Backcasting as multi-scale governance tool; on the development of local robust actions and their implications for higher scales

M. van Vliet, K. Kok

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingAbstract


Within SCENES (Water Scenarios for Europe and Neighbouring States) ten river basin scale participatory workshops used backcasting to develop robust actions. This paper evaluates the methodology used, the results and the implications of them for the European scale. The backcasting workshop was the last workshop in a series of three. In the first two workshops detailed storylines were developed for four distinctly different scenarios. They have been used to set the context for the backcasting exercise. Goal of the backcasting was to define a number of robust (policy) actions, by working backwards from a desired objective in 2050. Workshops lasted one to two days, and included a diverse group of about 15-20 stakeholders. Participants and organisers were enthusiastic about the backcasting method, although there were also some process related difficulties. Each small group of participants studied the possible actions within one scenario. Actions developed within the different scenarios were compared to look for those that are effective in all scenarios. These are robust actions; the fact that they are effective in all scenarios shows they are likely to be effective in the actual future. The analysis showed that several robust actions could be identified in multiple case studies. Actions like ‘integration of legislation and policies’, ‘monitoring’, ‘financial incentives’, ‘education’ and ‘increasing awareness’ were not only robust across scenarios within a case study, but also across case studies. It is those actions that have implications for higher scales. A number of the robust actions on the river basin scale also addressed the EU directly, for instance with the development of more specific targets for the ‘good water status’ of the WFD and an increase of agro-environmental schemes under the CAP. We can conclude that backcasting exercises can be used in participatory workshops to develop (policy) actions. By involving stakeholders directly in defining (policy) actions, the backcasting tool can be said to facilitate governance. Results from multiple case studies show the robustness of actions across a larger area, and the implications for higher scales. With such a set-up, governance is linked to a multi-scale frame
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationConference Program and Book of Abstracts, Scaling and Governance Conference 2010 on "Towards a New Knowledge for Scale Sensitive Governance of Complex Systems", Wageningen, The Netherlands, November 11-12, 2010
Place of PublicationWageningen
PublisherWageningen UR
Publication statusPublished - 2010
EventScaling and Governance Conference 2010 - Wageningen, Netherlands
Duration: 10 Nov 201012 Nov 2010


ConferenceScaling and Governance Conference 2010

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