Sen. Cayetano: Futures Thinking will be crucial to policymaking in the ‘new normal’

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“A Futures Thinking mindset is crucial in the post-COVID world.”

This was the key takeaway of Senator Pia S. Cayetano from the first virtual public hearing she conducted in the Senate which invited futures thinking experts who talked about the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and what the future holds for the Philippines and the world.

The Senate Committee on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), Innovation, and Futures Thinking, which Cayetano chairs, held a hearing on Tuesday (May 12) to discuss with experts the necessary innovations and strategies in adapting to the ‘new normal’ amid the health crisis which severely disrupted lives, economies, and institutions across the globe.

“We all know that these are very challenging times for all of us. And it’s really important that the different sectors in government, our NGOs [non-government organizations], and private citizens are able to avail of the best information there is worldwide to help us better understand what it means to use Futures Thinking as a tool to effectively plan for the new normal,” Cayetano stressed.

Leading the panel of experts in the hearing was futurist professor Dr. Sohail Inayatullah, who was awarded the first United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Chairmanship in Futures Studies in 2015. Also invited were Dr. Tuomo Kuosa and Saku Koskinen, directors of Futures Platform, a Helsinki, Finland-based technology company that specializes in futures thinking and foresight analyses.

The resource persons offered insights on how governments and decision-makers can analyze possible post-COVID outcomes based on available technologies and intelligence worldwide.

Dr. Inayatullah described the COVID-19 pandemic as a “hammer that forced us to change,” stressing the present need for people and governments to develop new skills sets that will help them thrive in the new normal.

“We are all in this situation together… We all have to learn new skills sets [and create] Futures Literacy, which will help us be far more prepared for the futures we wish to see,” he stated, adding that Futures Thinking brings together citizens, academic experts, political leaders, and businesses towards a shared vision of the future they want to achieve.

Meanwhile, experts from Futures Platform shared their expertise on the use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in monitoring and detecting trends and phenomena that might have an impact on the future to help form sound action plans.

The team particularly created a free online radar where people can “view the world after COVID-19.” It displays a holistic view of the world after the pandemic, which shows various drivers of change and the latest news and updates on them. The initiative seeks to help decision-makers plan for specific futures that they envision. https://www.futuresplatform.com

“We believe in foresight as a process, a methodology, and a great way to navigate environments. There is a need to make long-lasting plans for the government and understand the future to the best extent… These are challenges we see globally and we try to address them through technology, expert foresight, and knowledge,” Futures Platform Sales Director Saku Koskinen said.

“This is why we created the Futures Platform as a technical solution,” he added.

Cayetano supported the experts’ view that Futures Thinking is an integral part of thriving in the new normal. She stressed that having foresight based on big data and technology can help policymakers get a better grasp of “ever-changing environments” and be more prepared to make important decisions for the future.

“This is why I strongly advocate Futures Literacy among Filipinos, especially among our decision-makers,” the senator noted./Stacy Ang

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