How personal judgment influences scenario development: an example for future rural development in Europe

M.J. Metzger, M.D.A. Rounsevell, H.A.R.M. van den Heiligenberg, M. Perez-Soba, P. Soto Hardiman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

43 Citations (Scopus)


Scenarios of alternative plausible futures have been used extensively to explore the potential effects of socioeconomic and environmental change. The ultimate objective of any explorative scenario exercise is to assess the variation in possible futures to provide insights into the range of potential outcomes. These results provide stakeholders with guidance for policy development, planning, and management. We explore how personal judgment can influence scenario development. Scenarios for the future of European rural regions are used to explore alternative outcomes under a public interventionist future and a market liberalization oriented future. A transparent qualitative framework is used to identify differences in outcomes based on personal judgment. Results show that, for both scenarios, there are plausible mechanisms that can lead to similar positive or negative outcomes. Choosing a single process per scenario, based on personal judgment and interpretation, can therefore greatly influence scenario outcomes and limit the range of uncertainty that is covered by the scenarios. The exercise shows the importance of making these judgments explicit in scenario development, especially when exploring broad consequences of alternative policy directions that may be based in political worldviews.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)art. 5
JournalEcology and Society
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2010


  • land-use change
  • biodiversity


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