2.3 Scenarios

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Managing resilience involves considering the future.

Example: Northern Highlands Lake DistrictComplicated issues such as regional development or climate change are especially challenging because future change in dynamic social-ecological systems can be largely unpredictable. A number of approaches have been developed to tackle these problems, but for the complexities of social-ecological systems, two are particularly appropriate. One is the development of system models, as suggested earlier in the workbook, which can be used to help understand non-linear dynamics. Another approach is the development of scenarios. A scenario is a carefully constructed story about the future, which include descriptions, events, actors (people), and mechanisms. They are descriptive models or representations about possible alternative paths that a social-ecological system might take.

Key Messages

• Scenarios are constructed stories about alternative futures.

• Scenarios can help develop collective action by engaging participants who systematically discuss and analyze alternative perspectives about the future.

• Scenarios can help highlight and understand uncertainties and assumptions.

• Building scenarios can help increase the general resilience of the system by identifying potential shocks and previously unconsidered thresholds and alternative regimes. As well as by increasing connectivity and trust in the social system.

Resilience Assessment

Scenario Development

Using the information developed in Chapter 1, gather together the following information: key actors in the focal system; key ecological, economic, and social components; and external system drivers.

Sketch out three to four plausible, alternative future system states or trajectories. Ideally, each of these represents alternative system configurations or regimes. Some of these future states may be explored more fully in the next section.

For each of the future states/regimes, describe the mechanisms and processes that would lead to that regime. What surprises (i.e. changes in focal configuration, or in external drivers) would lead to one or more of these future states?

What indicators would you track to know which, if any, of the trajectories might be currently on-track?

2.1 Alternate States

2.2 Thresholds

2.3 Scenarios

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