Development cooperation , 04.03.2021

The SG Lab Futures Initiative: Anticipating Risk & Amplifying Opportunity


The UN Technology and Innovation Lab (UNTIL) was established in Finland in 2018. The Lab is in the process of being realigned and integrated into the UN Global Pulse programme to better contribute to the larger UN System. One of the Lab’s areas of work is the Futures and Foresight initiative, which will strengthen Finland lab’s position in the UN system as a part of the UN Global Pulse network. The project aims to increase capacity in strategic foresight and anticipatory planning, especially in the areas of crisis prevention, preparedness and response, and long-term systems transformation as a part of broader next generation UN agenda. The initiative combines digital data and technology use with new methodological approaches and sense-making, applying foresight in new ways. The initiative will accomplish this through pilot experiments to test and validate strategic foresight to improve decision-making. Funding will support results under four areas: 1) establishing the strategic foresight and futures activities and improving UN-internal coordination in foresight activities, 2) developing the technical and technological capabilities and services needed to support UN entities in anticipatory work, 3) launching a series of pilot activities in collaboration with UN partners and other stakeholders, and 4) strengthening inclusion and ethical practices across the strategic foresight value chain. The work of the initiative is initially focused on requirements stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic as well as priority themes of the 2030 Agenda. The work will be linked to the UN’s transformation agenda, the Secretary-General’s system-wide strategies – including the Data Strategy –, and the forthcoming Innovation Strategy. Primary beneficiaries of the work conducted will be UN entities who will leverage strategic foresight to improve anticipatory planning, relevance and efficiency of their operations. The initiative will also benefit Member States and other stakeholders by helping to enhance their capacity to anticipate and respond to crises and future challenges. Activities under this initiative will focus on data-poor regions and underrepresented groups. The futures and foresight initiative is a two-year pilot to develop a standing strategic foresight offering for the UN.

More information

Funding decision  04.03.2021

2 499 604 €

Objectives monitored by OECD's Development Assistance Committee

  • Participatory development/Good governance
  • Gender equality
  • Disaster risk reduction

Field of activity

  • Information and communication technology (ICT) 50%
  • Public sector policy and administrative management 30%
  • Research/scientific institutions 20%

Special target group

  • youth

Funding channel

Yhdistyneet kansakunnat



Code for the object of funding