While 2016 saw a dramatic reduction in the number of migrants entering the EU via the western route from Turkey to Greece; the Central Mediterranean route to Italy became the most popular migration channel to Europe. Around 181,000 people arrived in Italy, representing an 18% increase from the year before: 113,000 people arrived between April and September. Just over half of all arrivals requested asylum in Italy in 2016. As uncertainty remains and humanitarian needs are increasing rapidly, Staff from 14 organisations featuring UN Agencies, NGOs, the IFRC, ICRC, Italian Red Cross, Hellenic Red Cross, ACAPS, among others gathered together in Budapest to undertake a scenario-planning exercise.

The importance of using scenarios

Scenarios are a set of different ways in which a situation may develop. The aim of scenario building is not to try and accurately predict the future but rather to understand the range of possible futures and then select a few that result in distinct situations with, usually, differing humanitarian outcomes that can:

  • Support strategic planning for agencies and NGOs.
  • Identify assumptions underlying anticipated needs and related interventions.
  • Enhance the adaptability and design of detailed assessments.
  • Influence monitoring and surveillance systems.
  • Create awareness, provide early warning, and promote preparedness activities among stakeholders.

Scenarios can seem to oversimplify an issue, as the analysis balances details against broader assumptions. But scenario-building is not an end in itself. It is a process for generating new ideas that should in turn lead to actual changes in project design or decision-making.

Foresight upcoming possibilities 

Key trends and emerging issues can be mapped when developing the different scenarios. During this exercise, a specialised research team identified patterns that led the design of the possible futures. Interesting tendencies such as identifying a significant rise in the number of unaccompanied children (around 25,000 in 2016), prompting questions such as what are the implications of this trend for family links in the near future?

These type of exercises can also help navigate what’s ahead and fit into the picture upcoming events that may be closely related, for instance, ongoing election campaigns in France and Germany or the gaining momentum of Brexit negotiations.

For more information of how can you can start incorporating scenario planning, please contact innovation.team@ifrc.org

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