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Exploring the usefulness of scenario archetypes in science-policy processes: experience across IPBES assessments

Nadia Sitas, Centre for Complex Systems in Transition, Stellenbosch University, South Africa; Department of Conservation Ecology, Stellenbosch University, South Africa; Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, South Africa
Zuzana V. Harmáčková, Stockholm Resilience Centre, Stockholm University, Sweden; Bolin Centre for Climate Research, Stockholm University, Sweden
Jonathan A. Anticamara, UP Diliman Invertebrate Museum - Institute of Biology, National Science Complex, University of the Philippines-Diliman, Quezon City, Philippines
Almut Arneth, KIT, Department of Atmospheric Environmental Research, Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany
Ruchi Badola, Wildlife Institute of India, Dehradun, India
Reinette Biggs, Centre for Complex Systems in Transition, Stellenbosch University, South Africa; Stockholm Resilience Centre, Stockholm University, Sweden
Ryan Blanchard, Centre for Complex Systems in Transition, Stellenbosch University, South Africa; Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, South Africa; Centre for Invasion Biology, Stellenbosch University, South Africa
Lluis Brotons, CREAF, Barcelona, Spain; InForest Jru (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
Kaera Coetzer, Global Change Institute, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa
Rajarshi DasGupta, Institute for Global Environmental Strategies, Hayama, Kanagawa, Japan
Eefje den Belder, Agrosystems, Wageningen University & Research, Wageningen, the Netherlands
Sonali Ghosh, Ministry of Environment, Forests & Climate Change, India
Antoine Guisan, Department of Ecology and Evolution, University of Lausanne, Lausanne, Switzerland; Institute of Earth Surface Dynamics, University of Lausanne, Lausanne, Switzerland
Haripriya Gundimeda, Department of Humanities and Social Sciences, Indian Institute of Technology Bombay, Powai, Mumbai, India
Maike Hamann, Humphrey School of Public Affairs, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA
Paula A. Harrison, Centre for Ecology & Hydrology, Lancaster Environment Centre, Bailrigg, Lancaster, UK
Shizuka Hashimoto, Department of Ecosystem Studies, The University of Tokyo, Japan
Jennifer Hauck, CoKnow Consulting, Jesewitz, Germany; Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research - UFZ, Leipzig, Germany
Brian J. Klatt, Michigan State University, East Lansing, Michigan, USA
Kasper Kok, Wageningen University & Research, Wageningen, the Netherlands
Rainer M. Krug, University of Zurich, Department of Evolutionary Biology and Environmental Studies, Zurich, Switzerland
Aidin Niamir, Senckenberg Biodiversity and Climate Research Institute, Germany
Patrick J. O'Farrell, Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, South Africa; Percy FitzPatrick Institute of African Ornithology, University of Cape Town, Rondebosch, South Africa
Sana Okayasu, PBL Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency
Ignacio Palomo, Basque Centre for Climate Change (BC3), Leioa, Spain; Social-Ecological Systems Laboratory, Department of Ecology, Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, Spain
Laura M. Pereira, Centre for Complex Systems in Transition, Stellenbosch University, South Africa; Centre for Food Policy, City University of London, UK
Philip Riordan, Marwell Wildlife, UK; University of Southampton, UK
Fernando Santos-Martín, Social-Ecological Systems Laboratory, Department of Ecology, Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, Spain; Departamento ESCET, Universidad Rey Juan Carlos de Madrid, Spain fernando.santos@urjc.es
Odirilwe Selomane, Centre for Complex Systems in Transition, Stellenbosch University, South Africa; Stockholm Resilience Centre, Stockholm University, Sweden
Yunne-Jai Shin, MARBEC, Institut de Recherche pour le Développement (IRD), IFREMER, CNRS, Univ Montpellier, France; University of Cape Town, Department of Biological Sciences, Marine Research Institute (Ma-Re), South Africa
Mireia Valle, Basque Centre for Climate Change (BC3), Leioa, Spain; National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis, Santa Barbara, California, USA

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5751/ES-11039-240335

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Abstract

Scenario analyses have been used in multiple science-policy assessments to better understand complex plausible futures. Scenario archetype approaches are based on the fact that many future scenarios have similar underlying storylines, assumptions, and trends in drivers of change, which allows for grouping of scenarios into typologies, or archetypes, facilitating comparisons between a large range of studies. The use of scenario archetypes in environmental assessments foregrounds important policy questions and can be used to codesign interventions tackling future sustainability issues. Recently, scenario archetypes were used in four regional assessments and one ongoing global assessment within the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES). The aim of these assessments was to provide decision makers with policy-relevant knowledge about the state of biodiversity, ecosystems, and the contributions they provide to people. This paper reflects on the usefulness of the scenario archetype approach within science-policy processes, drawing on the experience from the IPBES assessments. Using a thematic analysis of (a) survey data collected from experts involved in the archetype analyses across IPBES assessments, (b) notes from IPBES workshops, and (c) regional assessment chapter texts, we synthesize the benefits, challenges, and frontiers of applying the scenario archetype approach in a science-policy process. Scenario archetypes were perceived to allow syntheses of large amounts of information for scientific, practice-, and policy-related purposes, streamline key messages from multiple scenario studies, and facilitate communication of them to end users. In terms of challenges, they were perceived as subjective in their interpretation, oversimplifying information, having a limited applicability across scales, and concealing contextual information and novel narratives. Finally, our results highlight what methodologies, applications, and frontiers in archetype-based research should be explored in the future. These advances can assist the design of future large-scale sustainability-related assessment processes, aiming to better support decisions and interventions for equitable and sustainable futures.

Key words

assessment; biodiversity; decision making; ecosystem services; futures; nature; regional; scenarios

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.

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Ecology and Society. ISSN: 1708-3087