Highlighting the Cost of Inaction

How might the future of data governance unfold?

UNGP Finland and UNGP New York for the HLCP


The experiment focused on the development of four scenarios exploring what the future of data governance might look like in 2050 with a focus on the consequences of inaction. Experts were consulted and a global survey collected over 200 voices to prioritise drivers of change. During a foresight workshop run in Dubai Futures Forum 2022, experts validated and built out an initial scenario logic. A version of a highly accessible foresight game, the Scenario Exploration System, was developed to support further engagement with different stakeholders and non-experts in futures dialogues on Data Governance.


Data is a key driver for economic development, but opportunities to benefit from it are unequally distributed. The scenarios intend to support the UN programming on digital public goods to mitigate global risks, identify opportunities, highlight the costs of inaction for the international community, and support aspirational data futures and the emergence of global data governance.

Key lessons

  • Scenarios are dynamic-thinking tools that enable critical thinking about our current assumptions about the future.
  • Multi-stakeholder dialogue enhances the understanding of how different futures might play out for different regions.
  • Game-based formats can enhance access and support inclusion and diversity across foresight processes

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