Filed under: Climate change Disaster response Environment Guest posts Social innovation

The Strumica River Basin is one of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia’s most vulnerable regions to climate change.

By 2020, water demands in the Strumica River Basin are expected to increase by 40 percent, while extreme weather events – such as floods and droughts – are also expected to become more frequent.

To avoid the common trap of planning for the last crisis rather than the next one, I’ve been working with UNDP on their Restoration of the Strumica River Basin project.

This provides the community with a perfect opportunity to experiment with the kinds of foresight tools and methods that we looked at during our recent research and development event in Istanbul.

The past isn’t dead, it isn’t even past

A foresight approach enhances existing planning strategies and tactics by increasing the scope and scale of analysis.

In bringing more voices and perspectives to bear on the planning process, foresight can work to illuminate the networks of relations underlying complex problems.

So foresight isn’t just a new way of trying to solve a persistent problem; it’s actually a means to re-think the very nature of persistent problems by exposing new insights and information through collaborative engagement with a bunch of different stakeholders.

In asking one to look ahead, foresight demands that we critically reflect on the past and present, if only to consider what preferable aspects of both one might wish to champion for.

Pick a card

Using both in-person and online foresight tools, including the next iteration of the Global Centre for Public Service Excellence’s foresight eXplorer, this initiative will generate new perceptions, data, and future scenarios for the Strumica River Basin.

The aim here is to enliven public engagement in monitoring and management of critical water issues.

Building on the strengths of recent projects in Myanmar and Tonga, I hope we will be able engage a variety of stakeholders—from farmers to public servants—in identifying priorities and developing solutions for the basin.

With lessons learned from the Tonga experience, the foresight eXplorer offers a dynamic method for inspiring new and deeper conversations amongst those impacted most by climate change.

The eXplorer will also feature a localized deck of cards—in both English and Macedonian—that will focus a community discussion on a few key areas:


Participants can also generate their own content using blank cards in each category.

In support of refining the foresight eXplorer, and experimenting with foresight tools, quantitative metrics will be assigned to each category to craft a social network analysis on the data pulled from the workshops.

To aid in the production of the analysis, we have partnered with the Bordeaux Laboratory for Computer Science, which specializes in data visualization. This will provide us with some highly localized inputs for the Strumica River Basin development plan.

In the spirit of maximizing collaboration, we are also going to develop a Braille edition!

From time to Timescape

In addition to prototyping the next edition of the foresight eXplorer, we also plan to develop a crowdsourced map of the Strumica River Basin using Timescape: a new kind of storytelling platform, which enables you to build, share and explore comprehensive maps in geography and time.

In addition to inputting the results from the workshops, we are going to encourage local residents to contribute their insights to our Timescape map. This will help ensure all voices are heard loud and clear.

I believe Crowdsourcing Water For Life will provide invaluable insights that will be formative for the development of the basin’s management plan.

Using a 2020 time horizon, the plan takes future possibilities into account, alongside present-day challenges and opportunities. This is what makes collaborative foresight tools and methods such a perfect fit for the Strumica River Basin.

Keep up with our progress, follow @UNDPMK#Water4Life, and #UNDP4FUTURE on Twitter and tell us what you think in the comments below!

restoring river logo