What are the challenges?
The problems of ensuring food security and healthy environments and livelihoods into the future in the developing world exist in complex contexts, where things change quickly and sometimes fundamentally, and where different individuals and organizations have diverse and sometimes opposite agendas. In this kind of context, prediction is problematic and potentially dangerous. However, decision makers and researchers still have to consider the future. Scenarios are a way to do this.
What are socio-economic scenarios and why use them?
Scenarios are different “what-if” accounts of the future, told in words, numbers, images, maps and/or interactive learning tools.
Scenarios are not meant to be predictive, but instead help partners acknowledge future uncertainty and explore their strategies and policies in the context of the dynamics of widely different but plausible future worlds.
The scenarios that we are developing for East Africa, West Africa, South Asia and Latin America are:
- Regional – each set of scenarios covers several countries, but links to multiple system levels: local, national and global.
- Multi-stakeholder – we put together a wide stakeholder group of people within the region we are working with – people from policy, private sector, NGOs (non-governmental organisations) and CSOs (civil society organisations), media and research.
- Participatory – the stakeholder groups work together, with the CCAFS scenarios team and their partners as facilitators, to develop the scenarios. The development of the scenarios is, itself, a valuable social learning experience, for all involved.
- Socio-economic – whereas climate scenarios, for example, explore different plausible levels of future climate change, socio-economic scenarios serve a complementary function: they focus on social, economic and political drivers of change over the next few decades. Our scenarios take these socio-economic drivers to look at how they might affect food security, environments and livelihoods up to 2030 and 2050, and what they mean for the ability of our focus regions to adapt to and mitigate climate change. These socio-economic scenarios are then combined with climate scenarios.
The use and development of multi-stakeholder scenarios provides a powerful way to bring key actors together to explore future uncertainty. Scenarios help to re-think and re-organise current structures to create more robust policies and strategies.
What are we doing?
The scenarios process involves the following broad steps:
- Development of regional scenarios. We work with a broad stakeholder group of people within a region to explore key regional socio-economic and governance uncertainties. Over the course of several intensive workshops, we develop the scenario narratives, which tell “what-if” stories of the future, given different social and political pathways.
To find out what the scenario development process looks like, please visit our regional workshops pages for reports
- Quantification of scenario narratives. These narratives are then quantified using two existing models. We are collaborating with the teams behind IFPRI’s IMPACT model, designed to examine alternative futures for global food supply, demand, trade, prices, and food security, and IIASA’s Globiom, designed to provide policy advice on global issues concerning land use competition between the major land-based production sectors. The quantification of the scenarios helps test them for consistency and to explore unanticipated consequences. Regional participants comment on first-generation model outputs which allows for more refined results.
The final outcome is a set of plausible, qualitative and quantitative future scenarios, which explore the consequences of socio-economic and governance assumptions and their effects for food security, environments and livelihoods.
- Using scenarios to build regional partnerships and develop policy actions with decision makers. Further workshops are held in the regions where we have developed scenarios involving non-state actors and technical advisors to policy makers, where the participants develop a strategic vision of the future and explore feasible strategies towards this vision.
Example: non-state actors workshop, Nairobi, Kenya – read our blog about this workshop
Example: policy workshop, Arusha, Tanzania – read our blog about this workshop
- Using scenarios to test research outcomes. The scenarios are used to test local and regional research outcomes and recommendations, including strategies and technologies, within and outside of CCAFS.
Example: We are working with the Healthy Futures project (http://www.healthyfutures.eu) looking at future distribution and spread of infectious diseases, and in particular the negative health impacts of changes in transmission and outbreaks of vector-borne diseases (or VBDs) as a result of climate change. This program aims to construct a disease risk mapping system for three water-related, high-impact VBDs (malaria, Rift Valley fever and schistosomiasis) in eastern Africa, taking into account environmental/climatic trends and changes in socio-economic conditions to predict future risk.
The scenario outputs from our project can help assess the effectiveness of different recommendations for interventions in East Africa, and the impact of those interventions in different futures.
- Using scenarios for local planning. The scenarios are used as boundary conditions for regional and local planning with key actors toward improved food security, environments and livelihoods.
Example: Farms of the Future. This program makes use of a novel climate analogue tool developed by CCAFS which identifies locations which have the same climatic conditions now as the original location will have in a user specified number of years. Farmer exchanges are to be conducted between socially and culturally appropriate climate analogue locations facilitating knowledge sharing and the development of "high-potential" adaptation pathways. The approach also permits the participatory diagnoses of perceptions of environmental change, tools available for coping, local visions and aspirations for development and the identification of adaptation pathways which balance trade-offs between human development and environmental management objectives.
We are engaging with this project to use the regional scenarios for their local level work and to integrate their local insights into the regional scenarios.
- Using regional scenarios as a case study for global foresight. We use the regional scenarios process as a case study to link to global research, strategic planning and action.
Example: we are making links with the IPCC Shared Socio-Economic Pathways, the new scenarios process that will replace the SRES scenarios.
How does this fit in with the overall CCAFS Programme?
The CCAFS scenarios work is a cross-cutting activity within the wider CCAFS program.
The scenarios that we develop have a very similar function to climate change scenarios used already by CCAFS – they function as alternate future contexts in which to test the feasibility of CCAFS-generated strategies, technologies and policies under alternate future conditions.
Our scenarios can be used to integrate outcomes from other CCAFS activities in a way that makes those outcomes more relevant and understandable to key actors, either by integrating the outcomes into the scenarios themselves or by making the outcomes part of the strategic planning processes that use the scenarios.
The regional focus of the scenarios makes them well-suited for the integration and translation of knowledge between local and international scale activities.
Who are we working with in the regions?
Our participatory scenarios involve close work with partners in the regions where the scenarios are focused.
We are working with various CGIAR research centers such as:
We are working with organisations in the regions, including:
Where are we in development of scenarios in the regions and their use in strategic planning?
As of September 2012, we are at the following stages of scenario development in our regions:
- In East Africa, our first region, the scenarios development and modelling process are complete and will be made available soon as a working report. Key regional perspectives were brought together to create four vivid and relevant scenarios. Partners identified regional integration and reactive/proactive policies as key uncertainties that provide the framework for four different scenarios: Ants in the East, Herd of Zebra, Lone Leopards and Sleeping Lions. The workshops focused specifically on mapping key trade-offs and feedbacks in each scenario. The scenarios were quantified using the two agricultural economic models.
These scenarios are now being used in further workshops involving non-state actors and policy advisors. The purpose of the policy workshop was to bring together technical advisors to the East Africa Commission to explore strategic planning for the future of food security, environments and livelihoods under crucial socio-economic and climate uncertainties. To do this, participants developed a strategic vision and explored feasible strategies towards this vision by testing them using the scenarios of plausible alternate futures developed in earlier workshops. These workshops provide an excellent opportunity for participants to learn about strategic planning and to develop new regional partnerships.
- In West Africa, our second region, we are developing scenarios. A highlight of a scenario development workshop held in Dakar, Senegal, according to all who attended, was a session that focused specifically on introducing different types of surprises to the scenarios – this session really pushed the boundaries and helped participants create plausible but surprising and challenging futures. A second workshop focused on translating the West African scenarios into inputs for the two global agricultural economic models.
- In South Asia, our third region, we are in the process of organising the first scenarios development workshops. Learning from our experiences with the pilot region in East Africa, we have brought in consultants based in the region to help identify potential stakeholders to involve in the workshop, and to conduct interviews with stakeholders who are unable to attend the workshop.
- Latin America will be our fourth region, where we plan to begin our scenarios work in 2013.
Find out more