OECD Forum 2014: Discussion on Foresight: What If?
Tuesday 6 May
13:00 - 14:30
Red Amphitheatre
Panel with lunch

Nobody can predict the future, but we can ensure that we become more resilient in dealing with uncertainty and disruptive change. Resilience is the capacity of individuals, communities and systems to resist, adapt, and grow in the face of stress and shocks. Resilience involves being prepared for uncertainty, but also developing the capacity to cope with change and emerge stronger than before. While change has always happened, it has become faster, more fundamental and possibly less predictable, driven by the rapid pace of globalisation, especially the constant innovation of technology. People often perceive uncertainty and change as a threat, disrupting the world they know and have gotten used to. But hiding or fighting is not the best strategy. An open and positive attitude offers a more promising future.

All actors need to be prepared for uncertainty, whether it is governments assessing and trying to mitigate risks such as natural disasters or companies trying to anticipate how their industry needs to adapt to technological changes. Successfully planning for the future is about sensing where to look more carefully for clues, understanding how to interpret weak signals, and having the courage to act when the signals are still ambiguous. It is not about predicting the future, but about breaking the habit of assuming that the future will look much like the present. Planning for uncertainty is about opening organisations’ minds to previously inconceivable or imperceptible developments and preparing for a future that might happen, rather than the future they would like to create.

Articles and blogs

Further reading


Keynote speaker
Scene setting