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Futures Week 2021


Futures Week is an annual event that allows policy and foresight practitioners both within and outside of government to explore the future. This inaugural event was held May 31 – June 3, 2021.

Day 1

Significant disruptors on the horizon

This session explores major areas of change and disruption in the medium to long-term, and related challenges and opportunities for Canada.


  • Jeremy Bentham, Vice President Global Business Environment and Head of Shell Scenarios, Royal Dutch Shell plc
  • Siobhan Harty, Assistant Secretary to the Cabinet, Priorities and Planning, Privy Council Office
  • John W. McArthur, Director and Senior Fellow, Center for Sustainable Development, Brookings Institution
  • Isabelle Mondou, Deputy Minister, Canadian Heritage
  • Kristel Van der Elst, Director General, Policy Horizons Canada

Economic recovery: building resilience

COVID-19 has disrupted national, regional, and global economies in new and unexpected ways. This session brings together a wide range of perspectives to explore how we can build back better, for a resilient, inclusive and healthy economy and society.


  • Neil Bouwer, Vice President, Innovation and Policy Services, Canada School of Public Service
  • Dr. Margareta Drzeniek, Managing Partner, Horizon Group
  • Alicia Dubois, CEO, Alberta Indigenous Opportunities Corporation
  • John Stackhouse, Senior Vice President, Office of the CEO, Royal Bank of Canada
  • Jens Wandel, United Nations Secretary General’s Designate COVID-19 Recover Better Fund & Special Advisor to the Secretary General on Reform

Day 2

The future of value in the next digital economy

In this talk show-style session, speakers will explore the way in which technologies are shifting value and disrupting the economy. As emerging technologies change scarcity and the character and allocation of human labour, speakers will consider which human activities will lose, gain, or maintain their value.


  • Marcus Ballinger, Manager, Policy Horizons Canada
  • Catherine Beaudry, Professor and Canada Research Chair, Polytechnique Montréal
  • Janine Berg, Senior Economist, International Labour Organization
  • Steffen Christensen, Senior Foresight Analyst, Policy Horizons Canada
  • Sunil Johal, Special Advisor, Deputy Minister’s Office, Employment and Social Development Canada
  • Mike Moffatt, Senior Director, Smart Prosperity Institute
  • Mark Schaan, Associate Assistant Deputy Minister, Strategy and Innovation Policy Sector, Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada
  • Rachel Wernick, Senior Assistant Deputy Minister, Skills and Employment Branch, Employment and Social Development Canada
  • Armine Yalnizyan, Economist and the Atkinson Foundation’s Fellow on the Future of Workers

The future of social connection

COVID-19 has significantly disrupted how, where and with whom humans connect. This session will examine how connections between individuals, groups, and societies may be affected by new technologies, as well as the key implications for decision-makers.


  • Jayne Engle, Program Director, McConnell Foundation
  • Roselyn Mavungu, Executive Director, Centre for the Prevention of Radicalization Leading to Violence
  • Blair McMurren, Director General of Strategic Policy and International Affairs, Canadian Heritage
  • Kurt Richardson, Foresight Analyst, Policy Horizons Canada
  • Simon Robertson, Manager, Policy Horizons Canada
  • Nora Spinks, Chief Executive Officer, Vanier Institute of the Family
  • Danielle White, Assistant Deputy Minister, Indigenous Services Canada

Day 3

Biodigital convergence

Biological systems and digital technologies are merging in new and unexpected ways, creating a new domain called the Biodigital. This session will outline three game changers, look at what is happening in innovative industries, and explore future policy implications that may reshape society, sectors, and science.


  • François Coallier, Full Professor, Department of Software and IT Engineering, École de technologie supérieure
  • Cynthia Collins, Program Director, Organism Engineering of Ginkgo Bioworks
  • Pierre-Olivier DesMarchais, Foresight Analyst, Policy Horizons Canada
  • Avalyne Diotte, Foresight Analyst, Policy Horizons Canada
  • Ursula Gobel, Vice-President, Stakeholder Engagement and Advancement of Society, Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada
  • Evan Larmand, Foresight Analyst, Policy Horizons Canada
  • David K. Lee, Chief Regulatory Officer, Health Products and Food Branch, Health Canada
  • Michael Levin, Distinguished Professor, Tufts University
  • Jennifer Miller, Director General, Marketplace Framework Policy Branch, Strategy and Innovation Policy Sector, Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada
  • Vincent Sewalt, Head of Regulatory Science & Advocacy, International Flavours & Fragrances

The future of sense-making

We all “make sense” on a daily basis. It’s how we find information and turn it into decisions and actions. Join us for a game show-style session that will look at some important changes in sense-making, where they could go in the future, and what that might mean for decision makers.


  • Amy Awad, Director, Trade Negotiations and Investments, Canadian Heritage
  • Chris Beall, Policy Lead, Platform Governance, Centre for International Governance Innovation
  • John Beasy, Foresight Analyst, Policy Horizons Canada
  • Jennifer Ditchburn, President & CEO, Institute for Research on Public Policy
  • Chris Hagerman, Foresight Analyst, Policy Horizons Canada
  • Lindsay Noad, Director General, TMX Policy, Natural Resources Canada
  • Seema Gail Parkash, Deputy Head, Centre for Strategic Futures, Prime Minister’s Office, Singapore
  • Julie-Anne Turner, Foresight Analyst, Policy Horizons Canada
  • Eric Ward, Senior Director, Policy Horizons Canada

Day 4

How foresight helps inform decision making

Join international foresight leaders for an engaging conversation where they will share how foresight is used to inform policy and planning, drawing upon examples from their respective countries. They will demonstrate several ways in which foresight can enable decision making that is founded on future-oriented thinking and analysis.


  • Philip Jennings, Deputy Secretary to the Cabinet, Plans and Consultations, Privy Council Office
  • Jeanette Kwek, Head, Centre for Strategic Futures, Strategy Group, Prime Minister’s Office, Singapore
  • Maria Langan-Riekhof, Director of the Strategic Futures Group, National Intelligence Council, United States
  • Dimitri Lorenzani, Cabinet of Maroš Šefčovič, Vice-President for Inter-institutional Relations and Foresight, European Commission
  • Jaana Tapanainen-Thiess, Secretary General, Government Report on the Future, Government Foresight Group and Ministerial Foresight Panel, Prime Minister’s Office, Strategy Department, Finland