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Thandile Chinyavanhu

Futurist Profile


Thandile Chinyavanhu

Sustainability Consultant

Corporate Social Responsibility Consultant: Skills Development and Training Company

Bachelor of Environmental Health (Hons)

Thandile answered a few questions about her perspective and on being a futures thinker.


You identify yourself as an African futures thinker or practitioner. How would you describe to the woman or man on the street what it is that you do in this regard?

As a future thinker I contribute through action and thought towards a future where coming generations will be able to enjoy the same resources we enjoy today. I help guide development in a sustainable manner by influencing and aiding SMEs in taking into consideration matters of compliance, the environment and the possible externalities their activities have on climate change, health and natural resources.

How many years have you worked as an African futures thinker / practitioner?

I have always been a futures thinker but in practice one year.

In which countries or places have you had working experience as an African futures thinker / practitioner?

South Africa

In what languages have you undertaken futures / foresight related work or research?

Writing: English
Communicating with respondents: isiXhosa

What is it that motivates you to work or participate in the foresight / future studies / related field

Achieving a great quality of life. I want to see a future where urban spaces are designed to provide the public with living spaces that are conducive to health, where their well-being is not threatened by looming natural disasters and resources such as potable water, waste management systems, reliable transport systems and attractive spaces are accessible.

What goal/s would you most like to reach with your work as an African futures thinker / practitioner?

I would love to help Africa realise a future that utilises principles of Sustainability, Urban planning and technology to create living spaces that are more conducive to health, beneficial and inclusive for all socio-economic groups.
I aspire to contribute towards thinking on Social Responsibility issues and influence policy.

Who or what most influenced your thinking as a futures thinker / practitioner, and how?

Jamie Lerner (Former Mayor of Curitiba/ Architect/ Urban Planner). His simple and cost-effective initiatives helped transform The Brazilian city of Curitiba into one of the most liveable cities today. Achieving sustainable development doesn’t have to be expensive, radical or technology centric. The simple addition of green spaces, improvement of public transit systems transformed it into one of the best cities to live in.

What is your main disciplinary background? (i.e. your primary training / qualification)

Environmental Health- Safety, Health and Environment

How do other people describe you and how do you describe yourself?

Others describe me as... Ambitious

I describe myself as... Resourceful



What is one of your favourite quotes about the future?

"A society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they know they shall never sit in." – Greek Proverb

How would you describe the state of African futures thinking right now?

I believe Africa is development-focused, yet the foresight often neglects issues that support that development, for example because of the one-dimensional focus on growth, issues such as compliance, quality of life or the externalities of said developments are neglected. As Africans we are so concerned with following the West’s recipe for economic development that we do not explore indigenous solutions or how green solutions can breed innovation and can sometimes be cheaper than the accepted norm.

What is, in your opinion, the main barrier to uptake of futures knowledge by African institutions and organisations?

A lack of synergy and collaboration across different groups of thinkers there needs to be more dialogue between practitioners and policy makers. There needs to be constructive dialogues around issues of the future.

If you were to give advice to someone who wants a career in African foresight / future studies, what would you say to him or her?

Read, the future is a volatile place. It is important that you are aware of the latest international trends in your field. Contribute towards the conversation, what you say helps shape the way others think and prepare for the future.

What are your recommended readings for every African futures thinker / practitioner?

Dambisa Moyo Winner take All: China’s race for resources
Patrick Dixon: The Future of (almost) Everything
Alex Perry: The Rift: A new Africa breaks free

What are your recommendations for other favourite futures resources: websites, newsfeeds, mailing lists, associations, etc.?

YouTube: a great source of content when it comes to future thinking, I would suggest any futurist watch Vox, Quartz, and Ted Talks.
Websites: Vox, McKinsey & Company (Blog) and of course Foresight Forward Development


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