By DG Mare, 2012.

More than 70 percent of Earth’s surface is covered by water. This truly makes our planet the “Blue Planet”. Not only is water a precondition to the existence of life but it also provides resources that directly contribute to our society, ranging from sea transport to the production of raw materials, fisheries, leisure activities etc. The sea is an integral part of the European identity and of the continent’s economy. Among the 27 Member States of the European Union, 22 have a coast and two thirds of the European frontiers are set by the sea. In light of this, it is essential that Europe recognises the true potential of its marine resources and develops an integrated policy that acknowledges the inter-linkages that exist between the different domains and functions of its seas, oceans and coastal areas. The Integrated Maritime Policy (IMP) that has been pursued by the European Commission since 2007 is an important step in realising Europe’s future strategies and policies. The Blue Growth project -“Scenarios and Drivers for Sustainable Growth from the Oceans, Seas and Coasts”- builds on earlier policy initiatives to recognise the potential of these marine resources and thus aids in realising the Europe 2020 strategy towards smart, sustainable and inclusive growth.


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Stefan Lechtenböhmer, Maike Bunse, Adriaan Perrels, Karin Arnold, Stephan Ramesohl, Anja Scholten, and Nikolaus Supersberger, 2008.

The quantitative scenario study on the EU energy system focuses on the security of energy supply and different alternatives for the EU energy system. Five different scenarios for the EU25 energy system by 2030 were developed. The scenarios were then grouped into two main families called “advanced conventional” and “domestic action” and their respective pros and cons analysed with regard to  all relevant EU-policy fields for providing policy recommendations.

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Klaus Hubacek, Dabo Guan and Anamika Barua, 2007.

China and India are the world’s largest developing economies and also two of the most populous countries. China, which now has more than 1.3 billion people, is expected to grow to more than 1.4 billion by 2050, and India with a population of 1 billion will overtake China to be the most populous countries with about a 1.6 billion population. These population giants are home to 37 percent of the world's population today. In addition, China and India have achieved notable success in their economic development characterized by a high rate of GDP growth in the last two decades. Together the two countries account already for almost a fifth of world GDP.


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By European Comission, 2012.

If we count all economic activities that depend on the sea, then the EU's blue economy represents 5.4 million jobs and a gross added value of just under €500 billion per year. In all, 75% of Europe’s external trade and 37% of trade within the EU is seaborne. Much of this activity is concentrated around Europe's coasts, but not all. Some landlocked countries host very successful manufacturers of marine equipment.

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Andrew Atherton, 2005.

Scenarios represent future possibilities or descriptions of ‘what might be’. This paper generates a series of possible futures based on an identified policy priority, namely the encouragement of increased levels of small business activity. Counterfactual thinking is used to challenge this policy objective and to formulate alternative possibilities. Specific consideration is made of the nature of the future economy in terms of business linkages and market integration, as are the likely strategic responses of businesses and government. Eight scenarios are developed based on these drivers of change in economic structure and business activity. Data on the world economy are then applied to 19 developed and developing economies to test the scenarios. How these ‘externally generated’ scenarios can be applied to and made relevant to businesses, and in particular smaller enterprises, is examined, as are the broader implications for the future nature and structure of economic activity.

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By ESPON Project, 2006.

The main objective of the project is to develop spatial scenarios which should on the one hand be prospective, capable of prognostics with reference to a laissez-faire scenario on themes of the ESPON and policy orientations of the ESDP. On the other hand the scenarios should as well be proactive testing alternative objectives and provide insight for recommendations on policy adjustments/changes in EU policies that would favour a balanced and polycentric territory and territorial cohesion within an enlarged European Union. The time horizon for the spatial scenarios is set to 2015 (mid term) and 2030 (long term).

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Björn Hacker, Business Insider, 2013.

The Eurozone is standing at a crossroads, facing the biggest challenges in its history: the systemic crisis and the political attempts to overcome it have far-reaching consequences for the future of the Economic and Monetary Union, European integration and Europe in the world. By identifying the main driving forces that influence the future development of the Economic and Monetary Union, a number of different scenarios were developed by the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung to show what the Eurozone will look like in the year 2020.


Four major scenarios are imaginable:

(A) Muddling through the Crisis. The Eurozone remains a house without a protecting roof.
(B) Break-up of the Eurozone. The Euro house falls apart.
(C) Core Europe: evolution of two-level integration with a smaller and stable, but exclusionary Euro house.
(D) Completion of the Monetary Union by a fiscal and political union. The roof is repaired and construction completed.

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Free World Academy, 2005

By the end, our futures studies provide you with an unique scenario.
The world in 2030 will be divided into three areas:

  • A Globalizing area (51.5 % of the population, 74.5% of the world GNI) with a growing middle class.
  • A backward area dominated by Islamism ( 34.5% of world population and only 3.5% of world GNI) with low incomes, economic regression and chaos
  • A declining area (European Union and South America: 14% of the world population and 22% of the world GNI).

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By World Economic Forum, 2009

As the effects of the financial crisis continue to unfold, the world faces serious challenges to the functioning of both capital markets and the global economy. With aggregate demand falling, there is a significant risk of a severe global recession that will affect many sectors, asset classes and regions in tandem.

Financial regionalism

This is a world in which post-crisis blame-shifting and the threat of further economic contagion have created three major blocs on trade and financial policy, forcing global companies to construct tripartite strategies to operate globally. As the crisis deepens in the US and Europe through 2010, the emerging markets walk away from a series of global talks, reject Western models and ideals, and form their own bloc of domestically focused economies. The US is isolated. With the exception of tourism and energy materials, most trade flows among the blocs decline sharply. Energy security becomes a key issue.The financial world is split among the three regional blocs—the US-led Democratic Trade Alliance, the expanded EU area and the Eastern International Economic Community led by China. The global landscape is therefore characterised by old and new champions seeking to operate on a regional basis, with Asian financial institutions dominating the global landscape in terms of size.

Re-engineered Western centrism

This is a highly coordinated and financially homogenous world that may yet have to face up to the realities of power shifting to the East and the dangers of regulating for the last crisis rather than the next. With emerging economies severely affected by the global recession, the West maintains economic and moral primacy by playing a leading role in corporate restructuring, driving productivity increases and maintaining free trade globally. Its crowning achievement is the reform of existing international financial institutions—dubbed “Bretton Woods II”—and the creation of a supranational regulatory authority. Unfortunately, Bretton Woods II falls short of the needs of emerging economies and the new regulatory regime fails to consider structural flaws in risk management, leading to renewed fears of an even bigger crisis.After being dominated for a short time by politicians and regulators, the financial world is once again a major engine of profitability and growth managed by insiders. With emerging market exchanges marginalized and those in the developed world greatly restructured, the advanced economies drive a new phase of growth.

Fragmented protectionism

This is a world characterized by division, conflict, currency controls and race-to-the bottom dynamics that only serve to deepen the long-term effects of the financial crisis. As the global recession bites, a range of other events, including inter-state conflict, domestic unrest and natural disasters, combine to make things worse. Countries try to look after their own economic interests, blaming each other and turning to populist, protectionist policies. Resource conflicts emerge, and security threats and terrorism keep nationalism and protectionism alive despite the high economic costs.The financial world is extremely localized and highly volatile, with major arbitrage opportunities for those with the ability to execute trades across borders. Unfortunately, capital controls in most jurisdictions make this very difficult, and political risk is high.

Rebalanced multilateralism

In this world, initial barriers to coordination and disagreement over effective risk management approaches are overcome in the context of rapid shifts in geo-economic power. The global community learns from its mistakes through sharing: As the US goes through successive crises and the emerging economies battle their own problems, the world eventually realizes that meaningful collaboration is the only way forward. Major shifts in international institutions and a new recognition of the meaning of global governance imply that the financial system is better suited to the challenges of a complex, interdependent world in 2020, if not at all perfect.Emerging markets set the pace for economic growth, cooperation on financial policy and new approaches to systemic financial risk. The financial system is globally integrated but, given the rapid growth in the emerging markets, in many cases dominated by BRIC-focused players.

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By government office for science, UK, 2009

Scenario 1: Global Innovation.

Energy and mineral prices stayed high, despite subdued demand, owing to a dearth of new discoveries and low investment caused by uncertainty over long-term prices. The second half of the decade was different. The ‘climate crisis’ of 2015 provided a wake-up call to international collaboration, with a number of positive consequences.

At the start of the decade, though, slow recovery in developed economies held back developing countries, which were buffeted by high and volatile commodity prices. While this worked in favour of some commodity exporters, population growth, resource depletion and climate change slowed progress on poverty reduction, and levels of inequality remained high.

Oil and mineral-producing countries recycled some of their earnings into value-added manufacturing industries. Western firms benefited considerably by providing engineering and manufacturing consulting services and training to support these projects. Despite the fact that the trade system remained open, only halting progress was made at the global level and intercontinental trade was hit badly. Even though financing improved with the provision of international guarantees, volumes remained well below those of the early years of the century. High transport costs and weaker Western currencies slowed demand for goods from Asia.

Regional trade picked up to offset some of the shortfall. This was in part because high oil prices discouraged the shipping of goods over long distances, but another factor was the bigger role played by regional trading blocs, which also benefited from the increased development aid made available to support regional integration and trade facilitation.

Currency imbalances eased as the proportion of services versus goods traded increased. This was accompanied by diversification by Asian and major oil-producing countries into a wider range of currency assets alongside the US dollar.

Access to resources became a significant trade issue, and a number of countries responded by restricting exports. As a result, greater emphasis was placed on tackling this trend in international trade agreements, leading to modest progress in introducing multilateral rules.

Within a year, a coalition of countries and regions had agreed to allocate revenues raised by carbon taxes to a new international fund that would invest in low carbon technologies and make them available around the world. Thanks to investments from the fund, major breakthroughs have been achieved in solar and tidal technologies. Carbon capture and storage has increasingly been included in new coal-ired power stations. This technology rush has created a huge market, boosting businesses across the world.

A side-benefit of this movement has been a more active set of global institutions with growing popular support. Better global coordination has had a remarkable impact in developing countries, where investments from the technology fund have led to thriving new businesses, and where IT-enabled trade facilitation and improved access to developed markets have contributed to economic growth, which has in turn led to much lower levels of poverty and deprivation.

Scenario 2: Global citizen

The world experienced a very sharp but short-lived recession which ended in early 2010 thanks in part to the contribution of large emerging economies in helping to restore global demand.

Chastened by the crisis, countries have increased their collaboration, strengthening national and international regulatory regimes and monitoring systemic financial risk. This has restored confidence in international trade and capital lows – trade is forecast to continue to grow steadily. The reformed International Monetary Fund (IMF) has taken on a broader and stronger supervisory role.

Progress has been made on establishing the rule of law in international trade and improving its application in national jurisdictions. The World Trade Organization (WTO) has played an important role since the Doha Development Round was agreed in 2010, giving developing countries, particularly smaller ones, improved access to world markets, and the Jakarta Round is now under way. Intellectual property rights are better protected, and this has led to cross-border investments in a range of new technologies.

The IMF has become a major bond issuer; its bonds have proved popular with newly industrialising countries, which have increasingly preferred them to traditional sovereign bonds. One of the results of this has been a rebalancing of private savings, exchange rates, and budget deficits and surpluses across the globe.

The improved Intellectual Property Rights regime and a simplified global tax system have encouraged multinational companies to be more mobile. Manufacturing activity takes place closer to supplies of raw materials, and has provided an effective mechanism for raising standards of living. Efforts by civil society organisations around the world, and particularly in developing countries, have led to increased social protection.

There has been a gradual relinquishing of national sovereignty in favour of global institutions, and within these institutions the West’s influence has declined. Although this has led to campaigns by nationalist parties in many countries, the ‘global citizen’ appears to have taken such changes in his or her stride. This was initially put down to relief at coming out of the 2008–09 crisis relatively unscathed, but recently there have been signs that the growing influence of global institutions is viewed as a positive development in its own right.

Western countries and companies no longer call the shots in this world, in which the newly industrialised economies have – gradually and carefully – established their influence. Manufacturing has become ever more skills-intensive and, despite increasing specialisation, some traditional exporters have found it hard to compete. Smaller countries have reacted by seeking closer trade ties with regional groupings.

Leading global firms, in particular the new breed of Asian multinationals, have forged ahead with innovations and design improvements in high technology products. To compete in these fields, Western countries have sought to boost the number of science and technology graduates in order to increase the volume and quality of hi-tech skills among their workforce.

Western countries have maintained a lead in knowledge-based sectors such legal and financial services and marketing, while some have specialised in training overseas R&D workers and exporting educational services (although there are constant concerns about a ‘brain-drain’).  In these cases, outward investment and a good awareness of local trading environments have proved crucial to success.

Scenario 3: fragile alliances

International trade balances improved, but global currency imbalances remained, and have threatened to destabilise world trade at various points during the decade.

Trade between human capital-rich and resource rich countries has flourished, with powerful multinational lobbies taking the lead. But countries without the human capital or natural resources to participate in such exchanges have been left out. Rapidly industrialising developing countries have been on a constant, often frantic search for resource partners in order to maintain the growth necessary for their stability and development, and have been accused of making deals with oppressive regimes.

This has led to a ‘spaghetti’ formation of bilateral deals, broken up only by the activity of cartels of resource-producing countries, which have banded together to protect their interests and pool their negotiating efforts over resources from oil to rare minerals. These ‘country cartels’ engage in collective bargaining with global clients, who seek (often successfully) to pick apart these fragile alliances.

Trading blocs with discriminatory rules constantly form and disband; those that have lasted longer have often had a political agenda. Governments are eager to support their key industries with a mixture of subsidies and political incentives. Although the earnings of resource exporters are spent on goods from industrialised countries, which therefore maintain a degree of prosperity, this trade generally takes place within the narrow framework of bilateral agreements and ad hoc trading blocs. The result has been huge inefficiencies and poor allocation of resources, resulting in a lack of innovation, low responsiveness to consumer demand and expensive and low-quality products.

Development aid has followed a similar pattern. Efforts to improve coordination have had little success, with aid being used more and more as a way of opening doors to support countries’ trade interests rather than to alleviate poverty. The citizen-consumer has in any case retrenched and lowered his or her expectations. The failures of the trade and climate change negotiations, and increasingly inward-looking behaviour, have seen a resurgence of nationalistic politics. Migration controls are tightened with few complaints. The looming threat of severe climate impacts has been met by vigorous adaptation measures – which have had the advantage of mobilising the domestic workforce and providing employment.

Scenario 4: deglobalisation

Some blame a lack of coordination and the failure adequately to reform the international financial system. The result has been a downward spiral of global confidence. A recession lasting the best part of the decade has led to commodity price stagnation and a prolonged slump in trade and investment.

Countries have adopted different strategies to ride out the recession, including economic nationalism, bilateral deals and closer regional groupings. Weaker economies have sought shelter under regional umbrellas, while the capacity and willingness of stronger economies to support weaker countries have vanished. Public confidence in governments’ ability to shift the world out of recession has hit rock bottom. A ‘blame the West’ narrative has gained traction in the large industrialising countries.

Conflict has larded up regularly throughout the decade: ‘water wars’, resource grabs and contested claims to Arctic deposits. But despite frequent provocations and occasional skirmishes, none of the major powers has been drawn into the conflicts so far.

Droughts and climate shocks have disrupted food production, leading to export restrictions and high and volatile food prices, not to mention famine in several countries. Net food importers have been particularly hard-hit, and the more powerful have purchased land abroad to grow supplies, though this policy has met with fierce local resistance.

Food and energy security are at the heart of regional as well as national policy. Support for interventionist agricultural policies has grown at national and regional levels.

The nationalist and ‘regionalist’ response to recession has brought back protectionism in many guises, and ‘deglobalisation’ is under way. Trade agreements have started to unravel, with some countries seeking to pull out of the WTO when they are sanctioned for breaking its rules. One impact of this has been the shortening of supply chains, both geographically (suppliers are more local) and in corporate terms, with vertical integration making a come-back. There are increasing restrictions on foreign investment, both from countries that want to limit a foreign presence in their economies, and from countries that have restricted their own companies from off-shoring and ‘exporting jobs’.

In countries able to secure the necessary raw materials, some of the impact of the new protectionism has been perceived as positive, reviving low-value production and renewing a sense of national identity; there has been growth in associations, charities and volunteering. Innovation and wages have, however, fallen. Consumers are less spoilt for choice and face higher prices.

The main losers have been exporting countries, particularly single-commodity exporters and manufacturers of industrial goods where the local (or regional) market is unable to absorb the products that were previously traded internationally.

Where international trade does still continue, it is dominated by state-controlled multinationals, and corruption and links to organised crime is a common feature.

Developing countries experience ever-lower earnings from exports and sharply reduced levels of investment and remittances (migration controls are widespread and rigorously enforced). They are strongly reliant on help from the international financial institutions, whose resources are over-stretched. Inequalities between and within countries have increased sharply. Developing countries have also been hurt by increasing volatility in international food and commodity markets, due to the increased use of domestic subsidies and export restrictions.

Aid for poverty reduction has dropped down the agenda of Western countries, and where aid is still provided it is generally in an attempt to reduce migration pressures or to further strategic and security interests. Some effort is made to intervene in conflict situations where these are perceived to be a direct threat to a country’s interests, but in many cases conflicts are left to fester, with only token provision of humanitarian aid.

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By Goldman Sachs, 2003

Over the next 50 years, Brazil, Russia, India and China—the BRICs economies—could become a much larger force in the world economy. Using the latest demographic projections and a model of capital accumulation and productivity growth, we map out GDP growth, income per capita and currency movements in the BRICs economies until 2050.

The results are startling. If things go right, in less than 40 years, the BRICs economies together could be larger than theG6 in US dollar terms. By 2025 they could account for over half the size of the G6. Currently they are worth less than 15%. Of the current G6, only the US and Japan may be among the six largest economies in US dollar terms in 2050.

About two-thirds of the increase in US dollar GDP from the BRICs should come from higher real growth, with the balance through currency appreciation. The BRICs’ real exchange rates could appreciate by up to 300% over the next 50 years (an average of 2.5% a year).

The shift in GDP relative to the G6 takes place steadily over the period, but is most dramatic in the first 30 years. Growth for the BRICs is likely to slow significantly toward the end of the period, with only India seeing growth rates significantly above 3% by 2050. And individuals in the BRICs are still likely to be poorer on average than individuals in the G6 economies, with the exception of Russia. China’s per capita income could be roughly what the developed economies are now (about US$30,000 per capita).

As early as 2009, the annual increase in US dollar spending from the BRICs could be greater than that from the G6 and more than twice as much in dollar terms as it is now. By 2025 the annual increase in US dollar spending from the BRICs could be twice that of the G6, and four times higher by 2050.

The key assumption underlying our projections is that the BRICs maintain policies and develop institutions that are supportive of growth. Each of the BRICs faces significant challenges in keeping development on track. This means that there is a good chance that our projections are not met, either through bad policy or bad luck. But if the BRICs come anywhere close to meeting the projections set out here, the implications for the pattern of growth and economic activity could be large.

The relative importance of the BRICs as an engine of new demand growth and spending power may shift more dramatically and quickly than expected. Higher growth in these economies could offset the impact of greying populations and slower growth in the advanced economies.

Higher growth may lead to higher returns and increased demand for capital. The weight of the BRICs in investment portfolios could rise sharply. Capital flows might move further in their favour, prompting major currency realignments.

Rising incomes may also see these economies move through the ‘sweet spot’ of growth for different kinds of products, as local spending patterns change. This could be an important determinant of demand and pricing patterns for a range of commodities.

As today’s advanced economies become a shrinking part of the world economy, the accompanying shifts in spending could provide significant opportunities for global companies. Being invested in and involved in the right markets—particularly the right emerging markets—may become an increasingly important strategic choice.

The list of the world’s ten largest economies may look quite different in 2050. The largest economies in the world (by GDP) may no longer be the richest (by income per capita), making strategic choices for firms more complex.

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Expert Group of the European Commission; 2011

The objective of this group is to conduct both quantitative and qualitative analyses in terms of well-grounded connections between challenges and visions and options for action on which policies can be built in the years to come. This is to be done through the elaboration and exploration of the main drivers that may affect or impact the world and Europe by 2030/2050, thus integrating the long-term dimension in the policy preparation. On 28 November 2011, the European Commission organized a conference in Brussels on "Global Europe 2050" which presented the results of a European foresight expert group year-long work. The focus of this expert group was "The World and Europe up to 2050: EU policies and research priorities". "Global Europe 2050" is line with the EU report published two years ago and entitled "The World in 2025". But "Global Europe 2050" has a longer-term perspective to tackle issues such as natural resources availability, infrastructures and territorial dynamics.

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Long Finance Foundation, 2011

This report paints four scenarios which are built on the best forecasts we have for 2050 – in terms of population, the use of technology, etc – and additionally explore the imponderables – how will society organise itself, and the role of financial services within these worlds.

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Loni Gardner By Ecologic Institute, Berlin, Ines Omann by Sustainable Europe Research Institute, Vienna, Christine Polzin by Sustainable Europe Research Institute, Vienna, Susanah Stoessel by Ecologic Institute, Berlin and Killian Wentrup by Ecologic Institute, Berlin.

By European Commission, 2011

The aim of the One Planet Economy Network is to help transform Europe to a One Planet Economy by 2050. Given the long timeframe (up to the year 2050), the wide range of factors and the complex interrelationships between these factors, often involving feedback loops, the degree of uncertainty in any attempt to predict future outcomes would be very high.

Clever and Caring

This scenario assumes rapid technological change combined with a high level of preparedness to move away from materialism and the traditional focus on economic growth. This enables a relatively painless shift to a high-tech, but more caring, collaborative and sustainable society. In this world, Europeans recognise that sustainable lifestyles are paramount to the continued function of global ecosystems and the livelihood of future generations. Competition has largely been replaced by cooperation. Planned obsolescence of technology has been replaced by planned durability and reuse. The European health and education systems reflect holistic social values. Social innovation flourishes at the neighbourhood, city and regional levels due to robust participatory governance and ample time availability for personal activities. Nearly 95% of farms in the EU are organic or permaculture-based. The financial system is radically different and has broadened its focus from the short-term and profit-driven models of lending to include social and environmental considerations. Energy infrastructure is largely decentralised and flexible.

Fast Forward

This scenario assumes the economic growth focus of today will continue to be a driving force. The transformation to a One Planet Economy has to be spurred on more aggressively by policies designed to maximise the potential of technological innovation to improve resource efficiency, to constrain overall consumption and to deal with global distributional issues. Without a ―green tech revolution and strong political action, Europe would have been unlikely to stay within the limits of a One Planet Economy, and there would have been a high risk of social and economic instability at global and regional levels. About 70-80% of Europeans live in a highly modern city in high-tech accommodation located in close proximity to work and personal, social and community services. Improvements in energy efficiency have helped drive the decoupling of energy use from economic growth between 2011 and 2050 beyond current trends (in transport, for example, there has been a large-scale reduction on the dependency on fossil fuels). While energy demand in Europe has increased compared to 2011, by 2050 there is almost full decarbonisation of the power sector and a large scale switch to renewable electricity in the heat and transport sectors). Competition has catalysed a transformation of the global economy into one centred on low-impact growth and development, operating under a system of global production zoning.

Breaking Point

This scenario combines slow technological change and an enduring growth focus in people‘s mindset about development. The prices of high-impact goods and services have reached levels that are unaffordable for many people in society. Society is strongly divided by a large social gap between those who can and those who cannot afford an affluent lifestyle. This world is characterised by greater inequality and tension and it is more prone to conflict, which is exacerbated by political and resource related uncertainty shocks and vicious competition for resources. These shocks eventually force this unwilling world to decrease its consumption levels and institute severe policies in order to meet the One Planet Economy goal by 2050. Since only limited gains in resource efficiency are possible through technological solutions, the emphasis has been on changing consumption behaviour. There has been a renewed shift to a more labour-intensive economy with greater food production within the EU for internal consumption, driven by the high prices of energy and other inputs and the fierce competition in world markets for increasingly scarce raw materials. Both imported and domestically produced goods are expensive. Prices for services are also generally high, and nearly every aspect of European life is heavily regulated to control demand and force conservation and efficiency measures.

Slow Motion

This scenario illustrates a more equitable transformation, with the vast majority of people embracing a ―back to basics and ―doing more with less lifestyle. Technological innovation does not play as great a role in enabling the shift to a One Planet Economy as in Scenarios 1 and 2. Instead, Europeans quickly learn to make the most of today‘s available technologies, to collaborate more, and to share limited resources more effectively. In this world, most Europeans have embraced frugality, simplicity and sustainability as core lifestyle choices. Average working hours are roughly half as long as they were in 2011. The average European walks, rides a bike or uses state of the art public transport rather than private road vehicles. The EU‘s economy is reflective of ―greened‖ societal values and has become famous for its Beyond-GDP approach. In business, cooperation and knowledge sharing are more important drivers than competition, resulting in a more limited amount of innovation and growth but a more stable, albeit more insular, economy. Demand for imported goods is low due to large-scale de-materialism and self-sufficiency and due to high trade barriers or tariffs for products and services with high environmental and social harm. Notwithstanding this ―ethical trade policy, Europe actively engages with the global community to promote peace, fair trade, and eliminate trade barriers for technologies that maximise resource and energy use efficiencies.

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ESPON, 2010

The aim of the project is to assess future changes in population growth, the size of the labour force and the ageing of the population, and to explore different policy options aiming at regional competitiveness and territorial cohesion.

DEMIFER scenarios link policy bundles to demographic effects using two dimensions: Distribution-Fairness and Economy – Environment. At one end of the Economy-Environment dimension we envisage a situation where sustainable growth has been achieved through technical and social innovation. At the other end of dimension we envisage a situation where the environmental challenges have not been met and growth as traditionally measured has fallen. The Distribution-Fairness dimension varies from a bundle of policies designed to achieve social solidarity on the one end, to a set of polices designed to improve the operation of markets and the achievement of greater competitiveness in a global market on the other end.Combining the two dimensions produces four policy scenarios, which we call:

  • Growing Social Europe (GSE)
  • Expanding Market Europe (EME)
  • Limited Social Europe (LSE)
  • Challenged Market Europe (CME)

Each of these scenarios is associated with a set of policies that we may expect to impact, to a greater or lesser degree, future patterns of mortality, fertility and migration.

As the growth of the labour force does not just depend on the size of the working age population but also on the level of labour force participation rates, alternative assumptions on future changes in labour force participation rates are included in the specification of the scenarios.Effects of policies on the labour force:

  • If labour force participation rates stay the same, the total size of the labour force will decline by 17% until 2050 and it will grow in only 25% of the regions. The four policy scenarios on labour force participation provide an array of possible territorial trends in Europe and distinguish some of the effects of policies.
  • Only under favourable economic conditions (high extra-European migration and increased activity rates - as in the EME and GSE scenarios) will the total size of the labour force increase by 2050. However 35 and 40 % of the regions in the EME and GSE scenarios respectively will still face a decline in the size of the labour force by 10% or more by 2050.
  • If economic conditions are poor (activity rates decline or stay the same and immigration is low - as in the LSE and CME scenarios), regions will experience a decline in the labour force. Further, 55-70% of the regions will experience a decline of the labour force by 10% or more and even decrease by 30% or more in most of the eastern and southern European regions.
  • As shown in the table below, over 50% of all NUTS2 regions in Europe will experience both an increase in population and labour force in the GSE and EME scenarios, while only 20-30% of the regions in the LSE and CME scenarios see an increase in both of these.

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By European Commission, 2011

The Europe 2020 strategy incorporated three potential growth paths to which the scenario development of this study was incorporated: globalization, demographic change, climate change, Secure, sustainable and energy and social polarisation.

Sustainable recovery

In this scenario, Europe is able to make a full return to the earlier growth path and raise its potential to go beyond. Economic output will rise highly by 2020 and policies are enabled to react to the challenges facing European regions accordingly due to high revenues. On the other hand, institutional and structural reforms will not happen as fast as the crisis indicated because the crisis effects could be relatively quickly overcome. Europe will maintain and consolidate its role as a driving force in knowledge economy to overcome the loss of employment in the production sector to emerging industrialised countries. To compensate for competitive disadvantages with emerging players that have fewer restraints in resource use, the business environment, especially for SMEs, will be improved in order to develop a strong and sustainable industrial base.

Sluggish recovery scenario

Europe will have suffered a permanent loss in wealth In this scenario and start growing again from this eroded basis. The economic growth levels will reach the pre-crisis levels, but overall there will be a permanent gap compared to the former output levels. The freedom of designing far-reaching policies will be restricted. To keep the recovery going, forces will be concentrated into innovation and knowledge so as to keep the global competitiveness of Europe on pre-crisis levels. Europe will maintain its wealth and its role as a driving force in knowledge economy but will still be threatened by emerging countries.

Lost decade scenario

In this scenario, Europe will have suffered a permanent loss in wealth and potential for future growth. Until 2020 the pre-crisis economic growth levels cannot be reached again, which makes the financial manoeuvring room for policy makers to respond to upcoming challenges more restricted. Nonetheless, efforts will be made to foster innovation and knowledge economy, yet a number of neighbouring and overseas economies will slowly but steadily erode Europe’s global competitiveness. Europe will contend hard to keep pace and can only compete by retaining high productivity levels while simultaneously tapering off income and social security levels. Many regions will therefore take their fate into their own hands and look for alternatives to growth.

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By Jean Chateau, Cuauhtemoc Rebolledo and Rob Dellink of the OECD Environment Directorate, 2011.

This report presents global socioeconomic baseline projections until 2050. It highlights how different drivers affect growth in GDP, and how this in turn affects energy use and greenhouse gas emissions. The Baseline scenario documented here serves as a background document for the preparation of the Socioeconomic Developments chapter of the OECD Environmental Outlook to 2050. The baseline has been constructed using the ENV-Linkages model, which is described in detail in a separate paper of the OECD Environment Working Paper series.

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By CPB Netherlands Bureau for Economic Policy Analysis, 2003

This study presents four economic scenarios for Europe until 2040. The scenarios are developed around two key uncertainties: international cooperation and institutional reforms.

  • Strong Europe. European countries maintain social cohesion through public institutions. As a result, society accepts that the more equitable distribution of welfare limits the possibilities to improve economic efficiency. Yet, governments respond to the growing pressure on the public sector by undertaking selective reforms in the labour market, in social security, and in public production. Combined with early measures to accommodate the effects of ageing, these policies help to maintain a stable and growing economy. In the European Union, member states learn from each other’s experience, which creates a process of convergence of institutions within EuropeReform of the process of EU decision-making lays the foundation for a successful, strong European Union. The enlargement is a success, and integration advances— geographically, economically and politically. European leadership is important for achieving broad international cooperation, not only in the area of trade but also in other areas like climate change.
  • Regional Communities. European countries rely on collective arrangements to maintain an equal distribution of welfare. At the same time, governments are unsuccessful at modernising welfare-state arrangements. A strong lobby of vested interests blocks reforms in various areas. Together with an expanding public sector, this situation puts a severe strain on European economies. The European Union cannot adequately cope with the Eastern enlargement and fails to reform its institutions. As an alternative, a core of rich European countries emerges. Cooperation in this sub-group of relatively homogeneous member states gains a more permanent character. The world is fragmented into a number of trade blocks, and multilateral cooperation is modest.
  • Global Economy. European countries find a new balance between private and public responsibilities. Increasing preferences of people for flexibility and diversity, and growing pressure on public sectors, give rise to reforms. New institutions are based on private initiatives and market-based solutions. European governments concentrate on their core tasks, such as the provision of pure public goods and the protection of property rights. They engage less in income redistribution and public insurance, so that income inequality grows. International developments also reflect increasing preferences for diversity and efficiency. Political integration is not feasible, as governments assign a high value to their national sovereignty in many areas. Moreover, policy competition becomes standard in many policy areas. Economic integration, however, becomes broader (not always deeper), as countries find it in their mutual interest to remove barriers to trade, investment and migration. With a limited amount of competences and a focus on the functioning of the internal market, the European Union finds it relatively easy to enlarge further eastwards. Similarly, negotiations in the WTO are successfully completed. Regional and global integration puts poor countries on a path of catching-up and high growth. As international cooperation in non-trade issues fails, the problem of climate change intensifies, while European taxes on capital income gradually decline under tax competition.
  • Transatlantic Market. European countries limit the role of the state and rely more on market exchange. This boosts technology-driven growth and increases inequality. The inheritance of a large public sector in EU countries is not easily dissolved. New markets—e.g. for education and social insurances— lack transparency and competition, which brings about new social and economic problems. The interests of the elderly dominate policy decisions, which make it difficult to dismantle the pay as-you-go pension systems in continental Europe. Government failures thus compound to market failures. EU member states focus primarily on national interests. EU decision-making is not reformed, which complicates further integration in the European Union. The EU redirects its attention to the United States, and agrees upon transatlantic economic integration. This intensifies trade in services, which yields welfare gains on both sides of the Atlantic. The prosperity of the club of rich countries is in sharp contrast with the poverty in Eastern Europe and in developing countries.

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European Commission, 2011

The Global Europe 2050 scenarios have been shaped with a view to combine the global perspective (notably including future dynamics and trends that are mainly out of the reach of EU policies) with a specific focus on the future of European integration. In the focus of these scenarios the potential impacts of EU policies in such diverse areas as governance and geopolitics, economic and technological growth stimulation, the use of land and of other increasingly scarce natural resources and, most importantly, research, innovation and education are devised and assessed.

  • Nobody cares: standstill in European integration. In this scenario, Europe is seen in a process of prolonged “muddling through” in the absence of guiding and visionary actors and the lack of a redesigned policy framework. Thus, economic growth remains low in Europe. The divergence between the EU and the leading world economies - USA in the short-medium term, but also China in the longer term - widens, as the latter keep a strong developmental pace (the implicit assumption is therefore a better future trajectory for the rest of the world). The challenges posed by the ageing phenomenon in Europe are not decisively addressed, leading to economic instability. The completion of the European market remains unachieved. There is limited public support to address climate change and other global challenges, leading among others to an increased dependence on the foreign supply of energy.
  • EU under threats: a fragmented Europe. This scenario under threat envisages a global economic decline, with protectionist reactions, the subsequent increase in transaction costs and increasingly congested infrastructures. A range of serious geopolitical risks emerge including possible low-intensity conflicts - civil wars, nuclear conflicts and the radicalization of governments in advanced democracies. The EU heads towards disintegration, triggered by the possible withdrawal of one or more leading Member States and the emergence of two or more speeds of development and integration within the Union. Climate change and its implications are not addressed. Food and oil shocks materialize. Major energy supply disruptions and failures of the different European grid(s) system(s) are becoming more probable due to heavy underinvestment in the renovation of these. The failure of Europe to implement sound research policies leads to a reduction in the pace of innovation. Productivity gains diminish progressively until 2050 within the EU, also compared to the "Nobody cares" scenario. Unlike Europe, the rest of the world and especially the emerging markets reap their potentials to economic growth, so that the rest of the world continues to keep a relatively strong developmental pace.
  • EU renaissance: further European integration. In this EU renaissance scenario (depicted as “ER” in the following) global security is achieved, with the generalized enforcement of human rights and the rule of law. The world undergoes a global democratization of power also as a consequence of increasingly active non-state actors, global public policy networks and the media. The EU is enlarged both east- and southwards, and political, fiscal and military integration is consolidated. There is strong public support toward challenging targets in e.g. climate change and energy efficiency. The all continental integration of energy systems (with renovation and heavy re-investments) boosts the share of renewable energy. Innovation systems undergo major reforms to become increasingly systemic, with more user-integration, more easy-to-use technological systems and services, and more encompassing smart growth oriented technology and innovation policies. Importantly, the EU manages to optimally design its technological and research policies, to target the right domains and methods, and this leads to an acceleration in the pace of innovation and the productivity gains increase progressively until 2050 within the EU, compared to the Nobody cares scenario, the rest of the world keeping its own pace.

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World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD), 2011

Under the Vision 2050 project of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD), 29 WBCSD member companies developed a vision of a world well on the way to sustainability by 2050, and a pathway leading to that world – a pathway that will require fundamental changes in governance structures, economic frameworks, business and human behavior. It emerged that these changes are necessary, feasible and offer tremendous business opportunities for companies that turn sustainability into strategy. This report addresses three questions: What does a sustainable world look like? How can we realize it? What are the roles business can play in ensuring more rapid progress toward that world?

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