Europe’s neighbourhood is full of recent events that foreign policy experts and practitioners did not expect or even thought possible until they happened. ISIL’s sudden conquest of territory in Iraq and Syria and the protests that swept Algeria, Libya and Sudan are just a few examples. In hindsight, observers tend to think they saw these events coming. But often, that is just what their minds would like to make them believe to make sense of the world.
Foresight can help to mitigate cognitive and social biases. Foresight Intelligence and GPPi have teamed up to conduct a series of scenario-based foresight workshops to help regional experts and policy makers identify potential risks, security threats and tipping points for governance breakdown and violent conflicts that are often missed. The methodology complements EU-LISTCO’s quantitative early warning tool and qualitative research.
The series kicked off with a workshop on the Middle East in Jerusalem in June 2018, hosted by IDC Herzliya and the Konrad Adenauer Foundation. A session on Europe’s Eastern Neighbourhood was hosted by GPPi near Berlin in November 2018, followed by a workshop on North Africa at the Istituto Affari Internazionali in Rome in February 2019.
During all three sessions, experts discussed scenarios of governance breakdown or violent conflicts in Europe’s neighbourhood for the next three to five years up to 2025, including a potential military confrontation between Iran and Saudi Arabia; a new wave of colour revolutions in post-Soviet countries; and the possibility of an authoritarian resurgence in Tunisia.
In a second set of workshops on strategic policy design, officials from European foreign services, policy experts and EU-LISTCO researchers will use these scenarios as a basis for developing targeted policy responses.