Organized by ICESCO in Rabat.. TRENDS Participates in the Symposium «The State of Foresight Studies in the World»
TRENDS Research and Advisory participated in the “State of Foresight Studies in the World” Conference organized by the Center for Strategic Foresight of the Islamic World Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (ICESCO) in the Moroccan capital of Rabat on May 26, 2023.
Dr. Mohammed Abdullah Al-Ali, CEO of TRENDS Research and Advisory, delivered a working paper entitled: “Think Tanks as new enablers of Strategic Diplomacy.” He stressed the role of think tanks in helping countries to craft their own diplomatic policies in an effective strategic manner. The objective here is to focus on long-term priorities and goals, and the broader picture of international interactions, enabling them to reduce the effects of uncertainty, mobilize sources of power, and optimize political gains.
Dr. Al-Ali explained the importance of strategic diplomacy as a framework to assist state and non-state actors in building and their global visions; setting their foreign policy agenda, communicating and negotiating to achieve divergent vital interests and goals.
Dr. Al-Ali indicated that working under uncertain conditions requires sustained efforts to comprehend the broader context in which the problems and developments surrounding any phenomenon occurs. Therefore, there is a need to develop effective diplomatic practices related to negotiation, dialogue and presentation of issues.
He stressed the pivotal role of think tanks in the strategic planning of diplomatic policies. This would start with diagnosing the broader context surrounding issues of concern. Objective analyses shall discern international interactions, formulate key issues, and finally help define the systemic implications of the state foreign relations.
Dr. Al-Ali said that the role of think tanks is essential in training diplomats and practitioners to explore the complex issues and problems faced by the state with a comprehensive approach. Diplomats should tackle these issues with a strategic vision. He explained that there are two important areas of strategic diplomacy, namely political innovation and strategic narratives. Think Tanks can contribute here by relevant research and training, or by holding seminars, workshops, and organizing conferences and forums.
Dr. Mohammed Al-Ali said that political innovation, a tool for developing the political imagination of policy-makers, is an essential features of sound political development. He indicated that the origin of political, economic and social solutions lies in political innovations that transcend preoccupation with daily political ramifications. He said the respective agencies should master the ability to make grand decisions, and create a conducive setting for society to adapt to change.
He said that the role of think tanks in strategic narratives is to present the country's foreign policy issues in a way that gains the support of domestic and international public opinion, and deliver preferred results.
Dr. Al-Ali said that strategic diplomacy as an intellectual and practical framework fall in line with the paramount goals of think tanks. They both strive to develop a way of thinking characterized by a holistic view of the issues at hand, raise the level of political innovation and expand the horizons of strategic imagination of intellectuals and decision-makers.
The TRENDS’ CEO concluded his remarks by saying that strategic diplomacy is closely linked to strategic foresight. We cannot achieve success in long-term objectives for any country without scientific foresight and sound planning for the future. Policymakers and think tanks are facing significant challenges in foresight studies, considering the complex uncertain environment in world affairs.
Dr. Al-Ali said that foresight studies help refine certain special skills, including the ability to anticipate unforeseen events, in light of the "uncertainty", and the pervasive "chaos" in the global system. The ability to expect the unexpected in light of shaky data, poor analysis and manipulation of facts, has become all the more difficult. Analysts find it difficult to reach credible results and this is especially true in a “volatile” world with many "irregularities". The respective agencies can harness the tools of artificial intelligence and technological advancements in the field of strategic foresight.
Dr. Al-Ali concluded that strengthening the ability to make good foresights enhance the role of think tanks. This will undoubtedly contribute significantly to formulating strategic diplomacy and building a better future for countries and peoples.