Towards scenarios for a sustainable and equitable future Australia

Steven Cork, Colin Butler, Doug Cocks, Ian Dunlop, Phoebe Howe

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


    A scenario is an internally consistent narrative about the future, developed using a structured approach with clear and consistent logic to consider systematically how uncertainties and surprises in the future might lead to alternative plausible outcomes. Scenarios can share meaning at deeper levels than logic-based communication through their basis in narrative. Scenario development draws on a range of information, quantitative modelling, expert judgement and creative thinking. These ingredients are combined using procedures that ensure that three key requirements are satisfied: legitimacy (that the information base is reliable and the models used are sound), saliency (that the questions or future uncertainties probed by the scenarios are pertinent) and credibility within specified boundaries (that the scenario is considered plausible by participants in the scenario-building process and by observers). A crucial starting point in scenario development is the specification of a focal question. To exemplify these concepts, we consider scenarios arising from three different focal questions, respectively concerning approaches to climate change, governance and complexification. Finally, we consider processes that could potentially engage Australian society in using scenarios to navigate the future, thereby aiding a national strategic conversation about the issues driving change in Australia over the next 40 years and their relevance for human wellbeing.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationNegotiating our future: Living scenarios for Australia to 2050
    EditorsRaupach M., McMichael A., Finnigan J., Manderson L. & Walker B.
    Place of PublicationCanberra, Australia
    PublisherAustralian Academy of Science
    ISBN (Print)9780858473409
    Publication statusPublished - 2012


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