Extending the Influence of Scenario Development in Sustainability Planning and Strategy
There is wide agreement that a transition toward deeper forms of sustainability would require transformational changes at many levels, transcending current patterns of incremental progress. Transformational changes might only occur, in many instances, over time frames that extend well beyond those of mainstream approaches to planning. The need for more explicit attention to longer term futures is reflected in the increasing use of scenario-based processes applied to sustainability challenges. The full potential of scenario development remains, however, largely untapped; many audiences have yet to be engaged, intrigued and influenced by them. This review article explores key barriers to more effective use of scenario development in relation to sustainability challenges, including: (1) the persistent predictive orientation of sustainability planning exercises; (2) the relatively low level of interest in weak signals and their implications; (3) institutionalized aversion to long term planning; and (4) the predominance of an essentialist perspective.
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