The narrative of the Policy Reform scenario is in many ways similar to that of the Market Forces scenario. However, unlike the Market Forces scenario, there is the realization of the need to address the negative fallouts of the driving forces through concerted efforts by governments and civil society. Consequently, the impact of market mechanisms is tempered by the inclusion of programmes to mitigate the negative impacts of such development. The argument is that the socioeconomic and political considerations may make it expedient for governments to take actions that favour citizens, rather than wait for the operation of the market to correct these ills.

For instance, instead of allowing the redistributive arm of the market to address the increasing numbers of poor people within a long-time frame, policies and programmes are adopted to actively counter serious negative social and environmental impacts. In terms of this scenario policies are put in place and executed to address specific and anticipated problems that arise from the operations of the market. For example, the state can be expected to intervene through policy and planning development in the management of fragile coastal ecosystems and require the adoption of integrated coastal zone management (ICZM) programmes that directly affect the allocation of resources and the distribution of the benefits of growth.

Policy reforms focus on engineering development through positive and proactive interventions even on such issues as privatization.

Essentially, policy reforms focus on engineering development through positive and proactive interventions even on such issues as privatization. While accepting the desire for a gradual withdrawal of government as principal actor in the development process, government is not content with just providing the enabling environment for economic growth, and it puts in place a monitoring and evaluation system that ensures that these operators of the economy follow laid-down policies which are beneficial to the people.

As in the case of the Market Forces scenario, barriers to trade between countries and regions of the world break down under the Policy Reform scenario. This is the result not only of globalization and information and communication technology (ICT) but also of the deliberate efforts of governments and regional groupings. Nevertheless, new institutions are established to manage the new economic order and the emerging political arrangement or rearrangement of nations. Economic and political groupings such as the existing AU, AMU, COMESA, ECA, ECCAS, ECOWAS, IOC and SADC flourish and reorganize themselves as stronger economic unions. Many subregional and international research centres, such as the existing Centre for Environment and Development for the Arab Region & Europe (CEDARE), Network for Environment and Sustainable Development in Africa (NESDA), and the Southern African Research and Documentation Centre (SARDC) are established. The development of new initiatives and ideas is greatly stimulated.