What If....? Scanning The Horizon: 12 Scenarios For 2021

There are many ways to think about the future - but some are more productive than others. Horoscopes, prophecies and ancient dream interpretations, for instance, are not exactly useful: whereas horoscopes and dreams are too vague, prophecies are too doomsday-like to give a clear idea of what can be done to shape the future. This is what foresight is really about: choice, decision and action - and not, as is repeated time and again, predicting the future and getting it wrong. It is an intellectual and creative exercise designed to help decision-makers develop and make choices, challenge long-held beliefs and/ or orthodoxies, focus their resources and attention, and prevent and anticipate certain developments. This Chaillot Paper aims to alert decision-makers to potential developments with significant strategic impact while they can still prepare for, or even avoid them. This is done using two methods combined: horizon-scanning as well as single scenario-building. Taken together, they produce plausible events set in 2021 - with strategic ramifications well beyond that. All 12 scenarios in this Chaillot Paper reflect the expertise and imagination of the researchers who wrote them: some explore potential conflicts, while others look at disruptive political developments, or indeed at crises with significant ramifications. That said, all are designed in the hope of drawing attention to foreign and security policy aspects which are potentially overlooked, and all are extrapolated from ongoing and recent developments. The data visualisation was created for one of the scenarios entitled "What if...A country creates space debris on purpose" and examines objects in Low Earth Orbit (LEO).