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Journal article

Towards improved participatory scenario methodologies in the Arctic

Scenarios have a lot of potential to support sustainability in the Arctic. This article examines how they can be made more robust.

Marcus Carson, Annika E. Nilsson / Published on 3 September 2019

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Nilsson, A. E., Carson, M., Cost, D. S., Forbes, B. C., Haavisto, R., Karlsdottir, A., Larsen, J. N., Paasche, Ø., Sarkki, S., Larsen, S. V. and Pelyasov, A. (2019). Towards improved participatory scenario methodologies in the Arctic. Polar Geography, 0(0). 1–15.

Participatory scenario methodologies are increasingly used for studying possible futures in the Arctic. They have the potential to contribute to several high-priority tasks for Arctic research, such as integrating indigenous and local knowledge in futures studies, providing a platform for activating Arctic youth in shaping their futures, identifying Arctic-relevant indicators for sustainable development, and supporting decision-making towards sustainable futures.

Yet to achieve this potential, several methodological challenges need to be addressed. These include attention to whose voices are amplified or silenced in participatory research, with special attention to diversity and the engagement of youth. Given the historic and potential role of disruptive events in Arctic development, methods are needed in participatory scenario exercises that include attention to the dynamics and consequences of such events and regime shifts. Participatory scenarios can also be further improved through approaches that better combine qualitative and quantitative information. Finally, there is a need for systematic studies of how the results of scenario exercises influence decision-making.

This article elaborates on how attention to these aspects can help make scenarios more robust for assessing a range of potential Arctic futures in times of rapid environmental and social change.

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SEI authors

Marcus Carson
Marcus Carson

Senior Research Fellow

SEI Headquarters

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Topics and subtopics
Governance : Participation
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