Forward looking scenarios
In this edition of the Horizons, we look back to 2022 as well as trying to look forward to 2023. With word of the year permacrisis and scenario thinking at the center of our attention, we find that 2023 does offer some glimmers of hope.
Transitioning from permacrisis
The Collins Dictionary’s word of the year for 2022 is “permacrisis”, a portmanteau of “permanent” and “crisis”. It is defined as an extended period of instability and insecurity, especially one resulting from a series of catastrophic events. In this time of COVID, war in Ukraine, climate change, political instability, global insecurity, trade restrictions, inflation, and surging costs of living, the term perfectly embodies “the dizzying sense of lurching from one unprecedented event to another, as we wonder bleakly what new horrors might be around the corner.” The accumulation of current insecurities and imminent problems provides people with little hope for 2023. Although permacrisis may imply that we see our crises as situations that can only be managed, not resolved, we should not give in to doom and gloom. After all, defeatism leaves little room for initiative and does not prepare us for any windfalls. Moreover, bright spots are emerging. Inflation is nearing its peak, global uncertainty is creating more (European) unity and the energy crisis is pushing renewable energy investments to unprecedented levels. It shows that 2023 does offer some glimmers of hope.
Broaden Your Horizons
- Age of ‘permacrisis’ teaches EU that solidarity is arduous but worth it. With each new shock, the EU is progressing to a more cohesive and collective approach.
- In the publication Outlook Digitalisation 2030, our colleagues at FreedomLab used scenario thinking to inspire the Dutch government to gain perspective on possible developments, prepare for a digital future, and where necessary and possible redirect developments.
- Predicting the future by looking at examples from the past is going to be difficult explains Jeanna Smialek in the NYT article Trust the models? In this Economy?
Future scenarios give room to play
Something that can help us to look at the future in a different way is scenario thinking. It is a method to create room for relative perspectives and unexpected opportunities, without compromising risks. Scenario thinking challenges us not to see current developments as fixed facts, but as dimensions of uncertainty. Against all odds, for instance, Ukraine has been able to defend itself valiantly against Russia, European unity has been strengthened and nationalistic movements in the US and Brazil have not pushed through. Besides, we must not forget that every crisis has its own course. In scenario thinking, we look at probability and impact as well as dynamics of a trend. Although current crises are demanding attention in conjunction with each other, this does not mean that they will all have significant impact. In addition, scenario thinking can help identify opportunities by understanding root causes and speculating on second-order effects. For instance, inflation stimulates sustainable behavior and governments act to push through system change. By exploring extremes, scenario thinking helps to gain insights of what the future may bring.
Horizons is a bi-monthly Dasym Research initiative to show you how the Dasym themes have been in the news. We publish the Horizons on our website and as an email newsletter. If you wish to receive the email, sign up here.
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