PECS #21: Indigenous Futures Thinking: an innovation-seeking review with Julia van Velden

Futures Thinking is a way to help individuals or organisations understand processes of change, so that better, wiser and preferred futures can be created. Futures Thinking suggests that there are many conceivable alternative versions of the future, and it is possible to prepare for and accept this uncertainty. In the face of major social and environmental change expected within this century, such work is expected to become more and more urgent. This review summarises the current knowledge about Futures Thinking undertaken by Indigenous groups around the world. This study draws from multiple different fields, including health, business and economics, but focusses specifically on issues of environmental sustainability. Best-practice recommendations for conducting Indigenous Futures Thinking work will be discussed, along with how this approach can generate unique insights, while recognising some of its methodological and social difficulties. Innovative examples of Futures Thinking work by Indigenous groups will be shared, highlighting connections and creating opportunities for knowledge sharing.

Julia van Velden is a conservation social scientist, working as a postdoctoral fellow with CSIRO Australia. Her work aims to bring together diverse knowledge systems to tackle sustainability and conservation problems. Her current focus is on using participatory research methods for futures thinking, and aims to facilitate the creation of future scenarios for the Great Barrier Reef, working with Traditional Owners to identify pathways for an inclusive, resilient reef system. She has previously conducted research on a range of environmental issues, including illegal wildlife trade and human-wildlife conflict.