Module 7 of this resource book deals with the communication of the assessment, and Module 3 deals with design of an impact strategy. The entire resource book is designed to provide capacity building in environmental and sustainable development assessment processes. That said, there are special issues related to communication, outreach and capacity building that are of particular importance to scenario development.
Because uncertainty is at the core of the development and use of scenarios, the communication of the results of any scenario exercise must recognize the limitations as well as the value of such a process. No scenario exercise should be expected to capture all the intricacies of the world. It is as important to describe clearly the purpose and scope of a scenario exercise, and the assumptions underlying any scenario or set of scenarios as the results of any analysis based upon a particular scenario or set of scenarios. Scenarios are intended to explore what could happen, not what will happen. If this is not clearly communicated, there is great potential for scenarios to be misused and misinterpreted.
The extent and manner of communication of scenarios is particularly important if the scenarios are to succeed in inspiring new visions of the future. Note, for example, the success of the Mont Fleur scenarios, which were published first in a newspaper and thus, widely communicated (see section 4, above). This kind of communication obviously needs a language and style of presentation that is suitable for a broad audience.
Outreach is important in order to generate a discussion with all stakeholder groups about the content and implication of the scenarios. This provides “buy-in” to the results of the scenario exercise from a group much larger than that involved in development and analysis of the scenarios. It also can provide valuable feedback on the results. This can be achieved through a series of workshops in which the scenarios are presented and discussed.
Finally, as discussed above and depicted in Figure 4, communication and outreach should take place throughout the scenario process, and not merely occur at the end. The involvement of a range of stakeholders in the various stages of the process should be seen as part of the communication and outreach effort. In fact, experience would indicate that such engagement is potentially the most effective form of communication and outreach.