Press Release
May 15, 2020

Pia seeks inclusion of 'Futures Thinking' in national policymaking

Embedding 'Futures Thinking' into the country's national policies will enable the government to be more prepared for future crises and emergencies comparable to the magnitude of the COVID-19 disaster.

Thus said Senator Pia S. Cayetano as she supported proposals to institutionalize Futures Thinking initiatives that would drive sustainable developments throughout the country.

"Isn't a crisis the best time to get people into the Futures Thinking mindset, given that we are already in one now because of COVID-19?" the senator asked at the continuation of the hearings of the Senate Committee on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), Innovation, and Futures Thinking Committee hearing on Thursday (May 14).

"On one hand, there's this urge to solve problems in the now. But it's also the right time to start thinking [about] how we can make adjustments for [future generations]. Because technically, if we had started planning 20 years ago, we could've been more prepared for the problems we face today," she added.

The panel, which Cayetano chairs, invited foreign and local experts to its second 'virtual' hearing to share their perspectives on the need for foresight in determining what innovations and strategies are needed to adapt to the 'new normal' following the pandemic.

Members of academe from the Development Academy of the Philippines (DAP), led by Senior Vice President Dr. Lizan Perante-Calina, provided a local context into the discussion by presenting their proposed "Strategic Foresight Framework for the Philippines."

Dr. Perante-Calina stressed the need to institutionalize Futures Thinking through effective legislative action and earmarking annual appropriation for such efforts. She further proposed the creation of an independent Futures Thinking office to help build a community of Filipino futurists that can focus on capacity building and research.

DAP Fellow on Strategic Planning Dr. Ma. Oliva Domingo added that the creation of the independent body would ensure the continuity of Futures Thinking initiatives, and would move the country from foresight to action.

"The lessons of COVID-19 are telling us now that indeed, we need to rock the boat ourselves to prepare for the future. And whatever we embark on needs to resonate with our beliefs, traditions, and our own stories, including the importance of family, which also means inclusiveness, participation, and that nobody gets left out," she further noted.

United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) representative Prateeksha Singh, for her part, identified several best practices from across the globe that have successfully institutionalized Futures Thinking in the public sector.

She particularly cited the Welsh government's "Well-being of Future Generations Act," a law that requires public bodies in Wales to think about the long-term impacts of their policy decisions. Under the law, the Future Generations Commissioner is given the role of being the "guardian of the unborn," which means driving public bodies to consider Futures Thinking as part of their policymaking process.

"One of the biggest values of foresight is looking at possible impacts. That is where policymaking really comes into play," Singh stated.

Meanwhile, the resource persons congratulated the Philippine Senate for establishing an independent Committee on SDGs, Innovation, and Futures Thinking, which now serves as the "champion" of Futures Thinking in the legislative branch.

"I haven't come across a committee like this... I think it is an excellent initiative... How most change works is there is a group of champions that initiate it... My hope is that this Committee... will be that champion, and you can [engage] other senators with you in various initiatives," The Change Initiative's Jost Wagner stressed.

"What really helps enable Futures Thinking and whole foresight practices is if an organization has in place some kind of a system or process... We see that as a great benefit, and of course, people who facilitate it," Futures Platform's Saku Koskinen stated.

"We are very happy that we have this opportunity to share this information with champions. The Committee takes the lead as one of the change-drivers in Futures Thinking," added DAP Fellow on Strategic Planning Dr. Alex Brillantes.

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