4x Netherlands Normal after corona

What could be the “new normal” after the corona crisis? Which future scenarios are conceivable?
We present four scenarios and challenge the reader to comment on them and elaborate on specific themes.



“I’m not afraid of getting ill. What I am afraid of?
For everything that the corona contamination can change.
I’m afraid to discover that the civilisation I know is a house of cards.
That it will all be erased. But I’m also
afraid of the opposite; that, after the fear has gone,
everything will be as it was before.”

–  Paolo Giordana   –


The world is struggling with the outbreak of the Sars-CoV-2 corona virus and the associated disease COVID-19. A wide range of government measures is implemented at great speed to limit the spread of the virus. In addition, a variety of ‘social experiments’ take place, like remote education, increased home delivery and, for example, live-streaming concerts. These measures allow people to show how creative and flexible they can be. It turns out we are masters at adapting.

At the moment, we see that our Dutch society is finding a certain extent of renewed balance, despite the realistic possibility of a ‘second wave’ of contaminations. We’re still in shock: we fear a new crisis, may it be in the area of health, climate energy or the stock market.

The scenarios in this publication have a shared starting point, one that does not involve the question whether or not a vaccine has been found but which is about the different ways we, as a society, have responded to the crisis, and how this reactionmakes us feel the crisis afterwards to a greater, lesser or different extent. How safe or unsafe do we feel? How important is our personal freedom? And: do we opt in favour of an open society (again) or do we look inwards instead?

So the question is what the Netherlands could look like ‘after’ the crisis. What could be the ‘new normal’? In other words: what are the possible future scenarios?

The future is never finished, which means that scenarios are never final. The scenarios described here are version 1.0 and we invite, and in fact dare, the reader to not just apply the scenarios, but also to comment on them or elaborate upon specific themes. And, if possible, to share that with us, turning these scenarios into what they should be: living documents.


An initiative by the Netherlands Study Centre for Technology Trends (STT) and developed by:

Patrick van der Duin (STT)
Freija van Duijne (Future Motions)
Ewald Breunesse (Shell)
Jan Nekkers (Futureconsult)
Joop de Vries (personal capacity)
Michiel de Vries (Jester Strategy)
Jeroen Toet (Jester Strategy)
Hans Stavleu (Curiozy)

May 2020


It cannot be said often enough. Scenarios are no predictions. And it would be inappropriate to want to predict the future in these uncertain times. After all, we have no idea how long this crisis will last. And if and when a vaccine will be found. And how we will live our lives after the crisis has passed. Will be continue as before? Or do we see this crisis as an opportunity to change the direction of our lives and of our society?

For that reason, we present four scenarios – four different images of the future – without wondering about which one will come true, but instead looking for inspiration and thinking about a future that we do not yet know. About a future for which we should start preparing now. Because, no matter what the future will look like, it will be in our favour if we prepare for it in time, and doing so take into account developments that at the moment are considered unimaginable or even undesirable.

These four future scenarios are meant to teach us to deal with the uncertainty that the corona crisis has created. The four scenarios take a look at a future were we have climbed out of the depth, where we feel as though the crisis has passed and the virus and its memory have to a greater or lesser extent become part of our society. The current crisis is less suitable for scenarios, because right now, urgent operational and tactical decisions have to be made. However, that doesn’t change the fact that thinking and speculating about what comes after is extremely meaningful and inspiring.

The four scenarios in this publiation are in essence ‘umbrella scenarios’. They are general stories about possible futures that create a framework for elaborating the scenarios for specific subjects, organisations and sectors. As such, we explicitly invite readers to make a contribution to the scenarios, providing the information needed to make important decisions. We already provide three brief elaborations: education, digitisation and the combination of climate, energy transition and mobility.

The four scenarios are located along two scenario axes:

  • Safety above freedom versus freedom above safety
  • Open economy versus closed economy.

In the project group, we consider these two developments as the most uncertain and the most relevant to the post-corona period. Will we sacrifice freedom in favour of more safety? Or do we accept less safety in order to maintain our freedom? And: will our economy be more open or will the economy withdraw behind national borders?

By combining these two axes, we create four scenarios:

  1. Business normal: open economy and freedom above safety
  2. Careful normal: open economy and safety above freedom
  3. Independent normal: closed economy and safety above freedom
  4. Confident normal: closed economy and freedom above safety

Read more: 4x Netherlands Normal after corona

Introduction & Foreword
Scenario 1 – Business Normal
Scenario 2 – Careful Normal
Scenario 3 – Independent Normal
Scenario 4 – Confident Normal

Essays on the Netherlands Normal

Download the PowerPoint presentation 4 x Netherlands Normal (20MB)


The future is never finished, so scenarios are never final. The scenarios described here are version 1.0 and we invite, no, to challenge the reader not only to apply the scenarios, but also to comment and elaborate on specific themes. And if possible share that with us. This makes these scenarios what they should be: living documents

Want to know more, contribute?
Mail to vanderduin@stt.nl, director of STT