The co-production of sustainable future scenarios

David M. Iwaniec, Elizabeth M. Cook, Melissa J. Davidson, Marta Berbés-Blázquez, Matei Georgescu, E. Scott Krayenhoff, Ariane Middel, David A. Sampson, Nancy B. Grimm

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

77 Scopus citations


Scenarios are a tool to develop plausible, coherent visions about the future and to foster anticipatory knowledge. We present the Sustainable Future Scenarios (SFS) framework and demonstrate its application through the Central Arizona-Phoenix Long-term Ecological Research (CAP LTER) urban site. The SFS approach emphasizes the co-development of positive and long-term alternative future visions. Through a collaboration of practitioner and academic stakeholders, this research integrates participatory scenario development, modeling, and qualitative scenario assessments. The SFS engagement process creates space to question the limits of what is normally considered possible, desirable, or inevitable in the face of future challenges. Comparative analyses among the future scenarios demonstrate trade-offs among regional and microscale temperature, water use, land-use change, and co-developed resilience and sustainability indices. SFS incorporate diverse perspectives in co-producing positive future visions, thereby expanding traditional future projections. The iterative, interactive process also creates opportunities to bridge science and policy by building anticipatory and systems-based decision-making and research capacity for long-term sustainability planning.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number103744
JournalLandscape and Urban Planning
StatePublished - May 2020


  • Co-production
  • Positive futures
  • Resilience
  • Scenario development
  • Sustainability transformations

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Nature and Landscape Conservation
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law
  • Ecology
  • Urban Studies


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