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Preface Annex 1
CHAPTER 13: THE FUTURE TODAY
Lead Author: Washington Ochola
Scenario analysis offers a way to consider long-range futures in light of uncertainties and to examine the requirements for a transition to sustainability. Scenarios are possible sets of future events which, unlike projections of trends in human affairs, may be legitimate over the short term, but not as time horizons expand over months and years to decades and generations (Gallopin and others 1997). They are stories about the future with a logical plot and narrative governing the manner in which events unfold (Schwartz 1991, Cole 1981, Miles 1981) and they illuminate long-range problems and possibilities.
Scenarios are indispensable tools for environmental management that focus on large-scale, long-term interactions between development and environment (Toth and others 1989). Scenarios have two particularly advantageous qualities:
The integration of scientific knowledge helps scenario development, as a tool for “peeping” into the future, to look more closely into what types of development and environmental strategies are risky and how they can be avoided, as well as into which ones are plausible and need to be reinforced. A scenario approach can be valuable for stimulating analysis and sorting out urgent policy issues, and as a means of communication between scientists and policymakers. However, it should be strongly emphasized that scenarios are simulations: they make an effort to introduce analysis of different “what if?” developments and should therefore be distinguished from projections.
This chapter provides qualitative and quantitative documentation of the scenarios developed during the Africa Environment Outlook 2 (AEO-2) process. It analyses four development scenarios adopted in the AEO-1 process (UNEP 2002a): Market Forces, Policy Reform, Fortress World and Great Transitions. Although different in nomenclature, these are similar to those used in the ongoing Global Environment Outlook (GEO) processes: Market First, Policy First, Security First and Sustainability First (UNEP 2002b). Both AEO and GEO highlight the environmental implications over the period 2005-25. The underlying assumptions of both sets of scenarios are also similar.
Comprehensive information on the future state of environmental elements is required to assess the social, economic and environmental consequences of policy and other development actions. Scenarios of environment and development issues have been developed to help assess possible effects of different biophysical, social and economic processes on the future state of the environment in selected themes and issues. The aim of this chapter is to provide guidance to the regional, sub-regional and national policy community for converting the threats to and opportunities for environment and development into practical policies and actions. They can be an important tool for defining strategies to achieve the aspirations of Africa’s leaders and people:
The scenarios described in this chapter are based on qualitative narratives and quantitative back-ups that have been developed using the Stockholm Environment Institute’s (SEI) PoleStar® system and the Millennium Institute’s (MI) Threshold 21 (T21).