Strategic Foresight Group

Strategic Foresight Group

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Strategic Foresight Group (SFG) is a think tank
Think tank
A think tank is an organization that conducts research and engages in advocacy in areas such as social policy, political strategy, economics, military, and technology issues. Most think tanks are non-profit organizations, which some countries such as the United States and Canada provide with tax...

 based in India that works on issues of global importance and relevance. It was established in 2002 to create new forms of intellectual capital. It identifies emerging trends across sectors at regional and global levels and enables policy-makers to respond to them. It has created intellectual and political assets to draw input from all continents and deliver output to decision makers anywhere in the world.

Strategic Foresight Group advises governments around the world and produces scenarios and innovative policy concepts that have been discussed in august bodies including the Indian Parliament, the European Parliament
European Parliament
The European Parliament is the directly elected parliamentary institution of the European Union . Together with the Council of the European Union and the Commission, it exercises the legislative function of the EU and it has been described as one of the most powerful legislatures in the world...

, Oxford University, UK House of Commons, House of Lords, World Bank
World Bank
The World Bank is an international financial institution that provides loans to developing countries for capital programmes.The World Bank's official goal is the reduction of poverty...

, World Economic Forum
World Economic Forum
The World Economic Forum is a Swiss non-profit foundation, based in Cologny, Geneva, best known for its annual meeting in Davos, a mountain resort in Graubünden, in the eastern Alps region of Switzerland....

, United Nations Alliance of Civilizations ,Global Futures Forum, Geneva Security Forum and others.

History


The founding of SFG coincided with a period of oscillating developments in India-Pakistan relations. SFG produced an assessment of the cost of conflict
Cost of conflict
Cost of Conflict is a tool which attempts to calculate the price of conflict to the human race. The idea is to examine this cost, not only in terms of the deaths and casualties and the economic costs borne by the people involved, but also the social, developmental, environmental and strategic costs...

 between the two countries. India's then External Affairs Minister Yashwant Sinha described it as a valuable tool for the practitioners of foreign policy, in a suo moto letter addressed to the President of SFG. SFG Later on undertaken a similar exercise for Sri Lanka. This report too attracted considerable attention. In 2005, its report, The Final Settlement created a public debate as for the first time it identified the centrality of the water dimension in the India-Pakistan relations. It was translated into Urdu as well as Marathi.

While SFG focused on South Asia
South Asia
South Asia, also known as Southern Asia, is the southern region of the Asian continent, which comprises the sub-Himalayan countries and, for some authorities , also includes the adjoining countries to the west and the east...

 including India
India
India , officially the Republic of India , is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world...

, in its initial period, it has since widened the scope of its work to address terrorism
Terrorism
Terrorism is the systematic use of terror, especially as a means of coercion. In the international community, however, terrorism has no universally agreed, legally binding, criminal law definition...

, clash of civilizations
Clash of Civilizations
The Clash of Civilizations is a theory, proposed by political scientist Samuel P. Huntington, that people's cultural and religious identities will be the primary source of conflict in the post-Cold War world....

, cost of conflict, water security and global governance issues.

In 2004, SFG convened a roundtable to prepare a common intellectual framework for deconstructing terror. Since then SFG has been invited by Prime Ministers, Ministers of Foreign Affairs and governments of several countries in North America, Europe, Asia and the Middle East
Middle East
The Middle East is a region that encompasses Western Asia and Northern Africa. It is often used as a synonym for Near East, in opposition to Far East...

 for policy consultations . In June 2005, SFG and the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats in Europe, jointly convened a roundtable at the European Parliament, Brussels, involving serving and former cabinet ministers and parliamentarians from the Middle East and Europe. The roundtable adopted the Brussels Consensus on the principles and policies for a safer world. At the roundtable, Dr. Wolfgang Gerhardt, Chairman of the Friedrich-Naumann-Foundation, said "Strategic Foresight Group has a track record in exploring value-based working solutions to the problems of society. This is their intention here (at the 3rd Roundtable). It is also our intention at the FNSt."

2006-2007


The Third International Roundtable was organised by Strategic Foresight Group and the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe
Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe
The Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe is a transnational alliance between two European political parties: the European Liberal Democrat and Reform Party and the European Democratic Party. It has political groups in the European Parliament, the EU Committee of the Regions, the...

 at the European Parliament, Brussels, on 26-27 November 2006. The Roundtable was endorsed by the League of Arab States. It engaged important public institutions from the Western and Islamic worlds .

About 40 leaders from Europe
Europe
Europe is, by convention, one of the world's seven continents. Comprising the westernmost peninsula of Eurasia, Europe is generally 'divided' from Asia to its east by the watershed divides of the Ural and Caucasus Mountains, the Ural River, the Caspian and Black Seas, and the waterways connecting...

, Asia
Asia
Asia is the world's largest and most populous continent, located primarily in the eastern and northern hemispheres. It covers 8.7% of the Earth's total surface area and with approximately 3.879 billion people, it hosts 60% of the world's current human population...

 and the Middle East
Middle East
The Middle East is a region that encompasses Western Asia and Northern Africa. It is often used as a synonym for Near East, in opposition to Far East...

 participated in the Roundtable. They included serving cabinet ministers, former ministers, leaders of parliamentary groups, special envoys of the heads of multilateral organisations and directors of important institutions. The distinguished group recommended an Inclusive Semi Permanent Conference on Peace in the Middle East, Western Islamic Dialogue and Engagement Initiative, International Historical Study Group on Common Human Civilisation, Arab Islamic Renaissance
Renaissance
The Renaissance was a cultural movement that spanned roughly the 14th to the 17th century, beginning in Italy in the Late Middle Ages and later spreading to the rest of Europe. The term is also used more loosely to refer to the historical era, but since the changes of the Renaissance were not...

 Initiative and the promotion of the Compact of Dialogue-Democracy-Development. The Roundtable welcomed the Report of the High Level Group of the Alliance of Civilizations
Alliance of Civilizations
The Alliance of Civilizations is an initiative proposed by the Prime Minister of the Government of Spain, José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, at the 59th General Assembly of the United Nations in 2005. It was co-sponsored by the Turkish Prime Minister, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan...

 of the United Nations
United Nations
The United Nations is an international organization whose stated aims are facilitating cooperation in international law, international security, economic development, social progress, human rights, and achievement of world peace...

.

At the beginning of 2007 Strategic Foresight Group brought out its global research report An Inclusive World: in which the West, Islam and the Rest have a stake. Prof Shlomo Ben Ami, former Foreign Minister of Israel
Israel
The State of Israel is a parliamentary republic located in the Middle East, along the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea...

 describes this "as the most comprehensive approach to solve the crisis of our time that has ever been proposed." Prof Kamel Abu Jaber, former Foreign Minister of Jordan, calls it "hope in an otherwise hopeless international system." The philosophy of An Inclusive World could be subject of a new global debate to overcome the divides at the beginning of the 21st century
Century
A century is one hundred consecutive years. Centuries are numbered ordinally in English and many other languages .-Start and end in the Gregorian Calendar:...

. The report was debated by Oxford University at one of the famous Oxford Union debates in May. It also featured three times in the debates at the House of Commons. The European Parliament and the League of Arab States circulated it widely among their members. It was translated into Arabic by the Bibliotheca Alexandrina
Bibliotheca Alexandrina
The Bibliotheca Alexandrina or Maktabat al-Iskandarīyah is a major library and cultural center located on the shore of the Mediterranean Sea in the Egyptian city of Alexandria...

 based in Alexandria, Egypt
Egypt
Egypt , officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, Arabic: , is a country mainly in North Africa, with the Sinai Peninsula forming a land bridge in Southwest Asia. Egypt is thus a transcontinental country, and a major power in Africa, the Mediterranean Basin, the Middle East and the Muslim world...

.

Speaking on the Middle East at the World Economic Forum's Middle East Summit, Sundeep Waslekar said that the region's primary risk is a "triple deficit"- a deficit of democratization combines with a deficit of development and all lead to a dignity deficit, often manifested in instability and violence.

One of the main conclusions of the Third International Roundtable was a proposal for Inclusive Semi Permanent Conference for the Middle East. In 2008 SFG brought out a position paper on this subject, which was launched at the House of Lords in May 2008.

2008


In 2008, SFG continued its work in the Cost of conflict
Cost of conflict
Cost of Conflict is a tool which attempts to calculate the price of conflict to the human race. The idea is to examine this cost, not only in terms of the deaths and casualties and the economic costs borne by the people involved, but also the social, developmental, environmental and strategic costs...

 series, this time focussing on the Middle East, in alignment with its other work. The report on 'Cost of Conflict in the Middle East' was launched at the United Nations office in Geneva in January 2009. It featured in floor debates in the House of Commons and House of Lords. It was discussed by a panel of ministers and senior diplomats at the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations when the latter hosted its forum in Istanbul in April 2009. The report was also discussed at the World Economic Forum Middle East summit at the Dead Sea in May 2009. It has since featured in several hundred newspapers, websites and blogs.

In 2008, SFG came out with a report on 20 trends that would impact global security and economy in the next 20 years.

In June 2008, SFG expanded the scope of its work with an international conference on Responsibility to the Future. It was co-hosted by the United Nations Global Compact, inaugurated by the President of India
President of India
The President of India is the head of state and first citizen of India, as well as the Supreme Commander of the Indian Armed Forces. President of India is also the formal head of all the three branches of Indian Democracy - Legislature, Executive and Judiciary...

 and attended by experts from 25 countries. Following the recommendations of the conference, SFG decided to address issues of water security in Asia and the Middle East.

2009-2011


In 2009, SFG decided to focus on preventing conflicts arising out of resource scarcity, with particular focus on water.

An international workshop on Water Stress and Climate Change in the Himalayan River Basins was organised in August 2009 in Kathmandu bringing together experts and policy makers on water issues from China, Nepal, Bangladesh and India. The Second International Workshop was held in Dhaka in January 2010. It resulted in the Dhaka Declaration on Water Security. The Dhaka Declaration highlights the significance of the Rivers that flow from the Himalayas and the urgent need for cooperation between Basin countries. Due to the combined effect of melting of glaciers, extreme weather events and pollution, the rivers in the Eastern Himalayas will lose their flow from anywhere from 5 to 20 per cent by 2050. This will have most adverse impact on river flows in the lean period, undermining plans to produce hydroelectricity and promote inland water navigation in the region. The Dhaka Declaration proposes exchange of scientific data particicularly in the low flow period and joint research projects. It underscores the risk of conflicts due to water scarcity and floods leading to migration on a large scale.

A new report titled The Himalayan Challenge: Water Security in Emerging Asia was published in June 2010. This report is the first of its kind which evaluates future water balance and risks in India, China, Nepal and Bangladesh until the year 2030. A second report titled Himalayan Solutions was published in January 2011.

In February 2010, an international initiative on Water Security in the Middle East was launched at Montreux, Switzerland, on February 15-16, with two workshops attracting the participation of 60 leading policymakers, including members of Parliament, former Cabinet Ministers, senior leaders of Water Commissions and heads of research institutions from across the Middle East. In preparation for the workshops, SFG had held consultations with leaders in the Middle East, and distinguished experts from several countries in the region. A workshop was held in Sanliurfa, a town in Turkey
Turkey
Turkey , known officially as the Republic of Turkey , is a Eurasian country located in Western Asia and in East Thrace in Southeastern Europe...

 close to the Syrian border to discuss collaborative solutions to the issue of water security in the Middle East. Participants at the level of former Ministers and heads of Departments in Water Ministries participated in the workshop. A report titled The Blue Peace: Rethinking Middle East Water was launched by the President of Switzerland, Micheline Calmy-Rey
Micheline Calmy-Rey
Micheline Anne-Marie Calmy-Rey is the President of the Confederation in Switzerland, head of government. She is also Switzerland's foreign minister as head of the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs. She has been a member of the Swiss Federal Council since 2003, and was President of the...

.

SFG also analyses major global changes and presents its perspectives at international conferences.

SFG Management


Sundeep Waslekar
Sundeep Waslekar
Sundeep Waslekar is an Indian thought leader on conflict resolution and global future. He is the President of Strategic Foresight Group and has authored three books on governance and several research reports on managing future challenges...

 is the President of Strategic Foresight Group. Ilmas Futehally is the Vice President and Executive Director .

Quotes on Strategic Foresight Group


The study by the Strategic Foresight Group represents a valuable input into global thinking about the situation in the Middle East
Middle East
The Middle East is a region that encompasses Western Asia and Northern Africa. It is often used as a synonym for Near East, in opposition to Far East...

. Many of these costs cannot be assigned a monetary value: the loss of human lives, the despair and humiliation of displaced populations, the damage to the very fabric of societies, the rise and persistence of a culture of violence, fear and extremism. The attempts made in the report to quantify the impact of conflict across a wide variety of sectors, are nevertheless commendable.-Mr. Sergei A. Ordzhonikidze, Under Secretary General, United Nations.

I am happy to inaugurate the Conference on "Responsibility to the Future: Business, Peace, Sustainability", which I understand would be looking at issues that could impact the future of mankind. I congratulate the foresight of the organizers for convening this meeting… Such a large proportion of the world's population cannot be left on the periphery. We need to have a process of inclusive globalization
Globalization
Globalization refers to the increasingly global relationships of culture, people and economic activity. Most often, it refers to economics: the global distribution of the production of goods and services, through reduction of barriers to international trade such as tariffs, export fees, and import...

, one which as is said, "will lift all boats in its tide".
-Smt Pratibha Devisingh Patil, President of India

The International Development Committee
International Development Committee
The International Development Select Committee is a select committee of the House of Commons in the Parliament of the United Kingdom. The remit of the Committee is to examine the expenditure, administration and policy of the Department for International Development and its associated public...

, which I chair, had an informal briefing this morning from the Strategic Foresight Group. Its ideas about and analysis of the causes of division, terrorism and extremism are interesting. It also makes some practical suggestions about tackling that. -The Rt. Hon. Malcolm Bruce, MP, Chairman of International Development Committee of House of Commons.

Given these failures, many people will warmly welcome the Cost of Conflict in the Middle East, a report just produced by the Strategic Foresight Group of Mumbai with wide international backing. This charts spending on wars, plus the vast annual costs of military, police, security, relief and aid. Despite such spending, I am informed that 91 per cent of Israelis still feel insecure. The report points out that the overall standard of living in the Middle East would have doubled had comprehensive peace been available from 1991. It assesses the cost of lost opportunities and the potential of new, linked-up economies. I trust that this report will lead to changed policies in East and West, and will stimulate co-operative behaviour. Given these failures, many people will warmly welcome the Cost of Conflict in the Middle East. I trust that this report will lead to changed policies in East and West, and will stimulate co-operative behaviour.
-Lord Hylton, Chairman, All Party Group on the Middle East, House of Lords.

It is a particular pleasure for us to have the Swedish International Development Agency and the Strategic Foresight Group of Mumbai as partners in the Blue Peace Initiative, launched by the countries in the Middle East. This initiative has raised high expectations regarding the future of water and peace in the Middle East.The Blue Peace highlights solutions emerging of this one year high-level multistakeholder dialogue. SDC with the partners of the Blue Peace is ready to Action.
-Martin Dahinden, Director General, Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation

External links