UNESCO’s function as an international laboratory of ideas is to guide the global debate on education. As the rapid and interdependent changes of the 21st century present new challenges for education and training systems worldwide, educational policy-makers need to be more pro-active in identifying and understanding the implications of emerging trends for the future of education. Evidence-based policy dialogue and forward-looking research are essential to strengthening collective capacity to grapple with broader societal issues in a changing global environment. As the international community strengthens its collective efforts to reach internationally-agreed upon education and development goals, it is also crucial to look ahead and chart new paradigms to help guide the global education agenda beyond 2015. The Education Research and Foresight (ERF) team has been established in order to respond to this need, working to support research and analysis across UNESCO’s Education Sector.