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Research and innovation
News article9 December 2021Directorate-General for Research and Innovation

Stories from 2050 - Radical, inspiring and thought-provoking narratives around challenges and opportunities of our futures

Stories and narratives are a powerful tool for future’s literacy and future’s thinking. In recent years, these have been fighting for attention next to scenarios and trend research within the Foresight discipline, and there is a good reason for it. Adding up to 21 stories, the narratives in this booklet deal with the planetary emergencies, namely the existential threat of climate change and the biodiversity crisis, which are driving the European Green Deal.

The stories are built on ideas of people from all around the world, such as experts in the field or purely engaged citizens with a story to tell. These range from plausible sci-fi stories of the future to fictional fairy tales that provoke abstract thinking.

These stories are intended to stimulate thinking by providing different perspectives and layers of understanding. They are not made to give us clear and straightforward solutions, but rather take us on a journey beyond our immediate context to make decisions that foster a positive future by acting today.

As Jean-Eric Paquet, Director General Research and Innovation, put it: “We recognise that creative thinkers, science fiction authors, visionaries, futurists and entrepreneurs of all kinds have always inspired research and innovation, economic and social change. While the visions of the future in this booklet are very diverse, there is one common message:  to look for a second Earth is an important ambition but the most important pursuit is to safeguard the one Earth we have.”


Strategic Foresight in the European Commission uses the expertise of Europe’s Research Community, including the Joint Research Centre, to strengthen the preparedness of EU institutions and policies for alternative future scenarios. It involves long-term broad horizon scanning studies and reflections on trends and disruptions, as well as more focused, near-term exercises aiming to use the multiple likely, plausible futures to create better policies. Foresight and future-oriented R&I are important in Horizon Europe, the new EU research and innovation programme.

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Publication date
9 December 2021
Directorate-General for Research and Innovation