UNDP and Ministry of National Policies and Economic Affairs Partner to Promote Foresight and Innovation

Sri Lanka’s first National Summit on Foresight and Innovation to be held in May

Colombo, 18th April 2016 – The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Ministry of National Policies and Economic Affairs, together with the Ministry of Science, Technology and Research, Sarvodaya, LIRNEasia, the United Nations Global Compact (UNGC), Ceylon Chamber of Commerce (CCC) and the Summit Partner, Ceylon Biscuits Limited launched the National Summit on Foresight and Innovation for Sustainable Human Development this afternoon at the UN Compound, Colombo.  The Summit, the first of its kind to be held in Sri Lanka, is expected to start 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. The two day Summit will take place on the 24th and 25th of May at Waters Edge, Battaramulla.

Speaking at the event, UNDP Country Director, Mr. Joern Soerensen stated, “Foresight is an exemplary tool to help propel development, vision alternative futures and build resilient policies in Sri Lanka.” Speaking further, Mr. Soerensen noted “As the development arm of the United Nations, we are extremely proud to be able to connect a diverse set of resource people internationally, and convene all key players of the development sector in Sri Lanka.”

The Summit will be graced by the Honourable Prime Minister, Ranil Wickremesinghe and will connect many international resource people including those from the UN Pulse Lab - Jakarta, the UNDP Centre for Public Service Excellence - Singapore, Mind Lab - Denmark, GIZ –Germany, Superflux - UK, UNDP Kolba Lab – Armenia, UNDP MiLab - Moldova to name a few.

Foresight and Innovation are rapidly becoming tools that governments and other non-traditional partners for development are incorporating into their work. Through these methodologies, they seek to create coherent policy frameworks that will effectively utilize limited resources. Therefore understanding emerging trends and opportunities whilst successfully evading inevitable challenges is key. The Summit, will thus contribute to enhancing development practices and policies that are visionary, and those that will achieve national goals and visions for 2030.

Addressing the gathering, the State Minister for National Policies and Economic Affairs, Hon. Niroshan Perera stated “Sri Lanka is at a crucial juncture; we must now choose to look outwards and beyond the present context to create the future we want. Through this Summit we will develop and learn about foresight tools from a national planning and policy point of view, which will prove pivotal over the next 15 years as national and international contexts grow more complex and challenging.” Speaking further, Minister Perera also acknowledged UNDP’s role, “We are quite pleased and thankful to UNDP for taking the lead and working closely with the Ministry to convene all relevant stakeholders for this important Summit”.

The Summit will introduce several foresight tools by looking at nationally relevant environmental, social and economic themes. Together with the private sector, a key component of the audience, the Summit will aim at producing a set of recommendations that will be implemented collectively following the event.

General Secretary of Sarvodaya, Dr. Vinya Ariyaratne; CEO of the CCC, Ms. Dhara Wijayatilake; Sri Lanka Network Representative of the UNGC, Mr. Sutheash Balasubramaniam; Team Leader - Big Data Research, Lirneasia, Mr. Sriganesh Lokanathan; Project Director of the Coordinating Secretariat for Science, Technology and Innovation, Prof. Ajith de Alwis; and Group Director – Head of Marketing and Sales of Ceylon Biscuits Limited, Mr. Nandana Wickramage also spoke at the event.

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