Scenarios are an important tool for foresight analysis. They allow the exploration and communication of the outcomes of different narratives (“futures”) for societal, economic and environmental development. Scenarios are indispensable for science-based support of policy formulation and implementation. Techniques and procedures for developing and using scenarios have been developed most notably by the IPCC and the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment.
Scenarios, the analysis and the assessment thereof, were an important part of the 3rd and 4th Global Biodiversity Outlook (GBO3, GBO4), and scenario assessments are key component of IPBES assessments.
Scenarios of biodiversity and ecosystem services are trajectories of plausible futures of biodiversity, ecosystems or ecosystems services in response to changes of the environment, based on alternative management or development options. Scenarios are often based on models of biological systems and their interaction with the physical environment and human activities. They aid in better anticipating potential changes of these systems, and can serve as early warning systems of potential collapse or tipping points. Scenarios can also be used as communication tools, bringing about dialogue between different actors, or to informing about dynamics and changes in biological systems.