A regional socioeconomic scenarios workshop for the Andean countries recently took place at headquarters of CIAT in Cali, Colombia.
For three days researchers worked together on defining the main factors of change in the Andes region and in what way these factors can be combined in different scenarios.
During the workshop, scenarios were explained as a variety of ‘what-if’ accounts of the future. These accounts can be told in words, images, maps, and numbers. They are not so much meant to predict the future, but moreover help stakeholders accept the uncertainty of the future and help acknowledge future uncertainty and explore the dynamics of widely different but plausible future worlds.
Scenarios help re-think and re-organize current structures to create more robust policies and strategies.
The scenarios process takes an important place within the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS) and all scenarios workshops are organized in collaboration with key regional policy makers, private sector actors, NGOs, civil society organizations, media and researchers. The process is led by CCAFS teams and partners at the University of Oxford's Environmental Change Institute.
The first phase of the process consists of a socioeconomic scenario workshop in the key CCAFS regions - West Africa, East Africa, South Asia, South East Asia, Latin America. In these workshops, the key is to capture interactions of socio-economic uncertainties that climate change might have at the regional level.
These uncertainties form the basis for plausible alternate futures that are explored through qualitative means (storylines, system maps) and then quantified in a global context.
At the end of November, it was now Latin America's turn, with over 30 representatives from the four Andean countries coming together in Cali, Colombia.
Outline of the workshop
The first day of the workshop started off with a speech by a representative of the Colombian Ministry of Agriculture, a word of welcome by Ana Maria Loboguerrero, who is the Regional Program Leader of Latin America, and a word of welcome by Marieke Veeger from the University for International Cooperation (UCI).
After this, the real work started. With post-its and colored stickers the main factors of change were identified and later on ranked by importance and relevance. All factors of change were grouped into clusters and made-up categories like: deforestation, food security, government structure and legislation. A smart computer program made a selection of the factors which then got put into a compatibility matrix.
The second day started off with the translation of the change factors into possible scenarios. An example of a scenario that was worked with: “a scenario in which there is a centralized government, the markets are sustainable and regulated, the consuming patron is high and the economic development is low and diversified”.
Six of these scenarios were developed, and after a long discussing four were finally chosen. The scenarios for 2050 were made, but then the groups needed to work back from there to 2030, 2020 and the present.
This wasn't easy for many of the participants, as they needed to take into account all possible actions in an area, acknowledge that one action can lead to negative as well as positive consequences in the years to follow and above that, get consensus within the group of participants. During the day, various sights, laughs and applauses were heard during different phases of this process.
The third day consisted of inventing a name for these scenarios. The names were quite exotic and descriptive, such as: Hananta Yuyaspa (quichua for ‘New day, new start’).
The post-its on a paper timeline were formed into a story explaining the scenario for the upcoming years with the final outcomes in the year 2050. The day ended with identifying indicators of interest for each scenario, such as the fluctuation of migration and development of new agricultural technologies.
As stated by Eduard Müller, Director of UCI: "The methodology has now proven to be very successful in this region and I was very excited to see how the participatory method made people really work together in creative ways".
The scenarios workshop in Latin America compared to other CCAFS sites
As stated before, this scenarios workshop has been conducted in West and East Africa and South and South East Asia before. According to those facilitators that have been attending workshops in all regions, the Latin American site is ‘interesting and easy-going’. Discussions are easily held, everyone has the courage to speak up and participants engage easily in creative group discussions.
As can be seen on the pictures taken, hand gestures, laughs and facial expressions make up the ways of communicating. According to the facilitators, ‘the risk in working in this area lies in heated up and passionate discussions, in repeating the same opinions without getting to a solution or decision and not always being able to deal very well with time pressure and punctuality. Despite these factors, the Andean region has been a delight to work at and the participants are very inspiring and easy-going’. This informality and friendliness spread out far beyond the working hours.