South Sudan & Foresight - Better Future in Development

Foresight in Public Service: Using Strategic Foresight in the 21st Century Governance

October 31, 2023

Undersecretaries during the workshop

Written by Jacqueline Aringu, Head of Experimentation, UNDP South Sudan Accelerator Lab

The complexities of today's development challenges necessitate clarity in response. One-point solutions or one-time initiatives are unable to address the magnitude and nature of the current development difficulties. We are living in uncertain times, and as we are changing the way we do development, we have to constantly keep abreast and likewise empower our stakeholders.

The South Sudan Accelerator Lab is introducing innovative thinking into public service, by fostering strategic foresight in public policy design. Foresight and futures thinking is a new practice for UNDP and in line with its strategy to collaborate across the revitalized UN system and beyond for stronger collective results, and in the application of integrated approaches such as foresight, aims at transformative change in the development sphere.

In the ever-evolving landscape of public policy, the ability to anticipate, adapt, and innovate is paramount. And for South Sudan, a nation grappling with multifaceted challenges, the recent National Public Policy Experts workshop that brought together the nation's undersecretaries, executive directors of commissions, and director generals is a beacon of hope that will eclipse the fear and anxiety in uncertain times in the future.

Unpacking Strategic Foresight:
Strategic Foresight is a structured, forward-looking approach to policymaking. It challenges policymakers to transcend short-term thinking and delve into the complexities of the future. By analyzing trends, uncertainties, and potential disruptions. Furthermore, Strategic Foresight equips decision-makers with the insights and strategies they need to build policies that are resilient and agile in the face of change. Delivered by Demos Helsinki, this transformative workshop, shed light on the powerful tools of adopting Strategic Foresight.

Does South Sudan need Strategic Foresight?
"Foresight" is quickly becoming an essential alternative to traditional strategic thinking. It enables public planners to utilize innovative approaches to thinking, discussing, and carrying out strategic plans that are in line with the patterns of events. And to respond to whether the country needs strategic foresight in governance.

Complexity of Challenges: South Sudan's challenges span from political instability and conflict resolution to economic development and climate change adaptation. Strategic Foresight provides a holistic lens to addressing these interwoven societal issues.

Sustainable Development: Sustainable economic growth is the cornerstone of South Sudan's future. Strategic Foresight can unearth emerging opportunities, optimize resource allocation, and navigate potential obstacles on the path to development. Embracing foresight to identify early warning signs, explore scenarios, and develop proactive conflict prevention strategies.

Resource Management: South Sudan's vast natural resources, including oil, hold great potential for equitable development. Strategic Foresight can guide resource policies to promote transparency, sustainability, and fair distribution. 

The workshop also enabled the National policy experts to hone into the future using their horizon scanning lenses to paint future scenarios identifying trends, uncertainties and weak signals on PESTE (Political, Economical, Social, Technological and Environment) aspects of development.

Undersecretaries in training

UNDP/Sarah Sibrino

UNDP Accelerator Lab and Demos Helsinki Collaboration:
The UNDP Accelerator Lab, dedicated to fostering innovation for sustainable development, recognized the potential of Strategic Foresight in South Sudan's policy landscape. Through a dynamic partnership with Demos Helsinki, a global leader in foresight and innovation, they brought the National Public Policy Experts Workshop to fruition, with the objectives of; 

  • Foresight Competency: The workshop empowered South Sudan's policy leaders with the knowledge and skills needed to effectively employ foresight techniques such as scenario planning and trend analysis.
  • Collaborative Diverse Perspectives: Strategic Foresight thrives on diverse viewpoints. The workshop encouraged collaboration among policymakers, academics, civil society, and international organizations.
  • Innovative Policy Design: Participants learned how to seamlessly integrate Strategic Foresight into their policy design and implementation processes, fostering innovation and resilience.
  • Risk Management: Identifying and mitigating risks is a core element of foresight. The workshop equipped the policy makers with the expertise to assess risks and develop robust risk management strategies.

Strategic Foresight is the guiding star that navigates nations through the turbulent seas of uncertainty, and South Sudan is no exception. The National Public Policy Experts Workshop, realized through the partnership between the UNDP Accelerator Lab and Ministry of Public Service and Human Resources Development, marks a significant stride towards a brighter and more resilient future for South Sudan. 

By empowering its highest-ranking policymakers with foresight tools and knowledge, South Sudan is not merely looking ahead; it is actively shaping the future, turning challenges into opportunities. 

This workshop is a testament to the transformative power of international collaboration and foresight in charting a course toward sustainable development, stability, and prosperity. South Sudan's journey to harness the power of Strategic Foresight has just begun, and its potential is boundless.

UNDP Resident Representative and the Deputy Minister of the Ministry of Public Service and Human Resource Development handing a certificate to one of the Undersecretaries