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Representations of possible futures for one or more components of a system, particularly for drivers of change in nature and nature’s benefits, including alternative policy or management options.

  • Exploratory scenarios (also known as “explorative scenarios” or “descriptive scenarios”) are scenarios that examine a range of plausible futures, based on potential trajectories of drivers – either indirect (e.g. socio-political, economic and technological factors) or direct (e.g. habitat conversion, climate change).
  • Target-seeking scenarios (also known as “goal-seeking scenarios” or “normative scenarios”) are scenarios that start with the definition of a clear objective, or a set of objectives, specified either in terms of achievable targets, or as an objective function to be optimized, and then identify different pathways to achieving this outcome (e.g. through backcasting).
  • Intervention scenarios are scenarios that evaluate alternative policy or management options – either through target seeking (also known as “goal seeking” or “normative scenario analysis”) or through policy screening (also known as “ex-ante assessment”).
  • Policy-evaluation scenarios are scenarios, including counterfactual scenarios, used in ex-post assessments of the gap between policy objectives and actual policy results, as part of the policy-review phase of the policy cycle.
  • Policy-screening scenarios are scenarios used in ex-ante assessments, to forecast the effects of alternative policy or management options (interventions) on environmental outcomes.