What should the Trentino-Alto Adige region look like in 2030 – with the experience of the Covid 19 pandemic in mind? Will there be a return to traditional values, customs and family structures, an opening to the world, combined with a socially fair and ecologically sustainable way of production and living? Or will the region rather focus on the individualization and acceleration of society, with the consequence that resource consumption will continue to rise unbridled? Will “green growth” with extensive technological networking play an increasingly important role? With the support of a 20-member interdisciplinary advisory board composed of experts from South Tyrol and abroad, researchers from Eurac Research and the School of International Business and Entrepreneurship (SIBE) at Steinbeis University have conducted a study on the future of South Tyrol with a special focus on sustainability. At the heart of the study are four equivalent scenarios, which were presented today at the Eurac Research Centre. As a next step, the researchers now also want to gather the opinions and suggestions of stakeholders in the country; the survey will start at the end of October.
In order to know how markets, industries and society will develop, companies have been working for years with so-called strategic foresight. Increasingly, future scenarios are also being applied in urban planning and regional development. “The aim of strategic foresight is not to predict the future, but to deal systematically and scientifically with various future scenarios, as well as the opportunities and challenges associated with them. Ultimately, strategic foresight helps us to shape the future we want by acting in the present,” says advisory board member Heiko von der Gracht, professor of futurology at SIBE at Steinbeis University, who oversaw the project process and the study’s methodology.
As a first step, researchers from Eurac Research asked an interdisciplinary team of experts which major global developments, in their opinion, will influence an alpine region like South Tyrol in the next 10 years and more. The experts also indicated – for their respective fields – the short-term challenges related to the Covid 19 crisis. The Eurac Research researchers then examined the literature on the global developments and challenges mentioned by the Council members – climate change, urbanisation, migration, technological and demographic change are just a few of them – and analysed numerous studies on the future as well as the corresponding national and international media coverage, and searched trend databases.
An overview of possible future scenarios for South Tyrol
The scenarios were visually translated into illustrations by a professional draughtsman – as in hidden object pictures, they illustrate life in the corresponding future. In designing the scenarios, the researchers considered the following areas in addition to the global level: Society, Health, Economy, Environment, Politics and Technology. The scenarios describe the future images retrospectively, as if the South Tyrolean population were looking back from the year 2030.
Scenario I: World of regional awareness – “In tradition lies strength”.
In 2030: The Covid 19 pandemic has sharpened the competition between nations and geopolitical blocs and contributed to a general uncertainty and polarization among the population.Many people in South Tyrol feel a strong sense of home and a strong regional identity. The social security of its own population, promoted by a targeted social and redistribution policy, and the protection of domestic nature are at the heart of political
Attention. Over the last ten years, a radical change has taken place, resulting in a kind of dissociation from the “outside”, a turn towards “analogue ways of life” and a return to traditional values, customs and (family) structures.
Scenario II: World of Neo-Cosmopolitanism – “Think Global, Act Local”
In 2030: The Covid 19 pandemic has highlighted the vulnerability and unsustainability of a hyper-globalized global economy geared towards perpetual growth, and contributed to a radical rethinking towards socially fair and environmentally sustainable modes of production and living. The majority of the people in South Tyrol feel solidarity with the world community. The balancing of social and economic inequalities, a participatory policy of co-creation as well as climate and environmental protection are at the top of the political agenda. The last ten years have seen a profound structural change that has led to a reorientation in many areas of society that tends to be neutral in terms of growth.
Scenario III: World of individual freedom – “I am the architect of my own happiness”.
In 2030: The Covid 19 pandemic has strengthened confidence in market mechanisms and in competition as the most important principle of social order. Most South Tyroleans value individual freedom of action. Performance and personal responsibility are among the defining guiding principles of society. They are reflected in the central economic policy measures: privatisation, deregulation of markets and the reduction of bureaucratic hurdles. These and similar reforms have been heavily promoted over the past decade. They have contributed to an individualisation and acceleration of society and to a flourishing of the entrepreneurial and pioneering spirit. At the same time, however, resource consumption has increased and emissions have risen even more sharply.
Scenario IV: World of green innovations – “There is a (technological) solution for everything”.
In 2030: The Covid 19 pandemic has led to an intensification of international cooperation and global exchange of information, goods and services. Most people in South Tyrol are connected to the world in a “global village” thanks to new technologies and growing cooperation networks. Economic growth, technological progress and investment in research and education are seen as the most important instruments for increasing prosperity. Social and environmental challenges have therefore also been the subject of targeted measures over the last ten years, focusing primarily on innovation and efficiency gains and designed to promote “green growth”.
“Our task was to draft bold future scenarios for South Tyrol. Now we have completed the first phase of our work and developed a broad spectrum of perspectives and options for action for a sustainable South Tyrol 2030. As a next step, we will invite stakeholders in the province to express their point of view and ideas on the future development of South Tyrol towards sustainability,” says Harald Pechlaner, economist at Eurac Research and scientific director of the study. In order to meet specific interests and needs in the country, one particular scenario should not dominate in the end, but elements from different scenarios should be combined to create a new perspective for the future. The study is intended to provide food for thought for the sustainable development of South Tyrol, but the course for this lies in the hands of the political, economic and social decision-makers.
The researchers paid particular attention to an assessment of whether and to what extent the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) can be achieved within the individual scenarios. “A common yardstick is needed to classify the efforts for sustainable development. The 17 Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations are therefore our benchmark, which should make South Tyrol’s progress internationally comparable. For this project, too, it was therefore important to the South Tyrolean regional government to apply this yardstick. So that we can immediately see which scenarios best serve sustainable development”, says Governor Arno Kompatscher in conclusion.
The entire study report, including a detailed description of the future scenarios and their dimensions, drivers, as well as the associated personas and the respective assessment of the achievement of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) can be found here.
Sara Senoner, firstname.lastname@example.org, Tel. + 39 (0) 471 055023
Katharina Helm. helm@steinbeis-sibe. de, Tel. +49 (0) 7032 94 58 90