Hypothetical scenarios What technology should exist

Cooperation across borders is suspended. Technologies in the raw materials sector are hardly further developed and economic growth has come to a standstill. Global insecurity leads to nationalist-oriented politics and a correspondingly high level of protectionism.

Sounds gloomy? We have even more: Research and development essentially takes place on a national level - and accordingly, high- and low-tech practices for raw material extraction co-exist. By restricting trade, the extraction of raw materials was reactivated even in less efficient regions - however, the use of often outdated technologies makes it one of the less attractive industries for society and employees.

The world in 2050: Protectionism and national trade barriers - the »NATIONAL WALLS« scenario

Purely hypothetical in 2016, highly topical today

Unfortunately at the moment it looks like we're on a pretty good way into this future. In fact, it is one of three scenarios that we developed together with partners in the »INTRAW« project in 2016 to support business and politics in the strategic planning of raw material-related issues. Great Britain was still an integral part of the EU at the time, and the liberal future of the United States seemed incontestable. A scenario like the one outlined above seemed possible, but rather unlikely. Today's reports include punitive tariffs, national protectionism and potential trade wars. Even if this situation is not absolutely desirable - we could hardly have thought of a better story for the validation of the scenarios developed in INTRAW.

But there is also positive news: My next posts will revolve around the scenarios “Sustainability Alliance” and “Unlimited Trade”, which were developed as alternative possibilities to “National Walls”. And as this article shows, an option today that is unrealistic and far away can become up-to-date faster than you think possible.

Hence the question:

What advice would you give your company from the future of the “NATIONAL WALLS” scenario?

Are you prepared for the trade wars that have been announced? Is there a robust strategy to counter increased protectionism? Or does your success depend on the global and inexpensive availability of raw materials?

Further information on scenario 3 "NATIONAL WALLS" as well as on the other scenarios is available in the brochure "The World of Raw Materials". The »Postcards from the Future« and posters in A0 print quality are also available for further discussion of a robust strategic orientation in your company.

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Sven Schimpf

Interdisciplinary researcher and thought leader in the Fraunhofer Group for Innovation Research. Blogs around the topic of strategic innovation, technology and R&D management. Why? Because exciting ideas and technological possibilities that generate added value need to be discussed and disseminated!

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