To define the scenario space (or scenario framework) for the future of mobility in Europe, critical uncertainties were identified.

The critical uncertainties (CU) were selected among the 12 drivers (see table below)  through a review process that served the dual purpose of validating and ranking the list. The review was carried out internally, involving representatives from all project partners.

To ensure that the scenarios illustrate real, contrasted alternatives, the survey asked respondents to rank each of the drivers according to two main criteria:

  • Importance/relevance: to what extent the positioning of the driver between its two extremes is likely to affect the shaping of future mobility (high vs low impact)

  • Uncertainty: to what extent is the future dynamics of the driver predictable (high predictability would result in a scenario invariant, while high uncertainty allows to devise sufficiently contrasting visions of the future, thereby opening the door to more decisive policy interventions.

To support the respondent participation to the survey, the 12 key drivers were further characterized in terms of their possible range of variation, by identifying the extreme values each driver may assume, as shown in Table below

An internal survey allowed to rank each driver according to both its importance/relevance and its uncertainty. The survey responses also allowed to refine the formulation and the characterization of the drivers, and in some cases to cluster them or reformulate them to ensure a sharper focus. The drivers that were ranked higher based on the combination of the two scores were selected as the critical uncertainties (CU) to be considered for the definition of the scenario space (Table below).

Drivers characterization

Critical uncertainties

Scenarios Framework

Figures below illustrate the main characteristics of the 4 scenarios, respectively at the global, intersectoral level, and in terms of their mobility culture implications.

An intense discussion among the REBALANCE researchers led to the identification of two main axes for shaping the scenario framework and the resulting four scenarios. Rather than selecting two among the seven CUs – which would have entailed a further prioritisation of the latter and the risk of downplaying other important factors – the axes were chosen so as to illustrate two overarching dimensions:

  • “Type of society”, i.e. the broad characterisation of society in terms of its prevailing values and cultural tenets. At one extreme of the vertical axis we find a rigid society, one that is keen to conserve its deeply rooted values and cultural tenets, and finds safety in avoiding shocks and disrupting change. At the other extreme, society is fluid, or liquid, embracing change and continuously endeavouring to adapt.

  • “Powers and politics”, characterising the governance model and its basic instruments. The horizontal axis illustrates the contrast between a governance model that relies on hard, command-and-control powers and politics and one that prioritizes softer instruments based e.g. on nudging and moral suasion.

The two dimensions are largely independent, in that all four combinations they generate are plausible and ensure that each resulting scenario is, by and large, internally consistent. On the other hand, each of the seven CUs can be represented in each of the four scenarios with differentiated “values”, which helps confirming the contrasted nature of the four visions.

Combining the two dimensions, four scenarios emerge, which we have chosen to name after prominent mythological protagonsists:

  • Scenario A: Hercules (the myth of strength), where a rigid society is guided by hard powers

  • Scenario B: Themis (the myth of justice), where soft powers prevail in handling the rigidity of society

  • Scenario C: Gaia (the myth of interconnections), where a fluid society is kept afloat by recurring to soft policy instruments

  • Scenario D: Hermes (the myth of speed), where command-and-control policies keep a fluid society in check

These scenarios were validated by a group of 15 experts in mobility and transport (Tim Cresswell, Mateu Turró, Christoph Walter, Farideh Ramjerdi, Robert Braun, Cristina Marolda, Holger Haubold, Bronwen Thornton, Angelo Meulemann, Federico Costantini, Bernhard Schlag, Udo Becker, Ralf Risser, Giuseppe Lugano and Dylan Moinse, together with some of the consortium members).  A focus group was convened to help into this process. The overall objectives of the focus group were: To validate the scenario framework; To enhance the initial rough scenario characterisation; To discuss potential mobility impacts.

Likelihood of the scenarios

HERCULES, the myth of strength (2/19) 11%
THEMIS, the myth of justice (6/19) 32%
GAIA, the myth of interconnections (3/19) 16%
HERMES, the myth of speed (8/19) 42%

Trends & Drivers

Alternative Narratives

The Vision