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IMI’s Migration Scenario Methodology is an innovative approach to examine potential future political, economic, social, technological and environmental changes at the global level, their consequences for migration, and possible policy responses. It does this through the development of a diverse set of scenarios, created through a series of systematic exercises with a group of international migration experts and stakeholders combined with conventional social scientific research methods.

Unlike conventional futures methods, which generate projections or forecasts, IMI’s Migration Scenario Methodology is primarily exploratory, and seeks to identify possible future sources of structural change. Scenarios are therefore narratives that describe these future changes and their consequences for migration, and have no predictive objective. Similarly, when generating a set of scenarios, the research team does not aim to identify a ‘true’ scenario or a desirable versus an apocalyptic scenario. Instead, it sees each scenario as a laboratory to test out the effects of the evolution and interaction of different events on migration. In this way, several scenarios may have elements that we find are particularly important in helping migration stakeholders prepare for future possibilities.

Scenarios are systematically developed stories that describe possible structural changes that we might observe in the future and their effects on migration patterns. They are not predictions or forecasts of future migration dynamics. Scenarios highlight that ‘business as usual’ is the least likely scenario and that we should be prepared for change. The global migration map will look fundamentally different in two or three decades, and scenarios are powerful tools to open our imaginations about such futures may look like.