Home |  Contact UsSitemap



“Those for whom peace is no more than a dream are asleep to the future”

Jack DuVall, 2001


In September, Foresight For Development turns the spotlight on foresight and peace.


Foresight and peace have a history together, though perhaps not well known or understood. Below is our attempt to gather that history under one roof. In my brief life working in the futures world I have seen the transformative power of foresight processes. I have seen how going through the process of thinking long-term with the help of a variety of foresight processes can change the way people perceive the world and their place in it. I have seen the power of foresight to potentially change conflicting parties into collaborating parties: instead of fighting to achieve two different futures, they can begin to collaborate in order to be able to live together in their shared future.

My hope is that one day students of conflict resolution will learn about foresight processes as a potential tool to help with conflict prevention, resolution, and transformation. According to Ramsbotham, Woodhouse, and Mial in Contemporary Conflict Resolution we are in our 5th generation of peace research and conflict resolution. Unlike the 4 generations that came before this one, we are yet to have defined the characteristics of the 5th generation of conflict resolution. In other words, we have an open invitation—as foresight practitioners—to make the 5th generation of conflict resolution involve the systematic collaboration between two fields; the futures thinking field and the conflict resolution field.


Essays and foresight processes directly related to foresight and peace:

Ivana Milojević has been a prolific writer on issues of futures thinking and peace. Below are links to two of her articles to be found on Metafuture.org


“The purpose of this article is to explore alternative discourses and alternative strategies to the present ‘war on terrorism’ as well as to terrorism itself. The article focuses on the question whether conflict resolutions based on military means are successful and argues that any answer inevitably relies on underlying world view, vision of the future and the temporal (short-term/long-term) framework.”


“This essay explores the futures of Kosovo/a and Serbia. It uses methods from scenarios and peace theory to articulate a different possible future for the region. The current trajectory promises hardship for all parties especially in the medium and long term.”



From our FFD library:

Here are the publications, available in our library, on peace foresight in Africa:


Six Pillars: Futures Thinking For Transforming...
In this paper Sohail Inayatullah describes the six pillars of futures thinking for the purposes of creating social change; mapping, anticipating, timing, deepening, creating alternatives, and transforming. His findings are that “in an increasingly complex and heterogeneous world, futures studies can help people to recover their agency, and help them to create the world in which they wish to live.”

Breaking the Mould: The Role of Scenarios in Shaping SA's Future
by Nick Segal analyzes three scenario exercises in South Africa—The Anglo-American High Road/Low Road scenario from mid 1980s, the Nedcor/Old Mutual project of 1991-92, and the Monte Fleur Scenario of 1991—92. This is “a study on the effectiveness of the scenario method as a tool for public debate and policy formulation… Based upon case studies of past scenario projects, each located in its particular socio-political context, we wanted to illuminate the circumstances in which scenarios were a useful device for policy planning and strategic thinking, as well as the factors that must be borne in mind in designing and carrying out scenario projects….”

Mont Fleur Scenarios have been credited in helping ease South Africa out of Apartheid peacefully.

Visíon Guatemala, a scenario process facilitated by Reos Partners that ran in parallel with the peace process to boost national unity.
“The Visíon Guatemala project came to life in November 1997. The Peace Accords between the Guatemalan Government and the URNG had been signed less than a year before, at the end of the armed conflict lasting over three decades. Once the conflict was over, the Guatemalan society demanded the creation of spaces wherein to build trust, particularly among the political elites, in order to facilitate fulfillment of the Accords.”

Why Imagine the Future?
By Elise Boulding
“In eras when pessimism combines with a sense of cosmic helplessness, the quality of human intentionality declines and, with it, the quality of imagery of the not-yet. Societies in that condition live bounded by the present, with no social dynamic for change available to them… as long as we can imagine a better world with minds adequately equipped for the complexities of the 21st century, we will be able to work for it.”

Below are a list of scenario processes and related work aimed at affecting social change:

Also look at...

Conflict resolution books that are particularly relevant to futures thinking:

The Future: Images and Processes: collection of essays by Elise and Kenneth Boulding. Espouses that the study of the future is essential for human survival. Written by husband and wife, futurists and conflict resolution experts.

A Moral Imagination: the art and soul of building peace by John Paul Lederach is a guide to peacebuilding and conflict transformation based on a lifetime of experience from Nicaragua to Somalia and Ireland. His book reads like a call for futurists to enter the conflict resolution field, and helped spur my passion to try and create more collaboration in the two fields.

Essays in Peace Research: Vol. 1-6 by Johan Galtung
A great reference source for peace studies, including futures essays. These can be ordered from Transcend.org

Power and Love: a theory and practice of social change by Adam Kahane chronicles his journey utilizing scenario building and other processes to promote social change with businesses and communities in conflict. He highlights the importance of providing space for both love and power, and provides examples through his own work on the dangers of ignoring one over the other.


Share content with FFD


new-sampnode-logo rockefeller-logo-footer-new

Foresight For Development - Funding for this uniquely African foresight site was generously provided by Rockefeller Foundation. Email Us | Creative Commons Deed | Terms of Conditions