ICZM: Identifying Futures: Scenarios, Pilot Actions, and Funding

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Scenarios - alternative, "what if?" visions of the future – and the process of generating them can be used as a key part of the ICZM Process. Scenarios can be used to:

  • Provoke debate about common futures;
  • Expand the range of options;
  • Expose contradictions and conflicts;
  • Clarify and communicate the technical analysis;
  • Expose uncertainties for future developments;
  • Evaluate policies in the face of an uncertain future.

Scenarios and the process of scenario development should engage the imagination of both the planners and the stakeholders. Their value should be in widening the participants' perception of possible future events and possibilities, and encourage "thinking the unthinkable".

Scenarios can be generated from a combination of factors, such as demographics or economic growth, with plausible alternative political, social, technical, legal and environmental trends as key driving forces. Climate change scenarios will add an additional dimension to the process.

Asking what actions are required to mitigate the negative or reinforce the positive aspects of the likely scenarios can then influence the formulation of ICZM plans, strategies or programmes.

There are many variations of the scenario process, but these can be placed between two extremes:

  1. A limited number of “top-down” scenarios generated formally by the planning team and subject to a formal consultation – often consisting of "high" and "low" scenarios centred on a "do nothing", "business as usual" or median options.
  2. A fully participative “bottom-up” process involving facilitated workshops, etc. at which few constraints are placed on the number or range of alternative scenarios generated.

The option 1 requires an effort to do a research and quantification, but is self-limiting in the quality or innovation of options. It is also largely self-fulfilling in terms of stakeholder response and the resulting plan, strategy or programme. The option 2, following the fully participative process, offers a more creative way forward in terms of the selected outcomes and, more importantly, taps in to local knowledge and encourages the "ownership" of the outcomes but is less endowed with quantified outcomes and indicators. The best option would be to combine the two: scenarios based on research, analysis and quantification, and scenarios based on participative process where decision making could be simulated (option 2) and impacts of these decisions assessed (option 1). It is important to note that scenario making is not, per se, a decision making process. It may simulates decisions, but actual decision-making could take place only in the planning process.

The indicators can be used to help "measure" the impacts of the alternative scenarios in terms of costs and benefits, but recognising and accepting that in many cases these will be speculative. The degree of sophistication applied to the technical evaluation of alternatives through, for example, cost-benefit analysis, will be dependent on the resources and expertise available.

Techniques & Tools

The literature contains many scenario tools for sustainability. No one technique is prescribed here for the coast. Rather, the precise techniques used will vary with local cultures, social and administrative complexity, local capacity and other contextual factors. In all cases, however, the added value of participation should be maximised.

Pilot Actions

One of the most powerful tools for securing stakeholder and public "buy-in" to the ICZM Process is through pilot actions. The executions of pilot actions - especially eye-catching, showcase projects – can be one of the most important tools to demonstrate the benefits of collaborative action to the stakeholders. Pilot actions and small-scale demonstration projects are designed to:

  1. Give real, practical and visible substance to the planning process;
  2. Build trust and capacity by engaging a wide variety of stakeholders in collaborative activities;
  3. Test and enhance the local potential for future interventions.

Community-based pilot actions can take many forms: from small-scale concrete actions, to awareness-raising events, data collection and local knowledge sharing. Pilot actions are primarily demonstrations of the relevance and potential of ICZM. In particular, the actions should test the benefits of an integrated approach. They can be linked to wider events such as the annual Mediterranean Coast Day.

The criteria for selecting the right project as a pilot can include:

  • Relevance
  • Integrative nature
  • Duration
  • Manageability
  • Cost

There is no one accepted technique for pilot actions. Such actions should be closely adapted to the local cultural context plus the local capacity for such projects.

Future Funding Sources

This is a preliminary identification of key potential funding sources for the subsequent implementation. Although the action plan will not yet have been elaborated, the identification of potential major funding sources will help create the favourable preconditions for the delivery of the strategy, plan or programme by linking them with the results of the scenario development. If a specific scenario has the feasibility of its implementation tested through identification of potential funding sources it could be considered, then, as more realistic because:

  1. Ensuring that the proposed actions are realistic and deliverable.
  2. Reducing the time gap between plan and actions – thereby maintaining momentum, stakeholder confidence and support.

See Also

This article has been drafted by PAP/RAC
Please note that others may also have edited the contents of this article.