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4.1.1 What do we mean by “scenarios”?

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Scenarios are stories that portray plausible futures and are designed to systematically explore, create and test possible and/or desirable future conditions. Scenarios are a useful tool, often employed to help with complex management questions (e.g. environmental management, climate change, urban planning, etc.). Trans-disciplinary and collaborative, scenarios can support community-based management. Their advantages are numerous.

They can:

  • Combine qualitative and quantitative information;
  • Identify uncertainties and knowledge gaps;
  • Organise and interpret our thinking about the future;
  • Help understand how to create the conditions in which our desired future can be achieved;
  • Support decisions which are more likely to implemented successfully and;
  • Generate long term policies, strategies and plans.

Scenario building exercises can help people to process and interpret complex knowledge and information associated with multiple issues. Scenarios are a useful tool to create a range of possible futures by combining different elements in different way. In general many scenarios are developed in parallel (e.g. 3 to 4 narrative stories).

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