A guide to anticipation: Working Paper on Tools and Methods of Horizon Scanning and Foresight

Coming in September 2024

Foresight is gaining international recognition as a critical set of tools for supporting proactive sustainable development. As the world grapples with rapid and unprecedented changes, particularly concerning the environment and technology, there is a renewed focus on future-oriented thinking to identify drivers of change, to navigate uncertainty, and to better inform today’s decisions.

The International Science Council, in partnership with the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), has conducted a comprehensive review of existing tools and methods of horizon scanning and foresight, and has convened a reflection on the evolution of foresight.

Following a literature review, the report deliberately opens discussions through a set of essays on key areas that remain frontiers in mainstream foresight, namely:

  • The wealth of indigenous and local community approaches to foresight and futures thinking so often underrepresented in academic literature and in the practice of international organizations;
  • The integration of complexity and uncertainty in scenario planning; and 
  • The role of foresight in decision-making with important considerations on the actionability of foresight studies.

This report is a contribution to UNEP’s “Foresight Trajectory” that is seeking to expand the organization’s capacity to identify emerging issues and potential disruptions early on and embed foresight in its work to build a culture of anticipation. In July 2024, UNEP and the ISC published “Navigating New Horizons: A Global Foresight Report on Planetary Health and Human Well-Being.” This global report highlights critical shifts and signals of change expected to impact planetary health and well-being by 2050.

Recommended citation

International Science Council. 2024. ‘A guide to anticipation: Working Paper on Tools and Methods of Horizon Scanning and Foresight’. Paris, France. International Science Council.

Photo by Photoholgic on Unsplash

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