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Equipping the public sector with strategic foresight capabilities

11 Jan 2023

In times of rapid change and rising uncertainty, governments are trying to remain resilient and prepared. Although they cannot draw on experience to address previously unknown developments, their decisions could have ramifications for decades. The practice of strategic foresight can equip public-sector policymakers with the skills to anticipate and prepare for change. This supports governments in exploring diverse scenarios in efforts to future-proof strategies, identify potential opportunities and challenges, and design innovative ways of improving productivity and well-being under rapidly evolving circumstances.

The APO Secretariat has undertaken strategic foresight and scenario planning projects to support member economies, especially the public sector and NPOs, in their capacity-building initiatives to address future challenges. On 13–16 December, a digital training course on Foresight for Public-sector Organizations was conducted in collaboration with the NPS, Sri Lanka, to promote the foresight concept among government representatives from 12 APO members.

Two resource persons from Australia conducted the course to equip 41 participants with tools and techniques that can be used by governments in long-term planning in the face of uncertainty and accelerating change. Topics covered included fundamentals of foresight; approaches and methodologies for practicing foresight; future thinking and generic foresight processes; scenario planning; horizon scanning; and identifying critical uncertainties. Participants were also given the opportunity to apply their newfound knowledge through scenario planning activities and discussions, which helped in developing their skills to utilize complex adaptive system thinking and become anticipatory and agile for the future.

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