What makes scenarios useful to decision makers in effectively planning for the future? Here I discuss three aspects of scenarios:
use and defensibility.
Goals of scenarios
Since predicting the future is not possible, it’s important to know that scenarios are not predictions. Instead, scenarios stimulate thinking and conversations about possible futures. Continue reading →
How can decision making on complex systems come to grips with irreducible, or deep, uncertainty? Such uncertainty has three sources:
Intrinsic limits to predictability in complex systems.
A variety of stakeholders with different perspectives on what the system is and what problem needs to be solved.
Complex systems are generally subject to dynamic change, and can never be completely understood.
Deep uncertainty means that the various parties to a decision do not know or cannot agree on how the system works, how likely various possible future states of the world are, and how important the various outcomes of interest are. Continue reading →
What can we learn about the role and importance of scoping in the context of environmental impact assessment?
“Closed” versus “open” scoping
I am intrigued by the highly variable approaches to scoping practice in environmental impact assessment and the considerable range between “closed” approaches and more ambitious and open exercises. Closed approaches to scoping tend to narrow the range of questions, possibilities and alternatives that may be considered in environmental impact assessment, while limiting or precluding meaningful public input. Of course, the possibility of more open scoping is sometimes precluded beforehand by narrow terms of reference determined by regulators.
When scoping is not done well, it inevitably compromises subsequent steps in the process. Continue reading →
It seems simple enough to say that community values and aspirations should be central to informing government decisions that affect them. But simple things can turn out to be complex.
In particular, when research to inform land and water policy was guided by what the community valued and aspired to rather than solely technical considerations, a much broader array of desirable outcomes was considered and the limitations of what science can measure and predict were usefully exposed. Continue reading →
What is deep uncertainty? And how can scenarios help deal with it?
Deep uncertainty refers to ‘unknown unknowns’, which simulation models are fundamentally unsuited to address. Any model is a representation of a system, based on what we know about that system. We can’t model something that nobody knows about—so the capabilities of any model (even a participatory model) are bounded by our collective knowledge.
One of the ways we handle unknown unknowns is by using scenarios. Scenarios are stories about the future, meant to guide our decision-making in the present. Continue reading →
By David Brunckhorst, Jamie Trammell and Ian Reeve
Landscapes are the stage for the theatre of human-nature interactions. What does ‘landscape’ mean and what integrative function does it perform?
What is landscape?
Consider a painting of a landscape or look out a window. We imagine, interpret and construct an image of the ‘landscape’ that we see. It’s not surprising that landscapes (like the paintings of them) are valued through human perceptions, and evolve through closely interdependent human-nature relationships. Landscapes are co-constructed by society and the biophysical environment. Landscape change is, therefore, a continuous reflection of the evolving coupled responses of environment and institutions. Landscapes are especially meaningful to those who live in them. Continue reading →