by Vittoria Valentina Di Gennaro
(This article is based on the reports of Ghislain Le Ray, Pax Christi International representative to UNESCO in Paris, who attended the conference.)
On the occasion of the launch of the UNESCO-Routledge co-publication ‘Transforming the future: anticipation in the 21st century’ by Riel Miller, UNESCO held an event in Paris titled ‘Why and how to imagine the future?’ on 2 July 2018. The event was organized in collaboration with the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the International Organization of La Francophonie (OIF) and the International Science Council. Our UNESCO representative, Ghislain Le Ray, attended the conference on behalf of Pax Christi International.
The aim of the event was to present the new UNESCO book which is an outcome of a collaboration between a network of researchers, members of UNESCO and future laboratories located around the world. It is based upon the results of 40 Laboratories of the Future organized by UNESCO and its partners, for more than 5 years. The book provides an overview of today’s theories and practices across the world related to future literacy.
Academics, researchers and institutions shared their experiences and views on the use of different methods, applicable at all scales and to all fields, to imagine our futures in order to better guide the present. Such methods can lead to a path towards a discipline of ‘anticipation’ free from shackles, conditioning, prejudices, and fears: what they called ‘Futures Literacy’.
Among the recurrent themes that were discussed, our representative reports what Sandra Coulibaly, the vice director of the international organization of La Francophonie and contributor to the project, summarized: “the method of foresight includes deconstructing what we see to achieve a common vision that must flow on a strategic conversation”. She illustrated this by giving the example of the idea of constructing another mental image of the African continent in order to find new ways of doing things.
Lydia Garrido, UNESCO Chair in Futures Studies and book contributor, pointed out in her intervention that: “the specificity of the proposed method is to start from the way people invent possibilities for the future”. The theoretical structure of the method thus integrates local specificities. It is based on the needs, the expectations of the people. This allows to “create possibilities from what is created”.
This event has represented an important step towards a new method to foresight that aims to act on the world in order to make it better, more balanced, and that it can move towards peace, which ties in with the goals of Pax Christi International. This will help us to guide our work in order to continue our mission to reach peace and reconciliation with a new kind of approach and for people to use the future and open up new avenues for fostering peace, inclusion and sustainability.
In closing, Professor Ian Miles affirms that the book “highlights the essential question of our literacy of the future – the capabilities that enable us to determine when and how to use anticipation to inform and guide our decisions in the present. It could be a turning point in futurology”.
Read the book in PDF here.