Engaging the youth in foresight activities - The Global Foresight Academy: African chapter
From the 29th to 31st of May 2012, I attended the Expert workshop to review the proposal for establishing the GFAR Global Foresight Academy: African Chapter. I was selected by YPARD in collaboration with GFAR, to represent African Young Professionals particularly young women with an interest or capacity in forward looking. My participation and contributions would give a youth approach into designing the Foresight Academy. The meeting was hosted by Dr Lance O’Brien, Teagasc Head office in Dublin, Ireland.
The Global Foresight Academy aims at enabling Africa to think about its future and develop its own perspectives and capacities. From GFAR’s perspective, the greatest weakness in the management of change in Africa is the lack of in-house foresight capacity. Foresight is critical thinking concerning long-term developments especially by influencing public policy. The idea behind establishing the Global Foresight academy is to support Africa position itself to be proactive in securing its own future. The objective of Global Foresight Academy is to develop foresight capacities and produce fore-knowledge that can inform the stakeholders on emerging trends or potential ruptures and the different outcomes and impacts that they have and the alternative options for addressing them. The main functions of the academy will be to provide foresight analysis on priority topics and to create long-term regional capacity.
The participation of young professional in Foresight directly contributes to formulation and implementation of policies that can ensure sustainable development. However, as young professionals we cannot all wait for the Global Foresight Academy to do everything for us, there is need for initiatives in our areas of influence right now to be involved in foresight activities in Africa. As we are the driving force behind economic success in our respective countries, we have to take a radically new evolutionary approach to setting agricultural research agenda. The biggest lesson that I drew from this meeting was that if we start with foresight we are able to make informed contributions in the formulation and implementation of policies. We should take a proactive role in shaping our future.
This was my first time to participate in such a high profile meeting however I felt very much a part of the workshop. I must admit though that my interest in foresight was higher compared to the knowledge that I had about foresight which made me a little bit nervous. What I liked most was that my contributions were always solicited and welcomed. At one point in time I was asked to contribute on the values that the academy needs to uphold. My contribution was that the academy should ensure participation and cooperation of end-users so that it remains relevant. My other contribution was the issue of resources whereby the foresight academy could also set aside funding for young professionals’ networks/communities with potential like YPARD so that they can promote themselves. At the end of the meeting we had the proposal as planned. We had achieved the goal and I am happy that I was part of the meeting where we established principles of the Foresight academy: Africa chapter.
Grace Mudombi, Zimbabwe