24th World Conference

29th October, 2021 (Friday)
18:30-18:50 (CET)
Redesigning Futures

Under-representation of Futures approaches in Infrastructure Strategy-Making

Event Description

Infrastructure supports human wellbeing yet is also highly consumptive. This paper examines a hypothesis that futures and foresight approaches are underrepresented in infrastructure strategy and their adoption is necessary if civilization is to be better served by infrastructure. In the absence of a clear definition and standardised means of measuring wellbeing, a pragmatic needs-capabilities conception of wellbeing is necessary and possible to promote environmental and social sustainability. A review of the macrohistory of infrastructure development from the Neolithic age reveals how civilisations have evolved through a reliance on surpluses that fuel population expansion, increasing want and fortification against threats. It is proposed that for millennia infrastructure planning and strategy making approaches are fundamentally unchanged and the weight of past ideologies dominates current growth based, consumption-driven approaches. The classical components of strategy-making, being strategic thinking, strategy development and strategic planning are examined to suggest strategic thinking needs to be reconfigured. Relations between infrastructure, social sustainability and wellbeing (Maslow, Sen and Nussbaum) are explored support a futures-oriented way of thinking about long-lived infrastructure assets.