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From crises to agreements

In this scenario, major crises shake the world and the role of global agreement is growing in responding to challenges. Global climate policy instruments are being strengthened.

Technology giants and data use are regulated at international level. The importance of digital ethics is emphasised through crises.

Democratic contract society is strengthened and the popularity of representative democracy rises, especially in the Western world.

China's negotiating power in the world is decreasing as the country's economic precipitation and internal crises get worse. Europe survives its crises. After Brexit, the remaining Member States will intensify their ranks. The strong interdependence of the European Union will gradually lead to federal development. However, economic growth is still slow in Europe and the basic elements of capitalism and continuous economic growth are increasingly being assessed. Degrowth-thinking increases popularity.

Future scenarios

The scenarios presented here are descriptions of potential future scenarios of the external operating environment concerning Finland's competitiveness from the present until 2030.

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Scenario

timeline

2020-2023

  • The climate movement continues to grow and its impact on politics increases. The climate discussion focuses primarily on the reduction of CO2 emissions and the state of ecosystems, for example, is largely ignored.
  • Brexit leads to economic difficulties and unrest in the UK. The EU's cohesion and position are strengthened as a result of the mess. The leaders to take decisive action to defend the open society and to strengthen the world order based on liberal rules. Sanctions are placed on Poland and Hungary to restore democracy. The Nordic countries deepen their cooperation and national borders in the region lose some of their significance.
  • The USA elects a Democrat president with more climate-friendly policies. The USA once again takes a big role in the activities of international institutions. The public sector's role and impact increase.
  • China's economic growth slows down and distorted economic figures lead to distrust regarding the functionality of the system. China reduces its overseas investments, which leads to a decrease in its international significance. India becomes increasingly attractive to the Western countries as an investment target and trade partner.
  • Chinese companies lose out to their Western competitors in many respects and lose market share in the Asian and African markets. Scandals related to privacy and surveillance become more common and boycotts among conscious consumers expand to cover a broad customer base.
  • In Asia and the United States, examples are seen of how the increase in personal data leads to responsibility shifting to individuals (e.g. the differentiation of health insurance policies). There is a desire to put a stop to this development and, in Europe, a debate emerges on whether using personal data for this purpose should be allowed.
  • Inequality between people and societies is met with global resistance and the idea of the Nordic welfare state spreads around the world. This is seen as one potential solution for "fixing capitalism".

2024-2027

  • Mass migration caused by a global food crisis leads to world leaders recognizing the problem of declining arable land.
  • Awareness of climate change grows and climate influence among young adults becomes increasingly ambitious. Degrowth thinking becomes mainstream and new "positive recession" indicators are developed. Young consumers, in particular, begin to favor experiences instead of physical goods and the values related to consumption change substantially. The emergence of eco-status.
  • Pollution and the exhaustion of arable land cause concern in China. This also has an impact on the country's economy, which no longer grows. The size of the workforce has decreased as the population ages and the country finds itself in an increasingly difficult predicament. Huawei goes bankrupt. The ownership of Alibaba becomes fragmented.
  • As climate change takes concrete form, the pressure to take adaptive action grows. International agreements aim at global climate action, but also adapting society to changes, and focus is placed on building a more equal society.
    It is revealed that data from devices that monitor health and well-being has been disclosed and physical reactions to various stimuli have been tested for the purpose of exerting influence. The targeting of content based on such data becomes even more questionable than before. "People hacking" leads to an unparalleled privacy scandal.
  • Close cooperation within the EU creates opportunities for the shift towards a federal state. In Europe, there is a need and a wish to regulate people's digital rights more strictly and comprehensively.
  • European political movements advocate for a supranational system that would restrict tax competition and increase employee representation on boards of directors.
  • The European Commission issues regulations on the use of data possessed by insurance companies. The stricter Directives make it possible for everyone to have reasonably priced insurance.
  • The EU's network also extends to countries such as Canada and Japan, and discussions on joining also include the possibility of limited membership by democratic countries in Africa and South America.

2028-2030

  • The popularity of representative democracy and voting activity increase in Europe, as the impact of representative democracy has improved and digital applications have made public governance more transparent. The EU introduces a digital platform that makes it easy to monitor the actions and effectiveness of political parties and representatives.
  • Food crises drive African metropolises into chaos. Crisis management is also among the key objectives in the Middle East, India and the EU.
  • An international summit is organized to solve the global food crisis. The new global food distribution system is based on shared power and cooperatives. Extensive international agreements are signed. Also party to these agreements is China, which finds itself in a difficult spot in the global economy and is motivated by avoiding the effects of the food crisis. Europe's primary interest is avoiding mass migration. The USA's concerns are related to preventing economic instability.
  • The power of large corporations is restricted by aggressively breaking up the market and preventing the consolidation of data (Facebook is forced to sell WhatsApp). The data and privacy crisis leads to the introduction of GDPR-type legislation in several countries.
  • India develops rapidly towards a wealthy democratic society that plays by the rules of international trade and the country becomes Europe's largest trading partner.
  • Supranational stakeholder groups are established, leading to unanimity about reforming the decision-making of key international institutions to correspond to the changing balance of the world and strengthen global governance. India and African countries assume an increasingly important role.
  • Global climate agreements with a major regulatory impact and CO2 taxes are widely implemented. Societies must change radically as technology does not provide a solution for the sustainable reduction of emissions arising from production and transport. Travel and consumption are subject to strict regulation.
  • The EU's shift towards a federal state grows stronger and ultimately key decision-making power is transferred entirely from the member states to the EU.
  • The idea of a universal basic income receives support.
  • Thanks to shared rules and a predictable operating environment, the economy grows — albeit slowly — towards 2030. However, GDP as a performance indicator has been superseded by an index of human and climate well-being.

 

Implications for Finland

From crises to agreements – being a model citizen has its benefits, both for Finland and the Union

The crises shaking the world also have repercussions on Finland. Ecological crises bring large-scale migration to Europe and Finland. This leads to challenges related to integration but also alleviates the labor shortage that Finland suffers from.

Reforms move social security towards universal basic income.

By 2030, the EU's internal market and cooperation have grown stronger, creating opportunities for Finnish companies pursuing internationalization.

Economic and political governance change to support the shift to a low-carbon society.

POLITICAL CLIMATE

The political atmosphere has calmed by the end of the decade. Voter turnout in the elections to the European Parliament has risen radically. Anti-EU movements operate as a counterforce to liberal global movements, but most Finns feel very positive about the EU.

The increasing shift of power to the EU changes the role of regional policy. The emphasis on urban development causes friction between cities and rural environments.

REGULATORY ENVIRONMENT

The federalization of the EU moves decision-making concerning trade and industry further away. Especially regulation regarding resource- and energy-efficiency becomes stricter, and regulation is carried out at the EU level.

Ethical data use practices spread and are largely applicable in various industries in Finland. Transparent and safe data use creates opportunities for Finnish healthcare companies, among others, which can now employ the extensive Finnish health data library.

NATURAL RESOURCES

The regulation of forest use has major effects on the Finnish forest industry, which shifts towards a circular industry approach that combines forest resources and the concept of the circular economy.

LABOR MARKET

Labor market organizations become increasingly international. Discussions can be conducted at a European level and in some cases even globally. Growth is registered in the Finnish working age population, and the role of employment-oriented integration increases.

INTEREST GROUPS

Lobbies focus their activities increasingly on Europe and international institutions.

CAPITAL

National innovation and research funding is shifted to the EU, which has a direct impact on these activities in Finland. Most of the funding is allocated to solving the problems brought about by climate change and the number of long-term strategic projects increase.

COMPETENCE

Responsible management and use of data as well as collaboration and negotiation competence receive greater emphasis as workplace skills.

Observation skills become more important, as individual opportunities to influence are minor.
Scientific and research cooperation thrives. The number of cooperation projects has increased radically, and cooperation is also vital to Finnish universities.
Low-carbon circular economy becomes a subject taught at schools.

 

Implications for

key industries

Bioeconomy and circular economy

Widespread SDG implementation is seen in companies because of international regulation as well as pressure from shareholders, investors and citizens.

International institutions assume an increasingly important role in the distribution of raw materials. Conflicts emerge between the mitigation of climate change and the industrial use of natural resources (e.g. certification processes and a prohibition against the complete harvesting of forests).

The food crisis leads to the end of cotton production as resources are reallocated to food production. Urban food production increases and diets change, following the introduction of environmental taxes on, for example, meat consumption.

Clean water emerges as a strategic natural resource and an advantage in negotiations.

Strict environmental and data regulations leads to slow decision-making and a recession in the economy. Degrowth lifestyles make necessity a virtue.

Energy and cleantech

Owing to strict regulation, the development of energy and environmental technology is slow but steady.

Emission reduction measures and technological development are guided by increasing climate and environmental taxation as well as strict and ambitious political emission reduction targets. Regulation leads to inefficient and partially optimized markets, but on the other hand creates demand for solutions involving smart energy technology, low-carbon industrial products, energy storage and low-emission traffic as well as synthetic fuels. A genuine market also emerges for industrial water consumption solutions.

Strong public innovation funding maintains the European industry's capacity for renewal.

Health and wellbeing

The emphasis on responsibility gives Europe a competitive edge. This attracts talent and investment to Europe.

Regulation increases confidence in the disclosure of health data. Thanks to this, the data available in Europe is of higher quality than in other regions. Europe creates a harmonized data policy that enables the secure cross-border transfer of health data. The EU establishes a shared databank.

The European Commission introduces stricter regulations on the use of data in the insurance industry with the aim of reducing the shift of responsibility to the individual and preventing insurance prices from spiraling to levels that people in risk groups cannot afford.

The role of the public sector and regulation in healthcare increases in several countries. Impact-based healthcare is introduced in many countries with an aging population.

Consumer business and tourism

Regulation guides consumption habits and sustainable consumption becomes mainstream. Crises have made many people accept a change in lifestyles and living standards.

Growth in the popularity of local services and locally produced commodities.

Pigouvian taxes (including a global carbon tax) guide consumption away from products that are harmful to the climate. Ethics and production conditions receive more attention than before, and operators perceived as unethical are widely boycotted. Ecological features become status symbols, and young consumers begin to favor experiences instead of physical goods.

The sustained zero growth of the economy supports the trend of local tourism. Following regulation, air travel declines, and growth is seen in overland travel.

Digitality

Technological development and the use of data are regulated based on ethical criteria. Consensus on the importance of regulation has emerged following data leak scandals. Restrictions on the use of personal data are introduced regarding insurance decisions, for example.

The technology giants are broken up, creating opportunities for smaller operators and enabling new kinds of innovation. Regulation has created a more level playing field but also slowed down technological development.

The transparency of political decision-making increases in democratic countries following the invention of new forms of digital democracy. This leads to growing interest in political decision-making and higher voting activity in democratic countries.

Technological progress is not fast enough to make it possible to solve the climate crisis by technological means.

The significance of digital ecology increases when there are no longer enough resources for all of the services of the digitalized world (digital carbon footprint).

 

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