Scaling out scenario-guided policy and investment planning

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Project description

The Future Scenarios project has developed socio-economic and climate scenarios at regional levels as a tool for strategic policy planning and investment decisions. Through workshops and close collaborations with policymakers, the team has facilitated the adaptation and use of these scenarios, which help next-users establish more robust plans, policies and strategies and provide “no-regrets” options in the face of diverse futures.

Keys to the success of the CCAFS scenario project has been a focus on specific policies, plans and questions; openness and adaptability of the scenario method; and ensuring strong process ownership by decision-makers.

For instance, with support from the scenarios project team, the Ghanaian Ministry of Food and Agriculture organized a 3-day workshop with several other stakeholders to review the country’s livestock policy, using a scenario-guided approach. The West African regional scenarios were downscaled to be applicable at the national level in Ghana and then used to review the existing livestock policy for its robustness to various possible futures. A variety of recommendations were made by participants to help shape the country’s livestock plans moving forward.

In another example, the Cambodian Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, with support from the CCAFS scenarios team, finalized a Climate Change Action Plan that featured scenario-guided climate-smart agriculture investments, and capacity building on scenario-guided planning. Scenarios were also used to develop and test content for the Bangladesh Planning Commission’s 5 Year Plan.

Scenarios are also used to bridge policy levels: in Honduras, an agricultural climate adaptation policy was developed at the national level with the help of the scenario-guided process, and is since being adapted for implementation in sub-national regions, again using a scenario-guided approach. In Ghana, a process focusing on bridging gaps between policy levels, using multi-level scenarios, has been conducted, and scenario-guided policy processes are underway in Colombia, Burkina Faso, Tanzania and Uganda.

In 2015 and 2016, a number of regional case studies toward policy outcomes will be were completed, and additionally, the project focused on supporting global partners, working on global foresight studies, capacity development and synthesizing insights across the regions for global-level planning.

As CCAFS moves into Phase II in 2017 and beyond, the scenarios project will shift its focus toward more of an emphasis on food and nutrition security as part of an overall attempt to take a more systems-level view of policies and institutions.

Workshop participants develop future scenarios of development, food security and the environment under climate change in Southeast Asia. Photo: E. van de Grift

By 2019, at least five national climate-smart agriculture/food systems policies have been finalized and are being implemented that have been developed and tested against scenarios to make them more robust in the face of multiple climate/socio-economic futures. At least five major regional/global organizations have used scenarios outputs and methodology in their priority setting and policy guidance.

From the project inception in 2010, over 240 different organizations, including major development partners, have participated in the CCAFS scenarios process, helping to create credible and collaborative evidence-based scenarios, which are now guiding decision-makers in all five CCAFS regions.

By the end of 2013, national and regional stakeholders in all five CCAFS regions were setting up processes, which employed CCAFS scenarios to develop adaptation and mitigation policies. By the end of 2014, one scenario-guided policy has been finalized; 3 more are close to finalization and at least 3 policies are the focus of new scenario processes.


  1. Taller para la construcción de escenarios socioeconómicos para los paises andinos - Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador y Perú
  2. Blog sobre los escenarios regionales: ‘Hananta Yuyaspa’: Un nuevo amanecer para los países andinos
  • Creación de escenarios regionales para Centroamerica:
  1. Taller para la construcción de escenarios socioeconómicos para los paises andinos - Belice, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica y Panamá.
  2. Blog: Escenarios futuros para la seguridad alimentaria en Centroamérica
  • Uso de escenarios en: 
  1. El Trifinio: Intelligent Imagining: Scenarios to Manage Water as the Climate Changes
  2. Honduras (2014)
    Taller de Escenarios Socioeconómicos y Climáticos futuros de Honduras como
  3. Honduras (2015)
  4. Costa Rica Intended National Determined Contributions (2015)


Recomendaciones para la Contribución Nacional del sector agropecuario guiadas por escenarios socioeconómicos futuros de Costa Rica

Recomendaciones para la Contribución Nacional del sector forestal guiadas por escenarios socioeconómicos futuros de Costa Rica

Recomendaciones para la Contribución Nacional del sector energía eléctrica guiadas por escenarios socioeconómicos futuros de Costa Rica

Recomendaciones para la Contribución Nacional del sector transporte guiadas por escenarios socioeconómicos futuros de Costa Rica

Taller de escenarios socioeconómicos para el diseño de la Contribución Nacional de Costa Rica ante la Convención Marco de las Naciones Unidas sobre el Cambio Climático - sector Residuos

Policy Brief: Shifting the paradigm: Narratives of the future guide the development of Costa Rica´s INDC

    5. Costa Rica Intended National Determined Contributions (2017)
Talleres de escenarios futuros para guiar el sector agropecuario en su transición hacia una producción resiliente a la variabilidad climática y baja en emisiones

    6. Costa Rica - Politica Nacional de Desarrollo Productivo

Expected outputs

  • Journal articles highlighting the various regional scenarios and policy processes
  • Workshops, engagement activities, and communication products
  • Journal article and policy brief on global scenarios synthesis


This project is now led by the Copernicus Institute for Sustainable Development at Utrecht University. The project was previously coordinated by the University of Oxford, and has been supported by a number of global partnerships, notably UNEP World Conservation Monitoring Centre (UNEP-WCMC), the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and Oxfam GB.

The team works with multiple local and regional partners, including Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries of Cambodia, Ministry of Agriculture, of Livestock and Fisheries Development in Tanzania and in Uganda, the Ministry of Water and Environment and Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries, the University for International Cooperation (UCI) in Costa Rica, Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MADR) in Colombia, Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, Aquaculture and Fisheries (MAGAP) in Ecuador, Secretariat of Agriculture and Livestock in Honduras, the Bangladesh Planning Commission and the International Centre for Climate Change and Development (ICCCAD).


The project uses scenario-guided policy formulation as a way to make participation in policy processes possible for diverse stakeholders, including women and women's groups, and to include gender issues in planning.


The scenarios are being used by decision-makers in East and West Africa, South and Southeast Asia, the Andes and Central America and by global actors.

Further information

For further information, please contact CCAFS Scenarios Officer Joost Vervoort  at