on their previous discussions on the convergence points of emerging technologies, they were able to reflect on some radical solutions to some huge problems facing food, security, water, health and nature futures. What I have shared here was just the tip of the iceberg as participants might have roughly conceptualized around 50 moonshots.
Now the reframing session was about enabling participants to question their probable and desirable futures. By identifying the gaps and making upfront their biases about the future of basic needs and knowing what informs or drives them in perceiving alternatives and in imagining a climate resilient world, participants were able to distance themselves from their probable and desired futures and think of alternative ideas and questions their assumptions of the future.
Questions such as was our probable and desirable futures a used, purchased or default futures? Was our moonshot ideas driven by the status quo? Were our assumptions about desirable futures business as usual driven? What are the gaps or what were our biases in imagining probable and desirable futures of a climate resilient world? Were our moonshots bold, daring, radical or ridiculous enough to create 10x more growth and 10x more impact? Or were these moonshots a byproduct of trends? were asked to trigger conversations at the reframing session. Tools such as the Causal Layered Analysis and the DESTEP framework were learned and applied to push the boundaries of extrapolation, map and deepen participants analyses and insights and explore the unimagined or unthought of.
The session began with the head of UNESCO’s futures literacy Riel Miller’s short video explaining the context and intent of reframing via the futures literacy laboratory framework. According to Riel, reframing is all about imagining the future without paying attention to probabilities or desirability. Reframing is about abandoning the idea that the future is something that we want to get to but rather reframing is the place where we play by using our imagination, a critical resource, the future. It is an attempt to rethink without being constrained by reality. Reframing is an exercise where we invent a world that we have not seen before. It has to with unique creations and acknowledging that the future is fluid and open requiring a change in the conditions of change. For more about UNESCO’s futures literacy laboratories and the learning intensive society, check and download https://www.routledge.com/Transforming-the-Future-Open-Access-Anticipation-in-the-21st-Century/Miller/p/book/9781138485877
Questioning Assumptions about Food Futures via Causal Layered Analysis
CLA or the Causal Layered Analysis is one of the most powerful foresight theory and tools used by futurists and policy analysts to analyze and integrate diverse modes of knowing reality to explore plausible futures. The tool is applied not for its predictive value but it allows end-users to peek layers of, vertical and horizontal, plausible futures. The real or the future can be deconstructed, understood and re-imagined at different levels namely: the news headlines or the litany and quantitative trends; systems – STEEPLE analysis or technical analysis backed by data; worldview – the deeper values that are actor-invariant or discourses we use to understand or frame an issue; and the metaphor or myth level of analysis that incorporates emotional feelings, the narrative that constitutes reality or the inner story level of experience that gives meaning to beliefs, values or cognitions. For more about the Causal Layered Analysis, check or grab a copy of CLA readers at http://www.metafuture.org/product/cla-reader-and-cla-2-0-pdfs/.
The group that deconstructed their assumptions of probable and desirable futures, the food group, in particular, acknowledged their biases in that each of them interprets the problem as they’ve experienced them. The fact was that they were influenced or that they’ve held onto some deeply held views or value propositions to what and how must the future of food be and should be like. It was difficult to distance oneself from the analysis and it was even more challenging to imagine the future beyond the business as usual. Via the CLA, knowing our cognitive biases enabled participants to not just be aware of them but to open up, disclose and share these biases for a deeper and more inclusive, sublime or perhaps a more spiritually or emotionally connected, or for lack of a better word, mindful or being-full conversation.
Participants were able to individually and collectively reflect on what their biases in their assumptions were and questioned them. The breadth and depth and the layers of the group’s reflections revealed a previously dormant futures assumptions. The quality and inclusiveness in the conversations, the content and contexts were surprisingly different from what was imagined or discussed on Day 1. Some unique ideas and perspectives of alternatives hit the group and me, as a facilitator, to the core. The group began to re-frame the future by questioning them at different levels of reality.
News headlines – What if there are no one way of getting people or farmers organized to scale and upscale their interests in production, consumption, trade, and markets, etc. at the local and global levels? What if singularity or homogeneity leads to oppression or authoritarianism? What if our choices evolve into something more heterogeneous and not homogeneous? What if all that has been or that what we’ve had previously assumed or imagined are disrupted by some certain events like a global catastrophe that leads to global food crises? What if this one singular desired future or breakthrough technology increases single point of failure types of risks? What if suddenly our body mutates into something that requires lesser physical food? What if the food we eat becomes weirder? What if the way we produced and consumed food evolved into something really strange (something that was un-imagined in 2019)? What if we humans due to some human body induced, tech-altering human natural biology suspends or totally ends the feeling of hunger or need of food in human bodies (i.e. neural food ends human hunger in 2040)?
Worldviews – The bias of scalability is in itself a problem; The bias that I have the solution to every problem and jumping straight to a solution or our tendency to commit ourselves to a singular solution blinds us from knowing what the problem really is, is the problem. This holds us back from being, from knowing, from experimenting and innovating; Being super optimistic or being overly pessimistic is a negative cognitive bias.
Metaphor – Our tendency to upscale, intensify; the human addiction to speed and growth; the pursuit for excellence is our fatal flaw. The strong belief or the mindset to expect an outcome is a perceptual and behavioral bias. The expectation of an outcome is a corrosive cognitive bias. It shuts us off from imagining an alternative story of the future; of life and progress. (To be continued…)
The Center for Engaged Foresight will present at the 4th APFN Conference this August 2018.
This time in Bangkok, Thailand. The 4th APFN conference takes a two-track approach to cater foresight practitioners and researchers. This years’s conference seeks to understand emerging and distruptive futures of Asia. This conference focuses on how Asia is imagined in the long-term and explore how might the shift to solar energy and intelligent/autonomous cars transform the design of Asian cities? Will Asian cities become green, smart, and clean? How might disruptions in capitalism – the shift toward the sharing economy, for example, transform the economic landscape of Asia? Will advances in AI create new jobs or ensure a jobless future for all? Will meditation and yoga by integrating our various selves not only lead to inner bliss but enhance productivity? As 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.
To imagine Asia’s future; explores disruptions, and seeks to create alternative futures
To share important methods, tools and innovations for futures thinking and foresight
Through case studies, to motivate and enable the participants to apply the appropriate methods
To promote cooperation and networking among participants as well as share experiences between members of different organizations and backgrounds
To increase the profile of futures thinking and foresight in the Asia-Pacific.
Create awareness for the need of creating future literacy with future (younger) leaders
For more about conference fees, venue, accommodation, how to participate and present please visit the official 4th APFN Conference web link.
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?
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:
Ethical Authoritarianism – “father knows best”, “confucian worldview”, “the tao perspective of leadership”, “datu”
Peer to peer platform in Asia – is it possible?
International day of failure – overcoming the fear of failure can inspire creative work
Refresh and invigorate – as futurist how can we refresh and invigorate the work of others?
Are we futurist learning, perceiving in a better way?
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.
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 –
John Sweeney(his informal toast on last day’s party)
The Centre of Expertise Applied Futures Research|Open Time of the Erasmushogeschool Brussel and M HKA co-designed a 3-day Futures conference that is not only collaborative, but interactive and creative as well. Partners in the DDT are: The Association of Professional Futurists, The Centre for Postnormal Policy and Futures Studies, Teach the Future, Graduate Institute of Futures Studies and C-FAR of Tamkang University, Journal of Futures Studies and Agence Future, Etoile du Sud, and our very own, Center for Engaged Foresight. The conference, headed by Dr. Maya Van Leemput, senior researcher of Erasmus’s Applied Futures Research and creator of Agence Future, was indeed a success! As repeatedly remarked by participants during the last day’s Fishbowl Landing, “it has been the most fun conference of my life!”.
The conference was a cornucopia of panels, workshops, performances, exhibits, breakout sessions, and most importantly, both formal and personal conversations with diverse contributors and participants. The first day was started just aptly, with keynote speaker, professor em. Jim Dator of Hawaii’s Manoa School, briefly describing his 4 Generic Images of the Future. These futures are: Continued Growth, which is the most common of the alternative futures, continuously highlighting “economic growth”; Collapse, the second alternative that should not be portrayed as the “worst case scenario”, for in every disaster there are winners as well; Discipline, the future whose requisite is to orient our lives around a set of fundamental values; and lastly, Transformation, which talks about the emergence of a “dream society” as the successor to the “information society. This last future focuses on the transforming power of technology—especially Robotics and A.I. These 4 futures paved the way by serving as the looming theme of the conference. And this is seen visually via the venue of the second and third day of this foresight summit.
M HKA Museum, the main venue of this confluence of futurists, was just the perfect place. The ‘A Temporary Futures Institute’ (ATFI), composed by the museum, is the binding element of the “Design Develop Transform” event. The exhibit was truly captivating for it showcased 9 artists’ take on the future, and 4 futurists’ artistic manifestation of their researched futures. Alexander Lee, a Tahitian artist, was given the privilege to paint the museum’s walls (and paint he did for 3 months!) according to Dator’s 4 Futures.
Day 2, (UN) CONFERENCE, was nothing short of busy. Day started by the welcoming of M HKA’s ATFI curator, Anders Kreuger. After the opening remarks and morning panel, it was immediately -with gusto- followed by games. The gamification portion is an enjoyable connected learning that created incentive for sharing. Lunch was followed by more panels, and workshops such as “Prototyping for a Preferable Sustainable Future” by Christianne Heselmans & Linda Hofman, and “Cultivating Physiological Coherence with Possible Futures” by Tyler Mongan. Whole group was divided-depending on their interest that afternoon-into the Education Cluster and Story Telling & Science Fiction Cluster. One performance was presented that day by TOMI DUFva & Matti Vainio entitled “human and a robot DRAWING”; perfectly capping the day in the visual sense.
The last day served as an open space for the public. Exhibiting Futurists were: Stuart Candy, Mei-Mei Song, John Sweeney & Ziaudin Sardar, Maya Van Leemput & Bram Goots. Exhibiting artists were: Alexander Lee, Myriam Bäckström, Nina Roos, Michel Auder, Guan Xiao, Darius Žiūra, Simryn Gill, Kasper Bosmans and Jean Katambayi Mukendi. Tours in the morning was guided by curator Mr. Kreuger, and the afternoon one was guided by curator Ms. Leemput. Apart from art exhibits there were also book presentations and numerous topics (both pre-listed and bring-your-own-style) to attend to. An interesting afternoon walk was crafted by An Mertens wherein Trees were observed and studied as a Futures thinking tool. This was the perfect way to end the day since the notion of trees as our future is very much highlighted. Peachie Dioquino-Valera, a representative of Philippines’s Center for Engaged Foresight was asked by Ms. Mertens to share her culture’s beliefs when it comes to trees. She made everyone present participate in a gentle exercise which is “talking to the trees”. Here, she explained what was to be done, which was for individuals to choose a tree which they resonate with. Then, their left hand was to be put on the trunk, and with their eyes closed, send a message to the tree, or even ask a question, and hear their response. Replies came knowingly through a gentle breeze, and the first thing that pops into their mind. Ms. Valera asked everyone to not rationalize, and let things flow. The purpose of this activity is to send forth a message that these living beings are messengers from the future. They tell us their secrets, woes, and ancient knowledge. The bridging of such primeval tribal practices to access the future is what made the activity an apt ending. This is where we see the past connect with the future. The activity also brought the lesson of reflections on our environment: whatever we do to the environment, we do unto ourselves.
The third day ended with a fishbowl landing which poured forth reflections and sentiments. The last and special day was capped with a farewell dinner and party which brought the participants much closer, and contact exchanges indeed was a harbinger of future networking and awesome futures projects.
Musings and ideas run aplenty despite the short period of time that accommodated such insightful and meaty topics. One universal belief that popped all throughout the conference; and it is best exemplified by our national hero, Jose Rizal’s famous quote: “Ang taong hindi marunong lumingon sa pinangalingan, ay hindi makakarating sa paroroonan.” And it’s true. As Dator explained about our present situation, that we are barely adapting to the new, when we have barely mastered the past. There is also the constant reminder that it’s impossible to look only at one future, and discard the others. This very thought also gives humanity a great chance and obligation to start over again. And what about conflict transformation? Unbeknownst to most, this is one of the ideal characteristics of futurology. This is embodied during our first day session with our very own Cesar Villanueva, Filipino board member of World Future Studies Federation & a peace futurist. His workshop “Creative peace futures workshop on futures of South China Sea” is the perfect living example of conflict transformation. As Einstein once said: “As long as there are men, there will be wars.” Humanity does not need wars. Futures or Foresight studies is very much essential to preventing this useless and unnecessary creation of man. This is one of the things worth fighting for…this is one of the things worth dipping our feet in futures for. This is where we connect all the dots and analyze all complications—its intricacies, nuances, and all. This experience of a conference truly demonstrated and taught us how to DESIGN our preferred futures via different thinking tools brought to the table by the contributors and partners. It also taught us how to DEVELOP our cooked-up ideal futures so eventually we can TRANSFORM them into reality. They say that Reality Check is necessary, but so is a Futures check. Else, we might end up with Utopian irresponsibility and drive us further away from a sustainable and preferred global future.
By Peachie Dioquino Valera, Futures Learning Advisor
The centre of expertise Applied Futures Research – Open Time of the Erasmus University College in Brussels and M HKA (Museum for Contemporary Art Antwerp) are collaborating on an exceptional three day conference linked to the 2017 summer exhibition ‘A Temporary Futures Institute’.
We will host academic and professional futurists from the global North and South as well as artists and designers, professionals from development (cooperation), (public) policy, business (management) and civil society. DDT sets the scene for connecting images of the futures, futures orientations and experiences from these different fields of practice.
We are now inviting contributions on how futures approaches are applied in the wild, including:
the diversity of approaches to futures and their theoretical bases
futures methods, projects, programmes and related images of the future from your practice
what artists and futurists make of the futures
practical futures perspectives in developing contexts, in business, policy and civil society
Sharing the video clip and news article (and related sites) of the UNESCO Bangkok and Chulalongkorn University Thailand spearheaded future literacy workshop entitled “Rethinking Education through Imagining Future Scenarios”.
I am so happy to be a part of this and looking forward to co-designing a couple of post-workshop events and projects in the Philippines, Pakistan, India and Vietnam.
This workshop engaged community-based learning and non-formal education practitioners from Asia and the Pacific in a three-day learning-by-doing knowledge creation process. Inspiration for this event originated in the important discussions taking place around the Sustainable Development Goals 2030, the critical role of learning in creating sustainable societies, and UNESCO’s efforts to explore these issues as discussed in a recent publication Rethinking Education: Towards a global common good? (UNESCO, 2015)
The design of this “FL KnowLab” starts with a deep appreciation of the significant societal role played by education, learning and training outside formal educational institutions. It recognizes the need for a more fluid approach to learning as a continuum, in which formal education institutions interact more closely with other less formalized educational experiences from early childhood throughout life (UNESCO 2015). The workshop design also incorporates the premise that the delivery of lifelong learning through flexible and need-specific approaches by practitioners of community-based learning and non-formal education can play a central role in the discovery and realization of opportunities to promote sustainable development. (UNESCO, 2015)
The last few months were pretty brilliant! Iwas able to co-organize, co-facilitate, present, attend and keynote a number of futures literacy and strategic foresight courses, workshops and related conferences here and abroad:
I partnered with the Department of Agrarian Reform and facilitated a two-day foresight driven planning and capacity building workshop for women cooperatives in Banna, Ilocos Norte;
Keynoted the 26th League of Local Planners and Development Coordinators of the Philippines 2015 Conference held in General Santos City, Philippines. Around 1,200 participants mostly municipal, city and provincial planning and development coordinators attended the plenary session;
Co-hosted and organized with the Rotary Club of Padre Faura Manila the Future Agenda on the Future of Food and Water 2040 at the Casino De Espanol Restaurant Manila;
Facilitated a one-day futures literacy workshop for 120 school administrators and educators in collaboration with the DIWA Learning Systems and the Private Schools Association of the provinces of Tarlac and La Union;
Co-designed and co-facilitated UNESCO Bangkok and Chulalongkorn University’s Futures Literacy Knowledge Lab workshop “Rethinking Education through Imagining Future Scenarios”;
Presented at the Philippine Sociological Society of Mariano Marcos State University’s forum on the Future of Gender and Philippine Women’s Rights;
Organized a series of meetings with networks and partners to organize, advance and promote via a series of foresight and futures courses and forums in the Philippines.
and two upcoming publications!
Happy to share some yehey! moments and yes! action learning photos of recent events and projects:
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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.”
The latest Journal of Futures Studies (JFS) is out and happy to see my paper exploring the futures of the Panatag shoal published in the Manoa School special edition.
The Panatag shoal paper abstract here:
Leading scholars of international relations argued that the West Philippine Sea dispute (South China Sea) was a tinderbox waiting to happen. Many analysts fear that the dispute could lead to a direct military conflict if tensions remain at the Panatag shoal. Recently, public interest in the disputed island resurfaced when China, the Philippines and Vietnam traded accusations of repeated incursions. The disputed triangle chain of reefs have caused deep diplomatic divide between the six claimant nations. The tension that was once mutual is now visual and magnified by the sporadic show of deception and force by the Philippines, China, Vietnam and Taiwan at the diplomatic and military levels. The spat is now the news hour and the remarkable story line of Asia. The Panatag Island dispute has disrupted the relative peace of the region and will, in a multifaceted way, affect the future of Asia.
This paper explored possible scenarios on the future of the Panatag island controversy. Using Jim Dator’s four archetypes of alternative futures it asked the questions what are the possible scenarios in Asia when viewed from the Panatag Island controversy? What are the consequences of a continued economic growth, collapse, conserver and transformation scenarios at the Panatag Island? What might happen if conflict escalates and worst case scenario eventuate? What are the likely impacts of these scenarios on other regional disputes like the Senkaku Islands (Diaoyu Islands) and the Takeshima Islands (Dokdo Islands) chain of island dispute? What are the likely impacts of the scenarios on the future of US-China relations? What scenario needs to happen for claimant nation-states to reduce the possibility of direct military conflict and prevent war and for the region to advance demilitarization, reconciliation and convergence to resolve the dispute?
While there are other scenarios beyond Dator’s alternative futures, this paper will only explore possible scenarios using Dator’s alternative futures archetypes.