There is a growing need for strategic conversations around scenarios across the globe to imagine possibilities and be prepared for the future, said University of South Africa political analyst Professor Somadoda Fikeni on Thursday.
He was addressing delegates at the Indlulamithi – South Africa Scenarios 2030 conference held at the Gordon Institute of Business Science in Johannesburg organised by the Mapungubwe Institute for Strategic Reflection (Mistra).
Indlulamithi – South Africa Scenarios 2030 is a multi-stakeholder, research-driven initiative that seeks to re-invigorate research that helps develop ways to create a society where all people experience a sense of belonging and solidarity.
The scenario development process is aimed at stimulating a wide-ranging national conversation about the future of South Africa and centres on research and expert insight geared to building a socially cohesive nation.
Fikeni said South Africa and the world at large were grappling with many environmental challenges, highlighting the water crisis and energy as issues that are currently dominating.
“Scenario planning would have presented a lot more to deal with. Our country would have been better prepared for [an] energy and water crisis had there been scenario-based research,” he suggested.
Fikeni said he was hoping that scenarios would be discussed in some of the summits that were recently suggested by President Cyril Ramaphosa.
The Banking Association of South Africa’s Dr Yacoob Abba Omar said the initiative also looked at addressing the question of social cohesion by looking into elements such as inequality and drought, which are considered significant problems in South Africa.
He went on to say that the initiative’s research had also noticed signs of concern around human trafficking which was become an issue in the country.
The conference noted that the issues of and around race, politics, technology, climate change, education and labour relations were touted as important variables.
Mistra’s Xolelwa Kashe-Katiya said the conference had managed to include a diverse group of co-participants to ensure that all their thoughts on projecting scenarios for 2030 would be heard.
“We are hoping to launch the scenarios in June which would be followed by road shows,” she said.
South Africans should expect more interaction to inform and involve people from all walks of life.