- Global Scenario Group
The Global Scenario Group (GSG) was a team of environmental scholars, headed by
Paul Raskin, who used scenario analysisto analyze future paths for world development in the face of environmental pressures and crises. Convened by the Tellus Instituteand [http://www.sei.se 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 [http://www.polestarproject.org 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 [http://www.gsg.org/gsgpub.html#GT "Great Transition: The Promise and Lure of the Times Ahead"] . In the essay, the Great Transition scholars indicate that
civilizationis currently at a turning point, entering a Planetary Phase of Civilizationin which different values regarding the environment, human well-being, and global justicemight lead to different scenarios for future development. Three classes of scenarios are discussed – Conventional Worlds, Barbarization, and Great Transitions.
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 marketcorrects 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
Great Transitionscenarios 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 movementto advocate for new values to underpin global society. Eco-Communalism: Localism and civil societyhelp 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 footprintand 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 [http://www.gtinitiative.org 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.
Global Citizens Movement
Planetary Phase of Civilization
* [http://www.tellus.org Tellus Institute] – A non-profit environmental policy organization
* [http://www.sei.se Stockholm Environment Insitute] – Research institute specializing in environmental sustainability
* [http://www.gsg.org Global Scenario Group] – An international initiative to examine alternative futures
* [http://www.gtinitiative.org Great Transition Initiative] -- carries forward the work of the Global Scenario Group
* [http://www.grida.no/climate/ipcc/emission/index.htm IPCC Special Report on Emissions Scenarios]
* [http://www.grida.no/climate/ipcc_tar/wg3/index.htm IPCC Report, Climate Change 2001: Mitigation]
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