A Feasibility Study

As noted in the Overview, because addressing long-range issues will involve many challenges and stakeholders with many different perspectives, we believe it is important to first conduct an in-depth feasibility study to:
  1. Assess the need and shortcomings of existing related efforts
  2. Study the factors and options to address those needs and shortcomings
  3. Produce and prioritize recommendations and strategies
  4. Act as a means of guidance for going forward

Core team in place to conduct study:

  • Mark Lupisella, Ph.D., Co-Founder and Acting Director, The Horizons Project
  • Jerome C. Glenn, Executive Director, American Council for the United Nations University and Director of the Millennium Project
  • James A. Dator, Ph.D., Director of the Hawaii Research Center for Futures Studies, Social Science Research Institute, University of Hawaii.
  • James A. Dewar, Ph.D., Director of Research Quality Assurance at RAND and Director of the RAND Frederick S. Pardee Center for Longer Range Global Policy and the Future Human Condition
  • Christopher B. Jones, Ph.D., Secretary-General of the World Futures Studies Federation
  • David Fromkin, Ph.D., Director of the Frederick S. Pardee Center for the Study of the Longer-Range Future, and Professor of International Relations, History and Law, Boston University.
  • Research assistants are presently being considered


Some questions to be addressed in the study:

  • Why are international mechanisms/organizations for long-range survival and development needed?
  • Should there be one high-level coordinating organization or more?
  • What are the challenges in forming and making such mechanisms effective?
  • Can these challenges be met? If so, how?  If not, why not, and what are some alternatives?
  • What are the best approaches for forming and operating such mechanisms?
  • What is the value to all stakeholders?

    Related to the above are other questions such as:
  • What might be the purview of the body? What specific problems might it address?
  • How feasible is it, or will it be in the future, to proactively discern presently unknown threats?
  • What might be the best institutional homes for such mechanisms?
  • What are the envisioned research needs and how can they be most effectively satisfied?
  • What is good futures research? How is it best used?
  • How feasible is "guided/conscious evolution", and how effectively can a global political body contribute to it?

Some possible mechanisms to explore in the study:

UN Committee for the Long-Range Future

  • Primarily advisory role in beginning? Evolving into something more action oriented later?
  • Consider Finland's permanent Committee for the Future as starting point for a model
  • Having voting members could increase credibility and commitment for implementation
  • Might start with purview of survival threats and take on broader long-range development challenges later
  • Scenario building and developing mitigation strategies would be key activities
  • Could draft treaties as needed to help with implementation and compliance
  • World Coalition for the Long-Range Future, a collection of think tanks, institutes, etc. could provide intellectual support and have additional source of funding
  • Global cost-benefit analysis of space activities could help assess long-term resource allocation issues
  • Foster futures studies programs in academia
  • Might also be named UN Committee for Long-Range Survival and Development

UN Office for the Long-Range Future could leverage and coordinate existing organizations to rigorously address long-range survival and development challenges for both individual organizations as well as organizationally cross-cutting challenges.

International Commission on the Long-Range Future could consist of many countries coming together to address long-range challenges and possibly form treaties or other international legal agreements/instruments that would foster confidence-building regarding commitment via compliance to resource commitments and agreed upon mitigation/implementation strategies.

World Futures Research Organization could consist of an international pool and/or coalition of organizations that would be formally connected (perhaps legally mandated) to policy makers. What's missing from present organizations of this nature is the strong political connection.

"Foundation" model might consist of a political committee that prioritizes problems and provides guidelines and allocates funds to countries that propose promising mitigation strategies and implementation plans - that may also align with individual countries' major long-range challenges.

"Self-organizing" model could consist of countries that might "self-assemble" into teams which would commit their own resources (with possible matching funds contributed by global political body/committee) for conducting research, developing strategies, and implementing actions for specific long-range challenges.

Proof-of-Concept/Evolutionary approach might involve ad hoc committees/teams that could address easier threats to prove it can be done. This can contribute to an evolutionary approach that would start with less formal mechanisms with a longer term strategy for evolution into more formal political mechanisms.


These possibilities are certainly not exhaustive or mutually exclusive. There is much overlap, and the feasibility study would provide an analysis and assessment of all promising options.


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