- Conference Proceedings Paper
Abstract: Scenarios developed for wide use in the research community have played a prominent role for decades. Community scenarios reduce the duplication of effort that would occur if all research groups were left to develop their own projections of societal and environmental conditions on which to base their analyses. They also encourage the development of a broad scientific literature that shares common assumptions about future underlying trends, making it possible to synthesize results from a large number of studies to draw conclusions about possible future conditions.
However, research needs have evolved over time, and current frameworks need to evolve with them. Most existing frameworks focus on providing qualitative and quantitative inputs to models and other analyses rather than producing outcomes of interest in common metrics across studies. As a result, we have only a piecemeal understanding of the risks to society and ecosystems from the co-evolution of climate change impacts and responses, changes in other environmental conditions, and changing societal conditions. In addition, most scenario research focuses on biophysical or managed systems, rather than on outcomes for societal well-being. It also employs a relatively narrow range of scenario methods.
We describe a plan for the development of a new scenarios framework for use by the Multi-Sector Dynamics and related research communities that would address these gaps by being organized around the goal of understanding future outcomes for societal well-being and resilience, and sensitivities of these outcomes to multiple possible stressors. It would allow for the analysis of multiple issues, and employ new systematic techniques of exploratory modeling and scenario discovery for developing scenarios and characterizing their uncertainty.
The framework would be developed with input from the community of researchers and scenario users. Key products would include both a large, searchable database of quantified scenarios for analysis and use in individual research projects, as well as a small set of alternative scenarios for wide use across the community. We envision this framework as complementary to, not a replacement for, existing frameworks such as the SSPs in that those scenarios could be mapped to, and incorporated in, the MSD framework (and vice-versa).