The first IMAJINE scenarios discussed on the conference and in media

The IMAJINE researchers engaged in the project work package Re-imagining Regional Futures presented some of the preliminary results lately.

This work package is integrating and synthesising data from all other work packages to translate research findings into policy recommendations. For this purpose, researchers are employing the techniques of participatory scenario building and policy scenario testing.

On October 28th 2020, Marie Mahon, the work package leader from National University of Ireland Galway (NUIG), and Matt Finch from the University of Southern Queensland, independent facilitator on behalf of NUIG, presented research entitled  „Unscripting Europe”: Using Future Scenarios to Rethink EU Territorial Inequalities on an online conference Unscripted futures: Making room for the openness, uncertainty and radical potential of tomorrow, organised by Oslo Metropolitan University. Here you may read the abstract of the presented research, while the video of the session can be found here (the IMAJINE presentation starts at 34’30”).

ABSTRACT.

In principle, the EU promises citizens equal rights and opportunities. However, it is questionable whether different places in Europe are treated fairly in reality: European citizens’ ability to enjoy those rights and opportunities are still affected by where they live and work.

The IMAJINE project is a Horizon 2020-funded research programme tasked with exploring issues of territorial equality and spatial justice across the EU’s member states. However, significant environmental, social, political, and economic uncertainties mean that the inequalities of tomorrow may not look like those which can be researched empirically in the present or recent past.

Therefore IMAJINE includes a foresight component, creating plausible future scenarios for the Europe of 2048. Each of these generates a distinct version of territorial inequality – from a world where climate change and ongoing pandemics have driven people from cities and coastlines back into rural living, to one where life has been so thoroughly digitalised that citizenship is decoupled from geography and many inequalities occur in virtual space, among people living in close physical proximity.

Can an imagined future help us to see potential opportunities and threats beyond those we can expect, predict, or extrapolate from the present and past? This paper will present the four initial scenarios generated by the IMAJINE project, and discuss their use in “unscripting” existing thinking, helping people to see how the inequalities and injustices of the future may be entirely different to those of today. The paper will discuss the construction of meaningful, well-defined scenarios for such a broad topic and stakeholder group, and the process behind effective, time-sensitive scenario creation in a time of quarantine and lockdown.

Moreover, two podcasts linked with scenario building appeared last week in media. In a 15-minute podcast, Matt Finch (University of Southern Queensland) talks to Irish national radio Newstalk about IMAJINE’s four scenarios. He discusses with Irish current affairs commentator Sean Moncrieff the ways the scenarios work to challenge our assumptions about the future and to portray possible alternative versions of an EU future that will feature different forms of inequality and injustice (this podcast is available at newstalk website here).

The second podcast on the IMAJINE scenarios for the future of European regional inequality entitled Climate-protected citadels, virtual worlds only for the privileged: is this the future of inequality? have appeared in the Australian edition of The Conversation, an independent source of news and views, sourced from the academic and research community and delivered directly to the public.

Congratulations to the entire WP8 Team!