Consult Our Foresight Glossary

Find here a list of the most commonly used foresight words compiled by the UNGP team. The definitions are not formal nor fixed and developed to support aspiring foresight practitioners.

UNGP - Foresight Initiative



  • Reset

2×2 Matrix

2×2 Matrix: A scenario-building methodology to draft four different scenarios based on two key uncertainties. The methodology involves plotting these uncertainties on a two-dimensional grid, resulting in four distinct quadrants, each quadrant representing a different possible scenario.


The ability of organizations to explore, understand and prepare for many plausible futures which can be enhanced through the use of future and foresight approaches.

Anticipatory governance

The systematic adoption and application of strategic foresight throughout the strategy and policy-making process. By anticipating the future, decision makers can make informed decisions and take actions that will help mitigate negative impacts or take advantage of positive developments.

Archetype scenarios

A scenario-building tool developed by futurist, Jim Dator, based on four generic futures: continued growth, collapse, discipline, and transformation. By using archetype scenarios, individuals and organizations can gain a better understanding of the range of possible futures that might emerge from current trends and conditions.


A method to determine the various pathways of actions and decisions that need to be taken to achieve a preferred future.

Black swan events

Rare and unexpected events with a significant impact that are difficult to predict. These events are characterised by their extreme rarity, their unpredictable nature, and their significant impact on individuals or systems.

Capability matrix

A tool used to identify which aspects of an organization can be leveraged to enable success in different futures. This tool helps organizations to identify and prioritise the capabilities needed to adapt to different possible futures, and to invest in building these capabilities over time.

Casual Layered Analysis (CLA)

A four-level scenario-building tool designed by futurist, Sohail Inayatullah, used to analyse and explore the deeper layers of meaning and causality underlying a particular issue or topic. The CLA has four levels: litany (an official description of events backed by data); systemic causes (social, economic, political structures and policies supporting the issue); worldview (deeper cultural assumptions and perspectives behind an issue); and myth or metaphor (narratives and inner stories).

Decolonial futures

An approach centred on the perspectives and experiences of historically marginalised communities to create a more equitable and inclusive future. Decolonial futures aim to challenge dominant ways of thinking about the future by recognising and undoing the legacy of colonialism.

Driver Mapping

A tool used to identify the most influential forces of change, or “drivers,” in a system. It helps increase understanding of how the drivers interact and how likely they are to influence the future direction of a system.

Driver of change

Forces or signals of change that have the potential to shape the future, policy or strategy area. For example, climate change is a driver in the context of urban development. Drivers may have an immediate and direct effect or may have a more diffuse and indirect impact through a number of other drivers.


A notable occurrence in the policy or strategy space that often indicates a discernible shift or movement in the trajectory of the future. Events can have implications for individuals, organizations and societies requiring adaptation or adjustment to effectively navigate the changing landscape.

Cookies Policy

By accessing UNGP’s website, certain information about the user, such as internet protocol addresses, navigation through the site, the software used and the time spent, along with other similar information, will be stored on our servers. These will not specifically identify the user. The information will be used internally only for web site traffic analysis.

The United Nations, however, assumes no responsibility for the security of this information.