Futures Literacy Summit

Opening Remarks by Haoliang Xu for the UNESCO High Level Futures Literacy Summit.

Posted On December 8, 2020

Distinguished delegates, Dear colleagues,

Thank you, UNESCO, for the kind invitation to speak at this important and timely summit- the Futures Literacy Summit.

2020 has shown us that the status quo is fast changing.

We find ourselves at a point in time when our collective lives, and our planet, are in a fragile weave – challenging our ability to achieve social progress, sustainability, and equity.

The global shifts we are experiencing are tipping points of change, and the resulting uncertainties will arguably be the key constants of the next decades.  

Human development, in and of itself, is being urgently re-imagined, linking our flourishing not just to each other, but intrinsically to the wellbeing of our planet.

To ensure that our futures are thriving and equitable for all, we now must go beyond short-termism in our thinking and in our policy making. We must embed long – term thinking, to consider the future implications of the challenges we are facing today.

And we must transform from thinking in linearity, to thinking in complexity and uncertainty.  We must design our strategies and interventions in ways that allow them to be anticipatory and to change quickly in the face of complex changes and disruptions.

We at UNDP embrace this challenge - we are moving beyond small-scale experiments and tactical interventions, and working to drive much more long term, intentional and systemic changes across our organisation, with governments and other partners.

We are proud to showcase two examples of the work we do in this space: the first is our Arab States Youth Futures Series and the second is on futures modelling to assess the impact of COVID-19 on the SDGs.

These two examples illustrate the approach we are taking – which is a broader strategic foresight arc, a multi-dimensional process that encompasses futures capability building and strategic transformation approaches to drive greater anticipatory action.

It is this structured process of building our futures muscle, unleashing our imagination, and changing to forward looking policy direction with a strategic intent, that we think is required for 21st century institutions.

We are excited to note the great focus on futures in this summit and we look forward to working with all partners to reimagine the collective future we all want.

Thank you!