Can scenario planning catalyse transformational change? Evaluating a climate change policy case study in Mali

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The potential of participatory scenario processes to catalyse individual and collective transformation
and policy change is emphasised in several theoretical reflections. Participatory scenario
processes are believed to enhance participants’ systems understanding, learning, networking and
subsequent changes in practices. However, limited empirical evidence is available to prove these
assumptions. This study aimed to contribute to this knowledge gap. It evaluates whether these
outcomes had resulted from the scenario planning exercise and the extent to which they can
contribute to transformational processes. The research focused on a district level case study in
rural Mali which examined food security and necessary policy changes in the context of climate
change. The analyses of interviews with 26 participants carried out 12 months after the workshop
suggested positive changes in learning and networking, but only limited influence on systems
understanding. There was limited change in practice, but the reported changes occurred at the
individual level, and no policy outcomes were evident. However, by building the adaptive capacity
of participants, the scenario process had laid the foundation for ongoing collective action,
and potential institutional and policy transformation. We conclude that to enhance the resilience
of agricultural and food systems under climate change, participatory scenario processes require a
broader range of cross-scale actors’ engagement to support transformational changes. Such
process will both catalyse deeper learning and more effective link with national level policymaking
process. In addition, individual scenario planning exercises are unlikely to generate
sufficient learning and reflection, and instead they should form one component of more extensive
and deliberate stakeholder engagement, learning and evaluation processes.


Totin E, Butler JR, Sidibe A, Partey S, Thornton PK, Tabo R. 2018. Can scenario planning catalyse transformational change? Evaluating a climate change policy case study in Mali. Futures 96:44-56.


  • Totin, Edmond
  • Butler, James
  • Sidibé, Amadou
  • Partey, Samuel
  • Thornton, Philip K.
  • Tabo, Ramadjita