As Sri Lanka stands at a critical juncture in its development path, a top Malaysian government official yesterday noted that the nation must look towards creating a common vision and change the current mindset to fulfil its sustainable development agenda.
Emphasising the need of “foresight”, a process in creating a vision of the future by looking at possible future needs, opportunities and threats by analyzing existing global and local trends in the nation’s policy development exercise, Government of Malaysia, MyForesight Director Rushdi Abdul Rahim implied more is to be done to encourage future thinking.
The public sector must encourage future thinking in policy development as it will help encourage innovation, strategic evaluation and proactive shaping of the future, rather than making predictions based on current trends and preconceived notions,” said Rahim to a fully-packed audience at the inaugural National Summit on Foresight and Innovation for Sustainable Human Development that kicked off yesterday in Colombo.
The Summit, organized by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Ministry of National Policies and Economic Affairs, the first of its kind to be held in Sri Lanka, was objected towards starting a national dialogue on the importance of foresight and innovation as a value addition to traditional development planning to achieve sustainable human development and the 2030 development agenda. Pointing out that strategic foresight will help policy makers prove the effectiveness of the government by identifying the opportunities and threats that may arise in the coming years and decade, Rahim asserted that embracing such new methods would help realise the direction the country “wants” to move towards over what it “needs” to become. According to the Malaysian government representative, exploring options in the future, and doing so in a structured, open, and collaborative manner, will allow the government to create a more robust future and not just focus on the current context.
“Focusing only on the challenges of the present may seem imperative, especially when the challenges are massive and frightening. But without a sense of what is next, and understanding what kind of a world we ‘want’, efforts to solve today’s problem will in fact weaken, and leave you vulnerable and blind to the upcoming challenges,” said Rahim. Meanwhile, reiterating Sri Lanka is currently standing at a historic crossroad where it is seeing the promise of a better, more peaceful and prosperous future, UNDP Sri Lanka Resident Representative Peter Batchelor said the future is not given. “It requires patience and a lot of hard work.
And in that context the standard approach to development will only capture part of this story of hope and aspiration of the people of Sri Lanka. The time of ‘business-as-usual’ and the used-future is over,” he said. In the effort of achieving a more inclusive and sustainable human development, in an increasingly complex world, is where foresight and innovation comes in for Sri Lanka. (SAA)