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Scenarios and models expert group activities (2016-2019)

Further work during phase 2 of the work on scenarios and models builds on the Assessment, aiming to catalyse the further development and use of tools and methodologies on scenarios and modelling. The aim is that such policy support tools will help guide decision-making, by taking into account the multiple values of nature and its contributions to people. The work plan for phase 2 of the work on scenarios and models includes two main activities:

  1. Providing expert advice to relevant expert groups of the Platform, in particular those undertaking assessments, on the use of existing scenarios and models to address current IPBES needs, and
  2. Catalysing the development of scenarios and models by the broader scientific community for future IPBES work.

After the publication of the assessment on scenarios and models, an IPBES expert group (2016-2019) and task force (2019 - present) continued the work on scenarios and models. Their objectives are to (1) support other IPBES work (e.g. assessments and other task forces) on the use of existing scenarios and models, and (2) catalyse the development of scenarios and models by the broader scientific community for future IPBES work.

As requested by the IPBES Plenary (section V of decision IPBES-4/1), the Multidisciplinary Expert Panel endorsed a detailed work plan for phase 2 of the work on scenarios and models which was conducted from 2016 - 2019 by the Scenarios and Models expert group (menu tab ‘Scenarios and models phase 2 experts’ ).

In 2019, the Scenarios and Models work was approved to be put under the responsibility of a new Task Force scenarios and models (2019 to present). Their work is structured under several working groups 

Working groups for Scenarios and Models (June 2018 - 2019)

Building on the activities from the work plan of the expert group on scenarios and models as formulated during the expert meeting in 2018 in The Hague, the proposed plan lays out the activities foreseen for the task force on scenarios and models as part of the IPBES work programme up to 2030. The plan consisted of several tasks allocated to five working groups, which are envisaged to be complemented by additional tasks in the future.

Working Group 1: Facilitating the development and rolling-out of a long-term research agenda on methodologies to formulate positive scenarios for nature and natures’ contributions to people in conjunction with stakeholders.

The role of this working group is to ensure overall coordination and coherence between the participatory development of qualitative storylines, and their translation into quantitative terms through models and indicators. Through this process, this working group outlines a methodology that encompasses the overall cycle of envisioning positive futures for nature and people in collaboration with stakeholders, identifying pathways towards its realisation, and applying them to quantitative models. This working group also facilitated the alignment between the nature futures framework and other global scenario processes.

Working Group 2: Facilitating engagement of stakeholders and broad scale consultations to further flesh out the positive future visions into consistent storylines using the nature futures framework.

This included the engagement of global, regional and national stakeholders and other networks with potential for synergies with the work of the task force and consultations with thus far underrepresented stakeholders such as the private sector and other sector groups. The working group facilitated this through iterative cycles taking into account different contexts and geographies (with working groups 1 and 4) in order to ensure the inclusiveness of resulting visions and scenarios. In parallel, this working group created communication and engagement materials based on the outcomes of the other working groups. This included the creation of a stakeholder engagement platform on scenarios and models and of online resources on scenarios and models. Stakeholder engagement during the SPSAS workshop in Brazil catalysed the publication of several papers in Biota Neotropica, 20 (e.g. Lembi, R. C., et al, 2020; Resende, F. D. M., et al, 2020; etc.) which can be accessed through this link.

Working Group 3: Facilitating the iterative development of indicators and models to support the nature futures framework.

This working group facilitated the translation of positive visions and storylines into quantitative terms, through mobilization of a broad community of modelling experts. This community will contribute to the development of indicators to measure progress towards the positive future visions, and to the production of future projections of drivers of change and associated policy options. For each nature futures scenario, detailed projections will be produced at global and regional scales focusing on changes in both biodiversity and in ecosystem services. This will further be used to analyse socio-ecological feedback to the human system, such as health, livelihoods and social attitudes towards nature and decision-making.

Working group 4: Facilitating engagement of a network of existing scenario development initiatives across various scales.

This working group focused on the development of a strategy for promoting and supporting sub-global scenario-building initiatives that serve as case studies to introduce and adapt the nature futures framework across various geographical scales. Coordination across case studies is sought through the development of a common toolkit that guides the scenario-building process while being tailored to the needs of the specific initiative.

Working group 5: Collaborating with IPBES task forces

Collaborating with IPBES task forces (including task forces on capacity building, policy support tools, indigenous and local knowledge, and data and knowledge) and supporting the ongoing and new assessments (including the assessment on values, the assessment on the sustainable use of wild species and the assessment on invasive alien species). To ensure continuous communication and to strengthen collaboration, a member of the technical support unit on scenarios and models as well as members of the task force on scenarios and models will serve as liaisons for each of these task forces and assessments.

(2016 - June 2018) Phase 2 tasks: following the assessment

Task 1: Mobilizing research groups to apply the existing IPCC SSP scenarios to a range of biodiversity and ecosystem services models


A protocol has been developed for an intercomparison of biodiversity and ecosystem services models using harmonized land-use and climate scenarios. The results will serve as input for the IPBES Global Assessment.

  • The protocol paper is published as: Kim, H., Rosa, I. M. D., Alkemade, R., Leadley, P., Hurtt, G., Popp, A., van Vuuren, D. P., Anthoni, P., Arneth, A., Baisero, D., Caton, E., Chaplin-Kramer, R., Chini, L., De Palma, A., Di Fulvio, F., Di Marco, M., Espinoza, F., Ferrier, S., Fujimori, S., Gonzalez, R. E., Gueguen, M., Guerra, C., Harfoot, M., Harwood, T. D., Hasegawa, T., Haverd, V., Havlík, P., Hellweg, S., Hill, S. L. L., Hirata, A., Hoskins, A. J., Janse, J. H., Jetz, W., Johnson, J. A., Krause, A., Leclère, D., Martins, I. S., Matsui, T., Merow, C., Obersteiner, M., Ohashi, H., Poulter, B., Purvis, A., Quesada, B., Rondinini, C., Schipper, A. M., Sharp, R., Takahashi, K., Thuiller, W., Titeux, N., Visconti, P., Ware, C., Wolf, F., and Pereira, H. M. (2018) A protocol for an intercomparison of biodiversity and ecosystem services models using harmonized land-use and climate scenarios, Geosci. Model Dev., 11, 4537–4562, 
  • This work catalysed the publication of several papers by this modeling community, such as (amongst others still in press):
    • Baisero, D., Visconti, P., Pacifici, M., Cimatti, M. and Rondinini, C. (2019) Projected Changes in Mammalian Habitat Under Contrasting Climate and Land Use Change Scenarios. One Earth.
    • Chaplin-Kramer, R., Sharp, R.P., Weil, C., Bennett, E.M., Pascual, U., Arkema, K.K., Brauman, K.A., Bryant, B.P., Guerry, A.D., Haddad, N.M., Hamann, M., Hamel, P., Johnson, J.A., Mandle, L., Pereira, H.M., Polasky, S., Ruckelshaus, M., Shaw, M.R., Silver, J.M., Vogl, A.L. and Daily, G.C. (2019) Global modeling of nature’s contributions to people. Science, 366, 255–258.
    • Di Marco, M., Harwood, T.D., Hoskins, A.J., Ware, C., Hill, S.L.L. and Ferrier, S. (2019) Projecting impacts of global climate and land‐use scenarios on plant biodiversity using compositional‐turnover modelling. Global Change Biology, 25, 2763–2778.
    • Krause, A., Haverd, V., Poulter, B., Anthoni, P., Quesada, B., Rammig, A., & Arneth, A. ( 2019). Multimodel analysis of future land use and climate change impacts on ecosystem functioning. Earth's Future, 7, 833– 851.
    • H. Ohashi, T. Hasegawa, A. Hirata, S. Fujimori, K. Takahashi, I. Tsuyama, K. Nakao, Y. Kominami, N. Tanaka, Y. Hijioka, T. Matsui, Biodiversity can benefit from climate stabilization despite adverse side effects of land-based mitigation. Nature Communications, 10(1), 1-11.
    • Schipper, A.M., Hilbers, J.P., Meijer, J.R., Antão, L.H., Benítez‐López, A., Jonge, M.M.J., Leemans, L.H., Scheper, E., Alkemade, R., Doelman, J.C., Mylius, S., Stehfest, E., Vuuren, D.P., Zeist, W. and Huijbregts, M.A.J. (2019) Projecting terrestrial biodiversity intactness with GLOBIO 4. Global Change Biology, gcb.14848.
    • Thuiller, W., Guéguen, M., Renaud, J., Karger, D.N. and Zimmermann, N.E. (2019) Uncertainty in ensembles of global biodiversity scenarios. Nature Communications, 10, 1446.
    • Powers, R., & Jetz, W. (2019). Global habitat loss and extinction risk of terrestrial vertebrates under future land-use-change scenarios. Nature Climate Change, 9(4), 323-329.
    • Rosa, I.M.D., Purvis, A., Alkemade, R., Chaplin-Kramer, R., Ferrier, S., Guerra, C.A., Hurtt, G., Kim, H., Leadley, P., Martins, I.S., Popp, A., Schipper, A.M., van Vuuren, D. & Pereira, H.M. (2020). Challenges in producing policy-relevant global scenarios of biodiversity and ecosystem services. Global Ecology and Conservation, 22, e00886.
Task 2: Mobilizing global institutional stakeholders to identify policy options to enrich the IPCC SSP scenarios using biodiversity and ecosystem services models
  • Completed; Paper in draft.
Task 3: Organization of a session on scenarios and models during the IPBES-5 Stakeholder Day
  • Completed on 6 March 2017.
Task 4: Full "IPBES scenario way forward" information document for the 5th Plenary of IPBES
Task 5: A scientific paper on ‘Multiscale scenarios for nature futures' addressing the scientific community and stakeholders
Task 6: Development of an online evolving guide on the use of scenarios and models
  • Ongoing
Task 7: Organization of a workshop on visioning futures for biodiversity and ecosystem services (Auckland, New Zealand, 4-8 September 2017)
  • Completed
  • The full report “Visions for nature and nature’s contributions to people for the 21st century’ may be downloaded here.
  • The summary of the workshop can be downloaded here.
Task 8: Long-term research agenda for the development of new IPBES scenarios
  • Completed
  • In June 2018, an expert meeting was organised to look back on the activities since 2016 and a new working plan for was developed. This resulted in several working groups (see top of the page).
  • A summary and a report of the workshop 'next steps in developing Nature Futures' can be accessed here