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The future of the child: foresight for action

UNICEF use cases

Child-centered foresight in practice


As part of their Strategic Moment of Reflection, UNICEF Cameroon explored future implications for children in Cameroon as a lower-middle income country. From a list of 10 important trends for 2030, 5 were explored as deep dives and were used to create three scenarios. At a workshop which included external stakeholders, key implications and emerging priorities were identified based on the scenarios. Participants evaluated their theories of change, emerging priorities, underlying assumptions and risks in light of the scenarios, ‘future proofing’ their next county programme. Their country programme document was also stress-tested under the various scenarios.

Outcome: The overall country programme theory of change was reviewed, adjusted and validated, with 10 important takeaways. These were used to inform programme planning and finalize priorities with the Government and partners. By including government partners and broader UN participants, UNICEF received greater buy-in for its country programme. The Government of Cameroon also expressed interest in using foresight for its national growth and development strategy.

Twelve-year-old Waibai Buka prepares for school at the home she shares with her mother in Baigai, far Northen Cameroon.

@ UNICEF/UN0143500/Prinsloo


Global workshop on migration

The Division of Data Research and Policy partnered with the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) to research migration patterns toward 2030 and explore implications for children. The results were used at a workshop in Istanbul engaging UNICEF staff around the future of migration. Participants were from seven regions, six New York Headquarters divisions and three National Committees. The workshop was co-hosted by UNICEF’s Refugee and Migrant Crisis Cell in Europe and provided valuable insights on child protection in the current migration crisis. Using the EIU trends analysis, future scenarios and implications as framing material, regions added their present responses to the current migration crisis.

Outcome: The result was a list of forward-looking recommendations for UNICEF on policy, programmes, partnerships and internal coordination. Possible future directions for UNICEF on migration were discussed and an emerging framework was explored.

Syrian refugee children walk past shelters at informal settlement number 019 in the Bekaa Valley, eastern Lebanon, August 2016.

@ UNICEF/UN077007/Albertalli



Based on an earlier thought piece on 10 trends that will have implications for children in 2030, UNICEF India applied a selection of those trends to their national context to inform the strategic planning of their next country programme. The selected trends were: economic growth prospects, growing health crises, migration and the influence of technology on the workforce. They were used to create three contextual scenarios presented for discussion at a second workshop.

Outcome: Workshop participants identified key scenario implications for children and UNICEF priority areas. Seventeen important themes were highlighted and distilled into a forward-looking, medium-term action plan specifically focusing on the changing nature of partnerships, shifts in government cooperation and evolving internal capabilities.

Children engage to develop reading skill activity at Samudayik Bodhshala Center, Indok Radi, Umren Teshil, District Alwar, Rajasthan.

@ UNICEF/UN0122047/Sharma



Building on the 2016 foresight toolkit for adolescents, UNICEF Tajikistan developed the foresight game ‘Cinema’ in collaboration with UNICEF New York headquarters and students from the Foresight program at the University of Houston. The game was designed as an innovative tool to encourage Tajik youth to actively think about their immediate and distant futures. It was successfully piloted in Tajikistan among a diverse group of adolescent girls and boys, including those from marginalized groups in both urban and rural settings. The game inspired and fostered forward thinking among young people. It also shed light on their values, world views, hopes and expectations.

Outcome: After the pilot, additional facilitators, including from government and other civil society organizations, were trained to help implement this tool at scale. ‘Cinema’ was used by UNICEF Tajikistan for their national 2017 Adolescent Baseline Study for the Adolescent Development and Participation (ADAP) programme. The information gathered will help to develop evidence-based programming with and for adolescents in Tajikistan. The contextualized foresight game ‘Cinema’ will be used within the scope of ADAP in Tajikistan as a platform for meaningful participation of adolescents in decision-making.

Shukrona, 14, studies in 7th grade at the Secondary School #89 in Dushanbe, the capital of Tajikistan.

@ UNICEF/UNI164649/Noorani


More information

Reports on these foresight initiatives are available here (SharePoint site)
A unicef.org email address is required to view and download reports.



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