Case Study – SAFIRE Project for EU Research and Innovation
SAMI was part of a team working to develop a system for using foresight to develop policy for EU R&I. Other consortium members were IFOK, Cadmus, and Teknologi Radet. The Report is available to download here.
SAMI explored the areas of uncertainty and then created four Global scenarios. Following a major workshop in Brussels, these were then extended into four scenarios for each of ten regions of the world.
The scenario axes allow scope to explore our volatile and polynodal world and the challenges it faces – challenges which have been amplified by the likely economic consequences of the Covid-19 pandemic. The axes are based on two uncertainties:
- Whether protectionism or globalism will characterise international relations; and
- Whether in the face of global crises, people and nations are inclined to transform geopolitical and economic systems, or to carry on with business as usual.
The resulting scenarios are depicted in the graphic below. The tree metaphors provided an apt summary of the core characteristics of each scenario.
From Snapshot to Movie: The Journey Game
The uncertainties summarised above frame four scenarios that depict possible futures for 2040 with an emphasis on geopolitics, economics, and values. Complexity and chaos theory suggest that whatever future we face will be the emergent outcome of cascades of change and impacts. Our challenge was designing a simple interactive format to reflect that by allowing more dynamic exploration of emergent possibilities. That become increasingly important as the pandemic crisis accelerated and disrupted previous patterns of geopolitical, economic, and social change. Fortunately, we designed the scenario ‘Journey Game’ process to allow for this, adding a sequence of adaptive responses to change over time to the ‘snapshots of the future’ that scenarios usually describe.
The Gameboard serves to emphasise the point that we are moving into a less predictable, polynodal world: a world where current assumptions may not hold. The gameboard allows policymakers greater latitude to flex the scenarios, bringing different factors into play in particular regions.
The Gameboard also allows policymakers the chance to consider one major global disruptor, or a set of regional disruptors, which might cause several regions to move from one quadrant of the scenario matrix to another or even cause a shift in the predominant global scenario axes.
Finally, the Gameboard resources (scenario and change driver sets) allow policymakers to gauge the effect of different drivers of change and/or wild card events across all regions, to look at the way in which different regions respond, and whether some, or all, regions cluster together in particular quadrants of the scenario board.
The Gameboard approach thus allows policy makers the chance to give full rein to the unpredictability of the world we are now entering – and to update that perspective on unpredictability by playing the game with new signals of change as they emerge.