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New publication depicts the long-term impacts of the war in Ukraine

A new publication from Sitra considers the long-term impacts, uncertainties and alternative trajectories concerning the war in Ukraine. When the situation is confused and obscure, it is all the more important to look at the bigger picture of change and the areas where the future can be influenced.

Writer

Anna Wartiovaara

Leading Specialist, Communication and Public Affairs, Sitra

Published

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine shocked the world and has darkened future prospects. The future is suddenly clouded by a large number of uncertainties. That is why Sitra has issued the Foresight and Insight on the Impacts of the War in Ukraine online publication (in Finnish), which brings together the impacts of the war, uncertainties and alternatives for the future over the next 5–10 years. The publication also provides tools to better prepare us to act in a world of unexpected events.

“War understandably turns the focus to the present day and its immediate consequences. It is easy to feel that you cannot do anything. But many people have a great need to know what might possibly happen, how the situation will develop. We aim to provide an overall picture of change and tools to help people act now for a better future,” says Katri Vataja, Director of Foresight, Insight and Strategy at Sitra.

War highlights threats. We should not ignore them but face them head on and think them through. There are also many choices and opportunities to accelerate desirable changes.

“In this publication, we cover many alternatives that may feel unpleasant or scary,” explains Vataja. “Our aim is not to instil fear but to help identify the actions needed now, and the possibilities that offer hope. Although the current situation may feel hopeless and it may be difficult to see how to make a difference, taking the long view strengthens agency and opens up horizons to places of choice. Many things that have previously seemed impossible seem feasible. We can still influence how the future takes shape.”  

Although our focus is now on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, past crises and megatrends are not going away. For this reason, we should take account of any links and tensions with other trends and the overall picture of change when considering the effects of the war. When viewed from the perspective of megatrends, the following questions should be discussed: How can we transform energy and food production to make it sustainable? How will geopolitical power relations develop? How can we strengthen trust and reduce inequality? How will the economy act as a driver of change? How will technology support democracy and peace?

Foresight and Insight on the Impacts of the War in Ukraine contains a table of future scenarios structured around existing megatrends. The table shows 15 uncertainties and variables related to the situation in Ukraine that are essential for Finland’s future. Each variable involves three or four alternative scenarios. The table is based on the question of what the main uncertainties are concerning the crisis in Ukraine that enable us to identify different scenarios. Readers can use the table to create scenarios of their own to depict future events. The aim is to help prepare us for different future situations.

Because the current situation is ongoing and constantly changing, we will update the table and the publication as necessary.

Photo: Table of future scenarios

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