Prime Minister Addresses Sri Lanka’s First National Summit On Foresight And Innovation


Joanne Kotelawala 15.00

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Honourable Ranil Wickremesinghe, Prime Minister of Sri Lanka addressed Sri Lanka’s first National Summit on Foresight and Innovation for Sustainable Human Development today, organized by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Ministry of National Policies and Economic Affairs.

Honourable Prime Minister addressed the gathering at a high-level plenary themed ‘Reimagining Governance: An Opportunity for Sri Lanka’ alongside Mr. Rushdi Abdul Rahim, Director, myForesight, Government of Malaysia, Mr. Thomas Prehn, Director, MindLab, Government of Denmark, Ms. Cornelia Amihalachioae, Performance and Social Innovation Lead, eGov Center, Government of Moldova and Ms. Marina Mkhitaryan, Lead, Kolba Innovation Lab, UNDP Armenia at a session moderated by Mr. Peter Batchelor, UNDP Resident Representative a.i., UNDP Sri Lanka.

The Summit, held together with Ministry of Science, Technology and Research, Sarvodaya, LIRNEasia, the United Nations Global Compact (UNGC) and Ceylon Chamber of Commerce (CCC) as Core Partners and Ceylon Biscuits Limited as a Summit Partner, is focused on starting a national dialogue on the importance of foresight and innovation as a value addition to traditional development planning to achieve sustainable human development and the 2030 development agenda.

Addressing the gathering at the Summit, Premier Wickremesinghe stated “We have to utilize our human resources and policy of human development, which, combined with our location will help us innovate as a nation. I thank the UNDP for organizing this discussion. The contribution you make here will no doubt help the Government of Sri Lanka in its vision for the country.”

Speaking about creating a Sri Lanka we want and need, Mr. Rushdi Abdul Rahim stated that “Sri Lanka is on the right track, by having the honourable Prime Minister attend Sri Lanka’s first national summit on foresight and innovation – a champion is important to undertake any process of envisioning for a country.” Achieving this future for Sri Lanka requires foresight and innovation. As stated by Ms. Cornelia Amihalachioae, “Innovation is the extraordinary effort in which the dreamer becomes the doer.” Ms. Marina Mkhitaryan further emphasizing this idea explained the “three building blocks of innovations – which is empathy, analysis and intuition.”

Speaking about creating a social innovation lab in Sri Lanka Mr. Thomas Prehn stated “A social innovation lab is not a process or method but it is made up of people with the right mindset and original thinking, working passionately”

The two day Summit, which will is currently underway at Waters Edge, Battaramulla, is also expected to be graced by Hon. Susil Premajayantha, Minister of Science, Technology and Research and Hon. Harin Fernando, Minister of Digital Infrastructure and Telecommunications who will engage in a panel discussion on ‘Disruptive Innovation’. The Summit will connect many international resource people including those from the UN Pulse Lab – Jakarta, the UNDP Centre for Public Service Excellence – Singapore, myForesight – Malaysia, Mind Lab – Denmark, Open Design City, Germany –Germany, Superflux – UK, UNDP Kolba Lab – Armenia, UNDP MiLab – Moldova, eGov Centre – Moldova, Fields of View – India,  to name a few.

Foresight and Innovation are rapidly becoming tools that governments and other non-traditional partners for development are incorporating into their work. Foresight familiarizes key development practitioners with futuristic thinking to create a development sector that is forward looking and visionary. It also assists in planning and developing resilient national policies whilst considering alternative futures. As a way of thinking, foresight also encourages innovation, strategic evaluation and proactive shaping of the future. This Summit, will thus contribute to enhancing development practices and policies that are visionary, to create the world we want and need by 2030 by fostering a development sector that is forward-thinking and visionary.

At the closure of the Summit, Hon. Dr. Harsha De Silva, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, is expected to join the launch event of UNDP’s 50th anniversary celebrations titled ‘Shared Goals. Shared Prosperity: 50 years in Sri Lanka and Beyond’.