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Header: What If Series

DGAP’s “What If” series consists of scenarios that envision the future state-of-play in a particular policy field in 2030 yet already provide context for policy action today. The authors use future scenarios to describe the drivers that could be influenced here and now, probing at hidden opportunities and the risk of taking action that would create threats.

The “What If” scenarios are conceived to help reveal blind spots, overlooked path dependencies, or faint signals that could result in missed chances for addressing underrated threats or creeping events. In particular, these scenarios assess developments that have repeatedly ambushed policy-makers over the years, for example:

  • Black swans, events that are completely unimaginable and improbable until they actually happen;
  • Elephants in the room, obvious problems that are seen by everyone but not addressed out of fear that doing so could cause disharmony or worsen a group dynamic; and
  • Grey rhinos, highly likely and probable threats that are pushed away or ignored because it is easier not to confront them immediately.

Our goal is productive provocation and critical reflection about Germany’s and the EU’s strengths and weaknesses. We hope to sharpen how decision-makers perceive game changers as well as the necessary trade-offs between the costs and benefits of policy choices they are facing, thereby encouraging them to act on possibilities for desirable change in a forward-looking manner.

Publications