The Power of Dialogue and Participation

Participation is an important but often overlooked aspect of strategic foresight. Too often, we see foresight and other strategic planning projects having limited impact because they do not involve end-users in the design, or do not have the political will to implement change. Sometimes this can result from a lack of understanding and awareness of participatory approaches; often however, it is a lack of time spent in scoping and designing the project –
thinking up front about who should be involved and designing to maximise input throughout the process.

We wanted to share two examples of participation in practice – a new forum for dialogue from Estoril and a case study captured in an RSA blog on strategic planning in Aruba. Both exhibit how strong leadership and planning can help increase participation and improve the impact of foresight.

  • The newly launched Estoril Institute for Global Dialogue has been set up to expand on the work that Estoril Conferences has been doing since 2009 to drive dialogue and participation. The original conferences run annually to bring together 800 participants, one-third of which are young people aged between 16 and 25 to explore future issues. The first step in the Global Dialogue is a conference this May focused on Global Migration. The goal is to develop actionable knowledge through global participatory dialogue.
  • In this RSA blog, Patricia Lustig and Marten Graeme Hazell share perspectives on National Strategic Planning in Aruba, which through a series of competitions, workshops and wider dialogue engaged more than 60% of Aruba’s population in designing a vision for the country ‘Nos Aruba 2025’. They also reflect on how participatory approaches could have spared Brexit discussions and emphasise that it is never too late to do this type of work.

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