Global Scenario Group

Global Scenario Group

The Global Scenario Group (GSG) was a team of environmental scholars, headed by Paul Raskin, who used scenario analysis to analyze future paths for world development in the face of environmental pressures and crises. Convened by the Tellus Institute and [ Stockholm Environment Institute] in the year 1995, the GSG based its scenarios on quantitative social, economic, and environmental research from world regions with the help of [ Pole Star] , a comprehensive database and computational framework for representing alternative scenarios.


In 2002, the GSG formally presented their scenario approach in an essay called [ "Great Transition: The Promise and Lure of the Times Ahead"] . In the essay, the Great Transition scholars indicate that civilization is currently at a turning point, entering a Planetary Phase of Civilization in which different values regarding the environment, human well-being, and global justice might lead to different scenarios for future development. Three classes of scenarios are discussed – Conventional Worlds, Barbarization, and Great Transitions.

Conventional Worlds

The Conventional Worlds scenarios predict a future which unfolds without major surprises and with the continuity of present values. Market forces, new technologies, and policy adjustments allay environmental pressures as they arise.

Market Forces: The “invisible hand” of the free market corrects for inefficiency and thus staves off environmental crisis.
Policy Reform: Policy changes continually aim for sustainability by enforcing environmental efficiency wherever possible.


Breakdown: The world descends into conflict and collapse.

Fortress World: In the face of environmental collapse, the international elite retreat to protected enclaves where they manage remaining natural resources and protect their interests. Outside these enclaves, the remainder of civilization endures poverty and degradation.

The Great Transition

The Great Transition scenarios envision practical, plausible solutions to the social, economic, and environmental pressures which will inevitably worsen as time passes. The Great Transition future is more than simply market and policy adjustments. It is a future in which fundamental societal values change – materialism and self-interest decline replaced by new notions of “the good life” inclusive of human solidarity and environmental sustainability. The potential of a Great Transition is linked to the emergence of a global citizens movement to advocate for new values to underpin global society.

Eco-Communalism: Localism and civil society help bring about the environmental transition. The Great Transitions scholars do not view this path as being incredibly plausible.

New Sustainability Paradigm: Population stabilization, lower consumerism, and greener values create a more humane world. Civilization has a smaller ecological footprint and its members live healthier, more equitable lives.

Applicability of scenario analysis

This scenario framework has formed the backbone of numerous global, regional and national scenario assessments and has been adapted for UNEP’s Global Environment Assessment (or Global Environment Outlook). According to their website, “The GSG’s research program continues through an expanded effort called the [ Great Transition Initiative] , that takes the GSG’s scenarios as a point of departure in an effort to widely share a vision of hope and generate greater unity among global citizens.” In addition, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has based environmental assessments on the scenario analysis of the GSG.

ee also

*Global Citizens Movement
*Great Transition
*Planetary Phase of Civilization
*Tellus Institute

External links

* [ Tellus Institute] – A non-profit environmental policy organization
* [ Stockholm Environment Insitute] – Research institute specializing in environmental sustainability
* [ Global Scenario Group] – An international initiative to examine alternative futures
* [ Great Transition Initiative] -- carries forward the work of the Global Scenario Group


* [ IPCC Special Report on Emissions Scenarios]
* [ IPCC Report, Climate Change 2001: Mitigation]

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