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Synthesizing plausible futures for biodiversity and ecosystem services in Europe and Central Asia using scenario archetypes

Paula A. Harrison, Centre for Ecology & Hydrology, Lancaster, United Kingdom
Zuzana V. Harmáčková, Stockholm Resilience Centre, Stockholm University, Stockholm, Sweden
Armağan Aloe Karabulut, DG Agricultural Research & Policies, TARM GIS & RS Center, Ankara, Turkey
Lluis Brotons, CREAF, Barcelona, Spain; InForest Joint Research Unit (CTFC-CREAF), Solsona, Spain; CSIC, Cerdanyola del Vallés, Spain
Matthew Cantele, International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis, Laxenburg, Austria; School of BioSciences, University of Melbourne, Parkville, Victoria, Australia
Joachim Claudet, National Center for Scientific Research, PSL Université Paris, CRIOBE, Paris, France; Laboratoire d'Excellence CORAIL, MLoorea, French Polynesia
Robert W. Dunford, Centre for Ecology & Hydrology, Wallingford, UK
Antoine Guisan, Department of Ecology & Evolution, University of Lausanne, Switzerland; Institute of Earth Surface Dynamics, University of Lausanne, Switzerland
Ian P. Holman, Cranfield Water Science Institute, Cranfield University, UK
Sander Jacobs, Research Institute for Nature and Forest (INBO), Brussels, Belgium
Kasper Kok, Soil Geography and Landscape Group, Wageningen University & Research, The Netherlands
Anastasia Lobanova, Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, Germany
Alejandra Morán-Ordóńez, InForest Joint Research Unit (CTFC-CREAF), Solsona, Spain
Simona Pedde, Soil Geography and Landscape Group, Wageningen University & Research, The Netherlands
Christian Rixen, Swiss Federal Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape Research (WSL), Switzerland; Institute for Snow and Avalanche Research (SLF), Davos, Switzerland
Fernando Santos-Martín, Social-Ecological Systems Laboratory, Department of Ecology, Autonomous University of Madrid, Spain
Martin A. Schlaepfer, Institute of Environmental Sciences, University of Geneva, Switzerland
Cosimo Solidoro, National Institute of Oceanography and Experimental Geophysics (OGS), Trieste, Italy; The Abdus Salam International Centre for Theoretical Physics (ICTP), Trieste, Italy
Anthony Sonrel, Department of Ecology & Evolution, University of Lausanne, Switzerland
Jennifer Hauck, CoKnow Consulting - Coproducing Knowledge for Sustainability, Jesewitz, Germany


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Scenarios are a useful tool to explore possible futures of social-ecological systems. The number of scenarios has increased dramatically over recent decades, with a large diversity in temporal and spatial scales, purposes, themes, development methods, and content. Scenario archetypes generically describe future developments and can be useful in meaningfully classifying scenarios, structuring and summarizing the overwhelming amount of information, and enabling scientific outputs to more effectively interface with decision-making frameworks. The Intergovernmental Platform for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) faced this challenge and used scenario archetypes in its assessment of future interactions between nature and society. We describe the use of scenario archetypes in the IPBES Regional Assessment of Europe and Central Asia. Six scenario archetypes for the region are described in terms of their driver assumptions and impacts on nature (including biodiversity) and its contributions to people (including ecosystem services): business-as-usual, economic optimism, regional competition, regional sustainability, global sustainable development, and inequality. The analysis shows that trade-offs between nature’s contributions to people are projected under different scenario archetypes. However, the means of resolving these trade-offs depend on differing political and societal value judgements within each scenario archetype. Scenarios that include proactive decision making on environmental issues, environmental management approaches that support multifunctionality, and mainstreaming environmental issues across sectors, are generally more successful in mitigating trade-offs than isolated environmental policies. Furthermore, those scenario archetypes that focus on achieving a balanced supply of nature’s contributions to people and that incorporate a diversity of values are estimated to achieve more policy goals and targets, such as the UN Sustainable Development Goals and the Convention on Biological Diversity Aichi targets. The scenario archetypes approach is shown to be helpful in supporting science-policy dialogue for proactive decision making that anticipates change, mitigates undesirable trade-offs, and fosters societal transformation in pursuit of sustainable development.

Key words

biodiversity; drivers; ecosystem services; exploratory scenarios; impacts; IPBES; models; nature; nature’s contributions to people (NCP)

Copyright © 2019 by the author(s). Published here under license by The Resilience Alliance. This article  is under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.  You may share and adapt the work for noncommercial purposes provided the original author and source are credited, you indicate whether any changes were made, and you include a link to the license.

Ecology and Society. ISSN: 1708-3087