(with contributions from Showers Mawowa of SALO)
What future for international migration and mobility?
The future is not predetermined. A number of variables are at play in how it shapes out. So, what is the future for international migration and human mobility? Four scenarios, developed by a team of more than 50 individuals, reveal very distinct outlooks. From a general perspective, the scenarios can be summarised as follows:
• Extensive borders, reduced mobility: My Country First!
• Collapse of nations, migration for sheer survival: World on Fire
• Inclusive and sustainable development, recognition of the benefits of migration: Opening Roads
• IT-planned and -controlled world, reduced need for migrant workers: Technopoly Migration is today a contentious issue and, notwithstanding efforts towards a common approach through the global compacts on refugees (GCR) and for safe, orderly
and regular migration (GCM), there is no unified vision of the future. Migration and mobility are strongly influenced, “shaped” by context, and only to a lesser degree are they “shapers” of context.
The scenarios illustrate how antithetic (opposing) factors can yield different outcomes: those setting national migration policies and the value attributed to migrants determine the nature of the scenarios.
The analysis of the scenarios as a set also illustrates how even the pursuing preferred outlooks may yield less desirable futures.
The multiple futures expressed in these scenarios do not represent a “palette” of future worlds from which to pick and choose the preferred ones while discarding the information contained in the less desirable worlds. A set of scenarios offers multiple views of possible futures, and it is relevant in its entirety given the recognised limitations of linear trends to map out future perspectives. Since the future is uncertain, multiple futures are empowering – they open minds to the varied possibilities ahead and require
critical reflection of the tools to address these possibilities.
The scenarios presented here are deemed to be plausible by the scenario building team. Their stories provide an opportunity to assess policies, plans and strategies under any scenario: each scenario could materialise, whether we like it or not. Indeed, the future could reflect a combination of all four scenarios, illustrating therefore the importance of using the scenarios as a set, in order to appreciate the possible
diversity ahead. Exploring a range of possible options enables forward thinking that can facilitate advance preparation to anticipate any combination of futures.