About the UNEP Foresight Process

The UNEP Foresight Process addresses one of the goals of the UNEP Science Strategy : “anticipating the future”.

The purpose of the Foresight Process is to produce a careful and authoritative ranking of the most important emerging issues related to the global environment. UNEP aims to inform the UN and wider international community about these issues on a timely basis, as well as provide input to its own work programme and that of other UN agencies. The first process was carried out in 2011, and the results were released in 2012 at the UNEP’s Governing Council Meeting in Nairobi.

The UNEP Foresight Process has been designed to encourage the creative thinking of participants and to be inclusive at the same time. At the core of the process is a Foresight Panel consisting of 22 distinguished members of the scientific community cutting across all of the six UN world regions and internationally recognized because of their expertise in one or more environmental and related issues.

Important steps in the process included:

  • A solicitation of ideas from the UNEP community to obtain a first list of emerging issues
  • Two facilitated meetings, during which the Foresight Panel expanded, debated and ranked the list of issues in a structured and systematic process
  • An extensive electronic consultation of scientists worldwide, in which more than 400 scientists provided feedback on the preliminary issues selected by the Panel during their first meeting.

The output of the UNEP Foresight Process is a ranked list of 21 emerging issues. These issues, described in the UNEP Foresight Process Report: “21 Issues for the 21st Century” relate to the major themes of the global environment, as well as important cross-cutting issues.

The UNEP Office of the Chief Scientist cooperated with the UNEP Division of Early Warning and Assessment in coordinating the Foresight Process