Happy New Year and Highlights from 2016

It’s been a busy and eventful 2016, with global events reinforcing the need for strategic foresight in a volatile and uncertain world. It’s been great to catch up with so many of you this year on our travels across Asia, Europe and the Americas and we look forward to supporting you in 2017.

For our friends in Latin America, we look forward to introducing you to the newest member of the SOIF team, Allie Bobak, who joins us as our new Coordinator. Based in Lima, Peru, Allie brings expertise in long term strategic planning in Latin America and will support our partners and community in Latin America as well as bolstering our regional capacity.

Whether you’re looking to build your foresight capability, gain insight into global trends, access advice or to connect with a wider community of futures and policy experts then get in touch. Happy 2017!

The SOIF Team

2016 Highlights 

The year downloadgot off to a great start when Cat was invited to speak on ‘Mapping the Path to 2030: Policy Instruments for Achieving the Sustainable Development Goals’, as a panelist at the Geneva Centre for Security Policy. The success of the SDGs is an issue that is at the heart of our work, for more information read Cat’s paper for UNDP on using strategic foresight for 21st century governance.

soif20161SOIF2016 In August we held our fifth annual retreat in the UK. Participants at SOIF2016 took on a live challenge looking at the future of Iran in the context of the Sustainable Development Goals, as we explored the role of history in futures and ‘megascience and outerspace’. Nineteen countries were represented across the 44 attendees and we were joined by Jim Dator, Martin Rees and Mazlan Othman as keynote speakers. Thank you to all who took part

The New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade delegate said the retreat “Really changed the way I approach a problem. I feel a lot more confident about conclusions I can reach.” This Storify presentation gives an overview of the event.

iataIATA During the course of 2016 SOIF has worked on a major project with the International Air Transport Association (IATA) and its member airlines, to help them understand the challenges and opportunities they will face during the next twenty years. As part of this commission, IATA iinvited Cat to speak on Shaping the Future of Aviation at their 72nd Annual General Meeting in Dublin, and we ran workshops in Dublin and Washington D.C. IATA will publish the findings of the project early next year. iata

Future of Governance Earlier this year School of International Futures (SOIF) was asked to design and facilitate a series of five roundtables, culminating in a high-level discussion on “the future of global governance” between senior UK Government officials and leading figures from outside government. Read more

Africa africaSOIF worked with a hydrocarbon company in Africa to conduct a risk and resilience exercise looking out five years, to develop preventive and mitigating actions for 2016-17 that would materially improve their position under a range of alternative futures.


European Commission In February, Cat joined SOIF2015 participants Prabhat Agarwal and Nathalie Vercruysse to deliver an introductory foresight workshop for the European Commission Research and Innovation Directorate-General.  This was in support of the 3rd Strategic Programme of Horizon 2020.

germanBAKS Alun was invited back to Berlin to address participants from eleven ministries at the German government’s BAKS foresight seminars in June and December. Alun shared his experience of what works (and works less well) in a government foresight programme.

isaISA In March, Cat organised a working group on ‘Strategic Foresight and International Relations for the 21st Century’ at the International Studies Association annual convention. The group brought together international experts to explore methodology, case studies for the use of foresight in IR and opportunities for the next US president.

CeDem anddem World Forum for Democracy In May, Alun attended the Conference for eDemocracy and Open Government in Krems, Austria, with Jules Yim from the Centre for Applied Complexity to present research and tools from our next-generation futures-building toolkit. Alun also drew on this material for a presentation at the World Forum for Democracy at the Council of Europe in November.

finlandFinland Cat was invited to speak at the “For the Next Generations” event hosted by the Finnish Parliament’s Committee for the Future. She joined a panel hosted by The Finnish Innovation Fund Sitra, a future-oriented organisation that promotes Finland’s competitiveness and the well-being of the Finnish people. During the visit, Cat addressed the Finnish Expert Panel for Sustainable Development in a session focused on foresight models for enhancing synergies between the SDGs and foresight and other work on the future.

idsIDS In September 2016 papers from the ‘Foresight and International Development’ conference hosted by IDS in October 2015 were published in IDS Bulletin 47:4, including two from Alun. One on ‘Models for Foresight Use in International Development‘, and the second ‘A Foresight Scenario Method for Thinking About Complex Sustainable Development Interactions‘ co-authored with IDS Research Fellow Dominic Glover and Research Assistant Kevin Hernandez.eclac

ECLAC Cat spoke on Capacity Building in Foresight for Development – a Global View at the CEPAL Foresight Conference held in Santiago, Chile. You can watch highlights from the seminar here. Her paper published after the event looks at the SDGS and foresight in Latin America and beyond.

londonLondon Futurists In July, Alun spoke at the London Futurists meeting sharing insights about trends and possibilities in the global political space.

RANEPA Cat delivered strategy and policy training for the Master in Global Public Policy program at RANEPA ranepauniversity, Moscow. This was her second year teaching the course, which gives students an understanding of key aspects of international good practice in policy-making.