The Participatory Foresight for National Development Planning project, led by UNFPA Colombia and UN Global Pulse, addressed the need to include young leaders and underrepresented communities in envisioning the future. We wanted to incorporate their voices in citizen consultations for Colombia’s National Development Plan. The project combined strategic foresight, youth-led community dialogues, and speculative futures work. We trained youth leaders and gave them the skills to co-create future dialogues.

Our impact

The project helped transform the Colombian national planning processes by making participatory futures standard practice and incorporating a much broader range of participants in consultations. It was a priority to include marginalised groups who are often overlooked in decision-making processes.

Overlooked participants got a safe space to explore their futures and gain valuable insights. Community members proposed a number of concrete actions for the government to review. The project created a fundamental shift in planning practices for organizations working with communities. The methodology used in this project is available for broader use.

Our lessons

  • Internally, engaging with young leaders was essential for creating safe spaces that foster co-creation and inclusivity. This began with training and led to co-designing the dialogues with them. Their active involvement brings fresh perspectives and ensures representation of diverse voices.
  • Externally, using speculative futures and decolonial approaches to strategic foresight helped participants who are often overlooked to envision their futures and gain insights. It empowered communities to become active shapers of their regions by understanding and actively participating in the planning process.