There is no debate that we are living at a time of exceptional innovation. In so many areas, human ingenuity is breaking old barriers to invent new cures for disease, new means of communicating, new ways of organizing business and life. We see innovation occur when people face both terrible challenges and inspira-tional opportunities. In this context, I believe that understanding why and how to ‘use-the-future’ becomes all the more important.
As the French philosopher and sociologist Edgar Morin pointed out, much pain, even conflict, arises from the contradictions we all experience between living in a complex, dynamic and creative world and the rigid, sometimes deter-ministic, frameworks we use to understand this reality and its evolution, as well as the choices it offers.
This is why being ‘future literate’ is so important. This is about understanding the nature of the future and the role it plays in what we see and do. Evidence shows that people can change how and why they think about the future. Developing this capacity to imagine can be a powerful tool for catalysing change today. Becoming more skilled at designing the systems and processes used to imagine tomorrow is an essential part of empowering women and men with the ‘capacity to be free’, as developed by Martha Nussbaum and Amartya Sen, to craft new approaches to more inclusive and sustainable development.
Transforming the Future: Anticipation in the 21st Century exemplifies UNESCO as the laboratory of ideas for the United Nations, raising new questions today by changing our understanding of tomorrow. There can be no assurances that the choices we make today will create a better tomorrow – but we can become better able to harness our imagination to grasp the potential of the present and craft ways to act that are consistent with our values. This book opens a new field for innovation in exploring how humanity can live better with the uncertainty and creativity of a complex evolving universe for the benefit of all