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Exploratory Scenario Planning

Lessons Learned in the Field

Eric J. Roberts

August 2014, English

The Lincoln Institute of Land Policy, the Sonoran Institute, and the Consensus Building Institute jointly researched several exploratory scenario planning processes to identify and compile lessons learned. An initial internet-based search identified 26 projects that appeared to use exploratory scenario planning for land use and conservation decisions in a variety of formats: some encompassed several hundred square miles while others included only cities; some addressed a specific issue such as sea level rise while others aimed to look at a broad future encompassing 20 or more drivers; and some included small groups of expert participants while others included many participants of varied backgrounds and understanding of the issues. Nine projects were selected for further exploration through a series of phone interviews with 2–3 project convenors, facilitators, or participants from each project. Based on the interviews, four projects were selected and case studies were drafted to highlight the lessons learned from each case. Each of the four exploratory scenario planning cases includes the following characteristics: exploratory scenarios, public or stakeholder engagement, and a regional to local focus.


Scenario Planning, Stakeholders