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Futures work in conflict affected contexts

In partnership with local convenors, we support local actors to envision alternative futures and to collaborate across opposing and polarized views. Drawing on insight and experience from three decades of work by team members with the Transformative Scenarios approach and recent research linking this approach specifically to the current needs of the peacebuilding field, this programme creates enabling conditions for dialogue, negotiation, and conscious decision-making. Critical enablers for this work include:

  • Local ownership, agency and homegrown peacebuilding solutions;

  • Inclusion of diverse societal actors in peacebuilding processes;

  • Imagination, creativity, and innovation in peacebuilding approaches; and

  • Cross-context learning and sharing of insights.

The Transformative Scenarios Process (TSP) has been applied on many themes where divergent interests are present such as drug policy, education, land reform. In addition, TSP has been applied at a regional level work in situations of violent or protracted societal conflict.

In these situations, the TSP does not directly involve negotiations or aim at reconciliation, but rather draws the focus on constructing a set of possible futures of the country or region with a view to 'unsticking' thinking and conversation about conflict dynamics (and a possible peace process), injecting new ideas into existing processes, and broadening the scope of people involved in engaging with/on conflict. In this regard, it links to the space of “peacebuilding” without competing with existing peacebuilding initiatives. In fact, the process is geared to contribute to existing ideas, thoughts, and dialogues and to complement and strengthen existing processes, adding an element on a country’s journey towards peace.

The value of the TSP approach in such conflict contexts includes:

  • Lowering the barrier for opponents to collaborate with one another by not insisting on agreement at the level of beliefs, values, or visions.

  • Taking the immediate focus away from the conflict to considering broader trends and context and the concerns and needs of the wider population.

  • By focusing on plausibility, TSP requires participants to set aside wishful thinking and to engage not with their desires but with what is plausible – what could happen, not what should happen or what will happen.

  • The process builds trust gradually without working on it directly.

  • The process not only shifts mindsets, but also builds capabilities of dialogue, collaboration and listening because these capabilities are required for the task.

In these ways, the Transformative Scenarios approach helps to create enabling conditions (trust, relationships, openness, collaborative capabilities, shift in perspective) that can help future negotiations and decisions to take place more constructively, inclusively, and consciously than was otherwise possible.


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