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Anticipation and Foresight


Keeping an eye on tomorrow is one of the guiding principles of UNESCO, where the foresight function plays an essential part in identifying possible futures and exploring new paths for action in all its fields of competence. Serving as a laboratory of ideas, UNESCO is called to tackle today’s challenges and prepare for those of tomorrow, as well. Anticipation and foresight are interdisciplinary activities aiming at enriching the international public debates.

The Foresight Programme's purpose is to:

  • sensitize Member States and members of the global UNESCO Secretariat and the Organization’s Programmes about foreseeable evolutions and future trends in education, the natural sciences, the social and human sciences, culture, and information and communication;
  • bring to bear intellectual perspectives, contributions and support to the Organization’s reflection, programming and action;
  • support Member States in developing their own capacities and approaches in the field of foresight.

The themes addressed include: the global financial crisis and the responses to its consequences, the green society and the green economy, climate change and biodiversity, the New Humanism for the 21st Century, knowledge societies, knowledge acquisition and sharing, the future challenges of groups of countries such as the middle-income countries or the Small Island Developing States, gender equality, or innovative financing in education.

In order to foster the reflection on these key future-oriented issues in the domains of the Organization, UNESCO organizes a diversified range of events at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris and at locations in various regions of the world. These events are conceived as a contribution to global debates on some of the key challenges of our time:

  • The UNESCO Future Forum series brings together leading scientists, intellectuals, artists and decision-makers from all parts of the world in a spirit of forward-looking interdisciplinary inquiry.
  • The UNESCO Future Lectures cycle offers world renowned personalities to share their views with an audience including representatives of the Member States, the Secretariat, intellectual and scientific communities, the media and the public at large.

The results and recommendations of Foresight activities are disseminated through networks and partners in the field of future-oriented thinking. The results of activities are also being published as brochures.

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