Migration Foresight Lab


German Marshall Fund of the United States / Robert Bosch Stiftung


In order to assess the extent to which COVID-19 will permanently change migration and mobility, whether existing megatrends such as digitization, regionalization, or geopolitical competition will be reinforced or decelerated by COVID-19, and whether emerging migration and mobility patterns will be permanent, the German Marshall Fund of the United States, supported by the Robert Bosch Stiftung, initiated the "Migration Foresight Lab" between November 2020 and February 2021. For this purpose, 20 internationally renowned migration experts were brought together to jointly develop a picture of the upcoming changes with the aim of leading upcoming migration debates in international processes (including the Global Compact for Migration, GCM) in a forward-looking and future-robust manner.


The Bureau für Zeitgeschehen (BfZ) designed the entire scenario development process and co-facilitated the workshop meetings with internationally renowned migration experts from around the world. In two online workshops, the experts first identified and analyzed emerging, accelerating or decelerating trends, future challenges, and weak signals of change whose relevance to migration management would increase or decrease as a result of COVID-19. The focus of the system analysis was to explore the internal and reciprocal dynamics of these change drivers (interdependence). On this analytical basis, the BfZ finally developed 14 "What-if" scenarios, which were subdivided into four thematic strands (Forms of International Cooperation, Human Security, Social Cohesion, Economic Development). This scenario reader was the basis of an extended discussion over the course of three online workshops among the international migration experts on the long-term challenges and opportunities of international migration management as a consequence of COVID-19 - today and in the years to come.


Based on the strongly methodologically guided discussion of influencing factors and the scenario reader, the experts identified those changes due to COVID-19 in the field of migration and mobility that are likely to continue even beyond the eventual end of the pandemic. The experts also analyzed opportunities and newly emerging scope for action regarding migration and mobility that have emerged from a rapidly changing environment - especially in the context of digital opportunities. Thus, in the midst of the COVID-19 crisis, the workshop made a significant contribution to orienting international migration experts so that debates within international fora (including the Global Compact on Migration) can be informed, coordinated, and evidence-based.