Scenario Planning

Consortium Announces Winners of RFP Focused on Climate Strategies
By Emma Zehner, Maio 24, 2021


What happens to the land left behind when a community retreats from rising seas? Over the next year, Kelly Main, executive director of the nonprofit Buy-In Community Planning, will use scenario planning to research and consider how land acquired through buyouts might be converted into open spaces and serve conservation and stormwater management goals. Main’s project, which will use data on buyout properties held by the New York State Governor’s Office of Storm Recovery, is one of seven recently selected for support by the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy. The projects will develop new applications of scenario planning that advance climate mitigation and adaptation strategies in communities.

Awardees—who range from practitioners to academics—have been selected to receive a combined $90,000 to conduct original research and develop tools that specifically use exploratory scenario planning, a type of scenario planning that considers a range of possible futures to inform decisions. The funded projects, scheduled for completion by April 2022, will range in format from an interactive exercise to how-to guides.

“The goal of this RFP is to use land policy to reduce the most catastrophic effects of climate change and help cities adapt to the impacts that remain avoidable,” Heather Sauceda Hannon, associate director of planning practice and scenario planning at the Lincoln Institute, said. “As a structured approach to participatory and evidence-based decision making, scenario planning can help cities and regions prepare and plan for uncertain climate futures.”

The Lincoln Institute will also support the following projects:

  • Ray Quay, research professional at the Decision Center for a Desert City at Arizona State University, will develop an exploratory scenario planning exercise to inform decision makers about the dynamics of land and water management practices, and of water sustainability. Quay will also receive support from the Lincoln Institute’s Babbitt Center for Land and Water Policy.
  • Andrew Rumbach, associate professor of landscape architecture and urban planning at Texas A&M University, will explore how small towns and rural places can use exploratory scenario planning to plan for climate change adaptation.
  • Focusing on older industrial cities in northeast Ohio and western New York State, Terry Schwarz, director of the Cleveland Urban Design Collaborative at Kent State University, will compile a how-to guide for making climate-responsive decisions.
  • Using Belo Horizonte, Brazil, as a case study, Nilo Nascimento, professor at the Federal University of Minas Gerais in Brazil, will research the challenges of adapting green and blue infrastructure to urban flood mitigation, using different scenarios of extreme rainfall events.
  • Ryan Thomas, a Ph.D. candidate in city and regional planning at Cornell University, will study how planners and consultants are using climate scenarios in New York State and attempt to draw broader lessons about how local climate scenarios could be coordinated in a large region.
  • Donovan Finn, assistant professor of environmental design, planning, and policy at Stony Brook University, will write a guide for planners to use qualitative tools such as story boards to better communicate the science of climate and integrate it science into the planning process.

The projects are supported by the Lincoln Institute’s Consortium for Scenario Planning. The Consortium aims to improve the practice of scenario planning and broaden its use across disciplines in communities of all sizes through research, peer-to-peer learning, training, and technical assistance.

Previous RFPs supported by the Consortium have focused on scenario planning for equity and for low-growth contexts.



Emma Zehner is communications and publications editor at the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy.

Photograph Credit: iStock/Getty Images/welcomia.



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