UNDP Country Director’s Statement on the National Summit on Foresight and Innovation

Honourable State Minister of National Policies and Economic Affairs,

Secretary of the Ministry of Science, Technology and Research,

Representatives from the Ministry of National Policies, National Planning Department and External Resources Department,

Friends from the media,

Distinguished representatives from our partner organisations;

Dr. Ariyaratne from Sarvodaya, Mr. Balasubramanium from the United Nations Global Compact,

Mr. Lokanathan from LIRNEasia, Prof. Alwis from COSTI, Mr. Wickramage from CBL Munchee.

 

Thank you all for your engagement with the United Nations Development Programme

And for bringing your expertise and strengths to the table in making the First National Summit on Foresight and Innovations for Sustainable Human Development a reality and a success.

 

UNDP has had a strong global presence that has been cultivated over the last 50 years. As the development arm of the United Nations we remain committed to be a resource that aids in the development of our host nations.

It is with pride that we note our contribution in supporting the government of Sri Lanka in the journey of achieving sustainable human development.

The most crucial aspect in development is planning. Planning for the future is certainly a trying task. At a time where countries are increasingly connected to each other, the impact of global trends is felt far sooner than ever before. It is human nature to plan based on the current trajectories.

However, we must ask ourselves the following questions,

o   In what ways can we add value to planning?

o   How to ensure that our planning takes into consideration many scenarios?

o   How will we better understand emerging developmental issues?

o   Is it enough to deal with situations as and when they arise?

 

These are issues that development agencies and government planners around the world are grappling with on a daily basis.

The launch of the Sustainable Development Goals in September of 2015 reiterates the need for futuristic thinking. They highlight the world we envision for 2030 and reiterate just how much more we need to do in order to achieve that future by 2030.

It was this multitude of factors that drove us to scan the horizon for tools and methodologies that will enable us to plan better for the world that we, collectively, vision for 2030.

UNDP, was able to tap in to the plethora of international resources and our global network of some 170 countries, and inquire in to potential tools that could add value to development planning.

The use of foresight came up repeatedly, along with a call for the need for innovation in order to achieve these long-term goals.

Foresight and innovation are the perfect combination of tools that complement each other and will enable the achievement of sustainable human development. One challenges us to go beyond simply dealing with the present and the immediate future, while the other challenges us to move away from the business-as-usual ethic.

The speciality of this summit is that we bring together all actors responsible for the development of a nation to think in a futuristic manner and envision Sri Lanka in the year 2030 and plan accordingly.

UNDP believes in sharing knowledge and learning from those who have exposure and experience pertaining to the exercises.

In this regard, UNDP has played a strong role as a convener and a knowledge broker in this exercise. In order that we learn from the best, we have facilitated the presence of a range of international facilitators, some from very high levels of UNDP, who have used these tools first hand in a range of development challenges and achieved successes.

This exercise is made particularly unique in terms of the various partners we have engaged. We are glad to have partnered with the Ministry of National Policies and Economic Affairs in jointly hosting this exercise.

So I invite public officials, development practitioners, corporates and civil society to be a part of this process and to follow closely the developments that will arise from this summit, which is truly unique and has the potential to be a globally accepted model. As we UNDP, together with our partners, embark on this collective journey to envision the year 2030 for Sri Lanka.

 

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