Tuesday 6
Using scenarios to explore plausible social-ecological futures
Garry Peterson
› 15:40 - 16:40 (1h)
› JOFFRE 1-1
Scenario planning and Futures thinking: a useful tool for community-based management of tradeoffs?
Kerry Waylen  1@  , Julia Martin Ortega, Kirsty Blackstock, Iain Brown@
1 : The James Hutton Institute  -  Website
Cragiebuckler, Aberdeen AB15 8QH -  Royaume-Uni

This paper explores the potential of scenarios planning – also called futures thinking – as a tool for aiding different groups to collobarate for community-based natural resource management.

Many of the methods and principles of scenario planning have been developed for and by the private sector, since they were pioneered by the “Shell” petrochemical company in the 1970s. Subsequently, many large organisations have recognised their value for aiding strategic planning that is resilient to change. As such, scenario planning might be expected to be an idea tool for helping promote natural resource management resilient to change. For this reason, within an FP7 project called COMET-LA (www.comet-la.eu) we are exploring the use of scenario planning as one method to aid community-based management of socio-ecological systems in the face of climate and other changes.

However, ensuring the persistence of large corporations obviously presents very different issues to supporting communities to sustainably manage their environments. These differences include the scope and scale of tradeoffs, but also the diversity and heterogeneity of interests and power (im)balances. In this paper we therefore review the principles and methods of scenario planning in order to understand if and how it can be useful for supporting community-based resource management.

We identify that scenario planning offers particular value as a tool that can allow disparate interests to identify shared goals, particularly over long-time horizons. It can also aid pooling of knowledgges, and depersonalised identification of interests and stakes held by different groups. As a tool for conflict resolution but also clarification of stakes and goals, this can subsequently support collective decision-making on issues that might otherwise seem too contentious to discuss. However, due to their origins, scenario planning processes risk overlooking critical heterogeneity within groups or communities, at levels beyond the community, and within natural systems.

We conclude by suggesting that that scenario planning does have potential as a tool that can help communities to plan for the future, and it does have potential for aiding decision-making on managing trade-offs. However, to achieve this potential, methods cannot be ‘cut and pasted' from existing textbooks on futures planning. Instead, adaptation will be required, in order to ensure that all trade-offs are identified, regardless of power and level of the relevant stakeholders. Therefore, we finish by proposing an adapted process for scenario planning (currently being tested in the COMET-LA project) that aims to be relevant to community-based management. 

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