Global Forces

Alternative futures for the global balance of power shifts

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The Foresight Center prepared a background report on global scenarios developed by international and national organizations. As a result, three metacenarios were developed.

Global cooperation

Interdependence and advantages of absolute gains, mutually compatible incentives. Rule-based state-centric world limited leverage for smaller states and non-state actors.

National interest

Scrambled geopolitics and mistrust among major players. In some areas ad hoc collaboration. States focus on relative gains. Competition and suboptimal outcomes. Nation-states protectionist economic measures.

Open networks

Diversity of state, local, private, and non-state actors. Open but also unstable system. Questioning states’  legitimacy. Challenges from non-state actors and large private firms.  Anxiety of weaker citizens and communities. Diverse development paths.

These three meta-scenarios imply trade-offs for Estonia. The purpose of the scenario planning approach is not to offer concrete policy suggestions but rather to indicate potential future developments for policy-makers, which allows formulating a framework for policy responses.The best policy responses will differ under diferent scenarios. The world dominated by global cooperation may allow Estonia to increase its leverage in a rule-based world, but it also implies new obligations to contribute to global public goods which may feed into domestic political backlash. The world dominated by national interests of large countries and blocs forces Estonia to make binary choices vis-à-vis different actors. The alliance with specific bloc may contribute to security and prosperity but may also subject Estonia to direct or proxy wars in the economic realm. The open networks’ scenario offers many opportunities for taking advantage of global diversity but it may also lead to instability stemming from global power fluctuations and economic volatility.

Author: Meelis Kitsing, Head of Research, Foresight Centre