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What if...not? The cost of inaction

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Foresight is an action-oriented endeavour: only rarely does it look at events not taking place, actions not taken, or the consequences of doing nothing. But inaction can have far-reaching repercussions. Policymaking is not just about devising and implementing policies, but also about decisions: those crossroads where action and inaction may lead to divergent outcomes.

The 12 scenarios presented in this Chaillot Paper draw attention to the cost of inaction in a variety of areas, ranging from Russia to Africa, from cyberspace to environmental matters. They highlight the (geo)political, economic and strategic implications of not taking action at a critical juncture. Together, they apply the precautionary principle to foreign and security policy, whereby calculating the different consequences of action and inaction in the future would help policymakers take crucial decisions ahead of time.