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UN Global Pulse’s paper, The Most Creative Look to the Future, explores how embracing creative practice and imagination can catalyse innovation and transformation across the UN system. It is grounded in the vision articulated in Our Common Agenda that in order to meet 21st-century challenges, the UN must combine “the best of our past achievements with the most creative look to the future.”

The paper is accompanied by a workbook for practitioners as well as a competency model that explores the attitudes and behaviors required to practice creativity in a way that leads to innovation and impact.

Rooted in the knowledge that the creation of the United Nations was a bold act of collective imagination and hope in 1945, the paper makes the case for art, imagination and creative practice continuing to be seen as a fundamental aspect of transformation and innovation. That true innovation is indeed impossible without the skill sets and behaviours associated with imagination and creative practice. 

The paper offers learnings and recommendations from a range of experts that argue that creative practice can help our organizations embrace uncertainty and complexity; it can help us engage in new, longer timelines and inclusive alternatives; it can create a bridge between ways of knowing and between generations; and help us practice and build new infrastructures for the future.

What follows are a set of recommendations and starting points that will assist practitioners both inside and outside the UN system to experiment with integrating art, imagination, and creative practice into their work. These include testing readiness for change, establishing champions, extending the right invitation, rethinking competencies, evaluating differently and detailed ideas for pilots.