‘Effective policy making requires foresight’

May 6, 2016

The basic challenge for Brunei to be able to prepare itself to deal with future issues that impact government policy making in a globally fast-changing technological and ecological era is to develop strategy and policy options through an effective approach that links foresight with governance.

Preparedness for tackling these future issues involves “systematically scanning for change and leveraging those insights for opportunities,” said Dr Jose Ramos, director of Action Foresight Australia, during his presentation at the recently held ‘Centre For Strategic and Policy Studies (CSPS) Forum on Strategic Foresight and Horizon Scanning for Policy Making’.

He said it also involves having rich conversations that challenge the default frame of mind about how the future is going to be or what other people have told us the future is going to be.

He also mentioned that institutions must consider breakthrough strategies and innovations as well as nurture them for the future. He said institutional empowerment also involves “creating social learning and a culture that has its eyes wide open, is confident and creative in the face of change.”

But to do so, there are challenges and requirements for leadership, Dr Ramos noted.

“It requires champions (of change). It requires investment in building capacity, skills, knowledge and anticipatory governance approaches.

“There is the challenge of changing existing behaviour and practices, and it does require a lot of patience because we can’t evaluate foresight projects in short time frames,” he said.

He added that Brunei is faced with the opportunities and challenges of taking the road of anticipatory governance approaches and mentioned that CSPS has undertaken efforts to build foresight knowledge and capacity into its policy making approach, knowledge and systems and aims to establish significant capacity in that area.

He also stressed that the future of our societies and our world depends on our ability to link foresight to policy and highlighted that this can be seen in no clearer area than climate change.

Dr Ramos said many countries around the world have also decided to use these approaches and that the journey is exciting and can bring many benefits to Brunei, but it is not without its challenges and its obstacles.

The outcome is not certain, and the only certainty is that it is open-ended and requires the support and creativity and engagement of the government, he added.

He also expressed his wish that CSPS and the many people championing and developing foresight in government are “given the space, legitimacy and support for creatively developing foresight capacities in the country.”