How can Africa develop its potential without having a negative impact on nature and on the benefits that local communities in Africa derive from nature? Looking 50 years into the future, when Africa has become a prosperous and dynamic force internationally, what ecological infrastructure would African societies want to see left? How much of the continent’s forests, watersheds, wildlife and traditional lifestyles should be protected and fostered, and how should that be done?
Increased use in Africa of tools for thinking about the future can help ensure the right questions are asked today. A new report on strengthening futures capacity in Africa, incubated by the Luc Hoffmann Institute for WWF’s African Ecological Futures project, explores the different methods for imagining the many possible futures for Africa and for identifying the actions required to reach those futures. The report’s author is Laura Pereira, a South African researcher who specialises in futures methods for imagining sustainable development pathways.
As well as providing a snapshot of the extent to which futures thinking is currently used in Africa, the report also points to a set of tools that can be used by people in Africa in a futures-oriented approach to strategic planning. Ranging from scenario planning and backcasting to science fiction prototyping and the Cynefin framework for decision-making under complexity, the tools are described alongside the kinds of questions they can help to answer.
In an afterword, Fred Swaniker, Founder of the African Leadership Group, welcomes the new report. He says it is “a great step to shifting our paradigm towards how we plan for and imagine Africa’s ecological future.”
Preferences and pathways: strengthening futures capacity in Africa is published as part of the Luc Hoffmann Institute’s commitment to the African Ecological Futures programme, now in its second phase. In publishing the report, the institute hopes to contribute both to the creation of an engaged group of futures specialists and to planning efforts for the development of futures-thinking capacity in Africa.