Synthesizing plausible futures for biodiversity and ecosystem services in europe and central asia using scenario archetypes

Paula A. Harrison*, Zuzana V. Harmáčková, Armağan Aloe Karabulut, Lluis Brotons, Matthew Cantele, Joachim Claudet, Robert W. Dunford, Antoine Guisan, Ian P. Holman, Sander Jacobs, Kasper Kok, Anastasia Lobanova, Alejandra Morán-Ordóñez, Simona Pedde, Christian Rixen, Fernando Santos-Martín, Martin A. Schlaepfer, Cosimo Solidoro, Anthony Sonrel, Jennifer Hauck

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


Scenarios are a useful tool to explore possible futures of social-ecological systems. The number of scenarios has increased dramatically over recent decades, with a large diversity in temporal and spatial scales, purposes, themes, development methods, and content. Scenario archetypes generically describe future developments and can be useful in meaningfully classifying scenarios, structuring and summarizing the overwhelming amount of information, and enabling scientific outputs to more effectively interface with decision-making frameworks. The Intergovernmental Platform for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) faced this challenge and used scenario archetypes in its assessment of future interactions between nature and society. We describe the use of scenario archetypes in the IPBES Regional Assessment of Europe and Central Asia. Six scenario archetypes for the region are described in terms of their driver assumptions and impacts on nature (including biodiversity) and its contributions to people (including ecosystem services): Business-as-usual, economic optimism, regional competition, regional sustainability, global sustainable development, and inequality. The analysis shows that trade-offs between nature’s contributions to people are projected under different scenario archetypes. However, the means of resolving these trade-offs depend on differing political and societal value judgements within each scenario archetype. Scenarios that include proactive decision making on environmental issues, environmental management approaches that support multifunctionality, and mainstreaming environmental issues across sectors, are generally more successful in mitigating tradeoffs than isolated environmental policies. Furthermore, those scenario archetypes that focus on achieving a balanced supply of nature’s contributions to people and that incorporate a diversity of values are estimated to achieve more policy goals and targets, such as the UN Sustainable Development Goals and the Convention on Biological Diversity Aichi targets. The scenario archetypes approach is shown to be helpful in supporting science-policy dialogue for proactive decision making that anticipates change, mitigates undesirable trade-offs, and fosters societal transformation in pursuit of sustainable development.

Original languageEnglish
Article number27
JournalEcology and Society
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2019


  • Biodiversity
  • Drivers
  • Ecosystem services
  • Exploratory scenarios
  • Impacts
  • Models
  • Nature
  • Nature’s contributions to people (NCP)

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