Turning the Spotlight on Sustainability

SIBE experts help develop future scenarios for South Tyrol

What will it be like in the northern Italian region of Trentino-Alto Adige in 2030 – especially given recent experience with the Covid-19 pandemic? Will there be a return to traditional values, customs, and family structures, will the region open up more to the outside world, and will there be a greater emphasis on social welfare and ecologically sustainable production methods and lifestyles? Or will the region focus instead on individualization and accelerated social development, resulting in a continuing and unchecked rise in resource consumption? To answer these and other questions, researchers from Eurac Research and the School of International Business and Entrepreneurship (SIBE, the business school belonging to the Graduate School at the faculty of Leadership and Management at Steinbeis University) conducted a future study of South Tyrol, with a particular focus on sustainability.

To understand how markets, industry sectors, and society in general will develop over time, for years companies have banked on so-called strategic vision. Increasingly, future scenarios are also used in urban planning and regional development. This was also the case with the prognostic study conducted on South Tyrol.

South Tyrol – one future, four potential outcomes

To sketch potential scenarios, in addition to considering global factors, the researchers examined society, healthcare, business, the environment, politics, and technology. This resulted in four scenarios representing future portraits from a retrospective angle, as if the people of South Tyrol are looking back in 2030.

Scenario I:

A world of regional consciousness – strength lies in tradition

  • Heightened competition between nations and geopolitical blocs
  • Uncertainty and polarization among the population
  • Distancing from “the outside” as more turn toward analog ways of life



Scenario II:

A world of neo-cosmopolitanism – think global, act local

  • A radical re-think and shift toward socially fair and environmentally sustainable production methods and lifestyles
  • Profound, structural change resulting in reorientation in many areas of society based on a tendency toward neutral growth


Scenario III:

A world of individual freedom – I am the architect of my own happiness

  • Increased confidence in market mechanisms and competition as the most important principles of social order
  • Achievement, personal responsibility, individualization, acceleration in society, a blossoming of entrepreneurial and pioneering spirit, but at the same time the rising consumption of resources and even sharper growth in emissions 

Scenario IV:

A world of green innovation – there’s a (technological) solution for everything

  • Intensification of international collaboration and global exchange of information, goods, and services
  • Networking within the global village




The researchers looked particularly closely into whether, and to what degree, the Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations could be realized under each scenario. As a next step, the team plans to solicit more opinions and gain input from stakeholders in Italy.

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Katharina Helm (author)
Head of Marketing and Communications
Steinbeis School of International Business and Entrepreneurship GmbH (Herrenberg)