Scenario analysis is an important research tool for optimal ecosystem management and is attractive in its potential to integrate environmental science and policy (Alcamo 2008). Scenario analysis establishes an interdisciplinary and innovative framework for analyzing complex environmental problems, presents solutions to these problems while providing future alternate environmental states in the presence or absence of policy and revealing the efficacy and robustness of policy pathways on ecosystem management (Alcamo 2008).
The purpose of scenario analysis is to improve understanding and learning and reveal concealed assumptions and risks. The result of scenario analysis is the establishment of a framework for calculating strategic decision outcomes (Alcamo 2008). Scenario analysis is not about predication but rather about scenario logic and plausible futures (Lindgren and Bandhold 2003). Scenario analysis in this context explores different assumptions about how causal relationships work and result in different outcomes (Figure 1, Brummel 2008).
Figure 1: Different scenarios, operating on initial conditions, yield different outcomes (A. Brummell. 2008. Scenario Analysis. Presentation to the Future Forests Working Group, Sustainable Forest Management Network).
Once the driving forces are established they will analyzed and the critical uncertainties within the system will be identified (Alcamo and Henrichs 2008), and the independent axes of the scenario analysis discovered (Figure 2). The third step of scenario analysis involves the determination of the major characteristics of the four alternative scenarios or futures of the model (Alcamo and Henrichs 2008). The fourth and final step of scenario analysis will be the development of logical policy paths that would be required to move towards the desired future within the Great Lakes St. Lawrence River Basin and provide a set of indicators to recognize movement towards a different scenario along a scenario path.
Figure 2: Variations in parameters define different scenarios (A. Brummell 2008. Scenario Analysis. Presentation to the Future Forests working group, Sustainable Forest Management Network).
Our scenario analysis will follow four structures steps:
Step 1: Identify driving forces that influence the airshed, watershed, and water bodies of the Great Lakes- St. Lawrence Basin. Driving forces include “key factors, trends or processes that influence the situation, focal issue, or decisions, and propel the system forward and decide the story’s outcome” (Rothman 2008). They tend to be demographic, economic, societal, scientific, technological, institutional, environmental, and cultural. A review of the past (since 1960’s), present, and future (towards 2060) drivers provide our starting point.
Step 2: Define two critical dimensions of the future that form independent axes for the scenarios.
Step 3: Describe the major characteristics of the alternate scenarios framed by the four quadrants created by intersecting the two axes identified in Step 2.
Step 4: Analyze and develop logical policy paths required to move towards the desired scenario, or to avoid the undesirable ones, and provide a set of indicators to track progress.
Alcamo, J. and T. Henrichs. 2008. Towards guidelines for environmental scenario analysis. p. 13-35. In J. Alcamo [eds.], Environmental Futures: The practice of environmental scenario analysis. Elsevier B.V. Amsterdam, The Netherlands.
Rothman, D.S. 2008. A survey of environmental scenarios. p. 37-65. In J. Alcamo [eds.], Environmental Futures: The practice of environmental scenario analysis. Elsevier B.V. Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Brummell A, G MacGillivray. Undated. Introduction to Scenarios. Scenarios to Strategies, Inc. 5 pp. Cornish E. 2004. Futuring: The Exploration of the Future. Bethesda, MD: World Future Society. 313 pp.
Drucker P. 1973. Management Tasks and Responsibilities. New York: Harper. 864 pp.
Lindgren, M. and Bandhold, H. 2003. Scenario Planning, the link between future and strategy. Palgrave Macmillan, New York, NY. USA
Rothman, D.S. 2008. A survey of environmental scenarios. p. 37-65. In J. Alcamo [eds.], Environmental Futures: The practice of environmental scenario analysis. Elsevier B.V. Amsterdam, The Netherlands.