Viewpoints: We need a global collection of local scenarios

Jenny Seifert & Stephen Carpenter
University of Wisconsin, USA

Global environmental change is a complex problem, which is no news to this blog’s readers. We all grapple with the near-paralyzing uncertainty that comes with studying and solving the challenges associated with a changing climate, shifting land use and fickle human demands—challenges that span time and geographic scales, and could be addressed in as many ways as there are perspectives in this world.

An approach to reining in this complexity is the co-development of scenarios by researchers and stakeholders. These provocative yet plausible stories about the future are valuable tools for resilience planning because they synthesize complex information accessibly, lean into the uncertainty, create public engagement opportunities, and provide a credible and relevant foundation for quantitative analyses and modeling efforts.


Scenarios are provocative, plausible stories about the future that can aid resilience planning.

While perspectives on how to go about developing scenarios are also numerous, there is a growing consensus on the need to integrate global scenarios, such as those of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, with regional scenarios in order to enhance their relevance to decision makers.

Herein lies an opportunity for cities worldwide.

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