Forum for the Future opened the first week of educational webinars for the UNDP City Experiment Fund. Anna Simpson, curator of the Futures Centre, and George Harding-Rolls, senior strategist at the Forum for the Future, hosted the workshop with a series of interactive exercises aimed at introducing new methods of understanding the complexity in systemic change in policy-making.
“The future is complex and uncertain […] exploring it can be uncomfortable” – this is how Anna Simpson introduced the topic of the webinar. Climate change, malnutrition, poverty: the world faces many interrelated challenges, and it is clear that the responses from policymakers are very superficial and merely mitigate the problems.
The future is complex and uncertain […] exploring it can be uncomfortable
The scale and complexity of global challenges today are tricky and developing a system to understand the bigger picture is ever more essential. Learning to be open to futures that can be radically different to today’s world, is what policymakers should aim at achieving. Simpson referred to this practice as “understanding the signals of change”: small but important ideas and innovations that raise questions about future challenges and opportunities, and their implications for sustainability.
Throughout the interactive exercises, the audience was asked to explore through real-world examples and their own experience what can constitute a signal of change and what are the direct implications of events that they categorized as such. Throughout the discussion, the Forum for the Future introduced the concept of system thinking to understand the web of interrelations behind complex problems, to explore the long-term impact of today’s changes, and to inform design for sustainable futures.
The Forum for the Future is a leading global sustainability non-profit, working in partnership with business, governments and civil society to accelerate the shift towards a sustainable future. The Futures Centre is a dynamic online community under the Forum for the Future for people to scan and share signals of change. With more than 30.000 users, they contribute to inform people and organisations about the complex interplay of dynamic trends around us and grapple the opportunities and risks emerging from them.