Exploratory scenarios


Explorations of plausible futures can be based on different data sources. In this toolkit, we distinguish between quantitative, semi-quantitative and qualitative scenario tools.




Exploratory scenarios


Time frame:

2- 4 hours

Scenarios have an explorative character: they describe a range of alternative plausible futures – future situations that may happen. Exploratory scenarios work from the basic understanding that it is not possible, in complex systems under uncertain futures, to predict the most likely future. Instead, with multiple scenarios one can explore the ‘what if’ question: what happens to our plans and strategies under very different assumptions about future trends like climate change, energy transition, demography, lifestyle and technology – creating completely different, challenging scenarios? Explorations of plausible futures can be based on different data sources.

Quantitative tools

Semi-quantitative tools

Qualitative tools

Quantitative tools like computer modelling process large amounts of data from the past and present to extrapolate drivers of past and present change in the future. The following online platforms could assist and nurture the discussion under different energy scenarios:
Some platforms providing useful information to support the discussion are:

It is important to communicate these complex scenarios in an appealing and clear way to participants, for instance using visualization techniques like realistic
photographs, maps or illustrative charts that picture the local neighborhood, city or farmland under alternative plausible circumstances.

Semi-quantitative tools also show plausible future trends but without quantitative extrapolations. This can be a solution when quantitative scenarios are not publicly available. These tools work well if you expect change to happen, but it can be in any direction, like for example economic growth.

A wide range of futures can also be explored using more qualitative tools, where participants themselves actively work with exploring different possible futures. These tools open the floor for participants to explore what change may happen in the future given existing trends or small signals
of change.

Additional Tools to support sessions

Visual GIS maps (e.g. 2D, 3D, fly-over) of the neighborhood, city or region under different (energy) scenarios can be used as a tool to stimulate the ability of imagine plausible future situations.

Visual maps make use of people’s emotional connection to the place and as such bring energy issues to life. Having an expert explaining exploratory scenarios also supports trust building by potential end users of energy services, such as citizens and policymakers.

Poker design cards. It can be used by participants to explore futures based on local citizen narratives collected in early interviews, surveys or focus groups. The cards contained relevant elements which citizens thought could impact the local context. They can be divided into three categories: climate change and energy; infrastructure and territory; and resources and actors. Participants are asked to randomly pick one card of each category and use these to describe possible future situations.

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